While Tom Blinksell was working as a recruiter for the financial services sector, his parents hit a huge money hurdle.
They faced losing their house, so Blinksell stepped in and sought the advice of a trusted adviser in his parents’ hometown of Canberra.
“My parents had never received financial advice before and they were faced with having their home repossessed,” Blinksell says. “I went and saw this adviser and he was able to restructure investments and they sold the house, rather than having it repossessed, and it turned out a lot better for them.
“Seeing the impact of that advice first-hand was really what led me to decide to go into planning.”
Before then, Blinksell was a high achiever in search of a career he could fully commit to.
A talented cricketer, he played representative cricket to a state level, but realised in his 20s that he was never going to be a star on the Australian team.
“I didn’t want to be playing state cricket and earning $70,000 a year,” he says.
“I didn’t think I had what it took to play in the Australian team.”
So Blinksell went to university and studied physiotherapy, but decided it wasn’t for him.
“It was the same routine day in and day out, and it’s only the one per cent who get to travel with a sporting team,” he says.
Next up was the police force. Blinksell’s sister is a detective in the New South Wales police force, so he signed up at the Goulburn police training academy — only to quit on his first day.
“I knew it wasn’t for me by that stage and I wanted a career with a bit more control over my life,” he says.
“It was one of those jobs where you get ahead not because of your skills, but because of the time you have been in the role.”
So Blinksell took a job in recruiting while he worked out what he wanted to do, during which time his parents faced their financial struggles, which led Blinksell to discover the transformative effects of good advice.
The rest is history, and Blinksell’s rise has been meteoric.
A graduate of AMP’s Horizon’s program, Blinksell has worked with mums and dads, single men and women, the young and the old, as well as high net worth clients.
Blinksell says his mission in life is to dispel a few myths about the planning industry.
The first is that it’s the sole preserve of older, silver-haired men.
“The industry is changing and there are more women planners, as well as younger planners these days,” Blinksell says.
The second is that young advisers are needed to attract the millennial clients.
“The idea that young advisers can only work with Gen Y is not true,” he says.
“As long as you can deliver and you know what you’re talking about then age doesn’t matter, and as a youthful adviser it is possible to attract and retain older clients.”
But by far the biggest mould that Blinksell is trying to break is around the notion of accessibility.
“There is a strong perception that in order to go to a financial planner you need to be rich,” he says.
“But that is untrue as everyone needs good financial advice.”
Blinksell says his fee-based model and scaled approach helps keep his services accessible to both wealthy clients and mums and dads.
“I start clients off slowly and I fix whatever needs to be fixed now for that person or family,” he says.
“Then if more needs to be done down the track, you can look at that later, but it’s all coming from a strategic-based advice set-up rather than selling clients products.
“It’s important to me that I can offer advice to clients from all walks of life.”
Name of firm: Infocus Financial Advice
Time in the industry: Four years; previously with Principal Edge Financial Services in Sydney and before that with AMP in Sydney
Academic qualifications: Bachelor of Science; diploma in finance; advanced diploma in finance
Accreditations: Commencing master of financial planning in 2018