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Interview with Phil Armstrong October 2021

Let’s start at the beginning.  What made you want to become a Financial Adviser?

Well, this is going back a few years now, I was working for Fonterra, investing my own savings in the sharemarket, and thought I’d better learn how to do it properly.  I started out with some extramural Finance papers studying through Massey University, then thought I could use those skills to help other people and it basically grew from there.

What are the main challenges you encounter in your work?

I always try to stay away from using jargon when dealing with my clients, particularly new clients but that is hard when all the source information I receive in my job is loaded with it.  Fund Managers, Economists, Investment Experts and Government Officials all love to use jargon and abbreviations, I think mostly to make them sound smarter.  When I do slip up and use words, concepts, or abbreviations that clients don’t understand I appreciate it when they pull me up on it.

Another ongoing challenge is trying to get investors to think of alternatives outside the big banks, these institutions already have existing relationships with nearly everyone because we all use their personal or business bank accounts, mortgages and Kiwisaver etc.  You will find that whenever any significant amount of money hits your bank account, whether that is from a house or business sale or inheritance etc, someone from the bank will be straight on the phone to you offering to “help out”.  For a lot of customers, the non-personal, one size fits all approach from the bank is fine, and for those with smaller amounts and no need for personalised service it can be a suitable option.   However, for those with larger sums of money usually $300,000 or more, I believe we offer a better service.  Getting this message across is hard when they virtually have unlimited advertising budgets.  At the end of the day, you the customer, are paying for all that advertising. I am always weary of companies spending heavily on advertising…, think of the New Zealand finance companies in the build up to the Global Financial Crisis…

So how do you go about competing with the banks for clients looking to create a diversified investment portfolio?

Basically, that comes down to doing a great job for our existing clients in the hopes that they will refer people to us.  We greatly appreciate the support we receive from existing clients whenever they talk about us to other potential clients in their networks of friends, family, and wider contacts.  I encourage clients to give our contact details or business cards to anyone they think we can help.  We offer free initial consultations and there are no obligations, so a friendly chat is all they are committed to.  We treat all information as strictly confidential so there are no privacy concerns.

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is the satisfaction that I get from helping people with their investments.  I think that is the same for a lot of jobs where knowing you have done the best job for a client makes it all worthwhile.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

If there is anyone reading this that is getting stressed out about their money or investments, I encourage them to talk to someone like me to take that burden away.  A lot of people in NZ are often too shy to talk about money.  We shouldn’t be, as it is prudent to talk about these things and plan ahead.