Q & A
Q & A with Tony Walker
4CRB’s Barry Coleman interviews Tony Walker:
IWM was established in 2016, but it comes with a huge pedigree.
I spoke with Tony Walker the man behind the establishment of this unique practice.
Tony what was behind creating IWM:
- With 35 years industry experience I retired somewhat disgruntled in October 2014, but retirement really wasn’t for me. So, I refer to this 15 month period through to March 2016 as my sabbatical.
- After I retired I continued with the long-standing relationships that I had with former clients. It soon became obvious that the industry was heading for turmoil. I was not comfortable with what I was seeing in that 15 months, so in 2016 I approached a past colleague and spoke to him about where I saw the industry going and more particularly where I thought we could make a substantial difference.
- The recent Royal Commission enquiry into the Banking and Finance sector is confirmation of my concern.
- My family were pioneers in this industry so it’s in my blood.
- My wife worked with me in the accounting and financial planning business, prior to having children. Now that our children have grown up she has come back to work with me at IWM.
- I have worked and associated with a lot of great people from within the industry and I noticed that many of these people were unhappy with their working environment and employment arrangement.
- I must admit it was a really easy decision to come back and set up a business which is truly independent and represents the client.
What’s so special about this business:
- It really is a new-age independent financial advice firm.
- Built around personalised service. Not a faceless touchpad. – Press 1…
- Fee-for-service, with no commissions or third-party incentives. No relationship with product providers.
- Not part of the big dealer group, where service is a thing of the past and the focus is on the best interest of the shareholders not the client.
- Our focus is to partner with our clients to achieve their goals and objectives reliably over time.
- A firm that represents the client and provides – “Advice without Conflict”.
- I have drawn on 35 years of industry experience to create this business.
Tony I have known you for quite a few years, in researching for this interview I put together the following:
- You started with your family Tax business in the 70s.
- First licensed as a Financial Planner in 1983.
- You hosted various talkback programs on Melbourne radio between 1985 and 1989.
- Moving to the Gold Coast in 1989 you purchased a long-standing Public Accounting Practice in Burleigh Heads which is still running today.
- Joining Community Radio Station 4CRB in 1989 you founded and hosted the talkback program “Finance Forum” through to your retirement in 2014.
- During the 90s you took part in Channel 9’s award-winning finance program “Money” with Paul Clitheroe, a friend for more than 20 years.
- In November 1994 you were a presenter at the FPA National Congress – “Administering your Practice”.
- You founded Strategic Planning Partners an award-winning practice with David Bird and Dean Sandstrom in 2000. You all remain close friends today.
- Named as Best Adviser on the Gold Coast 2002 – Adviser Ratings.
- Named in the top five Financial Advisers in Australia 2003 – Money Management magazine – Adviser Ratings.
- Culminating with Strategic Planning Partners being named ”Best Practice in Australia” in 2005 – IFA magazine.
- “There is not one area that this practice did not excel” – Terry Bell Editor – IFA Magazine December 2005.
- Presenting to the industry within Australia and around the world on how to build “Best Practice“ standards in the financial planning firm. 2005 – 2008.
How did you go putting this practice together there must have been a huge amount of work involved:
- Getting an unrestricted license wasn’t too difficult as I have been a Licensee in the past with Strategic Planning Partners.
- I have the financial resources, so I could take my time and put this together slowly and methodically. I did that in 2016 and we opened in April 2017.
- We purchased our premises at Lakeside Corporate Space in Robina, a fantastic working environment.
- I know a lot of Lawyers and Accountants on the Coast. I have always stayed in touch with them through the Chamber of Commerce and socially. I knew that they were also concerned with the standards within the financial planning industry. So, they were keen to assist when they knew what I was setting up. Long standing relations have always been part of my life.
- So, I slowly identified a number of people whom I thought highly of and over time invited them to be part of this unique firm. Quality people who bring special skills, people who would fit the culture that I wanted to develop. This will give them a happier and more prosperous future where they can be involved in the decision-making process and be part of the journey.
- The median age of our team at IWM is 45 more importantly Private Client Advisers are in their 40s, the perfect age and they bring a wealth of knowledge and previous experience in advising to the practice.
- It’s interesting to note that when FASEA starts in January 2021 it is reported that up to 50% of Financial Advisers currently licensed in Australia won’t be able to practice. IWM is perfectly positioned, in January 2021 all our Private Client Advisers and our Technical team will meet the new standards and requirements.
- Prior to opening I had already been contacted by quite a number of ex-clients who were completely disgruntled with the changes that were taking place in my old practice. Once a few of these clients joined the practice their friends and associates followed. It’s interesting, when you build a practice that is based on service and referrals it can also go the other way when someone leaves to join another firm. I have always maintained a strong relationship with clients with most of them becoming my friends and with other professionals where the trust and respect go back for many years. The rest is history.
So Tony what is your role going forward:
- Barry, even though I’m licensed and have my own small client base in the practice, my role is to provide guidance within the practice and run the Licence. I have a very experienced Operations Manager, so my role going forward will mainly involve strategic direction and monitoring the Licence.
- These days I am more interested in making sure the promises we make are delivered, not being a financial planner myself.
- It might seem strange to some, but my wife and I absolutely love coming to work.
Give me a snapshot of Independent Wealth Management:
IWM works with self-funded retirees and their families, not only providing financial planning advice but:
- Working with quality specialist lawyers to provide estate planning advice, critical in today’s world.
- We generally work with the client’s existing accountant but can provide accounting and taxation services if required.
- We construct robust portfolios which not only provide reliable outcomes, but are also cost efficient, in many cases cheaper than an industry fund.
- Together with providing a Fee for Service
IWM is a member of:
- The FPA Professional Practice Program.
- Tax Practitioners Board.
IWM is not for everyone though, we want to look after people who want to be informed and be part of the decision-making process, but where they ultimately want to get on with the life that they want to live in retirement. We also work with clients to ensure that their children inherit their estate correctly and efficiently, more importantly help them understand how to look after the inheritance going forward.