Having the multi-billion dollar QSuper client base as a key client presents a number of opportunities and challenges for Q Invest, one of Queensland’s largest financial planning organisations. With 50,000 clients on the books, effectively servicing such a large group requires a diverse suite of abilities and systems.
“No matter their background, their stage of life, their personal financial complexities, every one of our clients deserve equal respect,” says Peter Gray, a Q Invest financial adviser. “Our challenge is to industrialise the provision of our advice to ensure that we consistently address their needs both up-front and on-going whilst delivering value to them and a return to our owners.”
Q Invest advisers understand that it is not possible to apply a single delivery model to meet the diverse needs and circumstances of their large client base. On a daily basis, Gray and his colleagues grapple with the objective of delivering ‘world-class’ advice in a scalable manner.
What is the best advice for someone with few assets, a large mortgage, and a new family with variable cash flows; what is best for time-rich, asset-rich, retired, empty-nesters who are trying to support their own children and new grandchildren and, yet again, what is best advice for time-poor, cashflow-rich, pre-retirees with a history of multiple advisers, multiple structures and multiple previous marriages?
Understanding how to implement a consistent quality experience, both initially and ongoing, for each of the client groups is an ongoing concern. Gray realises that there are many financial advice delivery models to choose from, but few firms in the world are delivering a diversity of models in a consistent manner.
“The biggest challenge is implementation of concurrent models; the theory is the easier bit,” says Gray. "Actually ensuring that we are consistently implementing will always will be key to our success.”
Horses for Courses
Gray and his teammates use models that focus on three different areas of advice. The first is transactional advice, which is more of a compliant product solution rather than holistic advice. Whether the amounts are in the hundreds or millions of dollars, these clients fundamentally require a product to solve a specific issue. The core of this proposition is to ensure that the required due diligence is undertaken before any recommendations are provided.
“I believe this low-advice model will be a more common reality in the not too distant future and it will challenge a lot of today’s players,” Gray says. “Why impose a high ‘advice’ fee up-front or an on-going ‘advice’ trail, if, for instance, the client simply wants to place their superannuation into a passive fund and, once retired, wants to take their money as an allocated pension.”
The second model is non-complex advice; which is more about ‘care’ than complexity. These clients require ongoing support to ensure that the directions they are taking in their financial lives are consistent with their financial goals. They also occasionally require expertise in the selection of insurances, debt or financial structures. Fundamentally, the financial needs of clients served by this advice model are relatively straightforward.
The third model is complex advice, which addresses the minority of clients with complex financial issues. Complexity might arise out of growing a successful business, or that the client has little time to devote to the many financial issues that they have or they have received advice in the past which needs correcting. Complex issues can require complex solutions, and usually a number of experts are called in to help.
For the last few years, Gray and his team have been working on a method of determining, in the first 90 minute appointment with every new client, how best to implement the most appropriate advice solution for each client. But more importantly, the Q Invest team is also working on ensuring that the implemented solution is consistent throughout the business, regardless of who within the team delivers it.