Most professional planners will spend some time in their life working for a boss they don’t wish to emulate.
They form their planner personality, their business style if you like, by seeing how a superior makes a ham-fisted go at it before resolving to do it better themselves.
In Amanda Pond’s case, however, she was lucky enough to find an inspirational mentor in her first proper planning job.
She had worked in other roles previously — jobs that Pond maintains she “sucked at because she wasn’t inspired” — but it was her role in administration at the age of 21 that changed her life.
“My boss was a really big inspiration and mentor to me,” she recalls. “He was a successful planner, he supported his staff and his office was extremely well-run. His clients also loved him. Yet [he] was very humble.”
His steady influence convinced her to become a planner. Still, it hasn’t been without challenges.
“I felt extremely nervous about becoming a planner at first and I think a lot of women feel that way. I remember a male planner telling me very early on that I would be a terrible planner because I would start a family and it would get in the way,” says Pond, who was recently shortlisted as a semi-finalist in the AFA’s Female Excellence in Advice Award. “I remember thinking, ‘I will show him.’ ”
As Pond gained both experience and confidence in her field, she began to itch to run her own show. She picked up the phone and called her old work boss and mentor.
“He told me that I wasn’t ready yet and I listened,” she says.
About 18 months later, Pond phoned him again.
“I told him that people were asking when I was going to go out on my own and he said that meant it was time,” she says.
“He said that when people start asking you why you don’t do this yourself, you’ve got your referrals right there.”
Five years ago, she started Puddle 2 Pond Financial, which takes a coaching approach to financial planning.
“I am much more interested in finding out what clients want and then working out what they need to do and holding them to account for it,” she explained. “I am not overly focused on turnover or funds under management, what I care about is my clients’ success and the success of my staff.”
Pond has also developed an online cashflow tool, which she calls an “expense exploration tool” that she gives to clients to fill out.
It has proven to be invaluable.
“I developed it for myself because it was no good telling clients to watch their cash flow if I wasn’t doing the same thing,” she notes. “So now I make them fill it out and it tells you more about their money situation than they will ever tell you in person.”
In fact, Pond says the tool, which she is keeping under wraps because she is considering licensing it, is great for couples.
“A lot of marriages break down over finances,” she says. “And that is largely because one person doesn’t quite understand the family financial situation. When that person can see how much they have and why maybe the other person in the relationship doesn’t want them to spend so much, it can make a difference.
“One person even said to me that if they’d had the tool a few years ago, it would have saved their marriage.”
Name of firm: Puddle 2 Pond Financial