It’s been quite a whirlwind week for Patrick Canion.
The principal of ipac Western Australia took out the 2016 FPA Professional Practice of the Year award last Wednesday night, an honour Canion says took him by “genuine surprise”.
“When we were nominated in this category we were so excited because the businesses we were up against were so good,” Canion says.
“We felt by being nominated that we had already won.”
The win marks a celebratory moment in a life punctuated by setbacks, challenges and trials.
Canion is at the top of his game now. He has found a job he loves and leads a team of 12 advisers.
But he had to lose it all to find the right path in life. By the time he was in his late 20s his marriage had ended, he was unemployed — having quit his job as a pastor at the Assemblies of God church — and was clinically depressed.
During this long dark night of the soul, he took some time to think about where he was going in life, and the kind of person he wanted to be.
“I thought that I would make sure I did something I enjoyed for a living and I didn’t care about how much money I received,” he says.
“I also pledged that I would listen to my own judgment on matters. In the past, if someone questioned my judgment or a course of action I was taking, it would force me to question whether they were right, a sort of misguided humility, I suppose.
“But these days I trust myself.”
It’s a philosophy that has clearly put him in good stead as Canion takes a personal approach to clients that’s about helping them get where they want to go.
“At first glance it seems that making money in planning and helping people is contradictory,” he says.
“How do you ensure a feasible business without compromising on the very human and ethical relationships between adviser and client?
“Well, I think it is possible to do both. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.”
Canion is a big supporter of new professional standards legislation that mandates higher education, professional and ethical standards across the industry.
But he notes that they often have the unintended consequence of making advice more expensive for the average consumer.
For example, if firms must ensure minimum education as well as professional standards, this can lead to any extra overheads or costs being passed onto the client.
“And the average consumer has no real appreciation for the cost of providing financial advice,” Canion says.
“Until we can be trusted to self-regulate, these costs just keep getting passed down.”
Many consumers baulk at paying thousands of dollars for experienced financial advice, he notes.
“For the past 15 years we have had the same establishment fee of $4000 for our advice and we get more resistance to that now than we did in the [late ’90s],” Canion says.
This is partly due to the fact that the client base is getting younger as more and more people realise the need to start organising their finances earlier.
“These are people who are much younger, they have fewer assets but they know they need someone to help them,” Canion says.
“But the challenge is that these people can’t afford the services that we offer and… do we turn our back on them?
“And we decided that we didn’t want to walk away from that market.”
As a result, ipac offers a cheaper, scaled down service that is more tailored to their needs.
“It’s still a good service, it’s just scaled down and priced accordingly,” he says.
“It helps the clients when they are younger and these are the people who, in 10 years’ time, may be wanting more of a relationship with their adviser and we’ll be there.”
Name of firm: ipac Western Australia.
Name of licensee: Charter Financial Planning.
Years in the industry: 32.
Academic qualifications: DipFP; Master Applied Finance & Investment; Company Directors Course.
Professional association memberships: FPA; Fellow FINSIA; graduate member Australian Institute of Company Directors; non-executive director of Future2 Foundation and ASX-listed Intiger Group.