A fast-tracked career

Adam Kerr tells ifa how he quickly became the co-owner and director of South Australia-based practice, Humble Goode Financial

While contemplating what he wanted to do when he finished university, Adam Kerr says, initially, pursuing a career in financial advice was only something he had "briefly considered" because jobs were not "heavily advertised" to students, especially those close to graduating.

But Mr Kerr's interest was piqued via an elective he took while studying a commerce degree at Flinders University.

"Basically, the elective was designed to provide a pathway for commerce graduates to transition into the financial services industry," he says.

"It kind of opened my eyes to this whole sector I didn't realise [had] so many opportunities, particularly as there aren't a whole lot of young people entering the industry."

Mr Kerr adds that given the industry is heavily populated with advisers who are considerably older than himself, there is a "unique opportunity" for young university-educated planners to enter the industry, especially within the non-aligned space.

"I think part of that opportunity can be to restore some faith in the industry," he says.

Little did Mr Kerr realise that by choosing this career path he would soon find himself the co-owner and director of a well-established financial planning business.

Right place, right time

Immediately after finishing university, Mr Kerr was offered a graduate position with accountancy practice Stanway Humble Goode, where he had been working part time while he was finishing studies, and which also had its own self-licensed advice business, Humble Goode Financial.

After a year of working with the business, Mr Kerr became a full-time adviser with the advice business.

A year later, in 2014, Mr Kerr was offered the opportunity to become the owner of the business alongside senior financial planner and his supervisor Victor Vu.

"[The owner of the business] was looking at doing a bit of succession planning and stepping back from the full-time role of [managing] both the accountancy and advice business and offered Victor and I some equity in the business," Mr Kerr recalls.

"I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time and acquire some equity in the business, so I am lucky to be a director of the company.

"It has been a quick transition from being a graduate to junior planner to being able to work my way up and employ people myself," he says.

Mr Kerr said that Mr Vu has been more to him than just a supervisor, senior planner and business partner – he has also been his mentor.

"I haven't had much experience, [and I haven't] worked in a bank or anything but I am partnered with someone who has been in the industry for a long time," he says.

"At the end of the day, I wouldn't have been able to do everything I have without his guidance ... he is always there to support and guide me in the right direction.

"Everything that I do at the practice is never me making the decision completely by myself; we always work collaboratively," Mr Kerr adds.

Mr Kerr says with him and Mr Vu having very different skills they complement each other well as advisers and business partners.

"We are really a team when it comes to the way we provide advice," he says.

"[Mr Vu] is very technically orientated and very good with mathematics, IT and computing and working out the sums, whereas I am probably a bit more communicative and see more clients, so we work quite well together," he says.

A life mission

With the business now under his and Mr Vu's names, Mr Kerr says he is determined to grow the business and establish himself as an educator for clients about the benefits of independent advice, "free from conflicts or inducements from the product manufacturers".

"Heading into the industry straight from university, I was very surprised that people were quick to assume all advisers are the same and they work on the same commission-based models, and that people didn't understand the difference between advice and institutional advice," he says.

"I'd love to grow the business to a size where we can do some marketing to explain the benefits of receiving independent advice – that would be great.

"I guess it is part of my mission in life to educate people that if you go to a Toyota dealership you are only going to get a Toyota. What I am trying to do is show people there are a number of options out there."

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