Like many of the Metro Midlands Financial Planners’ clients who are facing the challenges of generational change, Vicki Hagley too is designing the future of her Perth-based practice along with its founder – her father and mentor, Cliff.

Until nine years ago Vicki Hagley gave no serious thought to entering the financial planning business founded by her father, Cliff. At that time Hagley was busy enough raising two girls and couldn’t quite reconcile the demands of working in a financial planning practice with her “family focus”. However, with a little paternal prompting Hagley began working in the business on a part-time basis – primarily in an admin and book-keeping role where she was able to use her business accountancy experience. By 1999 Hagley decided to take on a full financial planning role and embarked on a course of study that resulted in her achieving the highest academic performance for DF8 in Australia and being named Western Australia’s top graduate in the Diploma of Financial Planning 2003. Despite her star student status she has no immediate plans to become a CFP and has decided not to join the FPA for the time-being. While Hagley is justifiably pleased with her academic performance she credits her father for passing on some of the ‘intangibles’ of financial planning – the practical aspects of running a business and dealing with clients that only experience can teach. Cliff began building the practice 34 years ago, selling insurance to the farmers and rural population in Hagley’s childhood home of Jurien Bay –three hours north of Perth. Even after moving to Perth Cliff continued to service his rural clients – often embarking on week-long trips to meet his many farming clients on their properties. The business evolved over time and Hagley says her father welcomed the expansion into investments and full financial planning services. She says when the new educational standards came into force under PS146 Cliff “embraced the changes” and completed his CFP at the age of 61. With her father due to hit the official retirement age next year, however, the Hagleys are right now planning how to reduce Cliff’s involvement without disturbing the continuity of the practice. “Cliff’s idea is that as long as he is an asset to the business he will continue to be involved,” Hagley says. “He will probably stay on in a consulting basis. Our business plan is to bring another adviser into the practice – with the offer of some equity.” To help with the succession plan and other practice restructuring issues Hagley has employed consultant, Grahame Hyland from Encore whose industry experience she has found invaluable. “We’re going through a huge transition,” Hagley says. “There’s much more structure and compliance that we have to deal with now.” But the changes to the practice also relate to simple office organisation – as well a full-time practice manager/paraplanner the business also employs four part-timers, including Hagley’s mother. The result is the Hagleys now co-ordinate their activities more efficiently and “now everyone knows where we are”. As well, Hagley is analysing her client base with the eventual aim of whittling down the number of clients she can fully service to a maximum of 500. “There are a lot of clients on the books who are not active and don’t need the full service we can offer,” she says. The new regime has also spelt the end of Cliff’s long jaunts to the country to service the practice’s rural clients. Instead, Hagley schedules appointments with rural clients when they visit their accountants in the city. “Due to efficiencies I will base myself in town at the accountant’s office for two days per month,” she says. Although the generational change is absorbing a lot of Hagley’s energy, she says it also helps her empathise with many of her clients who are going through the same process. As the client base has been built up over 30-plus years many of them are now handing over their farms and businesses to their offspring – an emotionally challenging and technically difficult period of change. While the search for a suitable adviser to push along the succession plan is underway, Hagley remains happy with her dealer group – Matrix. Matrix – the 43th largest dealer in the country – is 85 per cent owned by its 70 advisers with management taking up the rest of the equity. “I’m proud to be associated with Matrix – they’re a great group of people,” she says. The Hagley’s moved to Matrix from the Commonwealth Bank-owned Financial Wisdom group five years ago partly for the equity and freedom from institutional control. Hagley says Matrix has superb investment and technical support and is open to the use of new products – for example, the Australian Top 20 Shares IMA portfolio produced by Next Financial is gaining solid support from Matrix. The dealer also offers a client debt and spending management software system, Prospera, which Hagley is considering incorporating into the business. Allison Dummett, Matrix managing director, also served as a role model for Hagley, proving that it was possible to be a mother and have a successful career. “Now I know you can do both,” she says. “But you do need support.” When she entered financial planning Hagley was fired up to offer a fee-for-service only business, an attitude her father found intriguing. Very quickly she changed her approach and saw it was the clients who should determine how they pay for the services not philosophical dogma. Even so Hagley is supportive of the transition the planning industry has gone through since the introduction of FSR, despite the pain it has also caused. “What happened needed to happen,” she says. “All industries change but you have to embrace the change.” Name: Vicki Hagley Business name and location: Metro Midlands Financial Planners, Ground Floor, 162 Burswood Road, Burswood WA 6100 Dealer name: Matrix Planning Solutions Number and designation of staff: 2 advisers;1 practice manager/paraplanner; 4 part-time staff Relevant qualifications: Diploma in Financial Planning – Top Graduate WA 2003, Highest Academic Achievement DF8 in Australia Are you a member of the FPA?: No Number of clients: Provide services to approx 2000 clients of which 500 are in Private Client Service Funds under management: (or funds under advice): $63 million Method of fee collection: Commission based and fee-for-service Investment platforms: Matrix; Asgard; Colonial FirstChoice Front-end planning software: Money One; Boss; X-Plan Office management software: ACT – data base; Redmap – Scanning Investment research: van Eyk; in-house dealer research Insurance research: Boss Technical and legal support: Initial enquiry Matrix first to see if common experience with other advisers; also find First State First Tech helpful Ongoing education provider: Tribeca; Matrix Professional Development Days; Industry seminars

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