Years don’t get much more uncertain than 2020, but Dean Ireland says advisers play an important role in providing stability and direction for their clients.

Regular contact during such uncertain times gives people connection and the chance to talk during a period that will remain tough for at least another 18 months, he says.

The financial adviser is one of the industry’s quiet achievers, preferring to work behind the scenes for his clients. But he keeps finding himself in the spotlight. He has a swag of extra finance-related qualifications under his belt, while staying connected with clients is generating new enquiries, keeping the business at a steady pace.

Ireland favoured economics at school, stumbling across commerce and majoring in financial planning and investments. He landed a job as a paraplanner in his final year of study, opening his eyes to the industry. “It felt good to help people navigate the complexities of their personal finances and that has driven me ever since, leading me to want to continuously improve and learn,” he says.

Genuine curiosity helps an adviser uncover the underlying drivers to help people reach their financial goals, but just as important is the ability to explain complex issues.

“Our industry is filled with jargon and constantly changing legislation. When a client is sitting across from you, your technical knowledge is assumed by the client. Providing the client with the ability to understand will ensure they’re comfortable with the financial strategy and are ready to make decisions when required,” Ireland says.

When markets go up, clients tend to disengage, but when markets fall, clients get concerned quickly, he says. “We always maintain a high level of communication with clients and through 2020, we have been increasing the active communication to ensure clients remain calm through the uncertainty.”

Elston started as a privately owned business with a handful of advisers in 2009. Today, Elston Group remains privately owned and is a vertically integrated business with 90 staff across two business units and $2.6 billion of funds under management.

The private client business, Elston Private Wealth, represents $1.8 billion of funds under management on behalf of approximately 1300 client and family groups, with six offices and 35 advisers.

Meanwhile, Elston Asset Management provides managed account solutions to Elston Private Wealth and external advisers, representing the remaining $600 million of funds under management. The firm utilises behavioural and personality testing during the recruitment process.

Elston holds a Discretionary Funds Managed license, while external platforms are utilised by advisers. Each adviser is encouraged to develop specialist knowledge if they choose to, such as family law or philanthropy.

Ireland is building the firm’s family business solution, having experience in succession planning in the mid-market space. “I’ve found that many clients who rely on their family business throughout their working life can be concerned about how to replicate the income they have been used to in retirement.

“My aim is to work closely with families to identify and implement options to de-risk their exit strategies. Developing a clearly articulated, flexible plan increases their confidence to move on to a new chapter in life, post-business transition or next-generation, or sale,” he says.

Ensuring clients understand their investments and revisiting client strategies to confirm their process towards their goals is a big part of the job. “Overall, we have been aiming to provide a sense of comfort for clients by confirming there is a plan that is being executed professionally on their behalf,” he says.

And while there’s been plenty of negativity around the Royal Commission, there’s been just as much positivity with clients asking more questions and wanting to be actively involved in their personal finances, Ireland says.

“The higher level of engagement has provided us the opportunity to dive deeper with clients to identify underlying drivers and develop real goals with meaning. Helping clients achieve these goals provides tremendous satisfaction for the client as well as us.”

Outside of work, the father coaches his son’s soccer team and he’s often completing mini-renovation projects around the home. Bike riding and family holidays to the snow keep him active.

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