A year of learning

Janet Hugo reflects on her term as Financial Planner of the Year 2018


I entered the Financial Planner of the Year competition for the first time in 2017, and to my surprise, I didn’t win! This was a humble reminder of how competitive the market is and how many excellent advisors there are in South Africa. The competition examines all areas of financial planning, practice management and compliance. It is pretty daunting opening up your practice and client files for review by both peers and academics to judge.

I swallowed my pride and applied again in 2018 with renewed determination. I drafted the application from my daughter’s bedside in the ICU, after she’d been critically attacked on the campus of the University of Stellenbosch. We both had the resolve to win.

During the process of the 2018 competition, I learned the importance of establishing an insightful rapport with the panel of judges. I embraced their questioning and assisted them in "digging deeper" into the content of my financial planning proposal. I shared my knowledge with them and guided them to think differently instead of being threatened by their fire of questions.

One of the most significant learnings has been how valuable the title of Financial Planner of the Year is. The win sets you apart from other advisors and assists you in gaining immediate credibility from others in the industry, the financial media, as well as from clients. It’s a prize and honour that will live with me throughout my career. The competition is by no means a popularity contest, nor a measure of the amount of financial planning business you do. I salute each of the previous 18 winners as industry leaders, aiming to achieve the best for their clients consistently.

I’ve also learned how to deal with the media as I’ve been presented with many opportunities to publish articles, speak on the radio and present in public. I’ve learnt to trust our public relations consultant to secure media space and assist in drafting the many financial planning messages I wanted to relay. I’ve become a more accomplished public presenter as I’ve had more opportunity to practise, and I’m more confident knowing that I’ve been selected and endorsed by the Financial Planning Institute to be its representative.

Most successful financial advisors are pedantic perfectionists as there’s no room for error when dealing with clients’ hard-earned wealth – and this makes it difficult to delegate to others. Dealing with the media has been quite time-consuming, and I’ve had to learn to let go to a greater extent and rely on the detailed systems and excellent administrative team that we have at Sterling Private Wealth Group.

I’ve also learned to say no to media opportunities when I need to manage pressing client requirements and important family commitments.

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Issue 72