Growth as Bridges celebrates third birthday

Growth as Bridges Lake Macquarie turns three!

Our business is celebrating our third birthday! We put much of our success over the three years down to a relentless passion for delivering tailored, quality financial advice to clients and a commitment to our core values.

We are so proud to have assisted even more individuals and families over the past 12 months, who have now taken positive steps towards improving their financial circumstances. Seeing our clients proactively working to better their lives is at the heart of why we love what we do.

2019 wrapped up

Our team hit some significant milestones this year.  We hope to continue our phenomenal growth as the business enters its fourth year. Here’s just a taste of some of the fantastic things that have happened in 2019:

  • Team education and upskilling.

Our commitment to education, professional development and raising the bar has continued this year. Blair and Craig were amongst the first in Australia to study, sit and pass the FASEA exams. David and I won’t be far behind, with plans to sit the exams in December. All our financial advisers are actively enrolled in further studies, as they continue to grow their education and commitment to the standard of quality we strive to uphold at Bridges Lake Macquarie.

  • Lake Macquarie branch services proves beyond expectations.

One of our financial planners, Craig Orbell, received high praise this year for his excellent service. He was named number three in the Bridges top 10 at the 2019 National Conference. This was a recognition made by peers and continues to be a testament to the calibre of Craig’s knowledge and skill.

  • Community support.

Over the past 12 months we have supported a number of initiatives in the Hunter. Some of these include Carrie’s Place, Thornton Junior Soccer Club, The Smith Family and just recently the Ronald McDonald House #12DaysOfRMHChristmas. We know how important it is to give back, and the Bridges team is passionate about a number of local causes that make a positive impact on our community.

  • Branch audit.

The team recently participated in a number of external audits conducted by PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers). We’re pleased to share that our practice passed with flying colours! The findings confirmed that all advice we deliver to clients is appropriate, in the client’s best interest, delivered by highly competent advisers, relevant to their goals and, most importantly, improved both their financial and personal circumstances. As PwC said, “while many of the rules of business have changed, the fundamentals haven’t”. Bridges Lake Macquarie has continued to offer solutions motivated by strong moral values.

  • Expanding in Maitland.

We spent a lot of time listening to our clients’ needs this year and, as a result, have expanded our presence in the Maitland region.. We established dedicated meeting rooms in East Maitland to cater to a growing number of clients based in Maitland and the surrounding region. For those living in this area, it means you no longer need to travel to our Boolaroo office for appointments, or to drop off documents and records. This move has been so successful, we’re already planning to triple our capacity to help Maitland locals early in the new year.

  • Financial markets.

2019 proved to be anything but boring, predictable or even sensible when it comes to financial markets. Trade disputes and geopolitical frictions became significant key drivers of the global economy and financial markets. Patient investors watched both the global decline and rapid recovery in risk assets this year, delivering solid returns in equities, infrastructure and listed property assets.

Meanwhile, interest rates continued their long-term decline on the back of the Reserve Bank’s decision to lower the cash rate multiple times throughout the year. This caused both delight for mortgage holders and frustration for many self-funded retirees hoping to earn a positive return on their cash, one that exceeds the rate of inflation. Many macroeconomic themes and geopolitical events that unfolded during the year may well yet continue into 2020.

This should serve as a reminder to maintain a flexible investment strategy and to diversity amongst sectors and asset classes. Engrossed in the financial world, our team was very aware of all the economic trends, and were able to relay this important information to our clients.

 

The secret to success

We have a great team and great clients – that really is the secret to our success and our continued growth! Many thanks to the incredible team at Bridges Lake Macquarie and our amazing clients for their unwavering support as we strive to become Lake Macquarie’s most trusted and respected financial advisers.

Without our fantastic team, the high standard of service we provide just wouldn’t be possible. I thank them for going above and beyond in their work.

In the same regard, our achievements wouldn’t be possible without our wonderful clients. It’s their trust, and their raving reviews, that motivate us to keep doing what we do. It’s thanks to some amazing feedback and recommendations that our client base has continued to grow in 2019.

Talking about us to your friends, sibling, cousins or workmates has made for some excellent referrals and has caused the business to grow significantly.

We look forward to welcoming more appointments to the team in 2020!

We can’t wait to see you in 2020 – have a wonderful break, we’ll be back in early January.

 

 

Regards,

Daniel Irving and the Bridges Lake Macquarie team

 

Blair and Craig take on the national FASEA exam

Bridges Lake Macquarie team members Blair Powell and Craig Orbell are among the first cohort to sit and successfully pass the new national Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) exam.

Bridges Lake Macquarie Director Daniel Irving said the introduction of the exam is a significant step forward for the financial services industry in terms of probity.

“The exam is an important test of professional skills in terms of financial advice, ethics and critical thinking,” Daniel said.

