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Podcast Transcript

Episode 96, Season 1

GBA on tour at the FPA Congress 2019 with Andrew Hewison


Fraser Jack: 00:03 Welcome to the Goals Based Advice Podcast where I have conversations with pioneers of the new world of financial advice. I’m your host, Fraser jack. I want to thank you for tuning in today. Coming to you from the FPA Congress in the Kombi van. We’re still on tour and I’ve just dragged Andrew Hewison into the Kombi van, into the back of the van, to have a quick chat. Welcome.

Andrew Hewison: 00:31 Thanks Fraser, thanks for having me.

Fraser Jack: 00:33 How are you enjoying the Kombi experience?

Andrew Hewison: 00:34 The Kombi’s absolutely sensational. As a surfer, I could only dream of having one of these old boys in my front yard.

Fraser Jack: 00:43 They’re pretty great aren’t they?

Andrew Hewison: 00:44 Yeah.

Fraser Jack: 00:45 Now, tell us about you?

Andrew Hewison: 00:48 Personally, or on the business side of things?

Fraser Jack: 00:50 Both. I want to hear both, yeah.

Andrew Hewison: 00:53 Well, I’m a Melbournian, so I didn’t have far to travel to come in here. But I’ve been in the advice industry now for almost 20 years. Quite coincidentally, we’re sitting in the Kombi, the job I had before I became an advisor was working in a surf shop, so there you go. But I’m 39, I’ve got a young family at home. I’ve actually got a six-week-old at home and a two-year-old, so life’s a little... We’re juggling a lot of balls I suppose, at the moment.

Fraser Jack: 01:28 And no sleep?

Andrew Hewison: 01:28 And not a lot of sleep, as well as I’m the managing director of Hewison Private Wealth, which we’re an independent financial planning business here in Melbourne. So I’m sort of busy steering the ship on a daily basis there, and then coming home and trying to support the family. Been a great year, been a long year and looking forward to Christmas, that’s for sure.

Fraser Jack: 01:49 Yeah, exactly right. Now, tell us about the business. What size is it and how many people are involved?

Andrew Hewison: 01:53 Yeah, sure. So we have 36 people. We’re based on St. Kilda road here in Melbourne. As I said before, we’re an independent financial planning business by the letter of the law, and have always been that way and will always be that way. We’re a single discipline, so we’re perhaps a little bit unique these days. We happily just look after the wealth side of our clients. A lot of our referrals over the years have come from other professions, whether it be accounting, legal, mortgage, et cetera. So we’ve been very happy to refer out in a non-financial method, on the basis that we’re good at what we do, they’re good at what they do, and it works quite well. So the team’s actually been growing even more so recently, we’re up to about nine CFP qualified advisors. That’s always been our standard at the advice level.

Looking after clients... Look, on average, our clients have got around a million dollars, so we sort of classify ourselves as that high net worth, although I don’t really like the label, but that’s just... Over the evolution of the business, that’s where it’s gone. But we also are very focused on younger professionals as well. So if you’ve got a longterm plan and you’ve got a drive an ambition to get to that level, then we’re happy to work with you as well.

Fraser Jack: 03:27 And how did the business start?

Andrew Hewison: 03:28 The business was started 35 years ago by my old man, John Hewison. Depending on the age demographic of this podcast, some might know him. He chaired the FPA and been a fierce advocate for fee-for-service advice and independence over many, many years. And more importantly, campaigning for higher education standards. So he’s almost retired, he doesn’t advise anymore. Chairs the board, and I think he’s very happy as we all are, to see the direction that the advice industry has taken. So he started the business and we’ve just grown organically over there. We’re well in excess of $1 billion in funds under management now, but it’s all been organic growth.

Fraser Jack: 04:15 Yeah. This is an interesting story, right? So you’re the second generation coming through. How did you get involved and want to be the one that become the managing director?

Andrew Hewison: 04:23 Well, as I said, I was working at a surf shop, and when my footy career didn’t take me to where I thought it was going to, I thought, “Well,” and I was hitting planning to go overseas as well, to live overseas. And I thought, “Oh look, I better go and see what the old man does before I go, before that ship sails.” And I spent nine months working, and I think within six weeks I’d started the advanced diploma. Came back and continued on. But look, from the outside looking in you’d think, well I share the same surname, so it’s still a family business. And whilst I’m second generation, we’re a very corporatized model now.

I purchased equity 10 years ago along with other people who are the planners in the business, and they’re all now my business partners. And a few years ago when John stepped out, I effectively applied for his role and I’ve been doing that now for about five years. And it’s interesting because, again, there was a session yesterday where... I can’t remember the gentleman’s name, but he was talking about the evolution of their business and how he now is the MD of their business, but one of the transition points was he had to step away from the advice side. And I’m going through that at the moment. For me to be fully focused on the future of our business and seeing it grow in the strategic direction that we want it to, I don’t have the ability to do all those things now, so I’m going through that transition process as well.

Fraser Jack: 05:54 Yeah, fantastic. And what are the things you’re working on for the next sort of 12 to 24 months?

