Risk: A 'cornerstone' of advice


Risk: A 'cornerstone' of advice


The director of South Australia-based advice practice Bartons Financial Services and Australian chair of the MDRT, Adam McCann, discusses his key focuses for growing the business and offering risk advice.

What will be the main focus for you and your business this year?

We are an integrated accounting and financial services business, so we provide holistic financial planning and accounting solutions for our clients.

We are focusing on the SME market, but our area of specialisation is advice to medical professionals. So, our main focus is to continue to grow this client segment. To support that, we have a range of marketing initiatives in the medical space and, broadly as a practice, our executive and management team is always working on business efficiencies.

Risk is one of the many services that we are offering – there are a range of other areas we are providing advice in – and we continue to grow the risk side of the business because it underpins the long-term security of a client still in the wealth accumulation phase. You can give the best advice from a planning and accounting perspective but as soon as the income stops, so does the client's capacity to engage with the firm. So, we see risk as the cornerstone to the advice that we provide.

What strategies will you be looking to implement to achieve your goals?

I think clarity on your ideal client and target market is critical. Once you are clear on your ideal client, it is just that process on developing the marketing and the processes to go after that market place. I think it is critical saying ‘no’ to clients who don’t meet your service offering and it is an understanding that you can’t be all things to all people. As an organisation, one of the strategies we continue to work on is streamlining the integrated service offering, as there are a lot of moving parts in our practice. We offer an integrated service to our clients and we are continuing to work on the systems that provide that.

We are also marketing to the medical space and we do that in a range of different ways. We attend various medical seminars where we provide advice on tax and financial planning issues, and we make contributions to various publications in that space as well, and I do a reasonable amount on LinkedIn as well as providing professional commentary on issues that are relevant for medical professionals.

We see social media not as a driver, but it reinforces our brand in the market place.

What strategies would you recommend to other advisers in the market place?

Clarity around what their ideal client is, having a clear understanding of what their cost to serve is, and their ability to articulate their value proposition and having a business model where they are able to meet the broad range of needs for their clients. Many clients these days are looking for a broad range of financial services. This may be provided in-house by one organisation to alternatively establish a network around you to refer the element of advice you do not offer to meet the full needs of your clients.

What role does a licensee play in helping advisers?

We are licensed through BT’s Magnitude. They have provided us good support, but what I would say is a licensee can supply scale whether that be on compliance, a system and process perspective or marketing. So what I would say to an adviser is that, rather than re-inventing the wheel, they can tap into the resources of their licensee. But what I would emphasise is an adviser needs to be clear on what they are seeking to achieve. If an adviser doesn’t have clarity about what they are wanting to do, it is difficult for their licensee to add value. But if they have an understanding on what they are trying to do as a business, a licensee can bring in the bits that they have to support the objectives of the adviser.

How can organisations like MDRT help advisers with their business?

MDRT provides a range of support. If you attend our annual meeting, which is in North America, you are going to access some of the best minds and speakers in the world of financial services. You are meeting with some of the top professionals globally in that space and in terms of running your business – there is such an enormous depth of resource there. At a local level, we have ongoing meetings on a quarter-by-quarter basis where we are bring speakers who will talk on a range of topics that will talk on the technical to practice management-related issues. There is mentoring opportunity where you have got MDRT members, some of them participate in a mentoring program where you have more experienced advisers like the Russell Collins of the world where you can tap into their expertise and knowledge that has been accumulated in excess of more than 30 years.

As an organisation, MDRT has the whole person concept. And that looks at a range of different areas including professional development, personal health, family relationships, service to the community and being a good steward of their own financial affairs. MDRT is not just about developing you purely as a financial professional, but looks at a range of aspects of your life providing advisers with the resources to be the best adviser they can be.

Risk: A 'cornerstone' of advice
ifa logo