Andrew Mackenzie’s father has well and truly forgiven him for not entering the family business.
But there was a time, when Mackenzie was in high school, that his father hoped his son would join his accounting and financial planning business.
“I wasn’t that interested in accounting or finance to be honest,” Mackenzie says, noting the irony.
“He has forgiven me now though, but when I went and worked for an industry super fund later down the track he was aghast, and told me those industry funds weren’t real financial planners.”
Mackenzie was much more interested in a degree in human resources at the time – or at least he thought he was until he commenced the university course.
“I thought it would be interesting because it was dealing with people, but when I started studying it, I realised it was all this fluff,” he says.
“It was all about ‘Maslow’s hierarchy of needs’ and a lot of ideas that didn’t seem to be grounded in much.
“It just didn’t interest me.”
Something that did interest Mackenzie, however, was macroeconomics.
He had studied it at high school and loved it, so he switched to a Bachelor of Economics at LaTrobe University in Melbourne.
“It was basically explaining the way the world works and I found it fascinating,” he says.
Range of issues
When he graduated, however, Mackenzie was still at a loss as to what to do with his life.
“So I went and worked for a super fund, working in group life insurance, and I honestly didn’t know what that even was before I started,” Mackenzie says.
During his time at the fund, Mackenzie was asked to help out with some face-to-face work with clients by advising them about their super.
“It was right around the time that the GFC hit and I was able to tell them what was going on,” he says.
“I drew on my study of economics to tell clients about the global markets, and it felt great to help people.
“It was the kind of role I had been looking for with HR.”
Mackenzie became a superannuation adviser for two years, a role he enjoyed, before quitting to broaden his horizons.
“I wanted to advise across a whole range of issues, not just super, so I decided to find work as a planner.”
Mackenzie was assiduous in his quest to find the right firm for him.
“I got a few job offers that I turned down because I didn’t think it was the right fit,” he says.
“I was looking for a firm that was restricted to certain areas. Some firms specialise in property or insurance, but I wanted a firm with a broad focus.”
When he went for his interview with Kearney Financial Planning, something just clicked.
“I remember the CEO being in the interview and asking me if I could give him a rundown on what was happening in China because he had noticed that I studied economics at university,” he says.
“So I told him what I thought was going on in China and he seemed to think I did pretty well. They told me they would call me back if they wanted a second interview and for me to do a written test, but not long after they called and told me I had the job.”
Not afraid of robo-advice
Six years on Mackenzie is relishing life at the firm.
“Our biggest growth market is in the 35 to 44-year age group and I love that we have such a broad base of clients, rather than solely retirees,” he says.
He is optimistic about the future of the industry, too, and sees real leadership emerging from the generation of planners aged in their 30s.
“These are the planners who studied it at university, to them it is already a profession, and they have only ever known a fee-based system,” he says.
“The world of commissions and kickbacks is foreign to them.”
While some planners fear the emergence of robo-advice, Mackenzie isn’t one of them.
“People want human advice and relationships, they don’t want to be talking to a machine,” he says.
“Accountants have more to fear, I think, from robo-advisers than we do.”
Name of firm: Kearney Financial Planning (Kearney Group).
Name of licensee: Securitor.
Years in the industry: Eight years.
Academic qualifications: Bachelor of Economics, DFP, Adv DFP, CFP.
Professional association memberships: FPA, AFA.
Other memberships: Most Trusted Adviser Network.