Jayson Forrest is the managing editor of Money & Life Magazine.
With an advice process structured around client understanding and delivering on service promises, Capital Partners Private Wealth Advisers has taken out the 2019 FPA Professional Practice of the Year Award.
Having first won this award in 2017, founder and managing director of Capital Partners Private Wealth Advisers, David Andrew AFP®, was only too keen to step up again for the 2019 FPA Awards, saying the business had made substantial progress over the past two years.
“We have responded to the cybersecurity threat in a significant way, and we have undertaken the first stage of our succession plan within the business, where our seven ‘generation-two’ owners will take up a further 20 per cent of the business in the next 12 months,” he says.
In awarding Capital Partners with the 2019 FPA Professional Practice of the Year Award, the judges were impressed with the practice’s advice process, which is structured around understanding clients and delivering on service promises. The judges also acknowledged Capital Partners’ clear set of guiding principles that focus on the financial capacity and empowerment of its clients.
Two time winner
Taking out the FPA Professional Practice of the Year Award for a second time is an achievement not lost on David, who adds there is no better way to celebrate the practice’s 20-year anniversary than by winning this award. He is also quick to acknowledge that it was two of the firm’s next-gen principals who presented to the judges.
“Winning the FPA Professional Practice of the Year Award is third-party attestation of quality. And while there are many awards in the marketplace, this is the award you want to win,” he says.
“Our team works incredibly hard to turn up and do the right thing for our clients every day, and that requires a lot of commitment and energy. So, this award is one of those intangible rewards that money can’t buy.”
Over the last two years since first winning this award, David credits the ongoing success of Capital Partners to four key elements: doing the right thing; being a true fiduciary; taking on the right clients; and attracting and retaining a quality team.
“Pure and simply, I credit most of our success to doing the right thing with our clients and team, each and every day. I also think a measure of our success comes from being a true fiduciary, which I think is important. We are also willing to say ‘no’ to clients, which enables us to only work with clients who are right for our business, allowing us to provide true value that really makes a difference to them.”
David adds that overarching all of this is the quality of talent at Capital Partners.
“No-one succeeds alone. One of our guiding principles is ‘collaborate to succeed’. Our entire business is a collaborative effort, so everyone within the business is in it for each other.”
Doing things differently
But these things alone are not unique in running a successful and growing business. Instead, David attributes part of Capital Partners’ ongoing success to a number of internal initiatives, which he believes clearly separates the business from other planning practices.
“I think Capital Partners has a reputation for dealing with complexity very well. Increasingly, we are receiving most of our work from a network of lawyers and accountants. They trust us to look after their clients,” he says. “When you’ve been around for 20 years and you do the right thing by people, then that builds enormous momentum. Our next-gen principals deserve enormous credit for the progress we have made in this area.”
David also believes a clear point of difference at Capital Partners is what the business has invested in – technology, cybersecurity, and talent development.
For example, Capital Partners runs an accelerated development program for its associate advisers. The 36-week program has no more than four advisers at a time, which keeps the program highly focused on the participants.
Each associate adviser spends dedicated time with senior leaders within the business, where a range of topics are discussed, including: leadership, best interest, ethics, how to have effective client conversations, the power of vulnerability, and what it means to be a Capital Partners adviser.
“The growth and development we see in these advisers over a very short period of time is enormous,” says David.
Yet, despite the considerable investment Capital Partners has made in technology, cybersecurity and talent development, David recognises that these three areas will remain a significant challenge for the business and the wider profession over the coming years.
“I particularly think cybersecurity is a massive risk for the profession,” he warns. “Our entire network is monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by an external monitoring organisation. You can only log into our systems via a Capital Partners device. We’ve locked down our systems as tightly as possible, but like most businesses, we continue to be targeted. So, we take cybersecurity very seriously.
“But as the incidence of cyber threats increases, cybersecurity will progressively become a massive issue for the profession over the next 5-10 years.”
Another challenge facing the profession, says David, is being a sole practitioner, and the difficulty many one-person practices will have in keeping up with the ever-increasing costs and demands of staying in business.
“I think it’s going to be near impossible to be a sole practitioner,” he says. “When you consider the cost of technology, compliance, ongoing professional development and all the related complexity involved in running a business, the barriers to staying in business are becoming quite prohibitive for an individual.
“So, over the next 5-10 years, we’re likely to see fewer sole-practitioners, as they either exit the profession or merge with other like-minded businesses.”
FPA Professional Practice
Capital Partners Private Wealth Advisers became an FPA Professional Practice in 2011 and it’s a decision David does not regret.
For him, it’s third party endorsement by the FPA that the practice is not only compliant with the profession’s highest education and professional standards, but that it’s among the country’s leading firms.
“By becoming an FPA Professional Practice you are voluntarily signing up to meet a standard that not everyone is willing or able to meet,” David says. “The effort you go to in meeting the FPA’s criteria demonstrates to consumers and your team that you are taking professionalism seriously, and that’s something that does matter to them.”