Sometimes, Jason Featherby craves the time to head to his favourite fishing spot. “When you’re fishing there’s no phone, no emails, fresh air and complete relaxation,” he says.
Indeed, fishing is a world away from the task of leading a team of financial advisers at Knight Financial Advisors. Based in Perth, Featherby was hired to build Knight Financial from the ground up 15 years ago.
“Initially, I was the only employee. We have grown almost entirely organically to having a little over $800 million in funds under management, 800 clients, four advisers and offices in Albany and Busselton,” Featherby says.
It was a big change from his previous role as a stockbroker, advising institutions and private clients on their investment strategies. “My Dad got me my first real job with a stockbroking firm in Perth, and I loved the dynamic way markets work and learning how humans heave in different market conditions,” he says.
Featherby’s strengths lie in designing bespoke investment strategies, retirement preparation plans and structuring superannuation, which he evolves with changing client circumstances.
He describes client conversations as relaxed and low key. “I’m very interested in clients outside their portfolio and prefer to talk fishing, holidays and how they reacted during recent market events than focus on anything too technical, but ensure they’re as up to date as possible with what’s happening and what needs to be done next,” he says.
The firm uses mostly BT and IOOF platforms for administration and investment of much of clients funds. “By providing complete transparency, clients are much more invested in their portfolios, seem to understand markets better and make better investment decisions,” he says.
“We charge asset management fees based both on what we look after and how it’s invested, with more conservative portfolios typically paying less than those carrying more risk,” he says.
Almost all their client’s money is superannuation money, with the average client between 50 and 60 years of age. “I’ve also been fortunate to be able to do a lot of work with catastrophically injured clients of all ages. These represent a much more different challenge to able-bodied clients in the range of services required, and their focus when it comes to their investments,” he says.
Firms can be sure they’re hiring the best talent by understanding what they’re looking for to complement their business. Warmth, being able to fit in and energy is more important than technical skills, which can be taught, he says.
“Advisers must be able to listen, show empathy and not be afraid to give advice. This means saying no when it’s appropriate and having hard conversations sometimes. Ultimately, clients are there for your advice and opinions and will respect this,” he says
When questioned on the Royal Commission, Featherby was quick to point out the added compliance burden. For some, this may well pull them into shape. Others would have been exiled from the industry for good, he says.
“For us and most good operators, it’s simply an added cost and burden of doing business with no real value. I do hope though, that as a result of the Royal Commission, advisers continue to be better educated and clients given better advice.
“I would also like to think that the public understand that they too have a responsibility when it comes to their money to understand where it is and not put their heads in the sand,” Featherby says.
Outside of work, exercise is important to clear the mind, and he makes a conscious decision not to work outside normal business hours. “Being able to switch off at the end of the day allows time to focus on my family and spend time with the kids.
“I guess a tip would be to remember that there will always be work left to do at the end of the day and it’s okay to get to it tomorrow. Take time to relax and do the things you enjoy,” he says.