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Ahead of the curve

It was almost by accident that Adam Goldstien entered the world of finance. When Mr Goldstien realised he had little interest in becoming a landscaper – a job he had taken after leaving school – he decided to go in a completely different direction.

Ahead of the curve
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  • JMcDonnell
  • January 05, 2017
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“I was working in a career that I didn’t really enjoy and I thought I would like to try something different. It was just a matter of going to Vinnie’s and buying a suit for $100 and giving something a go,” Mr Goldstien recalls.

More than 20 years later and he is now a director with the firm he helped build, Skeggs Goldstien. The journey began with his mentor, the now-retired Neil Skeggs, who gave Mr Goldstien the tools and skills to help him develop as a financial planner.

Over the years, the pair worked closely together to grow the business. In 2000, Mr Goldstien purchased the company from his mentor, who stayed on as a board member until 2010. It was from then that Mr Goldstien morphed the business into the multi-service firm it is today.

New avenues

As Mr Goldstien’s ambitions grew, he acquired more financial planning firms which were incorporated into the Skeggs Goldstien banner. He found himself in a strong position to expand into other sectors, something many IPA members are being encouraged to consider.

“The majority of our business were all small business owners. We were finding our offering to those individuals was limited in that financial planning space, so we made a conscious effort to get more education in business advisory and accountancy,” Mr Goldstien says.

He wanted to ensure he could uphold his belief in ‘extracting value’ for his clients. Coming from an SMSF background and working closely with small business, he understood that many clients need assistance in realising their biggest retirement asset – their business.

“They look at their business as being their retirement strategy, but very few of them had addressed the process of eliciting value and how they are going to do that.”

Mr Goldstien – who viewed the move into accountancy and advisory as a “natural progression” – sought out additional education and professional development. Joining the IPA looked to be a good move.

“I have had the chance to attend some master classes and some intensive workshops. I found them very productive and informative. They’ve also given me a bit of guidance on continuing with further education and I just like learning so I think everything they provide is very positive for the industry.”

As a former NSW chair of the SMSF Association, Mr Goldstien is aware of the importance of industry associations and the vital role they play in furthering a professional’s development.

Mr Goldstien’s participation in the IPA’s classes and workshops helped pave the way for his company to offer more financial advice and solutions. This meant he was in a position to not only expand his client base, but also improve his existing clients’ portfolios.

“SMSF clients who had been with our financial planning team are now all accounting clients also and that’s been important for our client base. These accounting acquisitions were the quickest way to develop. It meant that we needed to be focused on bedding down relationships as quickly as we could and swiftly provide value back.”

Holistic advice

Mr Goldstien is a true holistic adviser, with his expertise and experience stemming across accountancy and advice-related work. These areas of practice have worked together to boost his business.

“I found the financial planners asked more questions and the accounting side gave more answers. So the combination of those two skill sets brings the best outcome for the client,” he says.

Understanding and embracing both industries has played a significant role in Skeggs Goldstien’s business development or as Mr Goldstien says, it’s been the “differentiator”.

While he acknowledges there will always be a need for both dedicated accountants and financial planners, advisers who excel at holistic advice will soon become essential. This is where he sees the true value in what he provides for his clients.

“Clients are expecting this advice from their accountants and if they can’t [provide it], those people will go somewhere else, and the same applies to financial planning.”

An ‘orange business’

Mr Goldstien and his team remain true to the concept of ‘a foot in both camps’. However, instead of keeping the two camps separate, he champions a more inclusive business model. Mr Goldstien calls this the ‘orange business’.

The colour red has been assigned to the financial planning sector and yellow to accounting. By combining the two colours, Mr Goldstien creates an offering that he believes is a unique and value-adding client experience.

“When we talk, all of our staff we are talking about ‘building orange’ and that’s the focus of what we are trying to build here, which is not just an accounting practice or servicing a financial planning business or vice versa. It’s about building a different type of business that combines the best of the two. This is the orange,” he says.

Mr Goldstien now spends most of his time dedicated to building a client base around this model, and ensuring that constantly shifting client expectations are met.

“There’s growth in the markets we work in so there is no need to change. We have fairly clear client value propositions. We are in the areas of business advisory, wealth management, tax and accounting. We then run the business advisor model, which is the orange model,” he explains.

Embracing innovation

The role of technology in advice remains open to debate, with some believing embracing tech has merit while others fear it will damage their practice.

Mr Goldstien is a strong advocate for the adoption of innovative technology.

“I love it. I think pricing pressures on all industries at the moment mean the only way to get ahead is to embrace a bit of innovation,” he says.

While Mr Goldstien is aware that technology is not the be all and end all for accounting and financial planning, he says it’s an area the industry cannot ignore. Technology has boosted Skeggs Goldstien’s efficiency in its advice delivery to clients.

“You have to be more efficient with the way you deliver your services and the only way to do so is through technology. You can keep charging similar rates. You aren’t charging them any more or any less but you’re providing a much better service,” he says.

On top of embracing technological advances, Mr Goldstien has also developed a media presence, frequently appearing as a financial commentator on Sky News’ business channel.

“We obviously talk about being SMSF specialists and working in accounting and financial planning, so that’s been really good for us in promoting what we are trying to achieve.”

Looking to the future

Looking ahead, Mr Goldstien sees areas for improvement in the accounting and financial planning sectors.

For example, professionals should be more reactive, whether it’s responding to legislative changes, technology or shifting client expectations. The latter, he says, is crucial to success and growth.

“It’s about providing a combination of the two [services] and not just one. There’s a need to speak to clients to understand their concerns and achieve their outcomes.”

Mr Goldstien also says it’s important to be aware of impending changes and trends in both industries.

“I do believe that on both sides of the business there needs to be awareness of the changes that are coming. It’s consumer driven and there is no doubt that what has been spoken about in the short term will come around in the long term,” he says.

At Skeggs Goldstien, regardless of the nature of any new regulations and changes, the focus will always be on the clients. Being prepared is what sets successful professionals apart, Mr Goldstien says.

“These changes may not happen immediately but they will happen, and businesses need to be prepared for that, particularly in using them effectively to benefit our clients.”

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