There is no doubt the revelations that emerged from the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking and Financial Services Industry have been earth-shattering for many people — industry professionals, the public and, most of all, clients who were burnt by woeful advice.
But, according to planner, Rick Horvat, it’s also an opportunity.
Not just to reform the institutionally-owned advice sector, but to highlight the planners that are renowned for always putting their clients first.
Horvat’s family-owned practice based in Melbourne’s north has been going 12 years and prides itself on its client-centric advice.
“It’s been surprising, but the number of enquiries we have received from the public has actually increased,” Horvat notes.
“There have also been a few clients who have approached us to say that they’re glad they’re with us.
“In many ways, it is an opportunity to distinguish yourself as a planner who puts the clients first, but, of course, we’re not jumping up and down for joy because we’re part of an industry where some of these things have happened.”
Horvat also points out that very few planners have been surprised by the revelations from the royal commission into banking, adding that there has long been an awareness of an underbelly of bad advice.
“It’s not surprising because of the awareness that not all advisers are doing what is in the clients’ interests,” he says.
But, Horvat maintains this is a cultural rather than an adviser problem, with some institutions prioritising targets rather than clients.
“It’s honestly the reason we have a royal commission at the moment,” Horvat says.
“No one is surprised by these revelations because there has always been a focus in some parts of the industry on giving advice that is considered ‘compliant’ and meets certain criteria, but is not necessarily good advice.”
Having said that, Horvat doesn’t think there is a widespread problem with advisers.
“It’s not so much the advisers doing the wrong thing, it’s that they are being encouraged to meet certain targets, so it’s a cultural problem.”
For his part, Horvat has never had to ask himself what kind of planner he wants to be.
He learned by example from his father, who was a self-employed planner for his entire life with a very clear idea of what that constituted.
“He had an accountancy background, not a sales or insurance background, so he was very firm on the client coming first,” Rick says.
“His honesty and integrity were also paramount to him, as well as a healthy dose of cynicism.”
Following in his father’s footsteps seemed like a no-brainer, but Horvat took a while to come around.
When he was in his early 20s, he worked in Canada as a labourer until September 11 happened, forcing him to re-think his life.
“I was away from my family and missing them,” he says.
“I also didn’t want to be a bum for the rest of my life and decided to return home.
“Growing up, Dad had a great work-life balance so I could see the value of the profession.”
Horvat did his paraplanning training at NAB, and eventually formed a family business with brother Mat and his father some 13 years ago.
“In the beginning, we had our trials and tribulations as we worked out how to work together,” Horvat says.
“But we were committed to making it work because this is not a business we want to build up and sell.
“We’re in it for the long haul and we want to have it forever.
“So getting a good team around us was important and now we have a great life-balance and can be selective as to the clients we work with: we only take on those that we feel we can add real value to.”
Name of firm: Horvat Financial Advisors
Name of licensee: As above.
Years in the industry: 16 years. Started with NAB Paraplanning, before launching a business with his father and brother Mat firm some 12 and a half year ago (15th December 2005).
Academic qualifications: DipFP, CFP, SMSF Professional Certificate, SMSF Specialist Adviser.
Memberships: FPA, SMSF Association, Institute of Public Accountants (MIPA), IFAAA.
TOPICS: royal commission into banking and financial services