The noble profession of financial planning

By February 14, 2015 October 22nd, 2015 Financial Planner of the Year, Financial planning

We are financial planners and it is something of which we are immensely proud. We make meaningful differences in our clients’ lives and our clients’ families are financially more secure because of the expert independent advice that we provide.

Those who criticise us, we thank you

That said, there can be no denying that those who criticise financial planning have just cause. Australians have seen recurring examples of rampant abuse of consumers and a lack of professionalism shown by the advisers they trusted.

Alan Kohler at Eureka Report has been sniping at financial planners for 10 years and has consistently driven the fight against commissions. Duncan Hughes at the AFR won a Walkley Award for his investigative work into the horrendous practices at the financial planning firm, Storm Financial. Michael Pascoe at Fairfax has been unrelenting in his highlighting of the structural issues at the heart of financial planning. Adele Ferguson & Chris Vedelago won a Walkley Award for their work exposing the excesses at the financial planning division of the Commonwealth Bank.

These journalists specialising in finance have taken a brave stand against bad financial planning practices. They have used their forensic journalistic skills to shine a bright light on the dark recesses of financial planning where bad practices were the norm, not the exception.

These respected finance journalists will likely never publicly receive our thanks but the financial planning profession owes them a large debt of gratitude.

To consumers, we are sorry

It is time for financial planners to be honest with themselves. As financial planners, we regret the actions of those financial planners who have abused their clients’ trust.

When an Australian consumer walks into a financial planner’s office and writes out a cheque from their life savings, that financial planner issues a promissory note. That note promises them that the advice they give will be free from conflict, free from self interest, free from product bias. Financial planners promise that the advice will be in their clients’ best interests.

Financial planners in recent years have defaulted on this promissory note to consumers, time and time again. Instead of honouring our professional obligation, we’ve cashed their cheque and returned the promissory note we owe them marked ‘insufficient funds’.

The failures of financial institutions, rampant consumer abuse, and widespread investor anger against the financial planning industry have shattered trust in our financial systems. In recent years some of our fellow financial planners have done things that are unethical and wrong. As financial planners ourselves, this saddens and embarrasses us.

Professional financial planners know we need to regain your trust. We know this will only come with time as we reform current industry practices and show you we can operate to higher levels of professionalism than ever before.

The future of financial planning is bright

“Your profession is not what brings home your weekly paycheck, your profession is what you’re put here on earth to do, with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.” (Vincent van Gogh)
We came to financial planning from successful careers in accounting, the law and investment banking. Time and time again we are asked why we left those well respected professions ‘only to be a financial planner’. Time and time again we are advised ‘Don’t tell people you are a financial planner, tell them you are a Chartered Accountant”

We thank those people for their advice but you know what, when you find your calling in life, you pursue it with passion. In the immortal words of Kermit the Frog “It’s something that I’m supposed to be.”
As financial planners we share some of our clients most intimate details and make a real difference in their lives.

We’ve been the first person told of impending births so we could help plan the family plan their finances. We’ve mentored children of our clients as they transition to financial independence into full time work.

We’ve helped numerous clients fleeing financial institutions they no longer trust to set up their own Self Managed Super Fund. We’ve guided business owners through the sale process of their business and executives as they transition to retirement. With their family we’ve assisted our older clients into the aged care system.

We make a meaningful difference in our clients’ lives, day in, day out. Our clients trust us because they know we put their interests first. As more and more Australian’s come to rely on independent advice that they can trust, the future of financial planning is incredibly bright.

Professionalism is a journey, not a destination

Right now all financial planners are tainted with the same brush. In truth, the vast majority of financial planners we 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.

As professional standards are raised in future years, I feel confident that those same journalists who currently spur us on to improve will write of the return of consumer trust, the return of valued financial advice. In turn, consumers will come to regard highly skilled and qualified financial planning professionals on a par with lawyers, accountants and doctors.

Already the Financial Planning Association is taking the lead in raising professional standards and we applaud this. If you need a financial planner, choose a Certified Financial Planner. There is no reason you should settle for lower professional standards.

Why we do what we do

In 1264 St Thomas Aquinas wrote “Quantum potes, tantum aude” or “However so much as you are capable of doing, dare to do that much.” Our founder Bill Mackay took this theme from his theology degree to reflect the attitude of excellence towards knowledge, professionalism and ethics held by Quantum Financial’s staff and clients.

We are passionate about what we do.

We make a meaningful difference in our clients’ financial lives.

We are proud to call ourselves financial planners.

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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