Mark Stephen (left) and Murray Swilks

*This article is produced in partnership with Civitas Services

At a time of looming intergenerational wealth transfer and growing demand for financial advice, many advice practices have come to the point where they need to re-assess the most viable and stable path forward.

This means that some of these advice practices will choose the road less travelled, but with more flexibility and independence, opting for self-licensing.

However, if they go for the independent option, there is one thing they are almost certainly going to miss: a trusted community.

According to Mark Stephen and Murray Swilks, co-founders of Civitas Services, advice practices who decide to set up their own AFSLs will need a “a very clear roadmap”, which will explain to them the path ahead, often viewed as “quite complex and daunting”. But most of all, apart from trusted partners who will walk them through a process of regaining control over their own business, they will need “a sense of belonging”.

Stephen, who has over 30 years of experience across financial services and served as the CEO of Lonsdale Financial Group between 2010 and 2020, has said that Civitas, was born out of this mentality.

“The word Civitas is a Latin term whereby a group of people come together as an organised community so that set the scene from the start,” Stephen tells Professional Planner.

For those who want to take the ultimate control of their business, to establish a better sense of stability from a licensing perspective, and to ensure they have the best chance to deliver on their business strategy, then getting their own AFSL is the key. It is the manner which to do so and who best can provide that authentic support, experience and capability set that has years of experience behind it, that is probably the lead of why we exist and that has been clear from inception of Civitas.”

Swilks, whose professional career began in the ‘90s in mid-tier accounting firms and has since been dedicated to helping small businesses succeed, added that one of the things he noted over the years was that principals of advice practices were also “great business people” meaning that they also had the necessary skill set to run their own license.

But there is still a couple of myths out there that need to be debunked as far as self-licensing is concerned and many advisers still view the path to self-licensing as “too hard and too complex”.