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Getting to Know: Aaron Bowkett

Aaron Bowkett says the most important piece of advice he's received is, "it's all about the relationship". He's constantly on the go, travelling New Zealand, meeting advisers. Just don't mention currency trading...

Friday, May 26th 2017, 12:50PM

by Susan Edmunds

Who are you and what do you do?

I was born and raised in Canterbury, but both my parents come from the West Coast - Dad from Blackball and Mum from Stillwater. I had a heavy dose of politics growing up, and topical issues were never far away from the dinner table. I did an OE in my late twenties, and met my wife in Ireland while on a working holiday visa there. We have two top notch girls, 13 and 11 years old. Both are very bright - much more so than I was at the same age! I’m a Business Development Manager at Consilium, primarily promoting the Synergy model portfolio offering, but also our other adviser support services. As a BDM you’re a coach, mentor and problem-solver to advisers in the industry. My relationships vary with advisers and you have to be willing to accept a very diverse range of personalities. I also travel frequently; for example, I’m in Auckland every week and Wellington every other week, as I’m based in Christchurch. I have this down to a fine art - if you don’t do the travel, you don’t get your numbers. It’s that simple. You have to be continually developing your skills, and as a CFP and AFA this is a requirement, but I also like to take in a wider range of information sources. Advisers are often interested in discussing more fringe topics from other fields that they feel could add value to their businesses. It’s a totally absorbing role, albeit one I still can’t explain to my kids!

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

I would like to see a clearer path to becoming an investment adviser, preferably to professional level. At this stage, we have AFA and CFP and further changes on the horizon, but it is about more than qualifications. It's about a pathway to ownership. While the larger institutions are doing a pretty good job training up advisers, they can't provide the mentoring and knowledge you need to run your own business. At the end of the day, if we want an independent adviser force, we need to pave the way for the next generation.

What's the best advice you have ever received?

I would say, “it’s all about the relationship”. As a BDM working with advisers, the critical thing is to have a great relationship with your advisers. You can’t help people without this critical piece. In terms of what I do, that has been the best advice I’ve received.

You took three months off in 2016 to travel to Ireland, what did you learn from that experience?

I learned a lot, and not necessarily what I expected to learn. I met with fund managers and advisers in Ireland, and they were mostly concerned about regulation. I also met with the head of Ireland’s PAA equivalent. We had a great discussion, but they were more interested in what we were doing. The Irish situation feels like what NZ advisers went through post GFC, from a regulatory perspective. We spent a month in Ireland, a month in Europe, and then five weeks in the Canary Islands, where I spent a lot of time reading. In the end, what I learned was that I love hitting targets, deadlines and at some level, stress. As weird as that sounds, being completely relaxed for an extended period of time was incredibly boring. I now see why a lot of advisers don't retire; they love what they do. From a wider family perspective, Moira and the girls had five months in total away, and the gift of this experience will be with the girls forever.

What do you expect the coming five years to be like for investors?

I can't tell you what to expect from the markets, but I do believe the adviser/investor relationship will evolve and this will impact on investors. It all comes down to the convergence between technology and investor behaviour. More and more advisers are recognising the importance of psychology and how this impacts outcomes for investors. Then, you use technology to provide information that supports the investor, so, basically, they don't stuff up their investment outcome. For me, what I'm seeing is a move away from the adviser as the fund manager, to an adviser who has more of a focus on investor behaviour.

What do you think is the biggest financial risk to New Zealanders at the moment?

I think it's the housing market. Over-inflated prices well beyond the average wage is a recipe for disaster. Think Japan, and closer to home for me was Ireland, with ghost estates and the lingering issues they caused. Housing recessions are deep and long - much worse than a financial markets correction – and I hope we avoid it.

What's been your own worst investment?

Currency! It makes a fool of us all. We had sold our house in Ireland and we needed to convert euros to NZD. I was following the market and felt the NZ dollar was still too high, and wanted to wait for it to fall to what I thought was its long-term norm. I ended up arguing with my wife in Singapore airport, while she was on the phone to our bank. I insisted that, as the financial adviser, I knew what I was doing. She said we should convert half, and I reluctantly agreed. Well, it was another two years before we even got back to the rate we originally transferred at. Lesson learned, and I've never believed anything anyone has said or written about currency since! On the plus side, this story has served me well with many a UK migrant over the years.

Are you a KiwiSaver member?

I think I was nearly the first enrolled. When I was an adviser in Ireland, I got in the lift one day and met two Kiwis from the Ministry of whatever. They were in Ireland to look at the Irish Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs). I sold a lot of PRSAs as an adviser, so as soon as KiwiSaver was launched in NZ, I got into it. I’ll never forget one of my clients who refused to sign up, saying he would never get involved in Helen Clark’s money-grabbing scheme. More of that investor behaviour I talked about earlier!

If so, what's your strategy?

Growth all the way!

What is one thing people might be surprised to know about you?

Until recently I raised Dexter cows for beef on our lifestyle block. I cook a mean steak!

Tags: Getting to Know

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Full Rates Table | Compare Rates

Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
AIA 4.55 3.19 3.19 3.49
AIA Special - 2.69 2.69 2.99
ANZ 4.44 3.15 3.25 ▼3.39
ANZ Special - ▼2.55 ▼2.69 ▼2.79
ASB Bank 4.45 3.19 3.19 3.49
ASB Bank Special - 2.69 2.69 2.99
Bluestone 4.44 4.44 4.44 4.44
BNZ - Classic - 2.65 2.69 2.99
BNZ - Mortgage One 5.15 - - -
BNZ - Rapid Repay 4.60 - - -
BNZ - Std, FlyBuys 4.55 3.25 3.29 3.59
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
BNZ - TotalMoney 4.55 - - -
China Construction Bank 4.49 4.70 4.80 4.95
China Construction Bank Special - 2.65 2.65 2.80
Credit Union Auckland 5.45 - - -
Credit Union Baywide 5.65 4.75 4.75 -
Credit Union South 5.65 4.75 4.75 -
First Credit Union Special 5.85 3.35 3.85 -
Heartland 3.95 2.89 2.97 3.39
Heartland Bank - Online - - - -
Heretaunga Building Society 4.99 4.35 4.45 -
HSBC Premier 4.49 2.60 2.65 2.80
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
HSBC Premier LVR > 80% - - - -
HSBC Special - - - -
ICBC 3.99 2.58 2.68 2.79
Kainga Ora 4.43 3.29 3.39 3.85
Kiwibank 3.40 3.40 3.54 4.00
Kiwibank - Capped - - - -
Kiwibank - Offset - - - -
Kiwibank Special 3.40 2.65 2.79 3.25
Liberty 5.69 - - -
Nelson Building Society 4.95 3.45 3.49 -
Pepper Essential 4.79 - - -
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
Resimac 3.49 3.45 3.39 3.69
SBS Bank 4.54 3.29 3.19 3.49
SBS Bank Special - 2.79 2.69 2.99
The Co-operative Bank - Owner Occ 4.40 ▼2.69 ▼2.75 ▼2.99
The Co-operative Bank - Standard 4.40 ▼3.19 ▼3.25 ▼3.49
TSB Bank 5.34 ▼3.35 3.49 3.79
TSB Special 4.54 ▼2.55 2.69 2.99
Wairarapa Building Society 4.99 3.75 3.99 -
Westpac 4.59 4.15 4.09 4.49
Westpac - Offset 4.59 - - -
Westpac Special - ▼2.55 2.69 2.79
Median 4.55 3.19 3.22 3.39

Last updated: 10 July 2020 9:02am

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