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Getting to Know...Carey Church

Being on the end of a court case from a client hasn't put Carey Church off being a financial adviser.  In fact it's helped her. 

Friday, April 10th 2015, 9:39AM 1 Comment

Who are you and what do you do?
As the managing director of Moneyworks NZ Ltd, I work with two other advisers and two support people to provide full financial planning services to our clients. 

Apart from KiwiSaver-only clients, and a small business that we purchased, all of our clients have been through the full financial planning process.  We have put in place financial solutions for those clients and around 150 of them have chosen to work with us on a ‘membership fee’ basis.  We meet with them each year and work through their financial plan and track their progress in relation to their goals.

Our role is to educate our clients and to give them a framework in which to manage their financial life to achieve their goals.

The business has been run from Turangi since 1997 and we are in the process of moving to a totally virtual office, with our employees based in different locations.  We travel a lot to visit clients and work with a range of Corporates, providing financial education to their employees.

How did you get into the advisory industry?
When I finished University in the early 1980’s I wanted to be an Economic Geologist.  I moved to Adelaide in search of that role, and found that as the oil industry was in the middle of a downturn, they were laying people off instead of employing. 

I ended up being the South Australian Manager for The Securities Institute (now Finsia.)  This introduced me to the new industry of funds management, and I completed the Post Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance while living there.

I then worked for a sharebroker briefly, then for the US Fidelity Securities in Australia as a BDM for Queensland and NZ, from 1987-1989.  I thought that being a financial adviser would be a great career and enable me to live in a small town and be self employed. From 1989 I was able to study the industry in various marketing and sales roles.  This enabled me to have a clear idea about how my business would work when I set it up in 1997 and where the gaps in the market were. 

Being a financial adviser/planner, has not disappointed me (even in the tough times.)

A number of years ago you were caught up in a court case with a client. How did that affect you and what changes have you made to your business?
If affected me in a number of ways, and most of them good (in hindsight!).  The only real negative was the hundreds of thousands of dollars in fighting the case.  But the positives were probably worth that financial expense.

During the process (which took two full years) both (husband) Peter and I had several periods of self-doubt about our abilities. We also questioned whether we wanted to be financial advisers. We are so grateful for the fantastic support of a few key people in the industry that helped us keep focused and on balance. Understandably, the people who loved us wanted us to settle, but two of my most valued mentors through the process reiterated the mantra of ‘be true to yourself’.

I had many sleepless nights, physical impacts on my health from stress that thankfully were not lasting. 

It made me realise how little I really knew about the legal world (which is why I started my law degree.)  I can’t believe how much more I understand about how the world works now, and I am only 1/3 of the way through the degree.

We spent a lot of time reviewing what we had done, as I had to read every word that I had written to the client.  I became aware that every word matters and that it can be interpreted quite differently to what the intention was.  We have revamped ALL of our processes and systems and are now even more vigilant about what we do and how we do things.

But the most positive outcome was to reinforce my love of what I do as a financial planner and how I can help my clients. 

How did the outcome of that case impact on your client relationship
Because the client went directly the media early on, we told our clients early on about what was happening.  We were really surprised at the positive feedback from the vast majority of clients, particularly professionals who have little faith in the ‘justice’ of the ‘justice’ system.

We lost about 2-3 clients, but I am not sure if they would have gone anyway.  We are aware that at least one of those left because of negative marketing from another adviser.
These days, we won’t take on a client unless we really like them.  If things aren’t working well with a client and we aren’t enjoying the relationship we invite them to leave and go somewhere else.  I can now say that I love working with 99% of my membership fee clients, which makes my life and work very enjoyable.

If there is one thing you would like to change about the financial advice industry, what would it be?

Negative marketing to prospective clients, running down other industry participants and offerings.  We get enough bashing from outside of the industry, do you really have to run down other people in the industry to make a sale?  Doesn’t your service or product stand on its own without having to criticise others?

I also can’t understand why some financial service providers still have quota’s (particularly banks with mortgage offerings) and why they can’t understand that the Code of Conduct for AFA’s is in direct conflict with us churning a mortgage to them just to fulfil their quota.

What is the best advice you have ever received?
Two things. Stay true to who you are and what you believe, even if it costs you squillions in legal fees.

The second is diversification. Not just of client’s financial arrangements, but of income sources for your business.  I have seen people put too many eggs in one basket and come to grief.  Since day one, we have stipulated that we will have diversified income sources (investment income, insurance, client fees, and now KiwiSaver and mortgages.)  We also aim to have no client worth more than 2.50% of our total income.  Then if we lose a client it makes minimal impact on our business.

Outside of work what do you do?
I am studying a Law Degree through Waikato University, and am half way through my third year.  I am interested in writing research papers on legal issues of interest to me relating to the financial planning world. When not working and studying, I enjoy gardening, cooking and exercise.

What’s one thing people may be surprised to know about you?
Peter and I enjoy self-guided and self supported cycle touring.  We plan it ourselves, carry our own luggage and with the help of bike shop mechanics, Peter does all the mechanical support. We aim to do at least one trip a year (usually overseas). We have toured in France, Australia, and various places in the USA. Our tours have included riding from Halifax in Nova Scotia to Marthas Vineyard (in a heatwave), Riding through Puget Sound and around the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State and last year, riding from Philadelphia to Washington DC and around various locations in Virginia and North Carolina (in another heatwave!). 

If you weren’t in this job what would you be doing?
In the past, I have dreamed that I would be a cycle courier. But given that I am accident prone, don’t live in a city and am getting older, I don’t think that would be a good option! But I love being a financial planner and intend to do it as long as I can.

Tags: Getting to Know

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Comments from our readers

On 10 April 2015 at 11:06 am CathyM said:
What an inspiration, Carey. I remember well the court case as I'm sure all advisers countrywide do and it filled us with horror. What a battler you are and to juggle a business and legal studies atthe same time is nothing short of admirable! Thank you for sharing your story.

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