“Mackay is now among one of the most qualified and experienced planners in the industry.”
In January 2017, Quantum Financial’s Claire Mackay was profiled in Professional Planner Magazine in an article titled ‘Dad taught the value of independence’.
We reproduce the article below.
Dad taught the value of independence
By Johanna Roberts| January 29, 2018
From as early as she can remember, Claire Mackay has been entrenched in the family business.
Her father ran his planning business, Quantum Financial, from his home office, but, as small businesses tend to do, it bled into every facet of the family’s life.
“I would help Dad when I was little with email, as he wasn’t as strong on that front,” Mackay says. “He would write out notes and letters for me when I was a girl and I would then type them up on the dining room table.
“I can even recall rushing into the city with Mum to deliver the accounts to ASIC [the Australian Securities and Investments Commission] in time for the deadline.”
When she graduated from high school, it became clear she – and her brother, Tim – were well-placed to work in the family business, but she wasn’t given a free ride.
“Dad told me to go and work for someone else for a while,” Mackay says with a laugh. “He told me to go and make mistakes on someone else’s time.”
It turned out to be exceptionally good advice. Mackay is now among one of the most qualified and experienced planners in the industry.
She has worked for both PwC Australia and Macquarie Bank and has an advanced diploma of financial planning, but under the new education requirements for planners, Mackay may have to do more study.
“I looked at some of the requirements and I might end up having to do more dedicated financial planning studies,” she says. “I won’t lie to you, it’s going to be hard to find that extra time if that is the case, but I also think the educational requirements are good for the industry as a whole.”
Mackay joined the family business in 2009, about the time advisers were picking over the ashes of the global financial crisis.
“Clients were obviously quite concerned about trusting advisers,” she says. “A lot of my friends and family couldn’t believe, either, I had left investment banking for planning at that point.”
While many professional advisers, such as Mackay, have worked assiduously to establish trust with clients through a fee-based model, there is evidence that more work needs to be done in the industry more broadly.
This week, ASIC released a survey of conflicts of interest within the financial advice arms of the big banks and found that 79 per cent of bank products were external products and only 21 per cent were in-house; however, more than two-thirds of clients’ money was invested in the in-house products.
Mackay says that while she felt there was room for more than one financial services model, transparency should be the guiding principle of advice.
“As a professional, you have to provide advice that is in the clients’ best interests,” she says. “Not everyone needs a financial adviser, although everyone needs a financial plan. If someone wants to go through their superannuation fund for their insurance, then that has its place; however, if someone sits down in front of an adviser to develop a financial plan, then there is an assumption that the adviser is going to put them in a better position in the future than they are today.”
This is why Mackay takes her independent adviser status so seriously. The firm was classified as independent about one year ago; gaining the designation required her to meet a number of requirements under the Corporations Act.
“It means that when I give clients advice, such as to pay off more of their mortgage, then I’m not incentivised for them to do one thing or the other,” she says. “I can tell them that with interest rates being what they are, it’s best to smash that mortgage now.
“But if we had funds under management, then I may be tempted to say, ‘Let’s use this equity in your home to borrow against it and invest in this portfolio,’ because that is how I am going to get paid.”
Name of firm: Quantum Financial
Time in the industry (previous jobs?): nine years full time at Quantum; previously part time while at Macquarie Bank and PwC
Academic qualifications: bachelor’s degree in commerce (Accounting); bachelor’s degree in Law; master’s degree in law; advanced diploma in financial planning
Accreditations: chartered accountant – financial planning and SMSF specialist (Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand); Certified Practising Accountant (CPA Australia); Certified Financial Planner (Financial Planning Association); Chartered Tax Adviser (Taxation Institute of Australia); company directors course (Australian Institute of Company Directors)
Professional association memberships: Charted Accountants Australia & New Zealand; CPA Australia; Financial Planning Association; Taxation Institute of Australia; NSW Law Society; Australian Institute of Company Directors