Leanne Bull

In an advice ecosystem where advice firms can pick and choose their clients, having multiple families tied to one family seems statistically unlikely.

But last year, Bull Financial Group principal Leanne Bull locked in the fourth generation of client.

Bull began serving John and Margaret Dow, based in the regional Queensland town of Monto, along with their son Bill and his wife Kath, around the same time in 1992.

“I really can’t remember because we are talking 30-odd years ago, whether they referred to me to Bill and Kath, or Bill and Kath referred me to them,” Bull tells Professional Planner.

Bull started her career in 1985 as an 18-year-old as a superannuation and life insurance agent as a sponsored adviser first through Bert Martin at Scottish Amicable in Brisbane. In 1986, she founded Carroll & Bull. In 1989, Bull became a director of the business and 10 years later in 1999 was joined by her husband Chris.

In 2019 they added another office in Brisbane and in 2020 the firm changed its name to Bull Financial Group. The practice now has 20 staff in total including four advisers.

A decade after adding her initial clients from the Dow family, John and Margaret’s oldest son Lex and his wife Angela became clients in 2002. Their daughter Jan also became a client that year, until 2017.

When John and Margaret passed away, everything was passed onto the kids in specie, with everything held on the Summit platform (the first incarnation of AMP’s North).

“When Mrs Dow passed, she left her estate to her three children, [but] her other daughter had passed before I met them, so her money passed onto the grandchildren [Peter and Terri],” Bull says.

Four generations of clients

Source: AMP, Bull Financial Group.

More to the party

In 2014, Bill and Kath referred their Brisbane-based daughter Belinda and her husband Mike to Bull for advice. Both were self-employed at the time and were gifted a significant deposit to assist with the build of their home, along with another significant gift to do “various things”.

“I said to him we can’t keep gifting money, we have to address the need for financial difficulties when there’s an enormous amount of money heading their way,” Bull says.

Bull sat down with Mike and Belinda to talk about the importance of not only having a business they love, but being paid for what they do.

“They are now in a very, very good financial situation,” Bull says.

“They are a success story. Their position when they were first referred to me was extremely negative and through the value of advice, we’ve now put them into a fantastic position.”

Similar funds were also gifted to another daughter of Bill and Kath, who Bull says she’ll be talking to later in the year.

Lex and Angela also referred their Monto-based son Marty and his wife Sam who became clients in 2018.

“They happen to be farmers, so a lot of the wealth is tied up in the farm,” Bull says.

“I don’t manage a lot of money for these particular guys, but we do an enormous amount of more complex financial planning needs.”

Down the line

A year ago, Bull picked up Mike’s son Jackson and his wife Amy as a client, the fourth generation below her original clients John and Margaret – Jackson’s great-grandparents.

“He is as switched on as I’ve seen any 24-year-old be,” Bull says. “The fact he’s even seeking advice is a testament to the longevity of the family relationship.”

Bull says the firm has been a fee-based business for three decades, but this has its obstacles for lower-balance clients, like Jackson and Amy.

“Fees give a lot more flexibility for managing a large wealth [pool], but it’s not as encouraging for younger people,” Bull says.

“Bill has decided he will supplement the fee for all of his grandchildren. He took over half the fee, but we want [the grandkids] to make a contribution towards the fee.”