National winner of the Financial Planning Association’s new Value Advice Award for wealth accumulation, Philippa Elliott, reveals why her business is so easy to run.

Momentum Planning has no legacy issues, none. Not many businesses can claim that, but this business is so new and fresh it started in a technological frame of mind. Formed in 2002 by Philippa Elliott, there are now two equity partners, Elliott and Cameron Paul, another planner who is a consultant but working towards partnership and a technical paraplanner. And all four of them are under the age of 30. Elliott started the business herself with such a clean sheet of paper she didn’t even have a client. And while this may seem an ambitious beginning a lot of business owners would not be willing to undertake, the benefits have been enormous. Starting without a client has meant she could set up the business exactly how she wanted – from a technological and philosophical point of view – and not have client legacy issues hijacking that ambition. “The business runs very smoothly,” she says. “We are paperless and all new clients fit the model we have set up. It is not a difficult business to run.” All four are technologically savvy, Elliott claims, and there are no legacy issues to deal with which means the entire effort of the business can be spent on new technology modelling and portfolio management for clients. All the planners also limit themselves to only 70 clients each, making it easier to “run their diaries” and manage their time. Four new clients a month is the maximum they allow for ease of transition and client management. The majority of clients are wealth accumulation – in the 30 to 55 age group – which also gives the business a differentiating factor, with the business owners set on building wealth for people, and not simply managing investments already set up. Their age in targeting this group, no doubt, is a benefit in both attitude and attractiveness. The recent FPA award, announced only last week, aims to demonstrate the value of professional financial advice, and Elliott put her business forward in an attempt to demonstrate to clients and potential clients, the clarity that fee-for-service can provide. “It is still a big challenge educating clients on fee-for-service, and I thought this recognition may help in that process,” she says. “We explain that commissions can outweigh fees, and to illustrate the value we show them some previous work we have done with clients and they see the clarity it gives.” The planners at Momentum operate a Lifestyle Planning Process and only charge fee-for-service. “We cannot put an amount on the FUM because we don’t operate at that level, we have a maximum of 70 clients per adviser and charge only fee-for-service, we are not driven by FUM and rebate all commissions,” Elliott says. “From our perspective a commission model accepts that products, and product providers, dictate the amount you can charge. But you might be giving more value to a client than the planner down the road. You are not being paid for what you do, some clients we do not even do product placement for.” Elliott, who has been a planner for eight years, is attracted to wealth accumulation clients because they are “more blue sky and opportunity”. “We try to keep them accountable for their goals. We can’t work with people who just want to create money, of course that is the aim but it is more than that,” she says. The business advises clients on five areas: cashflow, tax, risk, wealth and estate planning. “At the first meeting we look at their goals for the short, medium and long term and put that together with their cashflow and see in their current situation, if they did nothing, if they could achieve those goals,” Elliott says. “Then we add in different strategies, whether it be geared investments, agribusiness, property, and show the differences to their wealth, and then blend the strategies to get the best result. The results are determined by where the income comes out in time with the lifestyle goals.” The business, which is built in large part around this client modelling, uses Xplan as its front-end software. “Xplan is a powerful tool for that type of advice, its modelling is excellent. However, it still falls down on the portfolio management because a lot of platforms don’t feed into it quickly and easily,” Elliott says. “But modelling is more important for our business than whether the investments have gone up a couple of percent.” Adviser’s Name: Philippa Elliott Business Name and Location: Momentum Planning, Perth Dealer Name: Epic Advisor Solutions Number of Staff: three advisers and one technical para planner Area of Speciality the majority of clients are accumulation clients Relevant qualification: CFP, DFP Member of the FPA: Yes Number of clients: the business has 210, each planner has a maximum of 70 FUM: unknown Method of fee collection: fee for service Investment platform: Asgard, MLC, FirstChoice, Macquarie Front end software: Xplan Investment research used: Lonsec Insurance research used: Boss and Cannex Technical and legal support available: various sources Ongoing education provider: Tribeca

Join the discussion