Sleeping in a tent away from the hustle and bustle is heaven for Chris Morcom.
He loves weekend trips to his block of land in South Gippsland – his childhood stomping ground.“We camp down there pretty rustically at the moment, but one day we’ll build,” the adviser for Hewison Private Wealth says.
“It helps me relax. I love the way the kids go off and explore the bush and they come back when they’re hungry. It’s great,” the 49-year-old Melbournian says.
Surfing and cycling will always be part of Morcom’s life. He cycled from Melbourne to Sydney in the Future2 Wheel Classic a few years ago. A couple of his clients even rode alongside him, strengthening already enviable relationships.
“I love getting on a bike, particularly mountain biking with the kids.”
He’s not afraid to try new things, either. A few years ago Morcom took his kids along to a karate class. He couldn’t resist signing up himself. “I’ve been doing it ever since,” he says. “I love the discipline.”
But leading a team during lockdown has thrown him new challenges, providing the perfect opportunity to be creative.
Online pottery-making and lunchtime pizza sessions during the workday have helped maintain the camaraderie and team spirit during the pandemic. “We’re like one big family,” he says. “It’s great to spend that time together when we can’t be in the office together.”
With a Bachelor of Business under his belt, Morcom didn’t have a specific career path mapped out. Like plenty of others, he sort of fell into financial planning in the early 1990s. “I graduated in the middle of the recession we had to have, which made getting a job for someone who probably didn’t apply themselves at university as much as they should have all the more difficult,” he says.
After dabbling in the banking world and starting his CPA, Morcom was introduced to the founder of Hewison Private Wealth in the late 1990s. After learning the ropes, he became an authorised adviser in early 2000.
And the rest, as they say, is history. Hewison, which launched in 1985, currently has $1.2 billion under management.
The privately-owned firm specialises in high net worth clients. It also has more than 600 self-managed super funds also part of the mix, as well as a few not-for-profits as clients.
Morcom has grown the company’s philanthropic endeavours over the years, taking a particular interest in the legacy someone can leave when they’re no longer around. He sat on the Financial Planning Education Council until last year, helping to develop the curriculum and accreditation process for universities.
Hewison has 39 staff, including eight wealth advisers and one insurance adviser. Advisers are supported by a team of associates, paraplanners and client service managers, with autonomy and empowerment encouraged.
The company’s tech stack is being replaced by a cloud-based system. “I remember someone telling me at the start of this journey that it’s going to be like replacing your spine and I laughed at the time, but it was true. It’s a huge job.”
Morcom believes the financial services industry has too many industry watchdogs that crossover, complicating the compliance process of trying to spend as much time as possible looking after clients.
“There’s too many different regulators all trying to achieve the same thing. When you throw the Tax Practitioners Board and Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority, then the Australian Securities and Investment Commission and the others in, it’s a lot. And none of them are allowed to talk to each other. They can’t share information.”
Morcom named empathy as the most important soft skill to be a successful adviser. “You’ve got to understand where other people are coming from. You’ve got to be able to walk in someone else’s shoes and understand the pressures they’re feeling so that you can tailor your advice in a more effective manner,” he says.
“You also need to have the courage to tell someone that perhaps they shouldn’t be buying their third home, or spend money on that fancy car. And that instead, perhaps they should be doing what they can to achieve their goals and dreams.”