Recently, I sat down with Sacha Burchgart of Specialised Advice while in attending the opening of her new office in Sydney. Sacha is the founder of Specialised Advice (one of the advice businesses we work with) and is looking to bring a fresh approach to financial planning.
Interview:1. Did you have any special considerations in regards to the type of [office] space you wanted and how you would use the space? I wanted something where clients walking in and said, "Wow, I love what you've done"; where they felt comfortable, and it's not intimidating. Something that didn't look like a regular financial planner's office because they can feel quite boring. 2. Your business is called Specialised Advice; what advice do you specialise in? We specialise in the SMSF space, which I love. I love tackling different strategies for people at different stages in their life. That could mean managed funds, property (residential or commercial), including showing people how to pay if off in time for retirement. 3. Is there anything specific that you like about SMSFs from an advice perspective? I like how it gives clients options, more options than they'd have in an ordinary fund. And that excites me, and it also excites my clients. Especially when they don't think at first that it is something that could interest them. When they see the possibility of what you can do and how much quicker they can get into the retirement space they want to get into, it opens up a lot of opportunities when they feel more comfortable. 4. LRBAs - will they stay or will they go? And how should the Government better regulate them, if at all? I believe they [LRBAs] are here to stay. I believe they will stay, especially from a commercial banking perspective. It's been good that the regulators have clarified their position on related parting loans, where you can lend your super fund money at a zero per cent interest; however work still needs to be done here. 5. What are some of the characteristics an ideal client of Specialised Advice would have? What do they look like? Who are they? Ideally, they are wealth accumulators, ranging from mid 30s to early 50s. But in saying that, we do have quite a lot of retirement planners over the age of 50, at the moment, with super that have come to us, that are after a different point of view. We don't say no to anyone based on age, but we do say no if they don't have the right cultural fit with our business. 6. So how would you describe that cultural fit? Is there any key things that really identify it? Most of our clients are really nice, they fit the mould. We're new and in the set-up stage of the business, I've run my own business since 2011, but [in terms of] going out and actively acquiring new business in this space. Our [new] clients are referred to us from our existing clients and generally they all fit into the same age bracket, and have the same kind of goals and aspirations. They want more choice, they want to have a secure income in retirement, and they don't want to depend on the pension. And what our Government says is a modest lifestyle is, and what they believe a modest lifestyle is, are two totally different things! 7. How do you work with other professionals and what opportunities do you see for collaboration between different professionals? I work with accountants, Superfund Wholesale, mortgage brokers, and a different array of businesses to get in front of their employees for employee incentive programs. I believe, with all the rules out there at the moment and the uncertainty, that we need to band together and create a holistic approach. One where you work with individuals that suit your methodology - not trying to have a one-size-fits-all approach. Because it doesn't, and every client is unique and different, and I like working with people that are very bespoke in terms of the strategies they offer their clients. We pride ourselves on not having a one-size-fits-all or 'take a product off a shelf and sell it' approach. We're all about strategy and we work with accountants when the strategy is unknown to us and we need to go in further. We work with tax lawyers if we need to. We work with other SMSF specialists if we've got tricky situations. 8. What do you see are some of the biggest challenges advice professionals are facing at the moment? The constant change, or chatter about what's happening in the media, everyone is on high alert. What the future holds in an advice practice is quite scary for a lot of people. What is my business going to look like this year, what is it going to look like in five years? Depending on how you structure it and who you align yourself with today, could be the make or break of many advice practices in the future. 9. Are there any apps, tools or software programs that you love at the moment? They don't have to be financial planning-centric. I like anything that makes my job easier. There are so many things that I'd like to have created, but getting someone to create them is the bane of my existence. I find that clients like things to be very interactive, and I believe that advice process takes too long as it currently stands. If we had programs that were client-facing, that you could work through an advice piece with a client, you could go from meeting with a client to advice withing a very short time frame. And you don't have to get buy-in over and over again. Is there anything like that I use now? From a client perspective, not so much. I believe there will be something in the future. What they are doing in social media, what they are trying to do with some of the insurance companies I work with, is trying to make an approach that fits clients in the overall spectrum. If there are younger people that just want to cover debt, if there are older people that have assets and liabilities to cover or wealth protection, there's an approach for everyone. You're not trying to saturate a whole market with one approach. 10. Are there any books you're reading or podcasts you're listening to? There are lots of podcasts I want to listen to. I am actively on social media; LinkedIn. I love reading all the articles that different advisers post - some are fee-for-service groups, some are commission-based groups. I find those very interesting with the conversations that go around. I am on Twitter; I follow the feeds on that. From a personal growth perspective, my favourite book of all time is the Wisdom of Florence Scovel Shinn. It’s a very old book. It’s about the game of life and how to play it, and I find it very interesting to keep me grounded. You can get so consumed with the little things; it’s about the bigger picture at the end of the day. 11. When you're not working hard to help your clients, what do you like to do to relax? I enjoy spending time with husband and daughter Mischa. My daughter has a very active social life and lots of hobbies she enjoys – dancing, gymnastics, horse riding, and swimming... so outside of work that keeps me very busy! My relaxation is cooking… I love creating new dishes and throwing an impromptu dinner party with my friends. Oh and red wine! - As told to Superfund Wholesale
The @specialisedadv office launch party is getting started! #newopportunities #sydney #financialplanner #SMSF pic.twitter.com/J53Te5QPKW — Kris Kitto (@Kris_Evolved) March 26, 2015