Friday's final word goes to...

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After 10 years working for a number of ‘conflicted’ financial planning firms, Matthew Ross decided to take a leap of faith and started Roskow Independent Advisory in 2006, which has since grown into a busy, successful firm.

Why did you get into financial planning?

If I wasn’t in financial planning I reckon I’d be a school teacher, education’s always been important to me. I’ve also been a football coach and coaching’s really been part of my life and I’ve always mentored people in footy and other areas of life. So financial planning, I see, as a lot of educating our clients on options, and it had a lot to do with numbers as well, so combining numbers and education for me. I did an accounting degree as well, always been good at math like many people in financial planning.

Best bit of advice you’ve ever given?

Something we do on a regular basis and that’s always to get our clients to make decisions based on what’s best for them, not being influenced by what’s in the media, in the paper or a lot of friends and family saying ‘you ought to do this’ or ‘you ought to do that’.

Worst advice you’ve ever received?

I can’t say the worst I’ve ever received, it’s probably the worst I’ve ever witnessed. The worst was when I worked for people who provided conflicted advice. I’d just sit there and shake my head and say how can you provide that to the client and other people when I can hear you pushing down a certain route to maximise your income. It irritated me for many, many years and that’s what prompted me to start my own business.

What three words best describe financial planners?

Strategy, Confidence and Independence (or objective)

If you only had $50 left, what would you do with it?

I’d buy $50 of food and take it to the park and have a picnic with my family… And then break the bad news to them. Get some bread and meat from the deli. Why not, a bottle of wine for me and my wife…Not much else you can do.

What three things would you like to have in your suitcase on a deserted island?

A footy, my wedding ring (until reminded this would already be on his finger, so he gets another choice), a thick, fleecy jumper and a frisbee – (Who is he going to play with?) Oh, I’d better take a water bottle then.

Favourite meal?

Any Indian curry cooked by my wife, Sarah. Sarah’s an amazing cook so whatever she’s cooking…She gets creative so we never have the same thing twice.

What would you like to have the final word on?

I believe the product providers are a virus in our profession and I think the link between product providers and financial advice needs to be broken...I’d encourage any financial planner who’s employed by a product provider to change direction before it’s too late. I’m getting two referrals a day; I’m in big trouble – good trouble.

Independence is just the biggest secret out there at the moment and our people are just calling us up non-stop looking for someone who’s genuine.

I think there are a lot of people [planners] out there that are lost and go and do something else because they just can’t see a way of doing it the right way.

  • Matt on 28/05/2013 8:41:02 AM

    Appreciate you clarifying that GAB.

  • GAB on 28/05/2013 8:18:33 AM

    Matthew....I'm calling it how I see it. The smoke and mirrors refers to excess regulation and paperwork....not how you portray your business.

    Can't see where my post shows i feel threatened....I'm disappointed, yes....that affordable advice may become a thing of the past. I would love to be fully independent myself, but that doesn't seem to factor into any of the latest reforms.

  • Pat on 28/05/2013 7:43:13 AM

    Hi Peter, how are you?

    I can't speak for CFS and AMP, but I know other platforms, like BT & Macquarie, do not force a licensee to use BT/Westpac's or Macquarie's funds management products, don't you? You do know that you can construct a portfolio including ETFs, LICs, term deposits, cash and funds on these platforms using your own product list at rates that are very competitive?

    I guess you do know that you can do that but you wouldn't be able to clip the ticket on the way through without the client paying for it.

    I guess you also know that constructing a "vertically integrated model" does allow you to clip the ticket and construct a conflicted revenue stream.

    Do you know that the argument "they're [instos] are doing it, therefore so should we" is a little childish?

    Do you know how apostrophes work?

  • Matthew Ross on 27/05/2013 8:11:28 PM

    GAB, I don't mind if you disagree or call me a big noter like Martin, but please don't refer to what we do is "smoke and mirrors". That implies a dishonest, sneaky, untrustworthy behavior. You'd best understand a bit more about things before drawing such conclusions. I don't quite understand why you started your comment with "conflicted remuneration" when that term wasn't mentioned in the article. Maybe it's something on your mind, but if the whole independence thing is due to die soon then I can't see any reason for you to be defensive or threatened by any of this.

