Will Hamilton is a big fan of higher education, and not because it ticks a box or opens doors.
Hamilton is more interested in the way a rigorous education “changes the way you think”.
“When I applied to do an MBA, I needed to get sponsors, and I remember one of the referees, who was a board member, signing the form and telling me how she sometimes questioned what we learned (in the MBA), but she never questioned that it would change the way we think,” he says. “And she was right. The MBA was, for me, about opening my mind and getting me to think about things in entirely different ways, rather than just the content of the course.”
One of the big lessons Hamilton took away from his MBA was that change was the only constant, and businesses that dug in and refused to adapt were headed for disaster.
“If you reach a certain point and think, ‘This is it, this is how things will be from now’, then I think you’re in trouble,” he says.
Hamilton could be forgiven for resting on his laurels, considering his wide and accomplished career. He founded his successful business after a long career in wealth management with NAB and JBWere. Last year, he came second in the inaugural Top 50 Financial Advisers in Australia ranking from Barron’s.
It all began with a fondness for stocks that dates back to when he was a teenager.
“My parents would invest in the sharemarket for me, and I had a mentor, a godparent, who was a stockbroker, and he taught me the fundamentals,” he says. “I thought I would be a stockbroker, too, to be honest, but I really enjoyed servicing clients, so that was the direction I headed.”
Along the way, he has remained acutely aware of the importance of adapting and embracing change – as hard as that is for many of us to do – and has folded the philosophy into his business.
“Every year, at the end of the year, the other partners and I will go away for three days of reflection,” he says. “It’s a time to be introspective about the business. We look at what we’re doing right, and anything we’re doing wrong. If we think something is wrong then we look at how to change it.”
So does Hamilton think change is coming to the planning profession?
“Absolutely. I read somewhere that if something has no value, then we should automate it,” he says. “There is a strong argument for that and I don’t think planners should be afraid of it. Because nothing can replace those relationships with clients, the strategic advice. That is valuable and you don’t automate value.”
Despite Hamilton’s qualifications, under the new educational requirements he may have to do further study. This does not faze him.
“That’s fine, I think the educational requirements are a positive move,” he says.
“You don’t stand in the way of a steam train.”
Name of firm: Hamilton Wealth Management
Name of licensee: self-licensed
Time in the industry: 33 years on July 1; previously general manager of wealth services at NAB; head of JBWere Private Wealth Management; managing director and chief executive, Deutsche Securities Asia in Hong Kong; also worked in London with Baring Securities from 1989 to 1992
Academic qualifications: MBA, Melbourne Business School; postgraduate diploma in applied finance, Securities Institute of Australia (Now FINSIA); bachelor’s degree in accountancy, RMIT
Accreditations: CFP, CPA, chartered accountant
Professional association memberships: Senior fellow, FINSIA; fellow, Australian Institute of Company Directors; fellow, Hong Kong Securities and Investment Institute
Other memberships: Responsible Investment Association of Australasia