From the pressure-cooker life as a ‘City’ stockbroker in London, Craig Leibbrandt has morphed into a financial planner carving out a specialist practice in the emerging lifestyle city of Newcastle – Newcastle, Australia that is. Leibbrandt explains why a new dealer group has helped him create the business model he desires.

The steelworks are gone but Newcastle is now emerging as a vibrant metropolitan centre and a destination for sea-changers such as Avenue Capital financial planner, Craig Leibbrandt. With two young children Leibbrandt decided to relocate to Newcastle in 2003 when the Sydney rat-race became too much. He joined Avenue in December last year. Leibbrandt started his career in financial services as a stockbroker in London in the mid-1990s but turned to financial planning when he returned to Australia in 1997. “I was looking for something that was a bit more client-focused… Financial planning took me away from focusing just on the transaction and focusing more on the client,” he says. He spent two years with Prosperity Personal and Corporate Advisers in Newcastle before joining the Avenue Group and says he was attracted to the support they offered and the independence. “They allow the adviser to come up with their own business model,” he says. It also allows him more freedom and means he doesn’t have to see, or take on “every single client”. “What I want to do is to be able to find a client that I can add substantial value to over the long-term,” he says. If, as a planner, he can build relationship with a client that is based on trust Leibbrandt is confident the client will stay regardless of market ups and downs. At Avenue Leibbrandt is developing a business that specialises in medical practitioners, or similar small business operators, that have, or are building, their own practices. “Medical practices are generally cash flow businesses. What we are doing with that cash is creating an alternative income flow,” he says. Doctors who are building their own practices have specific needs and may have taken on a substantial amount of debt to establish their own practice, which also needs to be serviced. They have a good understanding of investment markets but don’t have the time to invest on their own. “I’m looking to become their family CFO,” Leibbrandt says. He says it is important to take the time to examine all of a client’s financial issues in order to establish a tailored solution. But by understanding the needs of his particular niche market Leibbrandt plans to become a specialist. In the three months he has been with Avenue he has established a business with six clients and $3 million in funds under administration. Currently all staffing is outsourced and Leibbrandt offers both fee-for-service and remuneration models for clients depending on their preference. While he was unable to bring any of his former Prosperity clients with him to Avenue Leibbrandt says that was not a bad thing as it facilitated a totally fresh start focusing on a new area of business. At Prosperity Leibbrandt dealt mainly with retirees. The stereotype of Novocastrians as conservative investors is a “bit of a generalisation”, according to Leibbrandt. “The conservative clients are the ones that are a bit more ‘wizened’. There are a lot of younger clients here that have a fair amount of wealth and are looking for something to do with it,” he says. Name: Craig Royden Leibbrandt Business name and location: Avenue Capital Management – The junction Dealer name: Avenue Capital Management Number and designation of staff: All staffing is outsourced Relevant qualifications: Bachelor of business, Graduate Diploma of Applied Finance and Investment, Graduate Diploma of Financial Planning Are you a member of the FPA?: Yes Number of clients: 6 Funds under management: $3m Method of fee collection: whatever is easiest for the client Investment platforms: Ave Wrap, Asgard Front-end planning software: Visi Plan Research Provider: Lonsec Ongoing training provider:Tribeca Hobbies: Marathon Running

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