One year on from launch, Andrew and Sean Condell reflect on building a business with family and community at its heart
Having spent most of his working life helping people plan for their retirement, it is little wonder Andrew Condell was making the most of his own.
When not travelling around southern Europe with wife Eileen, the Condell Financial principal spent his days living the good life that Sydney’s Northern Beaches has to offer: surfing, gardening and occasionally playing guitar at the local microbrewery where son Sean was a senior manager.
But after two and a half years of well-earned and idyllic recreation, something changed. “I got bored,” Andrew says. “I’d actually sold the business when I was 54 and I realised I was too young to be retired.
“There’s only so much surfing and guitar playing you can do.”
With a successful financial planning business already under his belt (Genesys member firm Financial Keys in Sydney’s CBD), Andrew knew he wanted to be back in business and providing advice to clients. What he didn’t know at the time was that his son had similar aspirations.
Sean’s journey to becoming Condell Financial’s paraplanner and practice manager was a circuitous one. He learned the ropes at Financial Keys in the years after high school before heading out on a global adventure which included a stint running one of West London’s more storied pubs.
Upon his inevitable return to the Manly peninsula, Sean was working in hospitality and studying at university, all the while developing a healthy passion for small business. When Andrew broke the news to the family that he was throwing his hat back into the ring, he quickly found a willing partner.
“A large part of the attraction for me was the opportunity to grow a business from the ground up,” Sean says, “but as I’ve shifted my studies more towards financial planning, I’ve also discovered that I am passionate about that as well. It’s a practical, worthwhile knowledge to have outside of it being my job.”
The GP approach
When it comes to advice philosophies, Condell Financial has a clear value proposition: “We see ourselves as a general practitioner in the way that a local medical GP is,” Andrew explains. “We are gatekeepers for the client.
Like in the medical world where there are hundreds of manufacturers who believe theirs is the ultimate drug, it’s the doctor’s job to find the one that is right for the particular patient. It’s the same for us.”
The Condells have a firm belief that advisers have an obligation to be across all facets of professional advice, from relationship management to insurance to portfolio construction.
“We can’t disengage from any one part of it, because otherwise I don’t believe we can truly do what’s right for our clients – we would be operating blind,” Andrew says.
But while the technical side of things does have a place at Condell Financial, clearly it is the client experience that is paramount. “People come in here with their life savings and their stories and you develop really close relationships with them,” Andrew explains. “Building that trust is probably the most enjoyable part.”
A Manly bond
Some Manly residents would be very unlikely to freely give up a life of full-time surfing and music, but there is no denying Condell Financial is well and truly connected to the local community.
While Andrew says he enjoyed his years in the CBD, second time around there was no doubt where to set up shop. Located in the heart of Manly on Darley Road, a stone’s throw from the beach and Corso, the Condells say much of their new business over the past year has come from their existing relationships.
“We’ve only been open for a year but our local connections have been invaluable,” Andrew says. “In the city, it’s very hard to become part of a community and to gain traction with that in your business.”
They have wasted no time becoming more deeply ingrained with that community. Andrew has already taken up a committee position on the Manly Chamber of Commerce and the whole family recently did a charity walk under the Condell Financial banner.
But while its family and local aspects have been central to the business’ early success, the father-son team say they have plans to bring in more professionals in the near future, with full-time accountants and life insurance specialists on the cards.
“We don’t envisage this just being a family business,” Andrew says. “We are excited for that growth.”
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