“Blair and Craig have demonstrated their commitment to providing our clients with advice that’s of the highest standard in terms of knowledge and ethical practice.”

“On behalf of the Bridges Lake Macquarie team I congratulate them both for embracing these positive reforms that will add further credibility to the financial planning industry.”

The FASEA exam is now a legal requirement for all new entrants and all existing financial advisers and is a result of  the Corporations Amendment (Professional Standards of Financial Advisers) Act 2017  which aims to set a new benchmark for professional standards in the finance industry.

The new professional education standards require advisers supplying financial advice on Tier 1 financial products (such as managed investments, superannuation, derivatives, and life insurance) to retail clients to satisfy new requirements, including:

  • Compulsory education requirements for new and existing advisers
  • Supervision requirements for new advisers
  • A code of ethics for the industry
  • An exam representing a common benchmark for the industry
  • Ongoing professional development

The exam assesses the practical application of advisers’ knowledge and competency of:

  • Financial Advice Regulatory and Legal Requirements
  • Financial Advice Construction
  • Applied ethical and professional reasoning and communication

Existing professionals within the industry must register for, sit and pass the exam before 1 January 2021 in order to continue practicing, while new financial advisers must pass the exam after completing an approved degree and prior to quarter 3 in their professional year.

Blair Powell is our resident tax, estate planning and business succession specialist on the team. He provides advice to individuals and business owners on pre-and-post retirement planning matters, estate planning and inter-generational wealth transfer.

Craig Orbell leads our investment committee and advises clients on a range of matters such as asset allocation, risk management, debt reduction and investment strategies that lead clients to financial freedom.

 

Five strategies to help your business

Five strategies for kick-starting your small business this financial year

As another end-of-financial-year rolls by, now is as good a time as any to undertake a bit of housekeeping and give your business finances a tidy up!

The daily grind and stresses of running a small business can often distract and exhaust many business owners leaving them rushing and unprepared as they approach the end of yet another financial year.

It’s that time when we draw a line under our business finances for one year, take a deep breath, and dive straight into the next.

This year, before leaping straight into it, why not stop and take a moment to take stock of your finances and begin the year with a fresh outlook?

These are our five ideas to get you started.

Insurance

The Australian government’s business website, www.business.gov.au can help you understand your compulsory insurance requirements, along with other types of cover you should consider, like personal insurances to protect yourself, your income and your family in the event you’re injured or become too ill to work.

Additionally, there are policies to protect your premises, your stock and machinery.

If you’ve had insurance for a while, perhaps shop around to see if there are better options that may provide a better deal for you and/or your business.

Tax planning

The start of a new financial year is perfect for developing a forward strategy. To get organised, and stay organised, throughout the coming year start by understanding your industry’s regulatory obligations and entitlements. Look at government concessions, asset write-offs and deductions.

Stay up-to-date with compliance responsibilities like, Single Touch Payroll, effective from 1 July 2019.

You should:

  • regularly review your profit and loss: monthly, quarterly, annually.
  • track revenue to ensure your billing and collection procedures provides adequate cash flow.
  • calculate and understand the cost of doing business; devote more time to activities that are the most profitable and help grow your business. You’ll be surprised how many business owners have little idea on the margins and profit on the various services and activities they provide
  • A good business adviser can help you put a system in place that will keep your tax records organised and up-to-date throughout the year, it may even make your tax accountant smile. Why not call them to arrange a time to talk it through?

Systems

If you’re doing things a certain way because that’s how they’ve always been done, it may be time to cast a critical eye over some or all of your business procedures.

Are there:

  • better, faster or more efficient ways of doing things?
  • technologies to simplify processes, e.g. point-of-sale (POS) systems?
  • process bottle-necks or duplicated steps that can be safely bypassed?
  • ways to automate manual processes like running reports, making appointments or paying regular accounts?

Business tracking

Staying on top of business performance, trends and cash flow can eliminate surprises by spotting potential problems and identifying supply and demand patterns.

Start by:

  • analysing data and trends from previous years or seasons.
  • looking for peaks and troughs in sales, job completion times and inefficient uses of labour.
  • identifying what worked well and what didn’t work so well.

Plan to grow

Once you know where you are, you can look for ways to move forward.

Whatever your business’s growth strategy is, be sure you have the resources to support it. Consider whether you’ll need to invest in machinery, supplies or specialist staff?

Now, update your business plan and review it regularly to stay focused on where you’re heading.

Running your own business is hard work, but it’s also one of the most satisfying and important things you can do.

Richard Branson once said, “A business is simply an idea to make other people’s lives better.” So, this new financial year, start refreshed and set yourself up to make your life, your family’s life and your customers’ lives even better.

Talk to us find out more.