Setting your business up for the future takes planning. For the team at Aegis Financial Planning, it’s a family affair. We talked to Luke Kidd about how they’ve faced the challenges of 2020 and what they are doing to balance customer experience with business growth.
First off, can you tell us a little bit about your business and the type of work that you do?
We are a family business. Andrew, my dad, is the principal, and I am the manager of advice delivery. My brother, Tom, is taking the next step in his financial planning journey by starting his professional year in February 2021. We provide holistic advice covering all the essential areas - investment, super, retirement, aged care, and estate planning.
We also specialise in providing advice on Commonwealth Defined Benefits (PSS and CSS). This is an area that we have built up over the last fifteen years. We provide advice to people who are part of this scheme and more broadly to clients who are current or former public servants.
What has been the most challenging thing for your business over the last year?
Like everyone, running the business and servicing our clients through the COVID19 pandemic has probably been the biggest challenge. On top of that, we launched our new brand under Centrepoint in January 2020. So, there were additional complications with being a new licensee and getting ourselves set up on that front. I think we’ve done pretty well though, particularly with the working from home requirements. We moved wasn’t already online to digital, so we were able to continue pretty seamlessly.
Even though it was a disruption, it did help to speed up the creation of efficiencies in the business. Things like digital forms and video appointments which were nice to have before COVID have quickly become an essential part of the business.
What were the key considerations when you moved to Centrepoint Alliance?
Firstly, we didn’t have a lot of time to make the decision. It was around three or four months in total. For these kinds of decisions, you would ideally want at least twelve months. During the time that we had, we spoke with a lot of licensees and dealer groups to get a feel for their different offers. What we liked about Centrepoint was the scale that they were able to offer.
We also liked that they are a publicly listed company, as transparency is very important to us. Having transparency gave us confidence in their stability and their business model. When we were considering licensees, we tried to take a long-term view and imagine what the industry is going to look like ten years from now. The non-aligned business model was attractive to us as, when we imaged what the industry would look like in ten years, we think that a non-vertically integrated model is the most likely and most sustainable.
What is important for advisers to consider when planning for their business future?
I think it’s important to make sure you are clear on your objectives. If you’re looking at the longer term, you want to find a partner you can work with for that time. You don’t want to be in a scenario where you are changing licensees often, and so you don’t necessarily want to make your decision purely on short-term incentives such as price. While lower costs might be attractive, can they be guaranteed to last over the longer term?
How do you balance customer experience and business growth?
The last twelve months for us have been about adapting to the increasing level of standards for advice. We have been focusing on our service offering and making sure we are providing the best experience to our clients and that they are getting value out of the advice they receive. We believe this will give us the best opportunity to grow over the long term.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
In our business, we often say that our job is to help people make informed decisions. One of the lessons I have learnt from Andrew is when you are working with a difficult client case, and you’re not sure what to do next, it really helps to go back and focus on the client’s objectives. This helps cut through everything else to help them make informed decisions.
What are you looking forward to in 2021?
We are looking forward to taking the next step for our business next year. Aegis is still in its early stages, and the pandemic has made it all the more challenging. We are looking forward to building on the brand and finding opportunities to provide good quality advice. It will also be great to have Tom on board as an adviser and to extend our team.