An interview with Bob Neill, Seaview Consulting

Future of Financial Advice Business Development financial advisers

April 15, 2021

Since starting in financial planning in 1990, Bob has seen significant changes to the industry, from changes to licensing, changes to business structures and changes to funding and fee models. During that time, Bob has helped hundreds of advisers review their business structures and plan for the future, whether that be selling, acquiring or growing organically. Bob and the team at Seaview Consulting work with all kinds of business from single advisers to multi-platform, multi shareholder operations. Bob shares his thoughts on the financial advice industry and the importance of planning for the future.

Do your clients come to you with a decision already made?

More often they are coming to us without a clear view. Businesses come to us who are not too sure about where to go. Or they are not too sure how to approach a strategic decision, or they need assistance with identifying what to consider. This is particularly true in the transaction space, where people have very little experience. Most people sell their business once. So, they're generally coming to us with unformulated views and looking for some guidance from us, so that they can make the right decisions for them and their business.

And are there any commonalities in the challenges faced by the business you work with?

There are commonalities and these themes change from time to time. Currently, the key issues we are speaking to advisers about has stemmed from the amount of disruption that the industry has faced. There’s been the Royal Commission, education standards, the changing of control of financial services, the exit of the banks, and many other events, including the pandemic, which materially changed work habits. This has led to people wanting to understand ‘where to now’. For many, they know that they want to change their business, but they aren’t sure how. So, for many, we're going back to the foundations of what are they are trying to achieve and trying to drill down to what are their key objectives and how are they placed to achieve them. And if they’re not in heading in the right direction, then how do we help them get into the position they want to be in. And it’s not just about financial goals and economic value, sometimes it can be emotional or choosing to manage their time or energy. We try to understand the emotional, as well as the economic drivers around value for them, and help them identify where they're falling short, or what they need to do to achieve those objectives.

You are hosting a series of webinars for Centrepoint Alliance advisers. How will the webinars you are running help advisers with their decision process?

For me, the three key areas I am hoping that advisers will get from the webinars are:

  1. The need to plan and have a direction.
  2. The importance of not losing sight of all the elements of your business value; there's a lot more to running a business and enjoying your journey than the profit.
  3. To realise that you don’t need to do everything yourself; you can learn from others. One thing I've found working in this industry is that people are very generous with their time and are happy to share their experiences.

What's your definition of success?

To me, success is achieving the goals that matter to you the most. Life experience will shape what's important to you, so those things should define your goals and mission in life and ultimately, success.

What are your thoughts about the future?

We're living in a period of change and that’s not going to change anytime soon. The reality is that we need to take the consequences of the changing dynamics of the industry. If you're running a good business, and you're focused and you're strong, and you adhere to strong ethical, professional principles, you'll succeed and it will deliver you a great life, give you a good income, it'll give you a good journey. And, you meet some terrific people. I think it would be a pretty boring world if nothing changed.

Join Bob at an upcoming webinar

Bob is hosting a series of Business Succession webinars. You can find out more, register to attend or watch previous webinars on demand here