Young advisers can be 'advisers for life'

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Chris Black, director of Toowoomba advice business Fortress Financial Planning, is only 28 years old. He is part of a new breed of young advisers with fresh hope and big plans.

Black, who became a Suncorp Bank financial planner aged 23 before starting his own business last September, says younger advisers have an advantage over their more weathered counterparts as they adapt to change more quickly.
“Coming into the industry now, there is constant change. It seems a positive thing. Younger generations are used to [change] but older generations potentially don’t adapt as well.
“The educational requirements are a lot stronger now, so we get a good grounding and it’s more comprehensive.”
Being young means Black, a keen rally driver and new parent, can attract a younger clientele that he can relate to through similar interests.

“It’s great because it’s promoting the value of advice to a different generation…which is valuable because an adviser can be one contact point for life – an adviser for life,” he says.

But this does not mean he is at a loss when dealing with older generations. Younger advisers can hold their own in the industry “as long as you’ve got a good standard of technical knowledge” and feel comfortable and confident talking about finance to people who have been on the planet a lot longer, says Black.

Has he ever had a client sneer that his youth is an indicator he is a bit ‘green’?

“I’ve never had anyone say anything to me, but whether they think it is another thing. But when you spend time with your client, you can easily overcome that objection.  

“Getting experience is part of becoming successful. Everyone’s got to have their first day in the industry.”

And after five years in the industry, Black has learnt it is critical to build a loyal and engaged client base.

He says he focuses on spending time educating his clients through a holistic advice process, as education, transparency and understanding finances empowers people to make better decisions.

“Financial stability and wealth should be accessed by everyone. I like helping clients reach a certain goal, love seeing the work we do come to fruition. It feels good to help people in their darkest hour,” Black says.

“The typical person doesn’t have a financial plan and therefore doesn’t know how to reach their financial and lifestyle goals without one. This is prevalent particularly amongst the Gen X age group where people are busy and burdened by family and mortgage commitments, and are [just] keeping their head above water.”

Fortress Financial Planning has an IFA licence through Suncorp, and Black hopes to expand by employing more advisers this year. 
  • A Bottomley on 10/01/2014 3:27:57 PM

    I am a 35 year old Adviser (I have in the industry for 14 years) and I tend to agree with Merv Gay.
    While I have the utmost respect for my fellow 'young' Advisers, there is something to be said about just getting on with the job and less of the sexy flashy stuff.
    I guess there is room for everyone.....

  • James Smith on 7/01/2014 10:55:36 AM

    All the best for the young bloke having a crack but for goodness sake he has been in business 5 minutes ( sorry 5 months ) and is already making claims that he has an advantage over more weathered counterparts as he adapts to change more quickly ? It typifies the attitude of Gen Y who think they know it all and have little respect for the experience of others. I am also amused at this value proposition that is based on an ability to adapt and change. So are share markets and investor behaviour different now to what they were 20 years ago ? Is customer service and quality of advice measured any differently now ? The other irony is that Gen Y will typically respond to comments such as these with accusations that I am afraid or threatened by them ? Perhaps one day when a client leaves our practise to join them we will have cause for concern. Until then, recommend that these young guys/girls get some sound advice around cash flow for their business models ( from someone separate from the rah rah business coach who receives a retainer for their encouragement ) as they will need a lot more than an ability to adapt to survive. Then again, what would I know !

  • Merv Gay on 7/01/2014 10:03:31 AM

    Gee, Alan's a bit huffy this morning.. Love the comment from GAB...Reminds me of another quote from years gone by. Oscar Wilde maybe?" Why is youth wasted on the young?" Merv Gay

  • Merv Gay on 6/01/2014 6:04:21 PM

    I didn't say I was "afraid" of gen y, how could anybody read into my comments that I was "afraid of gen y." I don't need to "get over" anything, merely a comment that young advisers don't necessarily adapt to change better than older advisers which the guy asserted. I mean he started it, didn't he? Give me some commons sense argument please - I gave you some..and you may not have woken up to it yet you two sleepy heads, it's 2014 not 2015. Ha ha......

  • GAB on 6/01/2014 5:25:49 PM

    Funny how the younger folk think the older folk have always been old.

  • Alan on 6/01/2014 3:47:23 PM

    Had a good laugh reading Merv's letter and while some of it is possibly tongue in cheek, most of what he says is true. I am one of the "oldies" now and this is turning into a sad industry because ASIC and others are generating a climate of fear and intimidation. Yes there are that many changes now and over regulation that the whole damn industry is becoming a joke. No one trusts ASIC and ASIC bureaucrats trust no one either. We have business conditions as tough as I have ever known them with the big banks, big super funds and the on line rush now killing good advisers. Then on top of that we have the regulatory nanny state nonsense. Give me a break, you young gen whatevers can have it, I'm off to happy retirement land SOON....

  • Shane on 6/01/2014 3:00:43 PM

    Good luck Chris, I always love hearing about new businesses starting and enthusiasm to make a difference. At the end of the day, that's what we as advisers do, be that as a young adviser or an older adviser. All the best on your journey....

  • Steve Michaels on 6/01/2014 1:29:42 PM

    I agree with Black's comments and gen y advisers have a lot to add to our industry. Yes they have been given more of an apprenticeship and things like mentors and training, CPD etc, however they are generally professionals who want to make a career out of finance and that is a great thing. And hopefully one of them buys my practice so I can retire!!!

    Merv, not sure why you are afraid of gen y, but hopefully you can get over it in 2015 if this is your focus on day 1 of work.

  • Merv Gay on 6/01/2014 10:28:18 AM

    Ah Gee, Great to be back to work and learn first day back that younger advisers haver an advantage over older advisers as they "adapt to change more quickly." Well, I disagree young man. You haven't had much change put in front of you in the five years you've been in business where us wiser men have had some forty years of change affecting our business lives and coped admirably. Come back to me in thirty five years my wise young man and tell me then how you've "weathered." What a lot of rot. Have a look at the statistics of the people who don't survive in this business, they're all young and can't hack the pace. They're pampered to usually with registers given to them, they're "mentored," they're "coached," they're "seminared," they're taught to climb mountains and swing through trees, feted because they're generation X or Y or whatever the current buzzwords are for them, and most can't spell, or add without a calculator, and have difficulty being "themselves." It's all about "brands" these days, web sites, mission statements, blah blah ad nauseum. All rot. Just be yourself and service the people. I note our young journalist is "not at a loss when dealing with the older generation." Well, golly gosh, neither are we, and we're also welcome in our now third generation families of clients when young people listen to us, because we demonstrate that the knowledge we dispense has worked for us and their mothers and fathers and their mothers and fathers parents as well. Don't knock us young man - open your ears and listen, you may well learn something......Merv Gay

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