Client service specialists in financial advice are increasingly looking at setting up as independant consultants, emboldened by both the pandemic-fuelled digital age and the willingness of practices to utilize more bespoke services.
While paraplanning consultants have been successful at setting up consultancy practices across the industry, both here and overseas, clients service providers have traditionally been seen as low-cost in-house elements of practice operations.
According to Perth advice recruitment consultant Simon Burke, this dynamic has changed over the last two years, with domestic client service providers increasingly eschewing full-time employment to work for assorted practices on an ad-hoc or contract basis.
“We’re seeing it all over Perth,” Burke tells Professional Planner. “Client service people in advice are hanging up their own shingle and doing their own thing.”
Earlier this year Burke pointed out that client service staff willing to work full-time for $65K p/a were like “pink unicorns“. Demand for service staff that are trained in advice software has risen, he explained, with the ‘war for talent‘ seeing salaries rise across the board.
“So now we have client service staff wanting to work from home, work their own hours, and a lot of these advice firms are using them because they can’t find full-time staff or don’t want to take on the salary commitment,” he says.
One of those starting out on their own is Lorna Emery, who after an 18-year career supporting banks, stockbrokers and financial planners decided to set up a dedicated advice support services business.
Starting Emery Executive Services was a way to keep her career running while having the freedom to run her own show, she says.
“It all started in April 2020, we had that first covid lockdown in Perth and I wanted the ability work remotely,” she says. “Unfortunately during that lockdown my mum got diagnosed with brain cancer and I was determined to spend as much time with her as I could.”
To help kick-start her endeavour, Emery turned to the government-funded NEIS (New Enterprise Incentive Scheme), which helps aspiring entrepreneurs get their business going through training, coaching and income support.
Today she has four “like-minded mums” that want to be able to work in advice services but retain the freedom to do so on their own schedule. “It can be as little or as much as they want,” she says.
Emery says she wasn’t surprised by how many advisers were looking for a more bespoke support solution.
“A lot of advisers are starting on their own but aren’t in a position to employ staff yet,” she explains.
“This lowers the ongoing cost; they pay for what they need and don’t have to worry about all the administration, payroll, superannuation and insurance. It might just be 10 hours a week while they’re looking for full-time staff or it might be the overflow when onboarding new clients or around tax time.”