by Staff reporter

A relentless pursuit of excellence

Making a difference in people's lives

Janet Hugo.jpg

Janet Hugo has been in the financial services industry for more than 10 years, previously as a director of Hugo Capital and currently as a director of Sterling Private Clients.

“I built my wealth management practice by always pursuing the best way to provide independent holistic financial and investment advice for clients,” she says.

“I have been involved with the Financial Planning Institute since 2009 and was elected to chair the FPI’s Investment Committee in 2010. I also represent the FPI at ASISA, where I recently presented the industry feedback on the roll out of Effective Annual Charge on products.

I actively promote professionalism in the financial advisory industry and I believe strongly that the mark of a true profession can be measured by the quality of the pro bono work done by its members. To this end we presented the ‘FPI My Money 123’ programme to over 600 attendees.”

Appointed non-executive director of the FPI in June 2017, Hugo has a postgraduate and an advanced postgraduate diploma in financial planning from the University of the Free State (UOFS), and has successfully completed the board exam for CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® designation.

Explaining her motivation to pursue further studies, Hugo says, “I decided to study the post-graduate diploma in financial planning from UOFS because I thought we might have been given poor advice (and sold the wrong product) by our insurance representative.

I then continued with the Advanced Post graduate diploma with a focus on Estate Planning and Investment Management.” She explains that the service commitment of Sterling Wealth is based on regular reporting, continuous communication, open access to financial planners and staff, and at least annual planning meetings. “Whether you use 30 or 50 years worth of data, it is clear that in South Africa, asset classes deliver pretty consistent long term returns.

"We use graphs of this data to help our clients understand what to expect over any one-year period and then rolling three- and five-year periods. When you have the correct time frame for the correct blend of assets, you have greater predictability regarding the investment outcome.

"We spend a lot of time matching our clients’ cash-flow requirements to their investment strategies. Some of my clients talk about buckets of money and they have comfort in knowing that we have provided for a car or a wedding alongside their general monthly expenses. This process has various names, such as asset-matched investments or liability-matched investing, but I prefer my one client’s explanation of “buckets of money”. When it comes to investing we focus on tried and tested methods.”

She says her key driver to being a financial planner is the difference that one can make in clients’ lives. “The challenge of weaving legal knowledge, with investment, financial, economic understandings and add to that the psychology of people, the behaviour finance part of our job. Its never dull and what we do really matters.

“In terms of its challenges, and it sounds really arrogant, but I find it very difficult watching people just not taking a decision and knowing that, in the end, they’ll regret the path they’ve taken.

"The other challenge, on the industry side, is showing improvement. Effective annual cost has become a handy tool to compare apples with apples for investment purposes across investments. The industry is going through change and the opaque pricing policies and penalties are becoming more exposed.”

She says that being a financial planner encompasses probably four professions rolled into one. “When doing estate planning, I wear the hats of legal advisor, tax advisor and family psychologist. When doing retirement planning, it is again the psychologist hat, along with investments and tax, and so on. There is a high level of responsibility and focus attached to being a professional financial planner, but what drives me is continuous learning and improvement, a relentless pursuit of excellence, doing what’s right, as opposed to doing the thing right— ‘ethics is what you do when no one is watching’—and giving back through mentoring and knowledge sharing.”

Janet Hugo is a finalist for the FPI Financial Planner of the Year award.


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This edition

Issue 72