Financial Advice Blog

5 minutes with Financial Spectrum Financial Adviser, Antony Selby

Financial Spectrum Financial Adviser, Antony Selby, shares his top financial advice, past investing mistakes and what gets him out of bed and fired up in the morning!

Financial Spectrum Senior Financial Adviser, Antony Selby, shares his top financial advice, past investing mistakes and what gets him out of bed and fired up in the morning!

What is the key piece of financial advice you would give your friends and family?

While the advice I provide is always tailored to individual circumstances, here are my top three overarching recommendations:

  1. Align your finances with your values: To truly live your best life, ensure your financial decisions are aligned with your core values. This is the only way money can bring real, lasting happiness.
  2. Behaviour over knowledge: Despite its portrayal as a hard science, personal finance is mostly a soft skill, relying heavily on behavioural aspects. How you navigate your financial journey often outweighs mere knowledge.
  3. Seek expert guidance: If you do not have the time and expertise to manage your finances effectively, enlist a trusted, fee-for-service financial adviser. Even if you prefer to do it yourself, you should think about who will take over if you cannot. Life’s transitions are inevitable, and having a knowledgeable guide by your side ensures a smoother journey when the unexpected arises.

Have you ever made an investing mistake?

Of course. I think anyone who says “no” to that question is lying.

Recognising the limitations of my knowledge early on, I proactively sought education and guidance from a financial adviser, aiming to learn from both my own missteps and the experiences of others.

What gets you fired up and out of bed in the morning?

Well besides my ragdoll cat’s dawn antics, it’s the thought of positively impacting people’s lives. Seeing money align with values to bring about genuine happiness gives me lots of energy.

You’d be surprised how many (financially) wealthy people aren’t happy or wealthy in the truest sense of the word. It’s incredibly fulfilling to see money playing a positive and meaningful role.

When are you happiest?

I am happiest when I feel as though I’ve made a positive and meaningful difference in someone’s life and when I am spending quality time with my wife and kids.

Can you describe your typical day as a financial planner?

One of the things I love about being a financial adviser is that there really isn’t a typical day. From client meetings to collaborative sessions with other professionals (accountants, lawyers, real estate agents, lenders etc), to in-depth research, each day brings opportunities for growth, both personally and professionally.

What is the most rewarding outcome you have achieved for a client?

While quick, tangible wins such as achieving significant tax savings for a client or successfully claiming on an insurance policy when a client is in crisis, can be gratifying, my most rewarding moments are from guiding clients through major life transitions.

For instance, witnessing a highly anxious widow transform into a confident and financially empowered woman after the loss of her husband, or observing a young person successfully navigate receiving a large inheritance for which they initially felt ill-equipped.

These scenarios resonate deeply with me due to my own journey. Witnessing individuals find empowerment and confidence amidst life’s upheavals is profoundly meaningful to me.

What is your next major goal?

To make sure my daughters remain as safe and well-adjusted through their teen years as possible. I keep being warned about the dreaded teenage years and it’s particularly challenging being a parent in the age of smart phones and social media. I hope we stay close.

Financially, my priority is my girls’ education expenses and securing a comfortable retirement, with some family travel along the way. Those who know me know I like to keep things amazingly simple and focus my time and resources on my family.

What makes a good financial adviser?

A successful financial adviser requires a unique set of character traits.

Being technically astute across all relevant areas of the financial landscape is essential. This includes adopting a comprehensive approach to risk management, where risk is considered prior to pursuing returns. Recognising that investing is inherently a long-term endeavour, playing defence well to leverage the magic of compounding is critical.

But strong interpersonal skills, natural curiosity, and a genuine desire to do things better to help and empower others, are the traits that separate the best advisers from the rest.

What does being an ethical financial adviser mean to you?

Always acting as a fiduciary in the strictest meaning of the word is a must. The Code of Ethics for financial advisers in Australia is a good starting point, but the intricacies of ethical conduct are complex.

There is substantial information asymmetry between advisers and clients, even among clients with an elevated level of knowledge. This asymmetry, coupled with clients’ personal biases and emotions, present opportunity for advisers to exploit clients by promoting complex products under the guise of advice. Hate tax? Boy, do I have a great tax-advantaged product for you! Want control? An SMSF is the solution. Without thorough questioning and due diligence, these are products masquerading as advice.

Furthermore, conflicts inherent in various financial advice and wealth management business models pose ethical challenges. Deliberately introducing complexity where simplicity would yield better outcomes, albeit with lower or no client fees, constitutes unethical behaviour. It’s imperative for advisers to possess self-awareness and insight into their own biases, especially if they work in a firm with conflicts of interest that need to be carefully managed.

In practice, ethical conduct involves asking the right questions to help clients make informed choices, even when it’s challenging. It also means having the courage to say ‘no’ when something is not in the client’s best interest, even if it’s what they want.

Why did you decide to become a financial adviser?

My journey into financial advice stemmed from firsthand experiences. From an early age, I understood the importance of health and wealth for a fulfilling life, especially witnessing their profound impact on my family’s wellbeing.

My professional career began at Schroders Australasia, an exciting yet institutional role. Seeking a more personal connection, I pursued a Bachelor of Business at University of Technology Sydney, majoring in Finance with sub-majors in Accounting and Commercial Law. I also studied Chinese Mandarin, which I had been interested in since childhood (mainly because of my interest in martial arts). It was also the language I thought would become most useful in my lifetime.

In my mid-twenties, fuelled by my desire to learn Mandarin, I ventured to Tianjin, China, to enrol in Chinese language and culture studies at Nankai University. However, life took an unexpected turn in 2007 when both my parents fell ill. With no siblings, I flew back to Sydney and assumed responsibility for their care and finances, deeply influenced by the sacrifices of my grandparents. I knew how hard my grandparents had worked and the sacrifices they had made to build a life in Australia and provide for everyone, and I felt an incredibly powerful sense of stewardship not to blow things and to protect their legacy.

Motivated by my experiences and a commitment to enhance financial knowledge and ethical standards in the industry, I pursued a Master of Financial Planning. Alongside this, I garnered practical insights through hands-on experience working for fee-for-service self-licensed financial planning, wealth management, and family offices.

Having sat on both sides of the fence, as both adviser and client, I offer a unique perspective that enriches the advice I provide clients. I’m unsure how many financial advisers have a lot of experience managing their own investments outside of repaying a mortgage and investing in their business. However, I believe my individual experiences, including managing investments and estates at an early age, particularly during the Global Financial Crisis, provide me a lot of understanding and empathy for clients.

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