A statement of culture and values

20 April 2018

Young boy sharing his apple with a young girl, demonstrating benefits of giving

Paul Clitheroe

Paul Clitheroe AM is a Non Executive Director of ipac.

The benefits of giving are enormous and can be life changing. The sense of purpose a planned program of giving provides to a family is extraordinary and the legacy lives through generations.

I started ipac back in 1983 with my partners Arun Abey, Peeyush Gupta and Suvan de Soysa. As we were all pretty fresh out of university, which had taught us finance theory and the dictum that ‘a business must have a mission and a business plan’, plus being full of zeal to change the world, we were highly motivated to own our own business.

University had taught us about competitive advantage and having a distinct position in the market. We figured that with deregulation on the way that Aussie consumers would want more than a home and a bank account as an investment.

It seems extraordinary today, but it was only 35 years ago that under 3 per cent of us owned a share. Managed funds did not really exist in Australia (and those that did should not have) but consumers really felt left out.

We had a couple of problems, but thanks to the enthusiasm of youth, we felt they were unimportant.

First up, we knew no one, bar family and uni mates, who could barely afford a pushbike.

Secondly, individually we could only just scrape up $20,000, which we felt was necessary to launch ipac.

We had been taught to test any business plan before launching into the market. So, off we went and spoke to respected senior folk in the world of banking and finance about our key proposition, namely to offer fee-for-service investment advice.

This was met by waves of laughter, as it was pointed out to us that everyone else provided ‘free advice’. We weren’t completely naïve, we knew that, but we also knew why it was free.

The ‘advice’ was not worth a burnt sausage. It was in the main selling ridiculously expensive products, usually with so called ‘tax advantages’ or absolute rubbish savings plans. These seemed to transfer the savings capacity of investors between the ludicrous commissions of salespeople and the insurance company involved.

So, undaunted, we left our jobs and went onto no pay for two years to preserve our meagre cash. After a couple of years, we had some really good corporate clients (a big thank you here to Dick Dusseldorf (Chairman of Lend Lease), Stuart Hornery (CEO of Lend Lease) and John Morschel (CEO of MLC), who took us on as corporate advisers for Lend Lease/MLC and its staff.

Our personal clients and cash flow had also reached the point where we could pay our rent and secretary each month without too much drama.

Ten years later, in 1993, things were more secure. As we had zero marketing budget, we used to type up and fax weekly ‘personal investment’ press releases. Somewhat to our surprise, these became really popular, leading to many TV and radio interviews and then the ridiculously successful Channel 9 TV show ‘Money’, which flowed into Money Magazine, Money books and so on.

Today, some 35 years later, I am still on the board of ipac. The company is now part of AMP. We sold it to AXA back in 2002. Which in turn was acquired by AMP. ipac no longer exists in the market, it has been absorbed into AMP Advice, but ipac the responsible entity for many billions of dollars still exists.

My adult kids think working for one company for 35 years sits alongside the time of dinosaurs; they probably correctly think that no one else would employ me.

Anyway, my 35 years or so, including being the second President of the FPA in 1993, has taught me a few things.

The most profound is that I am now the person I was advising at ipac 35 years ago. As I look back, exactly why someone in their early 60’s would have much regard for an enthusiastic mid 20’s adviser is a mystery to me. I recall with fondness the look of horror in their faces when I was asked: “Do you invest as you are advising me to?” My answer, of course, was: “Good grief, no.”

This rarely went down well until I pointed out that I wanted to be where they were financially in my 60’s. In my mid 20’s this meant having 100 per cent of my money tied up in ipac.

So here I am, and I have learnt something pretty important. We have about 25,000 clients at ipac. Sadly, many I spoke to decades ago have passed away. But it interests me that around 100 per cent of them have worried about running out of money and about 100 per cent have died far too rich.

This would not surprise a behavioural economist and as I look at myself at age 62, it does not surprise me either.

For some four decades, along with my wife Vicki, we have done what our clients have done, diligently spent less than we earnt, invested on a regular basis and then in our case, sold our business.

Many said to me that as I had made a reasonable amount of money when I sold the business, that I was on the way to being rich. Personally, I reckoned that everyone needs a bit of luck in business, and I had used my share of it. So, Vicki and I have invested as ipac clients have been advised to do for decades – diversification, a decent dollop of global, and 10 per cent for a bit of sensible risk around private equity and so on.

Just like my clients, we are cautious about losing our money and try really hard to spend less than we earn and our investment returns.

My TP52 yacht ‘Balance’ helps to get rid of a bit, but even then I could not help myself and bought it third-hand. But in terms of a return on your money, despite its running costs and depreciation, the lifestyle return has been extraordinary. Winning the Rolex Sydney Hobart yacht race overall in 2015 is a stand-out memory for me.

So what do I make of this?

Well, the best thing we have done with part of our money is to establish the Clitheroe Foundation, a Private Ancillary Fund (PAF). Our three adult kids are directors and we have funded many scholarships and grants for young Australians in medical research and the arts since 2003.

Philanthropy is something our industry stands for and I am privileged to be Patron of the Future2 Foundation. As an industry, we need to demonstrate our culture and values. But as we grow and succeed in the industry, we need to personally follow that value. We also need to speak to our clients about their personal philanthropy during their lives and in their estate planning.

Our clients who trust us are in the main like us. They work hard to achieve financial independence, and like ipac clients along with Vicki and I, the truth is, that despite our fretfulness about ‘having enough’, we are not used to spending more than we earn.

Despite saying to the kids they will get nothing, we all know they won’t. We and most of our clients will die too rich. So, we should have a plan in life and death to give some away.

As a statement of culture we all want for our industry and representative of our own values, we should all have a plan to give. This can be time, money or preferably both. It applies to the FPA with Future2, for us as individuals and in the advice we give to clients.

No need to be too high handed about this. Yes, the benefits of giving are enormous. Lives can be changed through scholarships or grants or a donation of time and skills, but the sense of purpose a planned program of giving provides to a family is extraordinary and the legacy lives through generations.

If you are not chatting to your clients about this, you should be.

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