Quickfire Q&A — Nick Stewart from Stewart Group
Next up in our series of quickfire interview with owners of successful advice businesses is Nick Stewart.
My colleagues and I at Regis Media have been working with Nick’s firm, Stewart Group, for a couple of years now. The business is based in Hawkes Bay, on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand. It has an evidence-based investment philosophy and very much a client-centric approach to business. The firm is part of Nick is Executive Director and CEO.
Nick recently founded a turnkey asset management program, or TAMP, called Boutique Investors Alliance, of which there are are now five member firms.
Who has had the biggest impact on your professional development, and why?
I would have to say my Father, Don Stewart, he started out in financial services in 1974 at age 26, which is pretty young for an insurance agent. He has been instrumental for me when I was young and gave me an opportunity to work with him in July 2000. Following a short stint looking after the business, which I loved, I proposed buying into it, which he agreed to.
For you, what is the most valuable thing a financial adviser can offer?
I believe as an adviser the most important thing you can offer clients is transparent fee-only independent advice that is centred around them, their families and their short-, medium- and long-term goals.
What has been your biggest regret as an adviser or business owner?
It would have been good to have switched to the Dimensional Fund Advisors factor-driven investment strategy earlier and with greater conviction rather than a staggered approach.
Which decision has had the most positive impact on the growth of your business?
There are several things we’ve done which have had positive impacts on our business, but I believe the most important has been partnering with other successful advisers globally to increase our knowledge and gather ideas to grow the business and help more clients along the path. I’ve been fortunate to be involved in several groups like this which have been infinitely valuable.
What is the biggest mistake that business owners make in building a successful advice firm?
Most advisers we see get to a point whereby they are generating a comfortable income and then simply get too comfortable. They stop growing their business, and rather than hire staff or invest in technology to help with the workload, they simply sit where they are. This causes problems down the line when it comes to succession planning and support for the adviser and their clients.
Should traditional advisers view robo advice as a threat, an opportunity or both?
I think you have to look at it from both sides. Ultimately Robo-advice will take business off advisers whose clients don’t appreciate or value the service they are providing, such as ‘asset gathering’ advisers. However good advisers who are holistic in their approach will always have a role to play for clients. Robo-advice may reduce the costs of platform access and the like for both advisers and clients in time.
Robo-advice also means that more people are getting some sort of advice and in time they may wish to have a more personalised relationship at which point may search out an adviser to work with.
What sort of content do you share online, and which has been the most effective?
We share a lot of content online. We’ve found that video is the most engaging whilst audio podcasts from our regular radio show and news articles are also popular.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from your professional use of social media?
We’ve haven’t used social media as consistently as we should have, but when we have used it the engagement and readership can be astounding. The reach it gives you and the platform for thought leadership is great.
What do you expect to be the biggest change in the advice profession over the next 20 years?
Regulation, regulation, regulation. It’s coming. And the impacts will increase as regulators continue to the raise the bar. This will see a number of participants exit the industry as it becomes all too hard, whilst the barriers to entry into the industry will become tougher. We see the big getting bigger whilst the small getting out. It will create some exciting opportunities.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone starting out as an adviser today?
Work hard, and be true to yourself and your values. Join an organisation that wants to grow and will help mentor you to do so.
Found this interview helpful? Why not learn from the other business owners we’re interviewed in this series?