At the relatively young age of 33 Jason Hedlund has steadily grown his business to the stage that is now the largest practice in the Aon financial planning group. Success has come, he says, by starting early, charting a direction and keeping a straight course.

Success, according to Jason Hedlund, is built on a very simple strategy: “Charter a course and don’t deviate from that.” A good example of that philosophy playing out in his business decisions is the fact that, unusually for an Australian financial planner, Hedlund has remained with the same licensee his whole working life. From the time he first entered the industry 13 years ago at the age of 20 as a lifewriter Hedlund has been acting under an Aon licence – firstly under the old Aon master agency arrangement (AIBA) and later he joined one of the two Aon financial planning brands, Aon Wealth Management, where he created the Financial Integrity practice. “I’ve never even looked at an offering of another dealer group,” he says. “One of the great strengths of my career has been consistency.” Jumping from dealer to dealer may be a popular pastime in the industry but it distracts from the more important activity of building up a loyal client base and attracting talented staff to grow the business. “There’s enough change in this industry without bringing more of it on yourself,” Hedlund says. Being able to leave the compliance procedures to the Aon dealership has enabled him to create a business which now services 1,500 high net worth clients and brings in annual fund flows of about $50 million. Now with nine advisers working under the Financial Integrity brand Hedlund’s goal of garnering $1 billion FUM doesn’t appear too far away. “My people are the most important part of the success of this business,” he says. “I’d be hard-pressed to tell you which one of them is the weakest link.” He hired his first planner to the practice in 1998, who now also has an equity stake in Financial Integrity, after working for most of his time in the industry with just himself and a PA. The influx of new people to the practice has brought with it a sense of dynamism and fun for Hedlund, who after corporatising the business four years ago wants to expand Financial Integrity from its current Canberra and Sydney locations to a national presence. The decision to corporatise was made “partly out of boredom” but was also a recognition by Hedlund that growth would require more people in the business. “The greatest challenge for the business is to develop leaders,” he says. “But the success that we will enjoy in the next five years will happen quicker because of the experience and lessons I’ve learnt in the last five.” But this is no mere succession plan. As Hedlund puts it he “has a lot of runway ahead” and remains passionate about building the Financial Integrity brand. Retirement is a long way off. Instead he remains on the lookout for talented staff who want to dedicate themselves to the Financial Integrity journey. “People who assist me in driving the business forward will be rewarded,” Hedlund says. And while equity in the business may be one of those rewards he does not believe that should be an automatic right for anyone joining the team. “I’ve interviewed a lot of people in the last 12 months who have asked would I give them equity. And I think, well why don’t you work here for five years and help build the business and then I’ll ask you about that,” he says. Hedlund believes in selecting appropriate fund managers with an in-house process but will use multi-manager products for clients with lower balances. The practice focuses on managed funds solely on the investing side but it also has a substantial risk business, given Hedlund’s early insurance training and the Aon group’s traditional strength in this area. Because most of the services are provided in-house Financial Integrity relies heavily on its “very talented” technical services team of three. Being the biggest practice in the Aon group, however, has not given Hedlund reason to ease up a little. He is right now waiting on a report from an external consultant which has surveyed the marketing strategies of his competitors. That information will aid Financial Integrity to implement its next strategy. “We are now at the size that we want to build our brand – and we’re going to allocate significant resources to doing that,” he says. Name: Jason Hedlund Business name and location: Financial Integrity – Main office in Canberra plus one in Sydney Dealer name or self-licensed:Aon Wealth Management Number and designation of staff: 9 planners, 3 technical services, 5 support staff Area of speciality: High net worth individuals Relevant qualifications: DFP1-8 Are you a member of the FPA?: Yes Number of clients: 1,500 Funds under managementor funds under advice:( FUM not disclosed but has annual fund inflow of $50 million and $1 million new risk premiums each year Method of fee collection: Trail commissions plus annual adviser review fee Investment platforms:: Summit, Axa Generations, iaccess, MasterKey Front-end planning software:about to switch from Visiplan to Coin Office management software: ACT database Investment research: van Eyk Insurance research: In-house Technical support:In-house team of three Ongoing education provider:: Tribeca

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