Twenty-twenty was supposed to be the year of travel for Jonathan Kilborn and his family. A trip to Greece for a conference for his wife was on the cards, along with a family jaunt to Italy and then Singapore for his daughter’s swimming tour were. Which all had to be cancelled due to Covid-19.

He didn’t hesitate when the airlines asked whether he would prefer credits or cash when cancelling the airline tickets. “We took the cash,” he says.

The father of two has been an avid traveller until the pandemic stopped him in his tracks. He’s spent time in Greece, Italy, Denmark, Samoa, New Zealand and seen a lot of the East Coast of Australia.

It’s an enviable lifestyle that Kilborn has worked hard for in the 23 years since forging a career in the financial services sector.

He started out in chartered accounting after completing a business degree at the University of Technology Sydney, opening a small accounting firm in Chatswood. His business partner at the time had a background in superannuation, exposing him to the world of financial advising. Not long after that he made the shift to financial advisor, and he hasn’t looked back.

He moved into Coopers and Lybrand in 1998, which became PricewaterhouseCoopers before purchasing the financial planning business in 2002. That business became Arrive Wealth Management and in 2016, that business morphed into Cardena Private Wealth. “If I were to put it on a CV, I’ve probably had four different employers. But it’s actually been the same clients, the same people, over 20 years or thereabouts,” he says. Cardena has nine advisers on the team, with 150 clients and approximately $500 million of assets under management. Investments are handled via Netwealth.

His clients are mostly high net worth clients. “Most, if not all, of our clients are self-made. They’ve worked very hard for what they’ve created and so we work with them to make sure they make smart decisions and help them manage their wealth and achieve what’s important for their families. We take the role of helping them preserve and grow their wealth very seriously,” he says.

While Cardena is deeply entrenched in portfolio construction and management and related areas like superannuation and retirement planning, it outsources areas like estate planning and personal insurance. “We offer a whole suite of services, but that doesn’t mean we do it all ourselves.”

Kilborn acknowledged that clients have been rattled by the pandemic as financial markets falter, prompting extensive questions about changes to portfolios.

“In a lot of cases, people just want to talk about it to see if our approach has changed in the past nine months. And while they haven’t changed, we’re in touch with clients as often as we possibly can. Whether that’s a phone call, a Teams meeting or email.

“With the anxiety and uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, many of our conversations with clients have been about how they’re feeling about this, and I’m just helping them to work through the many conversations that may be in their mind and try and lower the levels of anxiety and stress.”

The pandemic has also provided a chance to reflect on Cardena’s internal processes as the team worked from home. “This experience has exposed a number of things that businesses used to do in the past that now, on reflection, were not necessarily the best way to do things, but just simply what we did. I also feel I have learned things about my team members that I simply didn’t know and ask about beforehand,” Kilborn says.

He supports the greater emphasis on training and education since the Hayne royal commission. “The extra regulation that advisers need to comply with is simply a ticket to the game”, he says.

“There’s a different facet that didn’t exist before, and now you’ve got to understand what that means in terms of advice. I have a very strong view that professional development and learning is lifelong. Learning is valuable to your clients, to the business and also valuable to yourself.”

Kilborn plays tennis, golf and is an avid AFL fan, barracking for the Swans. He’s also involved in Youth Off the Streets with his family. “It’s important for our kids to be aware that we are lucky and not everybody is.”


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