Frequently asked questions

What are your qualifications and experience?

I have a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) that I completed at the University of Newcastle in 2013 and a Master of Financial Services that I completed at the University of New England in 2015. I started working at an accounting firm in Gosford (NSW Central Coast) in my final year of uni in 2013. Here I worked on the financial services side of the business and learned a lot whilst working predominately with retirees on their investment and super needs (often with Self-Managed Super Funds (SMSF)) and some younger wealth accumulators, often where a business was involved and there were borrowing needs. In 2016 with encouragement from my girlfriend Amy to move to Sydney, I started working at a pure financial advice business in the CBD, researching strategies and products. There I worked with a broader range of clients with less of a business and SMSF focus and more of an employee focus with a lot of superannuation contribution and product strategies and a greater focus on insurance. In 2017 I followed my passion for independence and started working at an independent advice business in Brookvale who was one of the first advisers in Sydney to specialise in working with wealth accumulators (generally high-income earners) in an independent, fixed-fee way. Here I worked predominately with wealth accumulators on their goals around property and wealth building for the future. In late 2017 the firm merged with another, more established private wealth manager in Mosman who specialise in managing the often significant wealth of their clients with a holistic approach but investment specialty. The firm is amazing and loved working there with the awesome people as I helped the previous firm and their client's transition across but a desire to work with some younger customers led me to start my own business in early 2019.

How do I get paid?

I only get paid by my customers where all fees are fixed and agreed upon before any commitment.

What will it cost me?

See options. If there's an unusual situation requiring an unusual service I will let you know beforehand of any cost if there's value in us working together.

Do you work with customers on an ongoing basis?

I aim to have ongoing relationships with my customers when they have another advice need but my business doesn't centre around ongoing advice.

What other expenses might there be?

There are generally fees associated with required products that are paid to whatever product provider is appropriate and this has no connection to me. If there's a requirement for insurance that's not available directly I charge $1,500 to organise the policy where I tell the insurer I don't want any commission (resulting in a cheaper premium). Alternatively, you can go directly to an insurance broker or financial adviser who can organise, generally on a commission basis.

How do I know you're acting in my best interests?

I've been very conscious in the set-up of my business and my service options to give my customers as much confidence as possible that I'm acting in their best interests. The best additional assurance I can give is that I get paid the same by my customers regardless of my advice or products so not acting in your best interests would be against my interests as my business relies on providing great outcomes with the hope of referrals.

Do you have any conflicts of interests?

If you go to the dentist, you get charged more if they recommend you need a filling and do the work and similarly I have this conflict that I only get paid if I provide advice.

Do you have any biases?

I have a bias towards options that are available to the public directly. I have a bias to take on as little risk as you need to to achieve your goals. I have a bias towards diversified, low-cost investment options which often leads me to index Exchange Traded Funds (ETF's) and non-bank super funds. I have a bias to be cynical about your options, especially when being sold rather than bought e.g. rural off-the-plan investment properties. I have a bias for data and generally don't believe something unless I'm confident in the data source and have analysed it myself.

How old are you?

I'm 28. Birth certificate available on request ;)

Where do you live?

I live in Millers Point near Sydney and generally spend 1 or 2 days a week in Newcastle or the Central Coast.

How do you communicate with your customers?

Phone, Zoom, email, text, slack, WhatsApp, Signal and often a program called samepage.

How do I know my data is safe?

I don't collect data I don't need. For data required to be collected and stored, I use Box for my cloud storage, Boxcryptor when additional security is required over their enterprise-grade storage and Microsoft BitLocker for my physical drive I use Zoho Forms for my data collection, samepage for communication/collaboration, Zoho for my database and often Google Docs/Sheets or Microsoft Word/Excel. I've specifically chosen all of the tools I use with security and encryption in mind and avoid sending anything sensitive over emails whenever possible.

How do you collect my information?

I will provide you with a form where you will answer several questions and upload any relevant documents as well as inviting you to a secured, cloud storage provider. Any additional information will be collected in our communications.

Do you implement my strategy for me?

Generally not. I prefer to recommend strategies and products that can be implemented directly and provide guidance. If a retail insurance product is appropriate I can help you implement it if it makes financial sense and you would like me to.

How are you different to other financial advisers?

I'm young, I don't rely on ongoing investment management fees and I'm independent.

What's your investment philosophy?

Looking at your situation holistically. Considering after-tax investment returns. Diversification. Low fees. Considering the end goal and exit strategy. Investment ownership as direct as possible. Property makes sense in a lot of situations, especially when balancing the lifestyle and sometimes tax benefits.

Do you invest my money and where is it held?

