Our Adviser Profile this week is Gary Winwood-Smith, a Platinum adviser with an exemplary Adviser Rating of 100% and 76 client reviews with an average client rating of 99%. Gary is a Senior adviser at Sydney Financial Planning, working out of their Edgecliff office in Sydney.
- Best thing about being a financial adviser?
The best thing about my job is seeing my clients grow. And I’m not just talking about growing their wealth. I mean as well in terms of personal growth and their confidence to make decisions that will improve their quality of life. True wealth is about living life on your own terms.
- One thing you would like to see improved or changed in the industry?
One thing that can be changed in the financial planning industry is the use of advice documents. I see this industry improving through having Statement of Advice’s (SoA’s) less at the front and centre of what we do. I believe there needs to be more focus on the intrinsic value of advice – financial planning is more than just an ‘advice document’. Although advice documents are good at snapshotting a point of time, they are often too static. Life is fluid and so too should be the planning process. Advice documents don’t get things done. I’m a big fan of action plans and these are definitely the most valuable pages in an SoA.
- The areas on their finances or economy that worry your clients the most?
Currently the biggest issues worrying my clients are; affording property (for themselves or their children) and managing their cash flow to fund these properties and associated debt.
This conversation comes up with most people, it’s not only first home buyers looking to get into the market, there’s young families looking for more space and baby boomers wondering how they’re going to help their kids or whether they’re going to downsize or see change – pretty much everyone wants to talk about property. I really enjoy being a sounding board and leading these discussions.
Similarly, effective debt management comes hand in hand with the property conversation. Structuring loans to maximise tax concessions, planning future property purchases and moves and repayment strategies is where I can add a lot of value. We’re generally talking big numbers as most Australian’s have considerable assets with associated debt - so if I can help in this space my fees are generally paid for multiple times over.
- What's the strangest question a client has ever asked you?
I had a client ask me whether Coffs Harbour was in QLD. I come from Coffs Harbour and my response is, of course it is! Everyone knows the big banana’s a QLD icon.
- If you could get three things into consumers' heads about what advisers do or don't do what would they be?
a) Good advisers don’t just manage client’s investments. It’s not really about the share market and having some sort of special insight into what investment or stock is going to do well in the future. Leave that for investment portfolio managers. Good advisers work with clients to set goals and build plans to achieve these. Often these are lifestyle decisions that involve money.
b) Good advisers don’t “take orders” and place investments for people. They educate, empower, inspire and motivate people to maximise their lives. Good advisers don’t run lectures they run workshops. It’s a collaboration.
c) Good advisers provide advice year in, year out and all year round. A financial plan is not the silver bullet to solving the puzzle. Planning is an ongoing process and when people commit to financial planning they commit to the process of planning and not just the initial plan itself. There is no such thing as initial advice and ongoing service and advice. There is just advice.
- How do you describe your job at BBQs?
Most people have 90 per cent of their financial life in order, often there’s 10 per cent missing that they need help with. I help people manage this 10 per cent. This is often the key piece that will allow them to live the life they want to live. My clients, friends and family usually say, “If only I had another 2 or 3 hours in the day, I could…”
That’s where I come in. When people don’t have the time, expertise, or the objectivity to manage their finances or craft the ideal financial strategy – I work with them in that 10 per cent. The 10 per cent someone might need help with often changes depending on their stage in life. We help identify this gap on an ongoing basis and ensure we’re providing appropriate help when required.