A family affair

A family affair

Quantum Financial principals Tim and Claire Mackay speak to ifa’s James Mitchell on why it’s the personal connections that set their firm apart

Quantum Financial is different. The boutique planner’s website will tell you so, but it’s not until you enter the firm’s quaint boardroom that you see why.

On one wall is a giant map of the world, adorned with pins representing where on the globe Quantum’s clients are and have been: deep into Asia, scattered across the Americas and all over Africa, Europe and Australia.

Surrounding the map is a huge collection of photographs. Family photographs, pictures of young couples, some with new born babies, pensioners holidaying in Myanmar...

But what is it that sets Quantum apart?

“We are the advisers that other advisers send their families to for advice,” says principal Tim Mackay, who runs the business his father started 20 years ago with his sister, Claire.

“That for us is a lovely affirmation of what we are doing,” he says.

It is clear that Quantum is a family affair, a solid planning business built on trust and deep personal relationships with its clients.

Bill Mackay established Quantum Financial in 1994, but initially would not let his children join the firm.

“He wanted us to go off and gain experience and get our qualifications and learn elsewhere,” Claire says. “He wouldn’t let us join until he thought we were ready.”

In the interim, Claire cut her teeth at PwC after completing a law degree, before joining Tim – who was advising fund managers for Deutsche Bank – in investment banking.

“The beauty of it is the work we were doing was the other side of the work we do now,” she says, alluding to the heart of the Mackay ethos – education.

Quantum is renowned for being a stickler for compliance and ethics, and the Mackays are continually learning and broadening their knowledge.

Their father returned to university later in life to study theology, which comes back to the ethics, says Tim.

“Don’t forget Mum!” says Claire, “Mum’s in the business as well,” she says with a laugh.

“Mum comes from an education background; she was a teacher, so she is very much making sure we keep up to date with our professional requirements.

“She keeps us on the straight and narrow with compliance, and works behind the scenes.”

In an industry that is still finding its feet in terms of professionalism, ethics and compliance, Quantum champions old-school values and strives to raise the bar for industry standards.

“I think when you are in a service industry it is not enough just being compliant with the law. We don’t need to have degrees to do what we do,” says Claire (who holds three herself). “All we need is IG 936.

“But is that really providing the best service? Again, this is the ethos of the firm and of the service industry: you strive to do your very best.”

It is this striving that gives Quantum its name, adds Tim.

“Our name, ‘Quantum’, comes from Thomas Aquinas, who wrote in 1264: ‘Quantum potes, tantum aude’ or ‘So much as you are capable of doing, dare to do that much’.”

As a boutique, Quantum holds its own licence and gives transparent advice that is not influenced by a parent company or product provider.

Where other planners see value in vertically integrating their business to create a ‘one stop shop’, the Mackays, once again, are different.

“We don’t perceive value for our clients in that,” says Tim.

“Because we are also both chartered accountants, it means we can work with other accountants very well. They see our speciality in financial planning as something they don’t have, but it means when they are talking about accounting stuff it isn’t a foreign language.

“We work together for the client’s best interest. For our business model, horizontal integration is not the right way to go,” Tim says.

With the firm well established in Sydney – and no plans to sell out to the banks – expect Quantum to be adding pins to its map 20 years from now.

This article first appeared in the February 2014 issue of ifa magazine

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