Tasmanian adviser and winner of Charter State Adviser of the year for her state in 2017, Alison Greenwood has some sage advice for advisers looking at buying a client base to build their practice.

“Do your homework first,” says Greenwood, who started her practice, Financial One, in Hobart, and has been director and owner for the last eight years.

Greenwood says she bought a client base for $50,000 when she was starting her business and found out later that most of those clients had been on the books for only 12 months.

“I don’t think I would ever buy another client base, there are too many variables,” Greenwood says.

That’s not to say buying a book is a bad idea, she says, just make sure you do your homework first.

“Read all of the SoAs and go through every file you can so you get a good idea of what you’re buying,” Greenwood says. “The seller may be reluctant to hand over this information, but you can always make it conditional on the sale going through.

“And speak to someone who has bought a book. Get their advice first.”

Her practice now has eight staff members, including five planners (counting herself) and the firm has a client mix of retirees, people with self-managed super funds and mid-career professionals.

Greenwood was introduced to financial planning when she was working one day at Tasmania’s Motors Group and a woman came in to buy a car who listed her occupation as “financial adviser”.

“I was really curious and I could see that the salary she had written down was quite good, so I asked her about her job,” she says. “She said to me that it was a little bit like what I was doing already, in that it was about people.”

She quit her job at the car company, despite her good salary, and started as a paraplanner at Shadforth.

“I did wonder some days what I had done,” Greenwood says. “I had been earning good money for a 24-year-old, and paraplanning was very hard. I had to do my financial planning diploma and was thrown into the deep end.

“But I was determined, and once I put my mind to something I make sure I see it through,” she says.

Earlier, Greenwood studied psychology at university because she wanted to be a counsellor.

She took regular online personality profile tests, including the famed Myers-Briggs assessment of personality types, and even enjoyed the mathematical component of the psychology degree – a sticking point for many humanities and arts students.

By her early 20s, her path seemed set in stone: study hard, graduate and land a good job doing what she loved: helping people in crisis and communicating with others.

Then something happened that set her on a completely different path.

“My husband and I were ripped off,” Greenwood says. “We were naïve newlyweds and we met up with this financial guy who said he could give us this amazing mortgage product for $5000. “It was, essentially, just a line of credit and it was a product we could have gotten ourselves if we went to the bank.”

When Greenwood realised what had happened, she was both furious and chastened.

“I realised how much I needed to learn about financial literacy,” she says. “I started becoming a lot more interested in business, and the counselling career fell by the wayside.

“Financial literacy, particular among women, is something I’m very passionate about as well. We offer everything from budget planning to direct shares and managed funds,” Greenwood says of her business. “We would like to add younger people to our client pool, but people don’t tend to walk through our doors until they’re in their late 40s.”


Name of firm: Financial One

Name of licensee: Charter Financial Planning

Time in the industry (previous jobs): 22 years (business development manager for Motors Group)

Academic qualifications: bachelor’s degree in psychology; diploma in business; diploma in human resources; and a diploma in financial planning.

Accreditations: Certified Financial Planner, Certified Quality Advice Practice

Professional association memberships: Financial Planning Association, Association of Financial Advisers

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