How Stewart Partners may help you
One question we’ve never excelled at answering at Stewart Partners is “what do you do?”, because if you asked this question to each of our clients, there’d be an array of responses. But worse still, we sometimes discover a client had an issue we could have helped resolve, but they didn’t think to ask us for help.
So, to help you understand what we can do for clients – beyond investment advice – we’ve listed below several real matters we’ve helped clients with over the past year.
Family Retreat – arranged an annual offsite weekend family retreat for a family who experienced a sizeable liquidity event. The content for discussion was designed to ensure family dynamics remain harmonious into the future and setup a forum for transparent communication about the purpose of family wealth. This will ideally position future generations of the family to benefit not just financially, but also equip them with skills and know-how to make wise financial choices.
Financial assistance to children – advice provided to clients on financial assistance for their children has been far-ranging and has included:
How to treat children equitably, both in the eyes of the children and the law.
Helping clients understand if they can afford to provide financial assistance to children without materially impacting their own lifestyle.
Structuring assistance to children as either loans or gifts, and often meeting with the children to explain their obligations in accepting the assistance. This can involve some quite emotional conversations.
Helping set aside funds to assist children or grandchildren with future activities such as purchasing a first home or meeting education costs.
Assisting family group – met with the adult children of clients to help ensure the key foundations of their own financial situation, such as superannuation, personal insurance, mortgages and estate planning, were appropriate. For many children we co-ordinate reviews of their insurance, mortgages and estate planning and set up super funds.
Assisting Parents – we have helped clients where their parents’ financial situation is impacting their own peace of mind. In one case the advice received by another adviser was so abhorrent we immediately assisted with lodging a formal compliant with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority and helped engage a lawyer with (ongoing) legal action to recover fees paid. For another client whose elderly mother was moving into an aged care facility, we restructured the mother’s affairs to assist with meeting means tested aged care rules and also guarantee a higher capital value for her estate.
Aged Care for Parents – co-ordinated a meeting for a client and their siblings to meet an external aged care expert to discuss accommodation options for their parent(s).
Life Estate – advised the trustees of a life estate on how to deal with the assets to optimise the income payable to the primary beneficiary for the remainder of their life, whilst also satisfying the objectives of other beneficiaries who will eventually receive the corpus of the estate.
Defining a Legacy – helped clients walk through their options and discuss scenarios to ensure they are comfortable with their financial wishes. We then ensured these wishes are recorded correctly in their estate documents. We have built an extensive internal checklist for this which goes well beyond making sure there is a valid Will. As an example, for many clients the biggest challenge drafting their Wills is deciding how their estate will be distributed, and how beneficiaries may behave receiving an inheritance.
Drafting Wills – for many clients we collected the information necessary to draft their Wills and then work with an estate lawyer to have documentation drafted. This means our client only needed to sit with the lawyer at the time they signed their Wills. For one client, their review required changes to company constitutions and other legal documentation to meet the needs of their family into the future.
Divorce and Family Settlements – we have saved clients many thousands of dollars in legal fees by taking a proactive, project management role which involves negotiations with lawyers and attending meetings to resolve family court settlements. Our team now has deep experience helping clients through separation, divorce and family settlements, including recent cases which involved complex balance sheets.
Retirement Transition – assisted clients looking to exit the workforce in the near-term, ensuring they can be financially independent for the rest of their lives. This required many conversations and technical work in the normal course of financial planning, but we are also aware of the psychological challenges many can experience in the early years of retirement. We aim to help clients make this a positive experience in all areas of their life by taking a holistic view of the transition.
Cashflow planning – provided detailed cashflow modelling and put strategies in place to capture surplus cashflow to ensure clients can enjoy their lifestyle today and in the future. Some clients have little time to deal with the own financial situation (which is why they engage us) and struggle to understand where their expenditure is going and why they aren’t getting ahead.
Buying Property – assisted an overseas client purchase property in Sydney by liaising with estate agents, helping to negotiate price and terms, and helping co-ordinate settlement.
Buyers Agents – introduced clients to Buyers Agents (that we have interviewed and vetted to be on our panel of professional advisers) to assist them purchase residential property.
Property development – worked with a client to help them assess the development potential of their child’s inner-city property with a network of contacts.
Interest Rate negotiations – approached our client’s loan provider to challenge existing pricing and achieve some significant costs savings without the need to undertake refinancing. We are well placed to assess the competitiveness of mortgage/loan interest rates and find that banks are more likely to offer better terms when negotiating with us.
Tax complexities – co-ordinated specialist accountants and lawyers to resolve a variety of cross border tax issues for overseas based clients. This included a complex estate that involved difficult legacy trustees.
Sustainable Investing – vetted new sustainable investing options which focus on the environmental, social and governance impact of their money. This has eventuated after many years spent lobbying fund managers for these solutions.
Employment arrangements – assisted a client draft a letter to their employer to justify their annual bonus request to their Board. This was a highly analytical process.
Selling a business – advised clients selling their business on how to do so tax effectively, including taking advantage and navigating the small business capital gains tax relief rules to optimise the money contributed to their super fund.
Philanthropy – continued to help clients manage 15+ Private Ancillary Funds (or Foundations). Our assistance ranged from acting as directors and Responsible Persons for these Foundations, to engaging external experts to help clients articulate the types of organisations and projects they’d like to support, and then help them identify appropriate charities.
Personal insurance review - reviewed a new client’s existing personal insurance policies and noted they had a trauma claim their former adviser had failed to act on. The subsequent claim resulted in over $200,000 being paid to the client.
General insurance – co-ordinated a review of all general insurance policies to ensure both the terms and premiums of existing policies are appropriate and competitive.
Car leases – liaised with car dealerships and their leasing team to negotiate car lease deals and finalise paperwork.
Global Association of Independent Advisors – whilst our membership of this organisation may not directly impact clients, the information sharing that occurred amongst our members at conferences in Oxford, UK and Sydney undoubtedly helped us learn and implement ideas to continually improve how we deliver advice. We also maintained our Cefex accreditation that certifies we adhere to fiduciary best practices as part of our membership of the association.
What’s it all about – helped clients articulate their vision and plans for the future. This has enabled them to set goals and priorities for the first times in their lives.
Second opinions – provided a review and second opinion to numerous family members and friends of clients who had money worries or felt they weren’t receiving the best possible advice. Many of these people subsequently became clients of Stewart Partners, with some saving $30,000+ per annum compared to their previous advice relationship.
Many financial advice firms simply focus on managing money. Whilst that is an important part of our role, it is only one part of the story. Perhaps describing us as Financial Problem Solvers would be a more apt description.
The most important thing we’d like our clients to take away from this article is we want to help you resolve all your problems and money worries so you can live the best life you can imagine. So please, never hesitate to talk to us about any issues you’re encountering – we may well have already resolved a similar matter for another client.
Author: Rick Walker