Ben Travers – Manager & Senior Financial Adviser
Posted March 19, 2019, by Jenny
Ben Travers is a Manager of Wealth Management, specialising in private advisory services. Ben’s 18 years’ experience across accounting, banking and ASX listed organisations, has seen him provide a vast level of advice from mum and dads, to ultra-high networth. He's completed a Master of Financial Planning, Bachelor of Commerce - Accounting, and is a Certified Financial Planner with the FPA.
Ben volunteers his time as a committee member of the FPA and Kaplan’s Future Advisers Editorial Committee, and has been awarded Money Management’s 2018 Financial Planner of the Year Award, Financial Standards Power50 Most Influential Advisers in Australia and was a recent finalist in IFAs Industry Thought Leader of the Year.
What does your role involve?
Whilst my core role is strategic financial planning, my specialities go beyond. People value money differently, so my role is to discover the true reasons why people need my help. If everyone made good decisions, they would not need advice. It is often the poor decisions or individual biases that lead people to see me. From here, you have a solid foundation to build wealth and protect it. This is a continual process, from increasing a client’s financial literacy, to adapting to change in markets and legislation.
Talk us through a day at the office for you
A typical day starts before the office, where I read for an hour. This may be news, markets or articles. It’s important to keep informed, so I can talk to clients on topical issues. The office then involves the usual client or business meetings and preparing and implementing advice. However, I always make sure I allocate time for my own business planning and personal development. This may be in the form of exploring new business opportunities, networking at seminars, or liaising with like-minded professionals to share success stories.
Tell us about your study journey
When I finished high school, I did not know what financial planning was. I had no idea I wanted to be an adviser, so I studied a broader Bachelor of Commerce – Accounting. In my final year of university, I knew advising was the correct path, so I started work and completed a Diploma of Financial Planning, the FPA’s Certified Financial Planner course and half a dozen specialist courses. Fast forward to recent times and given the new FASEA requirements, I decided to raise my own standards and complete a Master of Financial Planning. I thoroughly enjoyed the course, particularly the research paper, as it personally helped me identify industry opportunities over the next five years. I would also like to complete a PhD when I have time – maybe in retirement!
You have a wealth of experience... talk us through your career journey
I chose to start my career in paraplanning. With hindsight, this was the best decision, as this background helps my advice today. I believe the key foundation for a quality planner is being competently trained with technical and legislative knowledge from the outset. At 24, I was the team leader of a national paraplanning division and this gave me the tools I needed to move into advising. It took years to find my speciality in advising and building my client engagement skills, and this journey will continue for years to come. I now sit on several committees and enjoy giving back to the community.
Tell us about Kaplan’s Advisers of the Future
This is a new committee run by Kaplan Professional, to bring together advisers in the advice fraternity that want to play a fundamental role in taking the profession into the future. This includes identifying key trends, changes impacting advisers, innovations around technology and debating new ideas. It’s great to be part of such a motivated group of individuals.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
A fighter pilot. Mum said no. That was the end of that.
Why the finance field?
I was the dux of mathematics at school and always had an interest in numbers, so finance was a natural fit. Yet financial planning allowed me to apply this to strategies that actually helped people.
What’s the most rewarding thing that’s happened to you in your career?
I inherited a terminally ill client from another adviser. He had very little money, as most of his wealth had been depleted to fund his treatment and medical bills. After further research, I discovered a lost super fund with a balance of only $9,000. However, attached to the policy was $180,000 in insurance. Whilst we were successful in our claim to the insurer, the superannuation law was different, making it much harder to access the money, as he was only 42 years of age. It took four months of pleading a case to the trustee and finding a loophole in the legislation, but we were successful in the end. The client spent his remaining months on a cruise ship, using the money to pay for an emergency specialist and equipment to accompany him on the cruise. I will never forget handing him the cheque, and it’s why I love what I do.
Name a career highlight
I have been lucky enough to receive several awards over my career. We have some great advisers in this country, so to receive the personal award from Money Management as 2018 Financial Planner of the Year, was certainly a highlight. There is a lot of work behind the scenes, so it’s great to be recognised for this.
Name something you still don’t know
A bit of everything. No adviser is a specialist in all fields, hence I will retire still not knowing all aspects of financial planning. Which makes the learning curve continuous and challenging – that’s what I like about this career.
What’s the most important career tip someone has given you?
My mentor is not in the industry and gave me the best advice – “Set a plan for five years and work your backside off. The benefits come after. '' To explain the context, a career can be 40 years long. Aiming for the top from day one is ambitious, but it doesn’t happen overnight. My mentor broke down my career into sections, specifically setting out both goals and challenges. Once you reach a goal and remove a challenge, your chance of success increases. It’s hard work, so it’s important to celebrate the wins, rest after busy periods and keep yourself healthy.
What career advice do you wish someone had given you after you graduated high school?
Be open. The most successful people do what they love. Surround yourself with people that inspire you - listen, watch and learn – then make your own decisions. Do not follow a path simply because someone else tells you to.
What important qualities and skills should people have if they want to become a financial planner?
You need a perfect balance of hard and soft skills. There is no doubt a planner requires specific knowledge, modelling capabilities, understanding products, utilising technology, etc. Yet the soft skills such as listening, having empathy, respecting client values and engaging in conversation are crucial. Clients value the latter more, as they expect the former to be a given, so it’s important to continually develop a combination of both skills.
What’s next for you?
The Royal Commission into our industry has already seen significant changes, and this will continue over the coming years. I aim to take financial planning into the new era, attract new entrants, and be a leader in moving the industry towards professionalism.