A career in financial wellness

Momentum gives financial planners all the ingredients for success

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Dedicated to offering its clients advice that goes beyond just selling policies or products, Financial Wellness at Momentum starts with highly-skilled financial planners who enjoy the full support of a qualified team of experts and the power of a well-known brand.

“While we have the best quality business, we do need to grow. And in order to do that we realised that we need to bump up our offering. So, we have placed renewed energy and focus on providing our clients with a superior offering. To do that, we also need to grow management. A superior offering needs superior financial planners, who in turn need superior managers. We currently have 750 financial planners on board, and I have been tasked with doubling this number in the next three years,” explains Danie van den Bergh, CEO of Momentum Financial Planning.

Committed to enhancing the Financial Wellness of individuals, families, communities and businesses, Momentum teamed up with the University of South Africa (Unisa) in 2012 to compile the annual Momentum Unisa Household Financial Wellness Index.

This index represents the first independent, credible and comprehensive research of its kind in South Africa and the findings represent an invaluable and unprecedented benchmark. The index is vigorously and extensively researched and every year gives valuable insight into the state of the nation’s Financial Wellness.

“For us, it’s about the lifetime wellness of a family, business or community. Everything we do starts with our purpose, and we need our financial planners to buy into this. After six years of research into Financial Wellness we have learned not just what it is, but also more about the things that prohibit us from being well. We apply relentless focus to enhance Financial Wellness for our clients, and their needs form the pinnacle of everything we do,” he says.

“I think we must be doing something right. Over 100 of our financial planners have been with us for more than 13 years. Together we are a united force, and we support them with practice consultants, who play a big role, and product specialists to help them offer clients the perfect solution. We also have legal advisers on hand, because it is our sole mandate to give clients the best advice at all times. Then there are compliance tools and financial planning tools at their disposal. Ultimately, the goal is on client outcomes, that’s what we’re obsessed with.”

Momentum’s financial planners have been given a systematic approach to dealing with their clients, a winning recipe that ensures positive outcomes, rather than just product sales. The client journey starts with establishing a relationship, where mutual trust forms an integral part of the advisory process.

“It’s important for them to get all of the relevant information from their clients. The same information is gathered in each case and is used to develop a plan before presenting it to the client. Again, there is a standard way of presenting this plan and implementing the financial recommendations. Ultimately, we are confident we have the best product range, and that’s why people join us,” says Van den Bergh.

He stresses that it is vital that every discussion with a client starts with their needs, as it’s not just about selling a product, but instead finding a solution. “Financial Wellness is never an event, but a journey and clients need to understand that they cannot buy Financial Wellness. It is a process of managing their finances over time, and this journey needs proper management.”

Advice monitors ensure that all financial planners are compliant, particularly as their financial compensation is based on commission. According to Van den Bergh, it rarely happens that financial planners have offered the wrong advice to earn a higher commission, but where the situation may arise, they have systems in place to catch it.

“It’s very easy to pick up who is in it for the commission, and we intervene straight away. We have objective people in place to ensure this does not happen. An example of this could be a client investing in a very high-risk fund when they are at retirement age. The product should fit the advice. That said, we have the lowest lapse rates in the industry, and most of our planners get new clients from existing books and referrals,” he says.

Momentum financial planners are also expected to play a number of different roles during their client’s Financial Wellness journey, over and above financial advice. They need to be very much in tune with their own EQ, and they must genuinely care for their clients. As financial planners, they sometimes act as a life coach and mentor – building the foundation of this relationship with trust and integrity.

“They sometimes also need to ask sensitive questions, and it takes a certain amount of courage to tell someone when they are financially irresponsible. It’s important that advisers can be brutally honest with their clients when necessary, just as clients must also have the courage to listen to their advice. Lastly, many of them become a family friend – and are invited to client’s birthday parties, wedding celebrations, etc. In fact, many of our advisers see their clients’ children become clients later on in their life.”

To become a financial planner with Momentum, prospective candidates need to have at least NQ 5 qualification, work experience and a reliable employment record. Potential candidates will not be considered if they have judgements against their name.

“If you want to become an adviser you must have the necessary knowledge. We have a proper academy here, and candidates are sent there on their first day. There, you acquire the necessary skills and accreditation. We also appoint graduates with a CFP qualification; they already have the skills, and it’s a matter of teaching them how to operate in the industry. At the end of the day it’s important that we appoint the right people for the right outcome,” he says.

Career prospects at Momentum for financial planners are no different to those for any other professional person. Many of the professional people who joined Momentum have built up successful practices over many years. For other advisers, their careers have led to management positions, where they use their skills to teach others who are interested in following the same path.

Additionally, Momentum offers an option to start your own Financial Wellness practice, where you own your own business and have the opportunity to bring in more planners to join you.

“Here we would coach them and provide support, start-up capital, training and succession planning. It’s just as important to us to provide a superior offering to financial planners, where the focus is not only on monetary gains but also proper support, branding, financial assistance and loans, where we assist with onboarding and supervision. It’s also essential for us to provide them with leads and access to a client base and recognition. Where we give proper recognition, we create a sense of belonging. People must be rewarded for the good work they do, so we do also have share options attached to planners, and other incentives.” 

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