I generally don't invest your money rather I advise you how to invest it. As such, your money will be held directly with the external product provider, whoever the appropriate option is. These are generally very large institutions you may already be familiar with. NEVER transfer your investment funds to a financial adviser to invest. In almost every possible scenario there should be a large institution between your investment funds and your financial adviser, even if they are actively providing investment advice.

Do you provide mortgage broking services?

No. Whilst I've completed the required education I'm very deliberately not a mortgage broker as this would create a conflict for me to provide advice favouring debt or property due to the additional work it would create and commissions received (even if I did rebate them back to you).

Why are you a financial adviser?

Because I was never very good a tennis or cricket. And... I've always loved numbers, got mesmerised by compound interest in year 9 maths and my dad could have made better financial decisions to take advantage of his financial situation when I was growing up so love the idea of helping my customers make decisions he would have liked to have made with the benefit of hindsight.

Who works in your business?

Just me at the moment :)

Do you have an investment minimum?

No. Sometimes however the amount might not make sense and I will be upfront if I don't think you'll get good value e.g. an $1,800 fee for advice on $2,000 to be invested might not make sense right now.

I have a lot of money to invest, will you work with me and will it cost me extra?

If I believe I have the experience for your situation and can add value, of course. The financial advice industry is very good at confusing large sums of money with complexity and higher fees, often unjustifiably in my opinion, so fees won't necessarily be higher as a result.

I'm not a millennial, will you work with me?

Yes. Whilst I predominately work with "millennials" I work with some customers that might be further along their wealth journey and maybe approaching or in retirement.

Do you work with interstate and overseas customers?

Interstate, definitely. Overseas, maybe. Depending on your circumstances it might be required that you work with a professional with really specific expertise or even an adviser in the country you're residing in.

Do you advise on property purchases?

I run the numbers on possible property purchases of my customers and appropriate structuring however do not advise to buy specific properties. If you're not confident in purchasing a home or investment property, I can help you find a suitable buyers agent and discuss the pros and cons (generally cost) of doing so.

Do you do tax returns?

No. That's the specialty of a tax agent. I'm registered with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) as a Tax (Financial) Adviser however this recognition rightfully doesn't give me the ability to submit tax returns for my customers.

Do you implement life insurance etc.?

I can and have access to all insurers however only do so if these products are appropriate and it makes financial sense for me to do so for $1,500 (and get the premium discount) vs not paying $1,500 and not getting the ongoing discount.

How do I make a complaint?

To me directly. To Ben Liddicoat who I share the AFSL with. To Professional of Independent Financial Advisers (PIFA) where I'm a founding member. To Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) where I'm a Tax (Financial) Adviser, Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) and my favourite, can complain on Google/Facebook reviews where deserved.

What services do you provide and not provide?

My core business is financial advice around the areas of: cash-flow, investing, superannuation, debt, property, personal insurances, tax and estate planning. My offering can best be compared to a GP in that I cover a broad range of areas and openly aren't a specialist in all. I'd hope my GP can broadly diagnose a knee issue but equally hope they don't perform the surgery. Such specialists often required (as I don't provide the services): mortgage broking, legal services, age care advice, complex tax advice, tax returns, property buyers agents and budgeting coaches among others in rarer cases.

How do I know your advice is my best option?

There are often several "best" options which I will propose and discuss the pros and cons to helps us decide what the "best" option is for you with all available information.

What is your business history and structure?

Millennial Independent Advice officially commenced in January 2019. I own Millennial Independent Advice entirely. I also own 50% of a company that holds an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) - Indie Advice Pty Ltd. This is a compliance layer that I require and is a better alternative (IMO) to being licenced by a bank, insurance company, super fund or licencee that tells me what advice (and products) I can and can't give to my customers. Millennial Independent Advice pays a monthly service fee to Indie Advice Pty Ltd to cover its Professional Indemnity and auditing costs (among other smalls expenses). Indie Advice Pty Ltd isn't designed to make a profit rather is funded by Millennial Independent Advice and BBK Financial Planning Pty Ltd. Ben Liddicoat from BBK Financial is a like-minded adviser who I share Indie Advice Pty Ltd with. Check him out :) Other than respect for Ben and BBK Financial, I have no other relationship other than sharing Indie Advice Pty Ltd. If Indie Advice Pty Ltd receives any commissions (sometimes unavoidable with old products), it must rebate these to the customer. Otherwise, I can't legally use the words "independent", "impartial" or "unbiased" when describing my business and services.

Do you advise on direct shares?

I can but generally don't as there are almost always better options. In the case you already own direct shares e.g. IAG, AMP, Telstra, employer shares etc., I will advise on the pros and cons of keeping after considering the taxes, transaction costs and alternatives.

Can you advise on margin loans?

No. I specifically didn't tick the box when applying for the Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) I share with another adviser as can't envision many scenarios where such a risky product makes sense vs alternatives.