Being named one of the country’s top 100 financial advisers in the Barron’s list puts Kate Golder on a career apex some can only dream of.

After a brief stint in accounting, Golder relocated from Brisbane to Sydney and started working with one of the big fund managers. “It was an excellent career path for a new graduate, and I was provided with training across all areas of the business include super, pensions and investments,” she tells Professional Planner.

Golder completed post-graduate studies in financial planning and joined what is now Alteris Financial Group in 2003 as a paraplanner before becoming an adviser. Three years later, she became equity partner.

Alteris is a privately-owned, self-licensed business with $1 billion in assets under management on behalf of around 540 private clients and their families. The wealth team includes seven financial advisers. Golder moved home to Brisbane in 2018 to head up the Queensland business.

Business revenue is around $18 million and clients pay on a hybrid fee-for-service basis, which is a combination of both flat dollar fees and percentage fees. There’s also an accounting division and an aged care advice business.

Alteris has three wealth divisions – wealth, accounting and lifestyle and care. “We talk about ‘prosperity for life’ – that is that we offer a service that can assist our clients at each stage of their financial lifestyle,” Golder says.

“Our wealth team will work with clients through all these important milestones right through to when the time comes to plan for retirement, and beyond. Many of my clients have been with me for 10 or more years. We’ve been through volatile markets with the GFC before and they understand the long term strategy we’re looking to achieve,” she says.

“For example, we have clients who come to us when they’ve started a business, or had their first tax return completed. Down the track, our accounting team has supported them with complex tax planning strategies. Then, they buy their first home or start to accumulate super or other investments, or they need risk insurance,” she says.

Because Alteris is self-licensed, the firm isn’t limited to the products and services it offers its clients. “We offer both MDA (managed discretionary account) and SMA (separately managed account) portfolio options with listed investments including direct shares and unlisted assets, including property syndicates,” she explains.

“I often feel my job involves part-financial planner and part-counsellor. Clients trust advisers with their finances, so while numbers matter, it needs to be explained well, and clients need to feel that advisers have their best interest in mind, otherwise the relationship won’t work. Trust is key,” she says.

Advising during the GFC taught her a lot, so once Covid-19 hit, the firm bolstered client communications immediately. “It’s crucial to keep in constant contact with clients during volatile times like we’re experiencing now,” she says.

“The most important lesson for me is to control the things you can, and not let the things you can’t control stress you. That’s obviously easier said than done sometimes, but I’ve been much better at dealing with market and business stress this time around.

“One of the investment strategies at Alteris is to recommend to clients that they don’t take on more market risk than they do to achieve their goals and objectives. That can mean you give up some upside when markets are running hard, but it also means you protect your capital and have less downside risk when markets sell off.”

Golder predicts that the effects of the Hayne Royal Commission will be far reaching over the coming decade, however many of the reforms have been delayed due to Covid-19 and will require legislative change by the government.