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Getting to Know: Tim Fairbrother

Adviser believes luck often comes down to a lot of hard work.

Friday, February 23rd 2018, 10:30AM

Who are you and what do you do?

I run a holistic financial advice business with a great team of 16 others in the sunny Wairarapa. We help clients across New Zealand to become financially successful providing comprehensive advice in with risk, investment, KiwiSaver, general, and lending. Although we are based in the Wairarapa, around half our clients are outside nationwide. I have been a Certified Financial Planner since 2010 and have recently been elected to chair the Investment Member Advisory Committee within the newly established Financial Advice New Zealand.

How did you get into the industry? 

When I bought my first computer at aged 14, I found excel and set up a mock portfolio from the paper with a mock $1000. My grandad taught me about PE ratios and corporate earnings and I was hooked. Grant Piercy then hired me into my first job from university working for TOWER Managed Funds in Wellington. Here I worked with some great role models and mentors – Fred Dodds, Stephanie McGreevy, Ralph Stewart, Barry Read, Bryan Hooper, Aaron Klee, Jeff Page, Graeme Edwards, Pete Conroy, Adrian Cronin, Mike Maloney, I could go on all day. So many people that have gone on to have a great impact on the financial advice industry.

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

The perception that all financial advisers are trying to push products. Most of the industry is focussed on people and their needs, not product-pushing. It is a small number that let us down by being focused on themselves, and this is a short-term view.

What’s the best advice you have ever received?

My dad and mum taught me that ‘the harder I work, the luckier I seem to get, and more doors seem to open.’

What could financial advisers learn from other industries? 

Most of our industry has figured out that with the right morals, integrity and honesty, you’ll have success. Speaking for my own business our approach is client needs and helping people first and this resonates through the business. What other industries can we learn from? I’d say any that genuinely put people first and embrace letting the work they do be the reward.

What should be done to get New Zealanders buying more insurance?  

Someone told me the other day that they thought accountants gave financial advice. Educating the public and busting these myths is going to take time, and lots of money. The Commission for Financial Literacy does a great job, and Financial Advice New Zealand have big plans, but it will take the government to put in place a large campaign to raise awareness of financial literacy and in turn financial advice. If they did, New Zealand would not have the 3 rd lowest level of underinsurance in the developed world, behind Greece and Ireland.

What do you think has been good about regulation, what could be better? 

Regulation has improved the outcomes for authorised fiinancial advisers' clients. Disclosure of commissions and soft dollar perks, written advice that is signed off by the client, and explanation of replacement business is just a few things where regulation has made our process more transparent and the client more educated. The mooted changes where the confusing AFAs' and RFAs' designations will go, is a great thing. Consumers will have more confidence knowing that their adviser has had to prove they are competent in their chosen area and work within a more structured framework.

How do you think your business might have to change to adapt to the new FSLAB rules?

We went through our DIMS licence in 2015, and I believe that with 72 pages of answers, 42 attached documents, and six weeks of scrutinising by the FMA, we should be pretty good to get a Financial Advice Provider Licence. The rules changed at the last minute in 2010, so let’s not pretend we know exactly what will happen until it is set in law!

What role do you see for adviser associations under the new rules?

I see the new association creating a framework that promotes and enhances the relationship between members and consumers. For example, process reviewing under the new legislation. IDS does a required process review, therefore what is the point of the FMA doubling up the work. Set a framework where the associations monitor this for FMA, for a fee of course, which gets more money moving around the industry for financial literacy.

What has been the most rewarding part of your career? 

Working with my wife, Carissa, for the last 10 years has been some journey, 13-hour days on average, little cashflow and even less downtime. We stuck at it, and Carissa and I have always been clear that clients are not just a number the advisers we’ve now involved in the business are focused on making sure existing clients get great service. We are very proud now to be able to put money back into the community supporting schools, sports teams, and educational projects. Our team of 17 means that we are in some way supporting 15 other families and helping them carve out new career goals.

What’s the biggest threat to financial advisers? 

The different business types face different issues, but I believe that registered financial advisers face the largest challenge. Some will not have their businesses prepared or process in order enough for the pending changes and may struggle if they don’t face up to the fact that times are changing.

What do you wish the public knew about financial advisers?

 Just about every Kiwi needs some kind of help when it comes to money decisions, and we truly can help get people heading towards their goals. Just call a qualified adviser to start your journey…

What would get more people interested in insurance?

I am certainly a fan of the government providing health subsidies to businesses that offer health insurance to their staff. This would mean a lower tax take for the government, but also, they would push off some medical treatment into the private sector. Surely it wouldn’t be that hard to work out what the equilibrium between these two is, and RIVAL Wealth would be happy to complete this project for them.  

Are you a KiwiSaver member?

Of course, started in 2008 and have put in $11,000 myself. I now have $26,246 after a crash! No brainer!

If so, what’s your investment strategy? 

Balanced Growth - it gives the manager more flexibility for moving to cash in a prolonged downturn. I was invested in Growth Funds (aka 95% shares and property), albeit with small amounts, through the Dot Com crash and the GFC, and it wasn’t a nice feeling that the manager had no flexibility to move from assets that were crashing every day for 18 months.

Outside of work what do you do?

I love what I do so there is not much spare time. I have three great kids aged 7,6,4 who keep me busy with their sport and local community involvement. Plus, I graze 30 acres which has 45 ewes and a 200-plant vineyard, which is my downtime getting out in the fresh air. This is important to get away from what can be a stressful day job at times.

What would you say if one of your kids told you they wanted to be a financial adviser? 

Go for it!  It’s a very rewarding profession. We get to help people to financial success and reach their goals, plus see the benefits of having the right plan in place if life throws you a curve ball so you are prepared for the worst.

What’s one thing people may be surprised to know about you?

Both sides of my family were on the first and second boats into Wellington in January and February 1840. I grew up on a sixth-generation sheep farm that they purchased not long after coming to Wellington, which my brother is doing a great job running now.

If you weren’t in this job what would you be doing? 

Something to do with numbers, goals and helping people, it’s my passion. So maybe I will just stay at this, as I think I am too old for Wall St now!

Tags: Getting to Know

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Median 8.64 7.21 7.29 6.65

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