Trust | Values | Care
Welcome to the first Exchange for FY2019. In this edition we tell the story of the rich and diverse history of the Collins’ family and their approach to doing business and managing long-term trusted client relationships.
As a relationship-driven firm, we start with the premise that people do business with people they trust and want to build long-term partnerships with.
The Collins’ boys are a clear example of this premise. With three generations of Collins’ working in the advice industry (and a possible future adviser in the wings!) they have built relationships with many clients that has also extended to their family members.
This is a rare phenomenon, but not unexpected when you get to understand the values they share and the importance they place on looking after their valued clients.
Honour the past, celebrate the present and embrace the future.
This maxim encapsulates the Collins’ family ethos and is an authentic reflection of how they feel about working with each other. For three generations, the Collins’ have been working hard to not only navigate the terrain of the finance industry, but also forge strong, lasting relationships with clients based on trust, genuine care and consideration.
We sat down with Russell (patriarch and family business architect), Matthew (one of the current crop of leaders and pioneer of the holistic financial services offering model) and Tim (dynamic adviser using innovative strategies to build both business and relationships), to find out what it’s like to work with family and to identify the practices that are being handed down across generations having stood the test of time.
EXCHANGE: How did the Collins’ family come to be involved in the finance industry and Financial Decisions?
RUSSELL: Working in the public service from 1956 to 1971, I realised it wasn’t a good fit and not where I wanted to build my career. While I was pondering my next move, a friend sold me insurance. We began talking about it and, realising this could be an extremely viable business, he mentored me into the industry.
I started with Prudential as a sole trader, earning a single income with four children under the age of five and laden with a nice, plump mortgage. With my newfound understanding that the most valuable asset we have as individuals is the ability to generate income, I realised that families really needed insurance to put them in the best possible financial position. I felt genuine concern as to what my clients would be able to do if they lost that ability to earn and that spawned my insurance business.
MATTHEW: Dad (Russell) earned a reputation as a hard worker and a man of substance and as a result had a loyal client base. Looking at him as a role model, I loved the concept of not only enjoying work but also helping people, businesses and families at the same time.
I started working in international bank money markets in 1988. By 1997, I had three kids and a mortgage and realised that the type of work I was doing wasn’t conducive to the family life that I desired. My exit strategy was centred on educating myself to make the move to broader financial planning. So, every Saturday for six months, Dad would mentor me on the industry.
In 1998, I went out on my own and modelled my business on his advice. Dad was instrumental in helping me get the business going for the first few years I was in operation. He taught me about insurance and how important it was for family wealth protection. At that point in time there were widespread reforms to superannuation and I thought the marriage between insurance and super was a strong means of helping people retain hard earned finances for the benefit of multiple generations. As this business grew, I went and studied yet again so I could also offer advice and services on the investment side.
Collins Financial Services was merged with Financial Decisions (under Damien Cooper and Brod Brennan’s management) and became self-licensed in 2009 under the Financial Decisions’ banner.
TIM: When I saw how much success Pa (Russell) and Dad (Matt) were having, I was inspired to help people in the same way. I went to university in 2009 part time and worked full time to hone the skills I witnessed them use to great success – from the way they approached the markets to the way they approached relationships.
Starting on the phones and working my way up through the business, I was also able to gain mentorship from Russell, which has made my professional development much quicker. He encouraged me to broaden my scope of experience and so I spent two years at Macquarie Bank working on large investments and managing multiple portfolios.
EXCHANGE: How have previous generations influenced the Collins’ men currently in the industry?
TIM: Learning from their example and fostering enduring relationships is vital and has been instrumental in identifying the modern need for holistic service offerings. People want to be able to have all of their financial affairs seen to in one place with minimal points of contact and minimal fuss, which is exactly what we have created here at Financial Decisions.
