Suzie, you work with the ANZ Bank in the position of Financial Planner. Can you please give us some insight into what your current role involves?
As a financial planner I work with clients to ascertain their lifestyle and life stage goals and plan financially to achieve and realise them. Some of the major goals are to create wealth and also to protect that wealth. I am based in Port Macquarie, both in Horton Street and Lake Innes branches and also see clients in Kempsey and Laurieton.
The quality of financial advice provided to people has been in the spotlight recently, with some high profile cases arising not long ago. I imagine these cases affect consumer sentiment around gaining trusted financial advice.
How can the financial planning industry assure customers about the quality of advice they will receive going forward?
There were significant reforms that have been legislated called the Future of Financial Advice (FOFA). The objectives of FOFA are to improve the trust and confidence of Australian retail investors in the financial services sector and to ensure high quality financial advice. I believe that raising education standards in the industry is a key to improving advice and the professionalism of advisers. I personally have a degree and postgraduate qualifications in applied finance and investments as well as my financial planning qualifications, so welcome any increase in the educational requirements in the industry.
At what point within the financial year should people be looking at their finances to optimise their situation?
Looking at their finances is something that people tend to put off until a “more appropriate” time. “A goal without a plan is just a wish”, so it’s important to take time out to think about what you actually want to achieve and take steps accordingly. The start of a new calendar year is a good time to put plans in place, so you have plenty of time to implement strategies and changes before the end of the financial year in June.
What is the most rewarding part about your role with ANZ?
I like to gain an insight into people’s understanding of financial matters and determine if they have gaps in their knowledge, and if so what they are.My passion is supporting and educating clients using my technical knowledge and background, so they can make well-informed decisions in relation to their own financial situation. It is very rewarding to see clients achieve goals at their different life stages.
Tell us about your background and how you came to be in Port Macquarie?
I worked in Brisbane and Sydney with Perpetual Trustees and then with JB Were Stockbrokers, mainly in portfolio management and advising on equities and options and managed funds. I also worked with Computershare in Sydney advising major listed companies such as Woolworths and NAB on their major institutional shareholders and how best to communicate with them.
About seven years ago we moved to Port Macquarie to enjoy the lifestyle while raising a young family. Once my children started school, I wanted to have client relationships again and use my financial markets and strategy experience, hence taking a role with ANZ.
What, if any, are the major differences between being a financial adviser in a metro area such as Sydney to advising in a regional community?
In a town like Port Macquarie, you are much more visible in the community; you often see clients in the street or have clients that play sport with your children – so that trust relationship is even more important.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have personally faced throughout your career?
In my 20’s I was managing trust portfolios up to $10 million in size, but sometimes it took more effort to build credibility with clients given my age. Being in my 40’s, I now have lots of life experience as well as experience in market cycles. This helps with clients entrusting me with their financial goals.
What would you class as your biggest career achievement to date?
Working for Computershare, I spent time in the boardrooms of some of the largest Australian listed companies, talking directly to CFOs which, looking back, was quite an achievement. Now, I think a major achievement is finding a role where you can manage a balance between working and personal life with a family.
What are some of the key financial considerations business owners and individuals should focus on to help plan for the future?
If it’s their own business, they should consider their exit plan from the business and ensure they have protection in place should contingencies happen. They should focus on budgeting and cash-flow management, both within the business and their personal finances. Business owners should plan for their own retirement. Lots of self employed don’t make personal contributions to super as they intend to sell their business as their retirement plan, but that does not always work out as they’d like. Individuals should look at growing their assets, protecting themselves and their family, tax planning and look at planning for their retirement, amongst other things.
And finally, if you could invite three business people to lunch, who would they be and why would you invite them?
Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook. Her book, Lean In poses ambitious challenges to women: to create the lives we want, to be leaders in our work, and to be champions of other women, so it would be fascinating to meet her in person. She comes across as being smart, honest and funny.
As Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, investor Warren Buffet has always stuck to his philosophy of buying businesses that offer good value. Even more impressive and inspiring is his pledge to give away 99% of his fortune to philanthropic causes.
I’d love to meet Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the statistician, risk analyst and hedge fund manager who wrote The Black Swan – the Impact of the Highly Improbable – his ideas are very thought provoking and challenge traditional views on risk management, within markets and businesses.
Thanks for your time, Suzie.
Interview by Jane Hillsdon, Principal Consultant of www.dragonflymarketing.com.au