Patrick Canion, the principal of ipac Western Australia, says winning the 2016 FPA Professional Practice of the Year award is “huge” for the business and its clients.
“Every day we get up and we try to make our business a little bit better,” Canion says.
“There’s a skill in putting a business together that can honour the commitments that were made to clients 20 years ago, when they first became a client of the practice, that you still have to honour today, but remain relevant to people who walk in the door for the first time.
“So how do you balance that out? How do you provide quality of advice to clients over their lifetime and make sure it’s not one single-person dependent?
“To receive this is tremendous vindication and encouragement that we’re doing something right. Because it’s a lonely business.”
Canion’s firm joined the ipac fold about 13 years ago, and rebranded from RMG Financial Services to ipac WA about five years ago. It employs 12 advisers – 13 if Canion counts himself.
“I have a handful of clients who will not sack me,” he says. He says that while he is the public face of the business “we have very clear processes on how we manage the [client engagement]”.
“So before a client comes in, we’ll have asked them to complete a personality profile, as well as getting some financial information,” he says.
“We match that with an adviser’s personality style. For our existing clients we used to have a problem where an adviser would go on holiday and all those meetings that were due would have to get shuffled out of the way.
“A couple of years ago Julian [Summers, an adviser with ipac WA] brought in a system where the client has a meeting when the client wants a meeting, and they might get a different adviser.
“The clients are very okay with that, because we have a house view on how the advice is to be approached.”
Canion says joining the ipac group was a turning point for the business.
“You had a group of superb financial planners – great business people, similar business models – and all of us wanted to be better,” he says.
Canion says that within ipac WA “we’ve brought a group of disparate but equally passionate professionals together, particularly in our case as we’ve acquired businesses over time”.
“We’ve brought together this quite diverse – in terms of their individual personalities – group and we’ve made it work,” he says.
“And we’ve made it work in a way that appeals to a whole range of clients.”
Being committed to the concept of the FPA’s Professional Practices program is “a touchstone for clients, knowing they are getting those minimum education standards”.
“I won’t hire anyone without a degree or [who isn’t] a Certified Financial Planner as an adviser, not because they can’t be a great adviser but I think we need to have clients relaxed the minute they walk in the door that they will get a quality of advice that can never be doubted.”
In announcing ipac WA as the winner, the chief executive officer of the FPA, Dante de Gori said the association was delighted to introduce this new award category, which “recognises excellence at a business level.”
“There’s an art to running a business, and the shortlisted businesses this year each demonstrated they have mastered this art,” he said.
“The winning practice was hailed an entrepreneurial leader in the provision of financial advice, its advanced use of technology and its approach to marketing of events. This practice is also highly committed to staff development, charity and community involvement.”
Capital Partners, based in West Perth and Enlightened Financial Solutions, based in Mackay, Queensland, were shortlisted for the award.
Disclosure: the editor of Professional Planner, Simon Hoyle, was a member of the judging panel for the 2016 FPA Professional Practice of the Year.