Like many financial planners, Robert Reid finds the shifting goal posts of regulatory changes tiresome.
But he argues they’re fundamental to lifting the reputation of the industry and atoning for the scandals of the past. Those scandals that may have been caused by a few unscrupulous and unethical advisers but, as he notes, the stain has a way of spreading to affect the reputation of the entire fraternity of planners.
“It’s easy to bitch and moan about regulation, and it remains an ever-present concern, but we have to remember as an industry that we have brought this on ourselves,” he says. “It’s because of our own behaviour and if we want to move towards self-regulation of the kind they have in other industries, such as accounting, then we have to earn the public’s trust.”
While this means a degree of flux and uncertainty as regulatory frameworks change and laws introduced, it also means the industry is flushed of any lingering snake oil salesmen.
“It’s a shifting landscape, but the upside is as the regulations get tighter the people who are in it just to make a quick buck will get out and will leave it to the rest of us, who want to turn the industry into a profession,” Reid says.
It’s not quite there yet.
When Reid tells people at barbecues what he does, he elicits three reactions. Some people have never heard of planners, some react negatively due to the scandals they have read about in the media, while others are positive.
“Those who are positive are generally those people who have actually been to a planner,” he says. “They realise it’s about planning for the future and is not just sales and insurance.”
Before Reid entered the industry, he had little idea of what planners did.
He left school unsure of what he wanted to do with his life so he enrolled in what he calls, “the degree you do when you don’t know what you want to do”, which was a bachelor of liberal studies at Sydney Uni.
“It allowed you to draw subjects from the science and arts faculties,” Reid says. “It was the ultimate procrastination degree.”
Reid, however, deferred uni to work as a short-order cook and get some life experience, but then an acquaintance offered him a cadetship at a Sydney accounting firm.
He subsequently enrolled in a bachelor of business (accounting) and while he liked the academic rigour of the course, he realised quickly that accounting was not for him.
“I would look across the desks to what the financial planners were doing and think that I was better suited to that line of work,” he says.
Reid got a break in paraplanning before moving into planning, where he has been happily ensconced for almost 10 years.
“I think in many ways accounting and planning are like chalk and cheese,” he notes. “As an accountant, you are bayoneting the wounded and dealing very much with what has happened in the past 12 months and tidying everything up after the fact.
“What I like about planning is that you are looking more to what is happening in the future. And I also think planners need to be a bit more comfortable with uncertainty than accountants are.
“Because the future is unknowable.”
Name of firm: Eqeus
Name of licensee: Fortnum Private Wealth
Time in the industry: 15 years. The first five years were spent as an accountant in a mid-tier firm, the last 10 years as a paraplanner then financial adviser.
Academic qualifications: Bachelor of business (accounting), master of economics, graduate diploma in financial planning
Accreditations: Certified Financial Planner
Professional association memberships: Financial Planning Association
Other memberships: Most Trusted Adviser Network