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As founder of Global Adviser Alpha, David Haintz CFP® draws on expert experience in financial advice to help planners deliver the best possible outcomes for their clients and business. In September 2021, he kicks off Stream 2 of the FPA Masterclass Event Series with his session on Value of advice – how to articulate and demonstrate it.
To say that David Haintz is a leader in financial advice is an understatement. In a career spanning almost three decades, standout moments include founding Shadforth Financial Group in 2008 and exiting the business in 2015 having played a critical role in doubling both new revenue per adviser and market value. In 2007 David was a founding trustee of the Future2 Foundation and has served as a Financial Planning Association (FPA) Director. He was the sixth planner in Australia to become a Fellow of the FPA and remains the only planner to win both the Australian Financial Planner of the Year (2005), and Australian Best Practice of the Year (2004) awards.
With a growing focus on mentoring and coaching planners in his later years with Shadforth, David has also become an expert in sharing his business and advice skills and professional insights for the benefit of hundreds of financial planners. This led him to establish Global Adviser Alpha in 2015, a coaching and consulting business supporting growth-focussed advice businesses on their journey to becoming world-class companies, delivering enhanced value to all stakeholders.
“In my career I’ve been involved in businesses of all sizes,” says David. “I’ve worked at the coalface in founding, building and renovating businesses and creating enterprise value through merger and acquisition as well as building capability in existing teams. Throughout this journey I’ve been really passionate about continuously enhancing the value of advice to clients and businesses and increasing the penetration of advice for more Australians to lift their quality of life. Pursuing both these goals by moving into a coaching and consulting role was a no-brainer and I’ve accumulated a whole kitbag of tools and insights to offer our profession.”
A paradigm shift in advice
Over 25 years working as a leader and client-facing planner has enabled David to look at the ever changing financial advice landscape in an objective way. With the current challenges presented by compliance demands and rising operating costs, he takes the perspective that these conditions create opportunities for financial planners, providing they can approach their role and their future with an open mind.
“To position a financial planning practice for growth starts with acknowledging that we’re dealing with a new paradigm in how value is delivered and perceived,” says David. “If planners come in with a closed mind thinking everything is stacked against them and the pendulum has swung too far with compliance, they’re going to struggle to turn the telescope around and see these challenges as opportunities to solve a very different problem for their clients. 20 or 30 years ago the problem to solve was selling products. Today’s problem for financial advice to solve is helping people achieve their best life. When planners continue to deliver product-based solutions, they’re going to struggle to demonstrate value to their clients and realise value for their business.”
“Right from the start of a coaching engagement I’ll encourage business leaders to take time out away from the office with a cup of coffee and really reflect on why they exist,” he adds. “If they’re caught up in that legacy thinking of growing assets under management and getting platforms right then they’re getting the fundamentals wrong for where the value of advice lies. The focus has changed from product to people and from money to meaning. And to succeed they need to first change their mindset and then change their systems and processes to deliver what people really need.”
What drives value
From this simple starting point, David draws on a wide range of tools delivered across many stages to support owners in their transformation to a high value financial advice business. A key phase on this journey is developing a client value proposition. To start this process, David asks planners to view their offer in terms of below the line and above the line deliverables.
“Below the line are the products financial advice use as levers to deliver the above the line outcomes clients are looking for,” says David. “Things like their mortgage, personal insurance, investments and super choices. But it’s the results that clients experience that are above the line and actually deliver value to people in how they live their lives. It might be the holiday house, bringing retirement forward or paying for their kids’ education.”
“Simply delivering on these outcomes isn’t necessarily enough to convince clients of the value they’re getting from financial advice,” he adds. “Today some of the best customer experiences are provided by companies like Apple who make huge investments in the speed and responsiveness of deliveries and service, the packaging and build quality that all contribute to an amazing outcome for everyone who buys their products. That’s what financial planners are competing against and what they need to deliver. It must be an advice experience that’s completely client-centric and focussed on delivering the value clients expect at every step.”
Again, David acknowledges that this pivot to a client-centric ethos and practice can often involve a significant change in how planners define their value. “In the past, many planners based their value on their ability to choose a better performing or lower cost super fund,” he says. “Or more broadly, they thought of themselves as adding value by having a certain investment philosophy and selecting stocks and asset managers to successfully grow their clients’ wealth. But if you have most of your capacity dedicated to this below the line activity, you have little left to offer clients looking for value from something else entirely.
“Instead, financial planners need to focus their energy and resources on what clients really need. They want their planner to know them and their family, understand what matters, to simplify their life and reduce their anxiety. Two decades ago, financial planners would have spoken say 80% and listened 20%. Now it’s the other way around. Today our value is judged by the quality of the questions we ask and in how we listen and then deliver on what we’re listening to.”