How one leading financial planning firm became a ‘pretty big hit’ with its clients 

  • Tim Neary | September 11, 2019
Brenton Tong playing pool

Everyone talks about putting the client first, but it's all a bit forced, according to Financial Spectrum managing director Brenton Tong. Instead he’s taken the unprecedented step, in an Australian first, of guaranteeing his firm’s advice. 

Mr Tong says the step has been a pretty big hit with clients – “as I'm sure you'd expect…”.

“To reverse engineer that then, by us guaranteeing our advice it means we're not going to take on a client that we can't deliver value to. What that means culturally is no one here thinks that they're just pushing around paper to earn fees.

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“I'll speak to guys at a lot of firms where they've said, ‘I wasn't entirely comfortable with the advice that we were giving, but at the end of the day that's the advice I had to give.’ I couldn't think of anything worse than to sit there, muck around with people's lives, knowing you're not actually doing all you can. Every person who works here knows that all the things we do are only to produce a better outcome for the client.”

Mr Tong says this single-minded philosophy shines through everything. 

“From the tone of an email to how people get greeted and how the guys are on the phone. Not only is there a respect that our clients have for everyone who works here, but there's also that genuine interest both ways. People feel cared for. The guys know that every time they touch something they’re making an improvement.”

Mr Tong says this makes a massive difference. 

“It actually makes the guys here look for solutions not just run by the playbook, saying okay this is what we do. The guys will actually look at something and they'll go,

‘Right, how can we do better for this person?’. 

And the clients, he says, notice the difference.

Mr Tong says it all starts with him.

“Obviously. I'm mindful of the fact that you're here for eight hours a day, sometimes more, sometimes less. I see these guys more than I see anyone in my life, so from where we're located, and our surrounds all the way through to emotional and financial support. It's imperative, I can't do this job without the guys here. The more engaged they are, everybody wins.

“From my perspective, it's really straightforward logical, in that you look after the people who are helping you to deliver your vision. I do hear regularly how that's not the norm, which to me is quite surprising.”  

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