Advisor Story - Godfrey Philips
As the FASEA exams draw to a close this year and sweeping education reforms weigh heavily on the advice sector, what will happen to the older, experienced, passionate advisers who aren’t ready to retire? Godfrey Phillips, Order of Australia (OAM) recipient, MDRT Member and previous committee member and insurance adviser for over 40 years is just one of those advisers who has had to weigh up his options.
Godfrey started his insurance career 46 years ago and like many advisers of his generation, has helped a significant number of clients structure their affairs to ensure they and their families were looked after in the event that something went wrong.
He spent most of his early career as an engineer, but in the mid-70’s his own financial adviser gave him advice that stuck with him and changed his entire career trajectory: “You’re a people person, you need to be with people”.
Godfrey took to insurance advice like a duck to water. From the very first day he knew this was what he wanted to do. And if he ever needed a sign, Godfrey got it - the first day of his insurance career was the same day as the Granville Train disaster. He lived in an apartment that overlooked Granville station, and he and his wife Bev assisted in the rescue of some of her colleagues. Godfrey knew then that he wanted to be there for people when they needed it most.
Faced with the final rounds of the FASEA examinations and further education requirements, many older advisers only have a short time left to decide what to do. Like so many of his peers, Godfrey is not ready to retire and does not want to have his hand forced on the matter, but there’s not a lot of options available. “If you want to stay in the industry then study like hell and pass the FASEA exam and then get your degree”, says Godfrey. “Some people have passed the FASEA exam and will now hang in there for the next 4 years but if you don’t have your degree by then, you’ve got to get out. But at what cost? The next 4 years of your life would be miserable, knowing in the back of your mind what’s coming”.
It seems the main option for older advisers who do not intend on studying is to sell their books. Given the current market, multiples are not as competitive as they used to be, which in turn may affect their own retirement options.
Selling a book of business may also lead to premature retirement – it’s a guarantee that the adviser will be asked to stay on. Godfrey knows of colleagues who have sold their practices and stayed on for a little while but soon became shut out of the business.
But there may be a glimmer of hope. What many older, experienced advisers have is the ability to tell stories, and years’ worth of ongoing relationships with clients and their families. It’s this relationship building and story-based approach that may provide an answer.
Godfrey has recently joined AFAN (The Australian Financial Advisory Network). AFAN is a financial services co-operative founded by Craig Ball and Ian Macpherson to help advisers like Godfrey continue to achieve their goals of connecting with clients, prolonging their financial advice journey and continuing to earn income. It has been purpose-built for older advisers who are running out of options, but who aren’t ready to leave the industry, their clients and their livelihoods.
The move to AFAN is also a win for Godfrey’s clients because they’re not being sold off to someone they don’t know, and being part of a financial co-operative means that they will now have easy access to a wide range of services including financial planning advice, estate planning, general insurance advice and mortgage advice.
Godfrey is excited that he has found an option that works for him and his clients: “I can still retain the enthusiasm for assisting my clients. I’ve now got a strategy and a process. I don’t have to worry about my compliance and regulation and can just be that client facilitator, doing the best job I can to introduce my clients to the AFAN team”.
Just like Godfrey’s sign on the first day of his insurance career, if you’re an adviser who is still looking for answers as to what to do with your career, this might just be a sign.