Passion and commitment drives award-winning adviser

on 27 September 2016
Created: 27 September 2016

Financial planner Ben Budge, GPS Wealth’s 2016 Adviser of the Year, shares his philosophy on advice. Greg Holman writes.  

Childhood friends Guy Freeman and Ben Budge knew they had the qualifications, skills and drive to set up a successful financial planning business but even they were surprised at how quickly the practice grew.

From a standing start in 2010, My Wealth Solutions in Brisbane is now a thriving practice that has eight staff looking after over 400 clients and a multi-million dollar annual turnover with 35 per cent profit margin.

In 2014, it launched a mortgage broking arm, My Lending Solutions and last year, Freeman and Budge opened a second office in their hometown of Townsville, which services around 40 clients. For the year to June 30, 2016, the business recorded revenue growth of 64 per cent, up from 59 per cent in 2014/15.

What makes the My Wealth Solutions story extraordinary is that the business’ growth is purely organic.

“Our strategy in the beginning was to grow organically so we didn’t buy a book of business and we never have but that doesn’t mean we won’t in the future,” Budge said.

“We had zero revenue in our first year but we’ve become a very profitable practice and we’re extremely excited about the future.

 

“This is a dynamic business that’s growing at a time when there’s a lot of uncertainty for investors and advisers due to regulatory change, market volatility and dwindling client-bases tied to Australia’s rapidly ageing population. We believe all these factors present an opportunity for good advisers to provide quality advice and add value for their clients.”

Budge’s passion and commitment to quality advice, combined with his strong technical knowledge, soft skills and professionalism, saw him receive the 2015 Rising Star of the Year Award from the Association of Financial Advisers (AFA).

In July, he was also named the 2016 Adviser of the Year by dealer group, GPS Wealth.

The GPS Award recognised Budge’s focus on providing quality, client-centric advice, utilising the dealer group’s client engagement tools and advice processes.

My Wealth Solutions joined GPS Wealth in 2011, the same year the dealer group opened. It was, in fact, the first practice to join GPS Wealth, which has since grown to 86 practices, representing 122 advisers and 125 accounting firms.

 

Building rapport and trust

At a time when many advice practices are struggling to replenish their ageing client-bases with younger clients, Freeman and Budge have developed an enviable rapport with Generation X and Y.

Thirty per cent of the firm’s clientbase are young people who are just starting their financial journey. They fit into the ‘Foundational Wealth’ category.

Around 40 per cent are aspirational ‘Accumulators’ and the remaining 30 per cent are in the ‘Wealth Management’ segment. This segment is made up primarily of retirees who have a lump sum they need invested and managed to generate a stable, reliable retirement income stream for life.

According to Budge, one of his key strengths is his ability to find out what makes people tick.

The advice and client engagement tools provided by GPS Wealth enable him to discover what’s really going on a person’s life and uncover their true goals. With that critical insight, he’s then able to develop a strategy that maximises the probability of a client achieving their objectives.

“There’s so much focus on technical skills, and I agree that it’s essential for advisers to be educated and highly qualified, but to me that’s a hygiene issue,” he said.

“Advisers need to have the knowledge and skill but they also need to be able to tell a story, take people on the advice journey and build trust. They need to talk to clients in a way that resonates with them and they need to be able to identify the gaps between a client’s current situation and their goals and objectives, and then deliver the right solutions and strategies.”

Budge, who counts GPS Wealth directors Rob McGregor and Grahame Evans among his mentors, acknowledges the great support he receives from his licensee. 

“We’re totally aligned with GPS Wealth’s advice philosophy, and the client engagement tools and advice processes they provide are world class,” he said.

Greg Holman is a director of GPS Wealth.