Friday’s final word goes to…

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Amy Rutherford has been in the industry for seven years and is a senior paraplanner at MBA Partnership Chartered Accountants.

Why did you get into financial planning?

When I finished High School I studied teaching for a year at university, and decided that I didn’t know why I was doing that…I ended up getting an admin trainee role which happened to be at a financial planning firm. I didn’t know what financial planning was, I just took an interest in it from there. You kind of fall into it, I guess when you’re a teenager I don’t think anybody ever really discusses financial advice with you.

The thing that really peaked my interest was, the place that I was working at was a real family office – we had the grandparents and their kids, and then their kids – the whole family was clients so you knew all about these people and all about their kids…It was just interesting to be able to see the inter-generational spread of how it all worked.

How would you sum up financial planners in 3 words?

Professional – I think it’s about time we were recognised as a profession I think.

Friendly – I think we’re a lot friendlier than some other people you might visit for professional advice.

Understanding – By rule of law we have to focus on people’s goals and objectives.

How would you change the industry?

I think we’re heading in a pretty good direction industry wise. I think a lot of people have some issues with FoFA and of course not everything in it is perfect, but I honestly think the FoFA reforms are a good thing. I think it’s good to say the majority of the industry were doing the right thing anyway. There’s always that small minority of people that gives us all a bad name and they’re the sorts of people these FoFA reforms are directed at. If you have bulk problems with FoFA reforms then chances are you’re probably not doing the right thing anyway…I’m talking about best interest duty.

What was the best bit of advice you’ve given?

A few years ago I was working at a firm in Brisbane and a lady in her 80’s came to see us for some advice. Her husband had died some time ago and he was quite wealthy so she’d inherited all these shares and managed funds from him. She was still managing these things one by one, nothing was on a single account…over a period of months we managed to find everything and bring it all in and consolidate it all onto a platform. It’s more product advice than strategy, but I think people need to realise that product advice has an impact on people as well and we shouldn’t just discount it entirely.

The hardest client you had?

Recently we had a long-term client’s husband pass away. She’d been left ‘holding the baby’ in a way, and managing that process was rewarding, but it was difficult, too. You don’t want to upset anybody or stand on anybody’s toes and it was interesting managing the process because there’s a stepson involved that was making it very difficult. Managing the process from there and making sure everyone’s looked after was very interesting.

What’s at the top of your bucket list?

Skydiving’s not on the list, I’m not that adventurous…At the moment my focus really is to finish off CFP, which has been rather challenging. I’m only doing my first subject now, but it’s hard work…I’m doing the ethics subject right now and I have to admit it’s not what I expected, it’s a lot more thought-provoking and challenging than I thought an ethics paper would be.

What would you like the final word on?

The amount of regulatory reform. I think sometimes it does go a bit too far. How many times a year is somebody going to come up with a new rule?

I think we need time to see how things are going to work. It was only 2007 that the last set of reforms came in. It’s really not that long ago if you think about it, and all of a sudden we’re doing another massive game changer again. Not that I disagree with the FoFA reforms but I wonder how much time and money is spent on  lobbying and training and doing all the things associated with industry reforms whilst people are also having a whinge about how much financial planners charge their clients. You can’t add all these costs on one end and expect us to be providing pro-bono advice to every man and his dog. We have to eat, too.