Brad Monk

Years before the Professional Year was brought into being, LifePath Financial Planning had set up its own apprenticeship pathway to gain new talent.

Lifepath [co-founder] and senior financial adviser Brad Monk tells Professional Planner the practice implemented this system to train new advisers and “take the ego out of them”.

“So when they become an adviser they don’t go ‘why can’t this be done yesterday’ because they’ve done roles and they know it can’t be done in a blink of an eye,” Monk says.

“The apprentice had to answer the phone, then had to do the client services officer role, then paraplanning.”

The legislated PY commenced at the start of 2019 setting an industry standard for the regime.

Monk is supportive of the PY program but doesn’t believe that it is sufficient on its own to make an adviser.

“The professional year is good because it gives you an outline of what to do and for someone like me who is probably more big-picture focused… the professional year outline is this is [the list of] what you must tick off, so it actually keeps us flowing through,” Monk says.

“We always tell them once you complete it, you’re not getting the book, we actually need to get your confidence up to be able to talk to clients, you actually need to feel comfortable.”

The first apprentice LifePath brought on was Brenton Gluch, who has now been with the company for a decade, along with James Larwill, who has been there for seven years.

Both are now partners and Monk explains there are two reasons for this.

“There’s a lot of equity on the table so you want to get some of it off while you can, but the other part is to keep the good ones in,” Monk says.

“I could be looking at tomorrow knowing that today is well looked after by the people that are in my business.”

The full team is comprised of four senior advisers, four advisers and three associates.

“We’ve never had an adviser move on and that’s 100 per cent my goal is to keep them on,” Monk says.

“If I can enjoy the journey, they can enjoy the journey [then] the client’s going to enjoy the journey. We don’t have KPIs, it’s work hard, you’ll make remuneration.”

Monk says “pretty close to every second year” the firm has tried to put on somebody as an apprentice.

“When they brought out the [PY] it was quite funny because we’ve been doing an 18-month apprentice well before the PY came through,” Monk says.

Journey to existence

LifePath is young – only 10 years old – and seeks to bring in new young partners for retention and succession purposes, recently acquiring Thompson Partners Private Wealth Advisors last August.

After spending seven years with Commonwealth Bank as a planner between 1997 and 2004, Monk worked at Whittaker Macnaught from 2004-2013, alongside the eponymous Cheryl Macnaught and financial columnist Noel Whittaker, who sold the business in 2007 prior to the GFC.

“They must have known something, genius Noel Whittaker,” Monk says on the timing of the sale.

Whittaker, who turned 84 on 24 January, still gives referrals from his network to Monk and LifePath.

“Cheryl Macnaught, she was the rock, she kept the business afloat,” Monk says.

“Really good in business management, looking after the numbers and Noel brought in the leads. That’s pretty similar to Trent [Allen, senior financial adviser and co-founder] and myself. I’m going to call myself the Noel Whittaker and Trent is Cheryl Macnaught. Because he’s out of the room I can say that. That’s out of respect.”

The long road to profesionalism

After decades of changes in the industry, Monk is rather pragmatic about the volatility, believing the end outcome of professionalism will justify the means.

“It’s everyone in the top saying this is what is going to make this a profession, this is the right thing to do and I guess you don’t have that trust in the authorities above because they’ve stuffed it up so many times in the past,” Monk says.

“But everyone that goes in there has 100 per cent belief they’re doing the right thing to make it a profession in the future. I teach my team, don’t fight it. There’s only so much we can do. If you do the right thing by the client you’re probably going to be fine.”

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