The Hayne Royal Commission aired the dirty laundry for the entire financial services sector in an experience no-one will forget.
Like all advisers, Koda Capital partner Peter Dunn watched on as a litany of examples of inappropriate advice were laid bare for the world to see.
The industry collectively winced as stories of consumers paying ongoing fees and failing to receive regular advice reviews were revealed. It sent shockwaves through financial advisory firms and prompted major questions about the importance of trust within the financial services sector.
But now that it’s all said and done, Dunn questions whether the experience could have perhaps prompted a more significant impact on the behaviour of advisers.
He admits he was bracing for a colossal change in the way the broader industry thinks or operates. But he says this never came, which astounds him.
“I’m surprised the royal commission hasn’t had a more meaningful impact on industry behaviour. Large, global and vertically integrated firms continue to provide conflicted advice that isn’t always in the best interests of their clients,” Dunn says. “They have lost sight of why and how they serve clients, and have been doing so for decades.”
The adviser and partner at the independently-owned Koda admits that the royal commission only steeled his resolve to focus on the importance that trust plays in the client/adviser relationship.
To Dunn, building trust with clients is everything. He puts the best interests of clients at the forefront of all investment decisions when providing counsel and investment advice to family groups and charitable organisations on asset allocation, investment strategy and investment selection.
He’s quick to point out that the only fee he receives is that paid by his client, who can select a flat fee or an asset-based fee. “Wealthy families have taken to our unique model of providing 100 per cent independent and transparent advice,” he says.
Whether you call him old fashioned or new age, he takes a conservative approach to growing wealth, avoiding unnecessary risk in pursuit of providing financial peace of mind. “Every client portfolio at Koda is different and managed in a bespoke way,” Dunn says.
The chartered accountant has 15 years of offshore experience in financial markets with global investment houses advising large institutions. He joined Koda Capital six years ago.
“I was jogging on the spot when Koda’s CEO Paul Heath was looking for seed capital and advisers. It was an incredibly exciting time for Koda, and I loved the shift from advising institutions to a more personal approach of advising wealthy families,” he says.
Today, Koda boasts 30 advisers and manages $8 billion of client assets. Dunn confirms the company has lower client/adviser ratios, utilising a platform to manage client portfolios.
The firm certainly punches above its weight – US financial investment publication Barron’s, in partnership with The Australian’s business magazine The Deal, listed nine Koda partners when released in June this year – over 30 per cent of the adviser team and 9 per cent of the overall rankings. Dunn was ranked 13th in the Top 50 financial advisers.
He admits that the pandemic appears to have rattled some. “Covid has been an unsettling time for our clients and industry participants. Inflated levels of uncertainty and volatility this year has resulted in greater contact with our clients,” he says.
However, Koda portfolios performed well during this time, and the business continues to hire, he confirms.
“Avoiding large negative losses is the most effective approach to growing wealth over the long term, and we did this successfully during the Covid sell-off earlier this year,” he says.
When he’s not having client conversations around tax structuring, giving back to the community, estate planning and intergenerational transfer of wealth, the father of four is with his family.
“Most of my interests are joint interests. We like surfing, skiing, coaching and playing footy and road trips. A healthy life balance is crucial for optimal performance, and I’ve found regular exercise, a healthy diet and plenty of family time helps maintain low stress levels,” he says.