I have made the difficult decision to retire from advising.
Many of you claim I did this years ago, which is very hurtful, but I have to admit there is an element of truth!
Unfortunately, the compliance costs are simply uneconomical for someone who wants to work part-time. Plus, I really struggle to complete the compulsory 9 hours of “ethics” training each year. Being admonished by politicians about ethics is bizarre!
FB Wealth Management had its origins as Robert Ferguson and Associates. Jackie was the associate, plus five little children. It was a scary but exciting time. Sitting in a little office at Ashgrove, willing the phone to ring; kicking the photocopier; figuring out how a fax machine works; upgrading to a 25-megabyte computer. At the same time Jackie had to learn a new program called Word Perfect, a financial planning program called Visiplan and bookkeeping/accounting/record keeping.
The practice has grown over that time, thanks to significant support from a number of ex-colleagues from our time when we worked for the Australian Taxation Office. Many of our friends left the ATO to become successful tax agents and accountants and were happy to refer their clients to our firm. Likewise, we had friends from my time at the Chartered Accounting firm PKF who helped us enormously. Some of those original clients are still with us today!
Due to our organic growth, we found it necessary to move to Wickham Terrace in 1997, under the new name of Ferguson Betts Pty Ltd. Contrary to what Leon Betts might tell you, he has never been a financial planner! It is a long boring story how his name ended up on the “honour board.” We have since abbreviated to FB Wealth Management, but we will always be Ferguson Betts to Leon and Tamra!
My youngest brother Tim joined us in 1999. He decided to try his hand at insurance advice. I had always been a true believer in insurance. No financial plan stacks up if someone is severely ill, injured or sadly, dies. However, it is a complex area and I was frankly not very good at it. Tim learned from industry experts and put his own stamp on the practice, with a thoughtful and structured approach to insurance advice and implementation. Most importantly, he was fearless in recommending types and amounts of insurance that were needed, rather than succumbing to client expectations of what they think they need and what it should cost. Almost every one of you that has an insurance plan in place will know that you ended up with higher amounts than you expected. And the many of you who have had to make a claim know that it ended up being money well spent.
Martin Silec joined us in 2010 following the exit of another planner. Marty was working as a Chartered Accountant for a large firm in Brisbane but has always been interested in finance and investment. He has been a revelation, with hard work, attention to detail and technical expertise probably second to none. Clients know he cares and are in no way put off by the knowledge that Top Gun is his favourite movie.
Liam Ferguson has been there since the beginning. He was one of the five kids who Jackie had to shoosh quiet when she answered the “Batphone” at home, as if she was in the office. Over time he earned pocket money and at Uni was an occasional assistant among his other part-time jobs. After gaining his commerce degree he worked briefly for us before heading overseas to play Rugby. We are fortunate that upon return Liam decided to fully embrace financial planning and consequently studied for his Certified Financial Planner designation.
I am very proud that Liam will replace me as a Director of the firm. Tim, Marty and Liam will be a formidable combination in financial planning (when they are not talking about sport.)
Our staff, past and present, have been wonderful. It has been nice over time to have clients comment with sadness when someone leaves. Gratifying too that a number of those ex-staff members are now clients. As are some of our referring Accountants and Lawyers.
Our current motley crew don’t quite know what to make of the old bloke who wanders in from time to time, makes a few phone calls, asks how does this work?, has a whinge about ASIC and compliance and then leaves. But they take it in their stride. They are a great bunch of people and all are dedicated to ensuring our clients are well looked after. Again, I constantly am told by clients how good they are (but I never pass it on of course!)
Special mention of Nikki and Michelle as well. They are Tim and Marty’s spouses and keep our bookkeeping/accounting running like clockwork. From a director’s viewpoint, it is so appreciated when figures are magically available (and accurate) with little fuss and always timely. Most businesses would kill for the service we receive.
Finally, to our clients. Sadly, one of the consequences of growing as a business is that I do not know many of you who are our more recent clients. But I do know that anyone who comes on board has bought into our ethos. Many have been referred by our long-standing clients.
It has been wonderful meeting new people, hearing about their families, their concerns, their businesses, life changing events etc. The planning side of things is a collaboration with the overall aim to make people happy and confident in the future. Apart from the formal investment and strategic issues we necessarily cover, I have always seen my role as a sounding board or a “safe harbour” for your concerns or dreams (or crazy ideas!), or an alternative view, or validation of a strategy. For many couples it is a chance to hear each other’s thoughts, because so often we never have that chance at home with busy lives always in the way. The team in here know this as well and it makes our job so interesting and rewarding.
Thanks to everyone for your trust and friendship over the past 30 plus years. It has been greatly appreciated.
Jackie and I are now moving on to be clients of the firm and will be under the guidance of one of our newest advisers, David Melville who joined us in 2021 after a long stint at Macquarie. David has been a valuable addition to our business over the past few years. He has strong knowledge across financial planning strategies, investment advice and portfolio construction. He is highly qualified, has a great manner and is totally committed to his clients. I guess that as Jackie and I will also be his clients, that is the strongest recommendation we can give. No pressure Dave!