This article was originally published in The Australian’s The Deal magazine. If you are a subscriber you can access the article here.
Many of our leading financial planners ultimately became advisers after spending their early careers doing something else, typically accounting or banking. Andrew Dunbar, a Director of Apt Wealth Partners, reckons he wanted to be an adviser since school. Actually, since primary school.
“Yes, I’m afraid it’s true, we used to play a game in primary on Friday afternoons where somehow I ended up as a manager of people’s money, helping them buy houses and all that kind of thing, I’m pretty sure I always wanted to do this,“ says Dunbar who debuts this year at the stratospheric number three spot. How did we miss him until now?
After all, Dunbar won the Certified Financial Planner of the year at the 2019 Financial Planning Association awards so it’s not a complete surprise to find he had vaulted into the top league.
“I like the entire business and I particularly like building relationships long term with people of all types and watching them make progress over the years,” he says.
APT is a national practice owned by its partners and has operating offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Geelong.
The group has about 60 employees and as usual when it comes to financial planning, only about half the staff are actually involved in providing advice: the other half of the team provide support services.
“That’s our industry these days,” says Dunbar. “There is an awful lot of red tape. In fact, I think we must be at ‘peak regulation’.
According to Dunbar, Apt serves about 3000 families and charges on a fee-for-service basis in common with most leading practices. However, in contrast to most top advisory groups it does not have a minimum investable dollar amount it wants to see among its clients.
“I know some firms will want to see $1 million or $5 million or even more,” he says. “We are not looking at it that way. We reckon it is as much work to handle a client with a small amount as one who comes to us with millions. So, the way I look at it is, if they can pay our fee then we are happy to consider them if they are happy to consider us.”
Dunbar says the idea of not imposing a minimum is to try to widen the base along with potentially widening the relationship at the beginning of the client relationship. That’s because, he says, it’s not just about money and about numbers.
He also finds clients increasingly interested in ethical investing especially after the imposed reflection that Covid lockdowns provoked for many people who had traditionally rushed off to work every morning.
Yet Dunbar is careful not to impose a uniform view of ESG (Environmental Social Governance) issues: “The area is important but it lacks definition and this is becoming ever more apparent. The way we deal with it is we allow each client to define what their personal values are, then we build a portfolio around those personal preferences.”
Dunbar has been in the financial advice sector almost all his professional life, having signed up with Apt Wealth Partners in 2008.
With a young family, he has a limited time for pastimes or interests outside work, but an incident some years ago where a relative had to undergo a lung transplant brought him into the area of organ donations and related charities.
He is the board chair of The Lungitude Foundation, an organ donor charity focusing on “facilitating world-class translational research and advocating for lung transplant excellence”.
This article was originally published in The Australian’s The Deal magazine. If you have a subscription to The Australian you can read the article here: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/the-deal-magazine/top-100-financial-advisers-andrew-dunbar-director-apt-wealth-partners/news-story/162d04efde6618df5d456feaa6e768a2