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5 minutes with Financial Spectrum Managing Director and Financial Advisor, Brenton Tong

Financial Spectrum's Managing Director and Financial Advisor, Brenton Tong, shares his top financial advice, past investing mistakes and what gets him out of bed and fired up in the morning!
What gets you fired up and out of bed in the morning?

My kids – I have to get them to school! But I do find it motivating when I check my calendar for the day to see who I’m meeting with. Meeting new people and sharing the successes of our clients as they grow is incredibly uplifting.

When are you happiest?

Professionally, when a client shares a win and you know that you’ve played a key role in making it happen. Personally, sailing Sydney Harbour with my wife and children.

Can you describe your typical day as a financial planner?

I meet with several clients each day and provide them with guidance across many aspects of personal finance.  On any one day I could be helping clients prepare for a family, get on the property ladder, fund their children’s education, expand their investment portfolio, grow their business, retire sooner and much more!  I then work with our team to find solutions to help our clients reach their goals faster.  At its essense, my day is about listening to clients’ needs, hopes and dreams for the future, then finding solutions to give them their best life possible.

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

Gosh, there are too many to list!  But that moment when you know that you’ve removed the weight of the world from someone’s shoulders and provided them with confidence in their future is the best feeling and the reason why I do what I do.  The other day I caught up with a couple who have just retired in their early 50’s with a great life ahead of them.  They beat their retirement goals by several years and thanked me for making it happen for them.  On a more somber note, I also work with a young couple who had an accident that severely impacted their future plans.  Fortunately, I had insurance in place for them and we managed to secure a $2 million payout.  This has enabled them to recently purchase a home and provided a sense of security and comfort at an incredibly difficult time in their lives.

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

Play the long game.  The most valuable asset for an investor is time.  The longer you have to earn, the more wealth you can generate through the power of compounding returns.  So get in early and be consistent.

Have you ever made an investing mistake?

I’ve made many!  I was lucky to start investing my teens and most of my mistakes were small and I had time to recover.  No one is perfect and immune from making mistakes.  The important thing is that you learn from them and use them as an opportunity to evolve.

What makes a good financial advisor?

A good mix of heart and brain.  We look after the money, but money impacts life.  You have to really care about your clients having a better life to dig deep enough to find the right solutions. Sometimes it’s hard work and there’s always an easier way.  But the best financial advisors will give 110% and do everything to help their clients live their best life possible.

What does being an ethical financial adviser mean to you?

Being fully committed to making your client’s lives better without compromise. In more technical terms, keeping how you’re paid independent from what your advice is.  That’s why I’ve built Financial Spectrum to be a fee-for-service financial planning practice.  We charge a simple fee for our time and advice.  We have no connections to banks or other financial institutions and we reject all commissions.  That way, our clients can feel assured they’re getting the right advice for their individual needs.

Why did you decide to become a financial adviser?

That wasn’t the intention! I always thought that I’d be an investment banker and didn’t even know what financial planning was.  I actually fell into a financial planning career when I was 21. One year into working within the industry, I was hooked. I love the mix of technical financial knowledge, coupled with the human aspects of solving problems and finding solutions for clients. Over the past 20 years, I’ve had the privilege of making a tangible difference to the lives of hundreds of people.  I don’t think a job can get much better than that.

What is your next major goal?

I want to see Financial Spectrum continue to grow by doing everything possible to improve clients’ lives and build a strong profitable business while doing so.  On a more personal note, I have my sights set on sailing Sydney to Hobart again and gaining a top 5 place in our category.

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