Last week David Hinwood signed up with the new BT dealer group Magnitude – the first adviser to join. He explains the reasons for the move and why his passion for the business has been re-ignited.

Boutique financial planning groups hold no interest for David Hinwood. Hinwood who last week became the first planner on the books of BT’s third-party dealer group, Magnitude, is more comfortable working under the auspices of a financial institution. “Or let’s put it this way – I prefer the backing of large companies unless it’s me,” he says. “I don’t like boutiques – they don’t have the size to do the things I want to do.” And Hinwood has spent the last 28 years in association with some of the biggest names in Australian financial services: AMP, Axa and now BT/Westpac. Beginning on the product sales side in AMP Hinwood migrated to financial planning in 1995 – firstly with AMP Financial Planning before a brief stint in AMP’s third-party group Hillross. In 1998 he shifted to the Axa-owned dealer group Charter, settling down to seven years of hard work building up his Tamworth-based business. Although Charter had served him well Hinwood had been “feeling a bit stale” about the business for over a year and began looking for a way to rejuvenate the practice. He says Magnitude came along at just the right time with an offering that sat well with his philosophical leanings and business objectives. Despite the “scary” process of testing Magnitude’s systems the transition has been remarkably smooth, according to Hinwood. “There’s the excitement of the newness and the culture Magnitude has created will help me focus on my business and build a real value proposition,” he says. “As well there are the opportunities in being a foundation member.” With the Magnitude deal sealed a re-energised Hinwood is settling down to the nitty-gritty of business change. One of the first things on the radar is implementing a plan to specialise in estate planning and SMSFs. Hinwood describes his style as “laid back” and has grown QUBE so far by using business and sporting club networks in Tamworth – with the practice’s clients tending to be small business operators. However, while the relaxed approach works well in a country town he admits he will have to become more “proactive” to take it to the next level. As well as hiring a consultant to help with building up the estate planning/SMSF specialisation, Hinwood also intends to bring more advisers into the business. Currently, QUBE has two other planners – Greig Baas in Tamworth and Kristi Moy in the Forster office. “I want to have more advisers in QUBE but I don’t want to acquire any practices myself,” Hinwood says. “My strategy is to help other QUBE advisers if they want to buy other businesses.” The 55,000 residents of Tamworth have plenty of choice when it comes to seeking financial advice. Approximately 60 planners work in the town – some in the banks but there are about six adviser-operated businesses in Tamworth who could be described as QUBE competitors. Despite the competition Hinwood has found there is no shortage of clients for QUBE. He says the region is booming and local confidence has been boosted by the likes of Stockland which has just invested in building a large bulky goods retail centre in Tamworth. Rural services remain the back-bone of the region but Hinwood says a number of local “visionaries” are diversifying the business mix in the area. Tourism, for example, is rapidly expanding in the Tamworth district. “It’s really very dynamic here right now,” he says. While the economy might be in good shape, rural people tend to be a more conservative bunch when it comes to investments and Hinwood generally keeps the investment mix simple – focusing on managed funds with some direct equities. He uses the van Eyk irate product to help select funds, which is part of the package of services supplied by Magnitude. On the risk side too, QUBE’s approach is conservative. In fact, Hinwood is one of the few advisers who continue to use whole of life insurance products. Whole of life has almost dropped out of sight in Australia and today only one provider, Axa, supplies the product. “But whole of life is a good product particularly for country people – it’s a great estate planning tool,” he says. Tamworth has provided a lifestyle and a successful business to Hinwood who never intended to stay in the town more than three years when he first arrived in 1986. “But I fell in love with the place and I never left,” he says. Now with his practice gearing up for the future there is no going back in a business sense either. “I’ve always been passionate about financial planning but now with Magnitude I’m passionate about the business again.” Name: David Hinwood Business name and location: QUBE Financial Planning – Tamworth and Forster Dealer name: Magnitude Financial Planning (owned by BT) Number of staff and designation:3 advisers and one admin Area of speciality: starting to specialise in estate planning and SMSFs Relevant qualification: CFP Member of the FPA: Yes – chair of New England chapter Number of clients: 1400 clients on the books – 300 active Funds under management/advice: $80 million Method of fee collection: Fee-for-service based on 3 levels of service – rebate commissions where possible Investment platform: Summit, BT Wrap Front-end software: COIN

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