PIS has entered the dealer services game and one of its first clients, Neil McMillan of Melbourne’s Prime Time Financial Counselling, reveals why it’s a win-win situation.

Just over a decade ago Neil McMillan decided to leave his job running nursing homes and hospitals and to join his friend at a financial planning business. In the 10 years since McMillan teamed up with his business partner Mike Taylor, the pair have transformed Melbourne-based Prime Time Financial Counselling from a company with a focus on insurance products to a financial planning business. When McMillan entered the financial world he had three degrees and had done a stint as a university psychology lecturer – but was a finance virgin. “It was a huge learning curve,’’ he admits. He now holds a Diploma of Financial Planning to go with his BA, MA, and Bachelor of Education and is a firm believer in ongoing training. “Of the 10 staff we have, all bar one are CFP,” McMillan says. He says well trained staff enable clients to feel comfortable and confident with the advice they are getting. Client comfort was one reason the firm switched from a commission and trail fee structure to fee-for-service three years ago. McMillan says clients liked knowing they are paying for specialist advice that was not linked to a specific product or return. “They need to be kept informed as to which actions are being carried out and why they need to do A,B or C. That in turn provides a piece of mind that they are in control.” Most of Prime Time’s clients are either preparing for retirement, or have already retired and are looking for ways to best manage their money. McMillan says Prime Time has an entrepreneurial spirit and he and Taylor are always looking at ways to best grow the business. “You need to attend to change and you have to be receptive to new ideas.” With growth in mind, in 2003 Prime Time entered into an agreement with the dealer group Professional Investment Services (PIS), which meant it had access to PIS services, but could continue to operate as a stand-alone business with its own licence. “We are free agents, there are no handcuffs,” he says. PIS can provide Prime Time with services such as business development, education and back office support, as well as access to senior personnel and products. McMillan says the needs of independent firms like Prime Time could be very different from the needs of firms which are licensed through a dealer group, a distinction which PIS had grasped. “The services that we have been supplied with has been win/win,’’ McMillan says. PIS has decided to expand it services to independent financial planning firms, launching Associated Advisory Practices. Name: Neil McMillan Business Name and Location: Prime Time Financial Counsellors, Melbourne Dealer Name: Prime Time Financial Counsellors Number of Staff:10 Area of Specialty: Accumulation and retirement Relevant qualification: Diploma of Financial Planning Number of clients: Over 460 Method of fee collection: Fee for service Investment platform: Russell Group, MLC and Navigator Front end software: Endlink Investment research: Professional Investment Services (PIS), Navigator. Insurance research: Cannex Technical and legal support: PIS, plus other sources Ongoing education provider: Monthly internal training, and Tribeca

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