Andrew Hewison: 05:58 Mate, same things I’ve been working on for the last 24 months. It’s all about integration and implementation of new software and new systems. Interestingly enough, our business is... And it’s interesting being in this trade hall and meeting new people, and when they say “What platform are you on?” And I say, “We’re not on a platform, we never have been.” “How the hell does that work?” We had built, and are still using a proprietary based software which acts as our CRM compliance tool, portfolio management capabilities as well. But obviously we understand and have known now for some years that that rollercoaster is gone well beyond us and we need to figure out. So we trialed a few different pieces of software, like more your off the shelf software. And I won’t name names, but they were okay but they just... After 12 months of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, we said, “Look, we need to take another view of this.”

So at the moment I’m happy to sort of share, we’re looking at... We’ve partially implemented Salesforce at the moment to manage our new business pipeline, but that’ll become a CRM. We don’t do accounting but because we do the administration of portfolios we’ve implemented or implementing Class. We trade direct through OpenMarkets, an online platform, and we’re using a piece of software which you don’t see around the trade hall just yet because it is still very in its infancy but it’s called Portfolio Cloud. And that’s going to enable us to continue managing our client portfolios very efficiently and communicating with our clients. Because we don’t have an MDA so we need to get their approval.

So it’s about implementing those systems but also making them integrate together. And something I’ve learned over the last few years is you can say you’re open source all you like and that you’ve got an API, but it’s not worth the paper it’s written on generally. So there’s a lot of money involved in if you want to do something like this and blaze your own trail, you kind of have to pay for those integrations to occur, which is not a simple thing.

Fraser Jack: 08:17 There’s not a simple thing for a smaller practice in yourself, and it’s still a big thing for a practice of your size.

Andrew Hewison: 08:23 Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Fraser Jack: 08:25 And how are you finding the Congress?

Andrew Hewison: 08:27 Well, it’s great. It really is great. I mean that sincerely, I call a spade a spade. We dropped off the FPA Conference probably five plus years ago after attending without fail every single one. Content dropped off a little bit. Obviously with the relaunch of the Congress... This is my first one in a few years with a growing team. We sort of divvy up who travels interstate, but we’re all here because it’s in Melbourne, and I’m finding it... We’re only what? Half a day or so in, but so far... I always say to my guys, “If you get just one piece, one thing out of an experience like this, it’s been successful.” And I’ve already taken pages of notes, so I look forward to the rest of it as well.

Fraser Jack: 09:10 Yeah, fantastic. Now what’s the big focus point, or what’s the big change planners have to do or make for 2020?

Andrew Hewison: 09:18 Honestly, I would say it’s a mindset shift. We constantly talk about acting in our client’s best interests, and we’re there for our clients. And I don’t think anyone disputes that. People do it in different ways and they believe in what they do, and I’ve got full respect for that. But just this morning, and nothing’s changed for three years, particularly people on stage they talk about, “Oh we’ve been beaten around and our confidence is low.” And I think it’s all about attitude. Honestly, I’m a real big advocate for a positive mindset and a positive attitude. You don’t make your own luck, but positivity breeds positivity.

And I think we just need to embrace these changes. Because that’s another frustration that I have is, I see people... Not necessarily your 60 pluses, but it’s people that are continuing to whinge about the education standards required. And I mean, I’ve been doing this for 20 years. I have to do a few units. There had to be a line drawn in the sand, and some people are going to get caught on the wrong side of it. But embrace it for the betterment of the industry and yourself as a professional, and then we can all just move on.

Fraser Jack: 10:37 Yeah, fantastic. And if you could do your journey again, go back in time and have a do-over, what tips would you give yourself?

Andrew Hewison: 10:44 Well now you’ve really got me on the spot there. What tips would I say to myself? Look, I’m not perfect, but I don’t think that I would... I wouldn’t change a hell of a lot. To answer that question fairly, I’m not someone that really looks in the rear vision mirror that much. I think in this day and age, I think for me it would be more about how I handle stress than anything else. Because it’s probably a more of a genetic thing previously around watching... But okay. Okay. Don’t sweat the small stuff, okay? So if 95% of your business is going really well, don’t sit there and moan and complain and get down on the 5%, which isn’t necessarily bad, but could be improved. But just be more appreciative of what’s going well in business, not necessarily what’s going bad.

Fraser Jack: 11:38 Fantastic. Thanks so much for chatting, hanging out in the Kombi for a short space of time, I really appreciate it.

Andrew Hewison: 11:38 Thanks.

Fraser Jack: 11:43 And sharing your words of wisdom. Thank you.

Andrew Hewison: 11:45 Thanks Fraser.

Fraser Jack: 11:45 Cheers.

If you haven’t already, I’d love you to subscribe to the podcast on your podcast platform of choice. And to continue the conversation, head over to our social media channels. We’ll catch you next time.



Disclaimer: This document is a transcription obtained through a third party. There is no claim to accuracy on the content provided in this document, and divergence from the audio file are to be expected. As a transcription, this is not a legal document in itself, and should not be considered binding to advice intelligence, but merely a convenience for reference.