The pace of change in financial services is something felt the world over. But probably no more so than in Australia right now. When we caught up with Capital Partners’ chief operating officer Charmaine Lamprecht, based in the Western city of Perth, it’s clear she’s undaunted by change. If anything, she is positively energised by it.
“This industry is such an exciting place to be right now. There are some transformational things going on. All of them bring their challenges but have huge potential to elevate the professionalism and quality of advice within the industry.”
"There’s huge potential to elevate the professionalism and quality of advice within the industry."
Navigating the business through change
The transformation down under is significant. Firstly, the banking Royal Commission is investigating misconduct in the industry which could prompt new regulation. Secondly, a new mandatory educational framework is being introduced by FASEA (Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority) which requires existing advisers to be degree qualified in a relevant discipline by January 2024. All new advisers must obtain a specific bachelor’s degree in financial planning before they can give advice from January 2019.
How is that having an impact on Capital Partners’ business? Charmaine explains:
“The transition is going to create some short-term issues in the industry for sure. We have some excellent, well-qualified advisers who have a lot of experience and wisdom, but if they don’t meet the new standards, they may choose to leave the industry rather than undertake a new degree.
"In conjunction there will be new advisers entering the industry with a degree able to provide advice, but lacking experience and the right supervision. We are working closely with our membership body and government to work through these issues. In the longer term, elevating the standard of education overall is a good thing for the industry and the clients we serve.”
In an industry that cites talent acquisition as one of its key challenges, this must be another hurdle for Capital Partners?
“Our ethos has always been to recruit based on aptitude, values and culture - finding those special individuals that have the ‘helping gene’. We look for people that want to do something worthwhile. Everything else we can provide through study, mentoring and coaching.”
"We look for people that want to do something worthwhile. Everything else we can provide through study, mentoring and coaching."
Encouraging diversity in financial services
“I would also love to see more diversity, both gender and cultural, in our industry. Financial Planning isn't really talked about as a career option. I've found when speaking to women in particular, for example, there's a misconception that it’s all about numbers and calculations. Yes, there is that aspect, but it’s much more about strategy and problem solving; about understanding the client, knowing where they are and where they want to get to. These perceptions need to be broken down if we are going to attract more people to the industry.”
Finding solutions is not only something Capital Partners does for its clients. A firm with a considerable history, (they celebrate 20 years next year), they have their eyes firmly set on the future of the profession as a whole and seeking to deliver excellence through membership of the Global Association of Independent Advisers (GAIA).
Charmaine explains: “Joining the GAIA network was such an important step for Capital Partners as every member firm holds the Center for Fiduciary Excellence Certificate (CEFEX). This entails annual auditing of both the firm and individual advisers, to ensure they conform to all the practices and criteria that comprise global standards. All this is underpinned by a commitment to put the clients’ interests first.”
"We see what's happening in other markets, what they're doing in terms of their technology - it's fantastic."
Learning from other markets
“The level of thought leadership at this global level is just phenomenal. We see what’s happening in other markets, what they are doing in terms of their technology, challenges around legislation, recruitment or team structures. It’s a fantastic way to learn and grow, and working together we can accomplish more.
“We are working on a big fintech project at the moment and working to understand just what the future is going to look like, what we need our technology to do for us and how we can get there. On our own we couldn’t do that as effectively but working with other firms we can really see what we need to achieve from our technology.”
Ultimately it's clients that are at Capital Partners' heart. Charmaine explains:
“Every decision we make about our business, we have the client in the room. From the technology platform we use, the educational content on our website, to the people we recruit, to our business strategy. We're always asking how we can add value for our clients. If you're taking care of your clients first everything else fits into place.”
"If you are taking care of your clients first everything else fits into place."
The right passion and skills
“We are doing meaningful work and making decisions that matter. Wealth management changes people's lives for the better. When our team are doing meaningful, interesting, and rewarding work, they have great lives too.
“And we know that if we find the right people, with the right passion and skills then we can deliver on our promise of helping people live richer, happier lives. The technology can take care of everything else.”
Charmaine Lamprecht joined Capital Partners in 2012 as operations manager, following other roles in the business operations and professional services industry. She was promoted to chief operating officer in July 2018.
Capital Partners is a wealth management specialist based in Perth, Western Australia, employing 30 people. In 2017, the business won Professional Practice of the Year in the FPA (Financial Planning Association of Australia) Awards.
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