MATTHEW: Working with Tim, I see so much of Russell in his approach. We were both mentored by Russell and his clients saw him as a man of substance and someone to be trusted. Our clients have come to see this as a family trait that thankfully Tim and I have inherited and subsequently it has become the culture of Financial Decisions. All of our long-term clients know they will get the same level of personalised care and service as they did with Russell and new clients are drawn to our relationship-first approach that has been handed down the line.
EXCHANGE: In an increasingly VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) world, market trends and client needs have shifted significantly since Russell first started in the industry in the 1970s. As a family, how does having generations of experience help in navigating through change and uncertainty?
RUSSELL: Market trends change like the seasons, so in order to work as closely with clients as possible we were always taught to take clients from “the cradle to the grave”. The evolution of this is that, instead of outsourcing for certain services, for example accounting, we created a succession plan that ensured that we were on top of all our client needs.
Matthew and Damien have excelled in bringing it all together and what we now have is a business with strong, comprehensive and holistic advice across the breadth of financial services our clients require.
Having a strong commitment to our ethos of trust in relationships is critical for our internal culture and rapport with clients. People don’t buy what you sell, they buy WHY you sell it. Most financial products are available from other providers, but our clients choose us because we have integrity and have earned trust over years of service. We are not going to sell a product simply for the sake of selling it and improving our bottom line.
The fundamental component to our success is relationship selling and caring about our clients. Banks are all about transactional selling, but the reality is that people want someone they can trust and have a long-term relationship with. That’s where we excel.
MATTHEW: I still refer to Russell for advice! In fact, all our advisers are mentored by him when they first come on board. His ability to create relationships and handle challenging situations with clients is amazing, so I pattern that element of my style after him. Tim has his finger on the pulse and holds weekly meetings with staff to ensure they are well informed about industry news and uncertainty. We all work together really well.
TIM: John Connelly said, “people have the same basic needs and every client wants the same three things – pay the mortgage off, educate children and retire comfortably.” Unfortunately, university teaches theory, but dealing with families and real people is not part of the degree. Having the other generations at hand for advice is invaluable, as their client service talents are outstanding and are why we have such strong client retention levels.
EXCHANGE: What are the key advantages to working with multiple generations of family members?
TIM: We deal with families, so operating as a family works really well. I deal with the current generation of client families and often Dad and Pa have also worked with their parents or grandparents. This highlights the amount of trust that is placed with us and validates our customer-focused approach.
MATTHEW: You become very involved in your client’s lives – way beyond just managing their money. We need to understand why people do what they do and this requires active involvement in their lives. We care about their family members and consider them in every decision, so when it comes to transitioning wealth from one generation to another the expectation is that they will get the same service or better. This gives them great peace of mind. Additionally, Russell has opened countless doors which have enabled both Tim and I to develop professionally on a level that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.
RUSSELL: As long as love and a sense of obligation to family continue to exist in our society in abundance, there is a strong call to bring balance to family wealth management. One person cannot operate a see-saw. Knowing the importance of family definitely helps us in this industry and we certainly hope we continue to help families build and protect wealth for many years to come.
To talk to Matt, Tim or one of our expert advisers at Financial Decisions, please contact us on 02 9997 4647.
Disclaimer: This publication has been compiled by Financial Decisions (AFSL/ACL Number 341678). Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. While every effort has been taken to ensure that the assumptions on which the outlooks given in this publication are based on reasonable data, the outlooks may be based on incorrect assumptions or may not take into account known or unknown risk and uncertainties. Material contained in this publication is an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter nor relied upon as such. The information and any advice in this publication do not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Therefore you should consider its appropriateness having regard to these factors before acting on it. While the information contained in this publication is based on information obtained from sources believed to be reliable, it has not been independently verified. To the maximum extent permitted by law: (a) no guarantee, representation or warranty is given that any information or advice in this publication is complete, accurate, up-to-date or fit for any purpose; and (b) Financial Decisions nor its employees are in any way liable to you (including for negligence) in respect of any reliance upon such information or advice. September 2018
Contact: Financial Decisions PO Box 484 Mona Vale NSW 1660, T 02 9997 4647, F 02 9997 7407