Travis Schindler thought he wanted to work for a global company, in a heaving office, with the pace and pressure that comes with managing billions of dollars of clients’ money.
But when he got there, it wasn’t quite what he expected.
“When I graduated, I was working for a global derivatives trading company and I was helping to manage people’s money on the platform,” Schindler says. “It was a great role and it taught me a lot, but clients were referred to as numbers. That’s how they were identified.
“I started to ask myself if this was how I wanted to spend my time, whether this is how I saw my career unfolding.”
The answer was no, it wasn’t. Schindler loved the financial aspect of his work, but longed for more client contact.
So he did what many accountants, bankers and traders with good social skills have done, he joined a planning firm as a way of balancing his love of numbers with his equally strong love of people.
“I’m a real people person and I felt that my previous job was as a glorified 24-hour call-centre worker,” he quips. “There wasn’t a chance to build those relationships.”
This was a little more than three years ago, long before the Hayne royal commission had been initiated and its revelations of institutional misconduct and conflicted advice had aired.
Nevertheless, Schindler eschewed the larger institutions and headed for a boutique firm
Hewison Private Wealth markets itself as fiercely independent – yep, it uses that word – and is self-licensed.
There is a little under $1 billion in funds under management at the 30-year-old Melbourne business, which employs 27 staff, including five senior advisers.
“It’s not the case that bigger is necessarily better,” Schindler says. “Some people assume that the best career path is with one of the bigger firms or institutions, but I beg to differ. Especially these days, in light of the royal commission, I would argue that it’s better to be with a boutique firm.
“It also allows you greater access to more parts of the business.”
Schindler advises recent graduates to look for a business with a clear career path – and not necessarily one that lets you start at the top.
For his part, Schindler joined Hewison as a client services manager, which he cites as “crucial” for preparing him for his current role as a senior associate private client adviser.
“My client services role involved implementing the plans that advisers had devised, and there was a lot of liaison with clients and explaining timelines,” he says. “It’s so important to have that training ground because you need to be able to shadow senior advisers and see how they handle certain situations.
“You have to learn how to handle telling clients that perhaps you’re not the right firm for them or how to handle them crying in your office for whatever reason.”
Schindler hopes to become a fully fledged adviser at the firm in the next 18 months, but isn’t too stressed about the timeline.
“Sometimes you get impatient to get going, but you can see how this lead-up is so important,” he says. “I am also pleased by the fact that there are plenty of career opportunities in front of me and that there is a clear path for advancement.”
In fact, Schindler recommends other young advisers look for a discernable career path when deciding on a firm to join.
“Look at the management and see where they came from,” he explains. “If they have been working their way up over the years, then that’s a good thing and preferable to the owners hiring senior staff from outside, as a general rule.”
A healthy workplace culture is another important criterion, Schindler says, and rates as highly as ethics and independence.
“If there is a lot of staff turnover, you have to ask yourself why,” he says. “Staff turnover is also not ideal for developing relationships. Clients need to feel that their adviser will be with them for the long-term.”
Name of firm: Hewison Private Wealth
Name of licensee: (self-licensed) Hewison & Associates
Time in the industry: Three years in the financial planning industry and 14 months in unrelated financial services roles.
Academic qualifications: master’s degree in financial planning; bachelor’s degree in banking and finance from Monash University; graduate certificate in applied finance
Professional association memberships: FPA associate member
TOPICS: Hewison Private Wealth, Travis Schindler