Sam Kitchen, from William Buck, was the NSW winner of the AFA Excellence in Advice Award. He went to the UK to be an accountant at the British Museum, but even going on paleological digs wasn't enough to stop him getting into financial planning back home in Australia.
Why did you get into financial planning?
Accounting for me was too narrow a focus. I liked working more with people than spread sheets. I realised that fairly early on so I pursued a career in financial planning for that reason – I enjoy the communication and the interaction.
How would you sum up what you do in less than 10 words?
Maximising the probability of a client reaching their goals.
What is the best advice you can remember?
I think the best advice was from my late mum, who said be brave, be bold, be free. I try and remember that a lot and I have it inscribed on my suits. Sometimes you have to be different in one's capacity to market oneself within this profession. Instead of the beige accountant or financial planner, I can be a little bit different and be perhaps more engaging with clients. By doing that, not only does the client get a better experience, but I enjoy my work a lot more.
What’s the worst advice you’ve ever heard?
Keep your head down. I don’t agree, it’s not me. It’s not authentic.
Who would be your ideal client?
Keith Richards. I’d just love to meet a man who should by all rights be pretty much dead. He probably didn’t count on retirement planning though…I wouldn’t want to be his insurance agency that’s for sure.
Who’s your favourite sports team and why?
I’m from Brisbane, so the Broncos. But we do work for the Rabbitohs, and I really enjoy that culture over there. They work hard and focus, and take personal responsibility. And moreover they’re always gracious. Having worked with a lot of celebrities and sportsmen over my time, graciousness is a rear commodity.
I think sometimes they become overly focused on what’s in front of them, in the way of playing or training, and often they lose focus on the longer term picture. Working with those guys in particular, they’re astute enough to realise that they’ve only got a short-term career and they have to take care of something after that.
If you weren’t advising, what would you do?
I’d probably say play in a rock band. I can’t sing, but I’d love to do that. If I could do anything and make a living of it…I’d probably sing and guitar, why not go for everything.
Do you have a party trick?
Probably singing and playing piano man, by Billy Joel. I can play it, and sing it, even though I can’t sing. I know all the words, put it that way.
What would you like to have the final word on?
That fundamentally, I believe in our profession. At times, like now, it comes into question, but I believe it fundamentally helps people and we make a difference. I think that should be kept at the core of what we do in our profession. By doing that, we become authentic, and ethical, and client centric. That core belief will guide us through. It would be sad to have this industry or profession disappear, but it’s always possible.