It’s good for business to turn clients away when they don’t need you, because they’ll come back when they do, says Chris Scriva.

Scriva is the owner and a director of Owl Financial Management, which operates on a fee for service basis for Australian Defence Force personnel.

Having experienced being ripped off by a product-pushing financial planner in the late 1990s, Scriva – in the reverse role – is almost overly generous with his time.

“A gentleman came in this week [and] we had a conversation and what he is doing is fine,” Scriva says.

“We have checked his position and given him comfort that what he is doing is going to set him up for later on down the track. We provided him with factual information.

“He asked why I wasn’t charging him – but why am I going to charge you if I’m not doing anything for you? I know he will come back to me at some point in the future.”

While this seems counterintuitive – and Scriva says commercially he sounds “crazy” – it has been the key to the long-term future of his practice.

He recently had a young couple in who were not on the same page [as each other], so he sat them down and talked them through a few different strategies but didn’t charge them.

“People call me crazy, but I’m not too fussed, purely and simply because that’s the trigger point of that couple getting on the path,” he says.

“I don’t know how many times … they’ll keep coming back. That’s how I like to operate.”

Before joining Owl Financial Management in 2010, Scriva worked for a commission-based practice.

“I saw the rolling of clients from one product to another just to get money. That isn’t advice, and that’s not my thing,” he says.

“I firmly believe that if you use a service you need to know what you are in for and [often] that isn’t advice, that is product sales.

“I think we still see it today because it is based on the concept of everyone walking into a bank and being offered financial advice of some description, but that is still focused on a product.”