Practice of the Month: Whitehead Financial

15-Mar-2017

By Leanne Abbas

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Servicing the niche advice market of trade-qualified employees has driven Whitehead Financial a long way from its risk insurance-focused beginnings, with the firm now priding itself on providing genuine advice for middle-class families from its family-run business.

Whitehead Financial director Aaron Whitehead‘s passion for helping people emanated from the time he worked as a sole trader as part of his father’s business, Steven Whitehead and Associates, and it has since grown to specialising in helping clients who are new to the concept of advice.

He says the group’s typical clients tend to be out of touch with their superannuation fund, often don’t have life insurance or simply don’t have any plan in place to guide their wealth.

“We find that we provide the greatest value to families that have two or three children, a $400,000 to $500,000 mortgage, they might not be contributing to superannuation, they’re not sure how they’re protected with insurance, they don’t have a will – they’re the types of families we love to work with,” he says.

“We can help sort out superannuation, put a plan in place so they can start regularly contributing to their retirement, we can get the right insurance in place so they’re actually protected if an accident were to happen on the worksite, where the employee can continue to provide income for their family and they would also have a will in place.”

Whitehead has always wanted to follow the advice path and was inspired by his father’s profession while he was still in primary school, before growing up to study a bachelor of commerce while working part-time doing administration work at his father’s practice.

“It was like the son that wanted to grow up and be like his dad – I can remember back to primary school saying that I’ll grow up and get into insurance. I didn’t even know what that meant,” he says.

“Now the more I get involved in the industry, the more that I can see how we help people and I guess my passion for what we do has grown in that time so much.”

After completing his degree, he worked as a sole trader at his father’s business, which he has since acquired after his father stopped working due to health problems.

It was in that period Whitehead reached out to Beacon Financial group managing director Peter Daly, who advised him to create a succession plan to take over his father’s practice.

It was not always a smooth transition, with Whitehead at times having to service clients from his home office in order to cut costs, with the support of his brother and the business’s mortgage and finance broker, Jordan Whitehead.

He has also found the onerous compliance requirements of the industry challenging, but says he strives to remain genuine and transparent in his dealings with clients.

“We’re upfront in the way that we’re paid for commissions and fees of service,” he said.

“When it comes to insurance risks we don’t just get a policy in place and forget about our clients, we handle all claims all the way through.

“We make that initial contact with insurance companies and we help through that whole process until they are back to work and fully recovered.”

Client engagement has also been a large part of his business strategy, with Whitehead hosting regular social events with his clients and running a Friday lottery where the business randomly selects a client to deliver beer to.

His advice to anyone wanting to start their own advice business is to leverage off established industry practitioners as mentors.

“There’s a wealth of knowledge out there with more senior advisers and I’ve become better in my practice by looking at other businesses and what they’re doing and learning from that,” he adds.

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