FPA Professional Practice Award 2021: Apt Wealth Partners

22 February 2022

Money & Life team

Money & Life contributors draw on their diverse range of experience to present you with insights and guidance that will help you manage your financial wellbeing, achieve your lifestyle goals and plan for your financial future.

As the Apt Wealth team has continued to grow through recruitment and acquisition, the practice has remained true to its aim of helping every client live their best life, now and in the future. Managing Director James McGregor CFP® talks about what drives their success as a leader in financial advice.

FPA PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE: Apt Wealth Partners

ESTABLISHED: June 2013

LICENSEE: Apt Wealth Partners

NO. OF STAFF: 67

NO. OF PRACTITIONERS: 26

NO. OF CFP® PRACTITIONERS: 19

FPA PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE SINCE: July 2013

As a highly awarded financial planning practice, Apt Wealth has had its success acknowledged many times over the years. With director Andrew Dunbar CFP® having won the FPA Certified Financial Planner® award in 2019, it’s now the turn of the whole Apt Wealth team to take their place on the podium as the FPA Professional Practice of the Year for 2021.

Managing Director James McGregor is very proud of this achievement and the team who deliver the high standard of advice and client relationships Apt Wealth is known for. “As a financial planning business that has been an FPA Professional Practice ever since our inception, we’re delighted to have received this award as a measure of our success as a team and our commitment to excellence in advice and service to our clients,” he says.

James McGregor CFP® Managing Director 
Apt Wealth

Consistency and excellence

While Apt Wealth has been in existence for many years, it has undergone significant growth recently, with a number of acquisitions adding to its ranks, alongside recruitment of new team members. As a leader in a profession that serves people in such a critical part of their lives, James is highly aware of the value in getting team and culture right to drive service excellence. “We’re a people business,” he says. “Our two greatest assets are our team and our clients, and investing in both sets of relationships is absolutely vital for our practice to thrive. The level of client engagement and care we offer is only possible when we have a strong team with their mind in the right place.”

James describes a culture of continuous improvement as one of the key conditions for supporting staff to operate at their best. “My role is to create an environment where everyone can shine and be successful,” he says. “But it’s also very important that we look to our clients to learn where we can improve. That’s why we consistently measure client engagement as a primary metric of our success so we can be sure that we’re making progress towards better and better relationships with our clients.”

While the Apt Wealth team is at the very centre of the client relationship, many other resources underpin their high standards of service delivery. “We’ve made a long-term investment in our professionalism, supporting all our eligible senior advisers through the Certified Financial Planner® program,” says James. “We’ve also spent a lot of time and energy pulling together our high-quality advice process, which draws on our internal peer review framework and investment capabilities. By building these resources over the years, we’ve been able to deliver outstanding client and advisory services in 2021 and continue to help every Apt Wealth client live their best life.”

Because the practice now has multiple offices in NSW and Victoria, James points out that this depth of resources is also essential for ensuring consistently high quality across every client experience. “The structure of these robust resources is at the absolute core of our offer,” he says. “We can have a high degree of confidence that even with a large team, advice prepared by any of our advisers will be of the highest quality and in the client’s best interest.”

Foundations for the future

As well as building their capacity to serve clients here and now, James and his fellow leaders are also aware of the need to future-proof the practice by investing in support for the next generation of clients and financial advisers. “We have two challenges to manage as wealth is transferred to a new generation, and many financial advisers choose to exit the profession,” says James. “Clients and their family members want the assurance of continuity of service, and we’re very focused on providing that. We’re making significant investments in our graduate and professional year program.”

“As we’ve passed through many years of regulatory adjustment, financial advice is becoming more recognised in clients’ and consumers’ eyes as a true profession,” he adds. “We also need a new generation of graduates to see financial advice as a profession where they can help people. As an advice firm that operates at scale and has made long-term investments in training the next generation of advisers, we’re preparing to be a practice that will be well placed to provide advice to more people in the future and segment our offer to different types of clients.”

BeApt is one of the programs Apt Wealth now offers to meet the needs of a particular type of client. “BeApt is a service targeted at accumulators who are just starting out on their journey to wealth creation and financial security,” says James. “It gives our younger clients an effective way to get their portfolio started early in their career before migrating them up to a more holistic program as their needs become more complex.”

However, James also believes that targeted services like BeApt are not the only answer to improving accessibility to advice for more Australians. “It’s not always fully appreciated that it takes scale, resources, systems and technology to deliver a financial advice service that adds significant value,” he says. “There are blockages to this that are well documented. As the work being done by government on regulatory reform continues, we expect there will be further opportunities to streamline our compliance processes to further enhance our service quality, responsiveness and affordability.”

A focus on wellbeing

As financial advice clients, and Australians in general, face ever greater uncertainty about the future as a result of the ongoing pandemic, it’s even more important that advice can become more accessible. As the last two years have shown, financial planning can make a significant difference to the wellbeing of families and individuals. “Statistics have been released showing that clients advised during the pandemic have been better off, both in terms of financial outcomes and their overall wellbeing,” says James. “Our services have traditionally centred on the idea of being a guide or coach – a personal CFO for each client through their life journey. I think that as time goes on, other services will emerge to provide clients with broader support for their wellbeing.”

“In this time of upheaval and uncertainty, the value of financial advice in supporting wellbeing is becoming more recognised,” he adds. “I think we’ll be seeing advisers play a growing role in developing an advice approach that’s more specific in targeting improved wellbeing for clients.”

Building confidence in advice

This is just one of many recent developments that has James and the Apt Wealth team excited about being at the forefront of the financial advice profession. “As we move away from institutions being in control to  practitioner-led , we have an environment where financial advice  will be truly recognised as a profession,” says James. “With every financial planner now reaching a certain standard with education and firms like ours making investments in the future, the next two to five years is a very exciting time to be working in financial advice. We’re hoping that people coming out of university will see this change too and recognise the potential for fulfilment from a financial planning career. We currently have three advisers going through our professional year program, and the future is looking very bright for them.”

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