Financial planners I admire

“Individually impressive in their own right and I consider myself lucky to have learnt and spent time with each. I believe they represent the undeniably bright future of financial planning.”

With my background in investment banking and accounting, I haven’t ‘grown up’ professionally in the financial planning sphere. So unlike many of my advisor peers, my existing network of professional peers is dominated by investment bankers and accountants rather than financial planners.

However, since transitioning to financial planning, I’ve have met, got to know and learnt from a number of highly professional advisors.

My yardstick for measuring my financial planning peers is the same with which I evaluated my peers in banking. I look to their education (degrees and professional qualifications), their experience, their technical and business skills and their leadership abilities.

In recent years all financial planners have been tainted with the same brush. In truth, the vast majority of financial planners I know are good people who are doing the right thing by their clients. They hold professional qualifications, relevant degrees, years of experience and put their clients’ interest first.

Wise counsel

The advisors below (in no particular order) include those who have either reached out to me to share ideas or people to whom I have reached out to over the years. Some have contacted me out of the blue while others I have sought out for their wise counsel.

Leaders in financial planning

Many of them have been incredibly generous with their time and ideas and, as true leaders in their local communities, I’ve even been lucky enough to visit some of their offices. They are each, in their own ways, leaders that I admire in the financial planning profession.

This list is by no means exhaustive and I know there are many fine financial planners that I will develop stronger relationships with over time or eventually meet and get to know which I look forward to.

Alison Henderson and David Richardson – SWA Financial Planning, Wollongong

Alison holds 3 degrees and is a CFP while Dave holds 2 degrees and 2 professional qualifications (CFP & CPA). These are smart operators who run an extremely professional and efficient operation in Wollongong with a wonderfully loyal client base and team. The practice has only been running since 1982 – 33 successful years but who’s counting?

Alison was the first financial planner I met outside my family. She is one of those people who, when she gives her view, I shut up and listen to because she is ALWAYS worth listening to. Now I’ll be honest here – I don’t shut up very often.

Dave has an incredibly efficient way of looking at things – his technical advice skills are second to none. If he’s not surfing, he’s improving the service provided to their long standing clients.

In the heart of Wollongong, the SWA office was a hive of financial planning activity and teamwork when I visited. If I want advice on how to grow a sustainable financial planning practice that loyally serves a local community for the long term, these guys are it.

Dacian Moses – Waterfall Way, Coffs Harbour

Quick with an incisive brain, not only does Dacian make me laugh with his quick wit but he makes financial planning fun.

Dacian has shared with me great insights on how to successfully systemise a financial planning business and how to run a professional and award winning financial planning practice in a regional centre (his office is the heart of Coffs Harbour).

In recognition of his leadership abilities, Dacian was elected the youngest ever President of the Boutique Financial Planners Association. In his role as leader, Dacian has the ability to diplomatically discuss confronting issues in various forums in a collegiate way.

For a city boy, Damien (we sometimes call him Damien) has perfected the country persona. Mind you, with his martial arts skills I wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark alley. Degree qualified and holding the CFP professional qualification – a true professional.

Andrew Peters – Semaphore Private, Melbourne

The team Andrew has built in his Queen Street office in the heart of Melbourne is welcoming and highly professional. I was impressed with how well this financial planning practice is run and how focused it is on getting great outcomes for their clients.

Generous with his time and knowledge, Andrew is an outstanding financial planner and I often bounce ideas off him as I respect his views. Degree qualified and holding the CFP professional qualification – another true professional.

I’ve recommended family to Andrew as clients and they rave about him. I honestly don’t think there can be a higher recommendation than sending your own family to a financial planner.

Outside of work, Andrew detests golf with an intense passion – so much so the Spring Valley Golf Club is his second office.

Neil Kendall – Tupicoffs, Brisbane

Many in financial planning would know Neil as the current Chair of the Financial Planning Association. The time that he dedicates to raising professionalism by criss-crossing the country and consulting with members and the government is to be greatly commended.

However, I also know Neil the driven and focused head of the Tupicoffs practice in Central Brisbane. This is a practice that had led the way in increasing professionalism over the past decade.

Neil has a way of looking at issues that I envy – he has great clarity and the ability to distil important issues in financial planning. He is also a very effective communicator and outstanding financial planner – all skills that serve his clients well.

Neil is a past winner of the Money Management Financial Planner of the Year award and to be honest, he has been recognised with more highly regarded financial planning awards than you can poke a stick at. Degree qualified and holding the CFP professional qualification – yet another true professional.

I often seek Neil’s advice on complicated client issues and have always been impressed with his sound counsel.

Matthew Rowe – previously Hood Sweeney, Adelaide, now temporarily in Boston

I was lucky enough to share with Matthew a stage at the FPA national conference a few years ago. Both Matthew and I were asked to bring along a client to share their views on the value a trusted financial planner can add. Although both Matthew and I were on stage, the true stars were our clients who were very honest with their thoughts and experiences. It was clear from what Matthew’s client told the audience that Matthew had provided him and his wife many years of trusted, valuable service.

Matthew is currently undertaking further studies at a Boston based education based institution – Harbord? Harcourt? No, Harvard, that’s it 😉 – and when he returns I hope his skills are not lost to the financial planning community. Before Neil Kendall, Matthew tirelessly and successfully Chaired the FPA through a challenging period of great uncertainty.

