A minute on me - Karen Walmsley, Powe Financial Advice

It’s no secret that the financial advice business is changing rapidly. And for many financial advisers, it can seem like the new demands and requirements are never-ending. That’s why we are starting a new series. ‘A minute on me’ is about hearing from advisers in the Centrepoint Alliance community – what they’re working on, how they’re managing change, and the tips and tricks they’ve discovered to help them navigate the world of financial advice.
We are kicking off the series with Karen Walmsley from Powe Financial Advice in Gymea New South Wales. Karen has been in the financial planning industry for around 11 years. Today, Karen works predominantly with people over 55, with a specialised focus on aged care.

What prompted you to focus on the retirement sector?

I’m interested in this area because I used to be an accountant. I enjoy working out capital gains strategies and anything involved in calculations about when to retire, and how much people will have when they retire. 

What would you say is the best part about being a financial adviser?

Being able to help people and put their minds at rest. I like to work with people to help them see if they can afford their care or what their options are. If they are retired, I enjoy working with them to confirm they can have their desired lifestyle, or at least give them advice about how to use their money with the government pension. 

It’s not always happy news, but when they say, “I feel so much better,” then I know that my job’s done. 

What are some of the things you do that give you stress? How do you manage that stress?

As a sole practitioner, and being an accountant, I am OCD. So, for me, my main stress comes from my workload and not being able to let things go.

I used to work six days a week, 10 hours a day, so I’m looking at ways to manage that. I’ve stopped working Saturdays unless I need to. I’ve also started blocking out Thursday and Tuesday afternoon as ‘client free’ I can focus on completing things and having time for me. 

I realise that I shouldn’t try to do it all myself, so I’ve recently started using a paraplanner. So far, the results have been positive. I’m also about to bring on a HSC student who’s interested in finding out what finance and accounting is about. 

How have you gone about resetting the price of advice?

I knew that the pricing change was coming. And because I’m an accountant, I know my cost to serve. I know what I need to turn over, so I’ve set my fees for new clients based on my cost to serve. And though I’ve increased my fees, new clients haven’t batted an eyelid at the increased cost.

For my current clients, I’ve taken a slightly different approach. For some people, the increase is quite significant, so I’m working out a price that is fair for them. For those that are small, I am starting to remove the commissions and then letting them know what the hourly rate will be if they need advice.

How did you prepare for these conversations? 

I picked someone difficult to have the first conversation with, as if anyone would give me trouble, it would be this client. I basically went through what they were paying the cost to serve and provided a realistic price. It was around a 20% increase.

Surprisingly, the answer I got was “I expected this to come”. 

How do you manage your time to provide a balance between work and personal time that works for you?

Apart from having ‘client free days’, I’ve started working with Calendly. I picked this up at the last PD day. What I can do is block out the times I don’t want to see clients and then send the link so they can set up appointments themselves based on when we are both available. So far, it’s been working well. If a client does want to meet me after hours, they need to speak to me first. 

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Focus on what you can control and do the best you can.