10 June 2016

Certainty Advisers dominate national financial planning awards

Two leading advisory firms, linked to new consultancy Certainty Advice Group, have come out on top at the recent BT Licensee Select Awards.

Victoria-based financial planner Ben Lancaster, whose practice DMG Financial Planning was named 2015 Licensee Select National Practice of the Year, attributed the firm’s success to its non-conflicted advice model, ongoing business coaching and the hard but right decision in 2008 to give up “significant” platform rebates.

He said the group’s early move to charge a flat fee for advice and subsequent decision to reject volume rebates empowered it to reinvent its proposition and deliver greater value and certainty to more clients.

“It was a fair bit of revenue to give up and it was the height of the GFC but we knew it was the right thing to do. The business would manage with the great team we have and hopefully the clients would be positive. Rebates effectively subsidised our advice fees but we wanted to remove any perception of a conflict of interest even if that meant higher advice fees,” he said.

“By separating advice from product, we can clearly hear what our clients are telling us and provide a more comprehensive service tailored to their specific needs and objectives.”

According to Lancaster, none of the firm’s clients baulked at the changes, proving that consumers will pay for advice if they can gauge value for money. The flat fee model also allowed the business to work with clients they previously would’ve turned away because they either wanted non-investment financial advice or didn’t have meaningful investable assets.

Lancaster recognised the partnership between DMG Financial and Certainty Advice Group (formerly Strategic Consulting and Training) as a key factor behind the firm’s ability and confidence to break out of the traditional advice mould and chart a new course, which put the client firmly at the centre of the advice process.

“As a fee-based business, we’re constantly being asked to articulate our value proposition and justify our fees which we boldly do,” he said. “We have clients who don’t invest a cent though us, but we help them in other areas such as business development, succession planning, budgeting, debt management, insurance and estate planning.”

Runner up in the 2015 BT Licensee Select National Practice of the Year Award, William Buck NSW, also has a close association with Certainty Advice Group.

Fausto Pastro, wealth advisory director at William Buck NSW, said the Licensee Select award provided independent confirmation of the group’s client engagement process, value proposition and investment methodology, all of which was evidenced by client retention and client referrals.

Certainty Advice Group’s new Certainty Adviser designation signifies a professional adviser who specialises in the removal of uncertainty and is focused on delivering improved client outcomes.

Certainty Advice Group managing director Jim Stackpool said the success of DMG Financial and William Buck NSW in the BT Licensee Select Awards followed the achievements of fellow Certainty Advisers Troy MacMillan and Scott Farmer, reinforcing the power of the Certainty Adviser approach.

MacMillan’s practice TWD in Perth was named Telstra’s 2014 Small Business of the Year, Western Australia while Farmer’s business Bravium Financial Planning was a finalist in the 2014 Telstra ACT Business Awards.

Stackpool said all four advisers exemplified the attitude and characteristics of a Certainty Adviser.

“With the Certainty Adviser model, the adviser becomes the ring master for their clients’ financial lives,” Stackpool said. “They have no bias to a particular product, structure, manufacturer or advice speciality but provide ongoing service, reassurance, wisdom and value as they go on the financial journey with their client.”

Source: Certainty Advice Group