While Matthew speaks softly, his views on financial planning are always insightful and always worth listening to.

Malcolm Urquart – Urquhart Sexton Financial Planning, Griffith

As a city girl, Malcolm for me epitomises everything that’s wonderful about country gentlemen. What you see is what you get. He is just one of the loveliest gentlemen you will ever meet. He is always extremely generous with his time and knowledge and shares wonderful business ideas, guidance and advice.

Like we do, Malcolm’s business has a very strong family approach to business. I’ve met most of his family and they are just the same as Malcolm.

Based in the regional centre of Griffith, Malcolm has systemised his business so that it is focussed on delivering certainty and great outcomes for his clients.

I haven’t been to Griffith but I imagine if you walked down the main street of Griffith with Malcolm, it would take you hours as he’d know everyone and he’d have a kind word to say to everyone.

Susannah Kulincevic & Daniel Brammall – Brocktons Independent Advisory, Canberra

Daniel and Susannah gave me a wonderfully warm and generous welcome when I visited their Canberra office. Together they have built a business on highest ethical underpinnings – if you want truly independent advice in Canberra you know where to go.

Well spoken, Daniel is bright, insightful and logical while Susannah is super organised person who gives whoever she is speaking to her undivided attention.

In the time I spent in their office, I admired their approach to balancing between family and business and they seem to have this balance just right. Energetic and efficient, they both freely shared with me the lessons they had learnt along the way as they developed their business.

Susannah and Daniel freely give of their time to take the lead in developing true professionalism in financial planning. I know they do this in their precious spare time because making a difference is a cause close to both of their hearts.

Daniel is one of the powerhouses (along with Matt Ross from Roskow Independent Advisory in Melbourne) behind the Independent Financial Advisers Association of Australia. These guys are taking a strong stand against many of the vested interests in the industry to drive professionalism and better protect consumers. I greatly respect this and applaud their efforts.

Olivia Maragna and Stephen Degiovanni – Aspire Retire, Brisbane

What a lovely power couple these two are! The family business they have built in Brisbane is industry leading and each time I speak to them I learn so much.

Both Stephen and Olivia are always smiling, happy people and it’s always a delight to meet them at industry events.

They have a laser like focus on building their Brisbane based practice and are lucky that they together hold complimentary skills sets. I’ve learnt from Stephen’s financial planning knowledge in business operations, investing and technology, while Olivia has great insights on how to build a great team and on financial literacy. Her practical and easy to read contributions in the media are a great resource for consumers.

They have an impressive 6 professional qualifications between them (they are both CFPs) so there’s no doubting their commitment to professionalism.

I think Olivia gives Neil Kendall a run for how many high quality financial planning awards she has been recognised with over the years, including the Queensland Telstra Small Business Award. This recognition speaks to the high regard they are held by their peers and clients.

Michelle Tate-Lovery – Unified Financial Services, Melbourne

Michelle was the first financial planner who I didn’t know but respected from afar that I approached and I was so impressed with how generous she was in spending an afternoon with me.

Located in Carlton, Michelle has created an office with an absolutely lovely and welcoming team. She is a visionary and leader in the profession with a respected dedication to mentoring.

Michelle was kind enough to share with me many keen insights including how her business evolved, the important metrics she uses to measure growth and how she provides a complete service to all her clients.

One of my favourite concepts about running a successful business she shared with me was her focus on ‘Chunking it down’.

While we’re at it, if we’re going to compare Olivia’s and Neil’s awards, we may as well throw Michelle into the mix. Michelle is also a past winner of the Money Management Financial Planner of the Year award.

Liam Shorte – Verante Financial Planning, Sydney

I just love Liam’s Irish lilt and his story telling abilities. In addition, his SMSF knowledge is truly exceptional.

If there is an advisor who knows more about SMSFs than Liam then I’m yet to meet them. Liam’s laid back Irish character and wonderful humour belie a keen intellect who is able to analyse and advise on all highly technical SMSF issues.

I met Liam through my brother Tim as they are both active members of the SMSF Association.

Liam gives generously of his time to the industry (running the NSW chapter of the SMSF Association) and to his professional peers. I greatly appreciate the time and advice he has shared with me.

Financial planning professionals

These people are individually impressive in their own right and I consider myself lucky to have learnt and spent time with each. I believe they represent the undeniably bright future of financial planning.

While many have high profiles and so could appear to be intimidating or unapproachable, they have been nothing but generous and supportive to me with their time and guidance. I thank each of them for that.

Again I will stress that this list is not exhaustive of the financial planners that I know or respect. There are many more high quality advisors out there that I know and respect plus there are some I don’t know but who I have read about or heard good things about. I look forward to meeting more and sharing wonderful ideas in future years.

This article was originally published as Financial planners I admire


Claire Mackay LLB LLM BCom CA CFP CTA

I am a financial planner, SMSF expert and company director. I thrive on providing independent, expert financial advice to my wonderful clients. I was recognised as Financial Planner of the Year 2015 and Investment Adviser of the Year 2014.

To contact me, speak to my team on 02 8084 0453. Please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or on Twitter. You can also visit the Quantum Financial website.

Claire Mackay

About Claire Mackay

I am a financial planner, SMSF expert and company director. I thrive on providing independent, expert financial advice to my wonderful clients. I was recognised as Financial Planner of the Year 2015 and Investment Adviser of the Year 2014. My website is here

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