    Martin you'll need to accept that this independence topic isn't going to go away anytime soon. It's an essential ingredient in an advice relationship in our view and it's ultra important to our clients. The profession (stop calling it an industry ffs) is only going to get more competitive from here. It is becoming a more mature profession, so accept that others are going to have a different point of view and go about doing things a different way (that comes with growing up).

  • Peter Johnston - AIOFP on 27/05/2013 5:42:23 PM

    Pat, Cormann is considering changing the classification of platforms from INVESTMENT produts to ADMINISTRATION products effecetively ending this ridiculous debate where Insto's and SMSF can be treated in a different manner. In regard to the vertically integrated question, if that's the only model ASIC allows to survive then why try and fight it? If the clients money does not all end up in the platform owners funds management division [like CFS and AMP do] then a platform solution with a diversified portfolio of ETF/LIC/Fundies is no different to a SMSF with a similar porfolio. The whole industry is conflicted, at least if a client is with an independent using an SMSF or 'clean' platform the client will get a spread of options not 80% in the owner coffers. That my friend is the reality.

  • Martin Ball on 27/05/2013 11:01:35 AM

    Platform costs have been falling and many of us no longer target BOLR, trailing commissions paid from MER or bonuses. However, the important issue is providing clients with a reliable and cost effective outcome. Building trust around quality advice is more important than just saying you are independent but perhaps still costing the client more than he would otherwise have been paying. It is important to be honest with your clients. Independent or not independent is not really the main game. So long as there is clarity and honesty then everyone wins. Lets just put the client first and stop the merry go round relating to independence. Lets not make it Industry fund V Independent V Conflicted

  • GAB on 27/05/2013 10:45:04 AM

    "conflicted remuneration"....we are in the finance industry Matthew, not a global charity. Unless you provide free advice, you are conflicted. I've got lots of small clients in managed funds that pay me a trail....but that's affordable advice for them when they need it. But the industry now calls that "conflicted". Now we charge a big fee to cover our SOA and FSG and FDS and opt-in letters....but hey, our advice is now somehow better. Sorry to say, it's all smoke and mirrors....it's up to the individual and their own ethics. Hanging up an independent advice shingle doesn't mean a lot.....perhaps a dying breed if anything...a bit of nostalgia.

  • Pat on 27/05/2013 10:34:16 AM

    @Peter: aren't you pushing for a 'vertically integrated model', albeit with the illusory moniker of being "independent"? This will mean that, by effectively owning the product, you are as conflicted as they come. I fail to see why you can't see that.

    @Martin: fact is (based on ASIC research), most institutionally owned advisers will recommend their own product. Most being 75+%. You can't tell me that an adviser sits there and says: "Bank/Fundy X has a great super fund product, I will apply to work with them so I can sell that great product to my clients". They will think: "Bank/Fundy X is going to pay me the most, offer the best bonus structure, a BOLR if available so I will work with them. That I am forced to sell their products to my clients is irrelevant". There is no problem that an adviser seeks out competitive remuneration, but don't tell me that you believe your employer's product will be the best for every client you see.

  • Peter Johnston - AIOFP on 27/05/2013 9:43:07 AM

    Well put Martin.

  • Martin Ball on 24/05/2013 9:54:27 AM

    You know what I am getting really tired of hearing from these people how independent they are. Many of us that use platforms and or managed funds/shares etc can, believe it or not still operate with ethics, morality and in the best interests of our clients. So how about cutting the independent guru crap and just get on with providing great service to your clients at an affordable price. Our industry needs to grow up. You can be independent and still provide rubbish advice at an expensive cost. Big noting yourself about how many referrals you get achieves nothing in the eyes of your peers.

  • Peter Johnston - AIOFP on 25/05/2013 9:26:22 AM

    Matthew, most would agree with the theory of separating advice and product but when you have a market overwhelming dominated by Institutions operating vertically integrated models and SMSF promoters masquerading as 'non conflicted models' but taking the whole admin fee away from the instos the statement is unfortunately fantasy.No matter how you cut and dice the industry it is all about getting clients FUA into your chosen service/platform/SMSF to charge fees on it and maybe one day sell it!

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