How We Stay Ahead in Business
Here at Smith Wealth Partners, we are committed to the continuing education of our Directors and staff. This ensures we remain current and across all the changes that we face both within the industry but also in other areas of business too.
In 2013, I was invited to take part in the inaugural Securitor Chief Executives Forum. This two-year education program was held over various two-day meetings in Melbourne and Sydney, as well as web conferences with the other participants regarding various topics. The group is made up of business owners of Financial Advisory companies around Australia, who are licensed through Securitor. I was the youngest participant, and I learned a lot from my colleagues in the forum.
The pinnacle of the course was the recent study tour trip to the US. The first stop was Philadelphia to attend the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. The Wharton School’s Executive MBA Program is cited by most sources as the best in the world.
The Professors at Wharton are very highly regarded, and I put their presentations up there with the very best I have ever seen. Our entire group was blown away by the course content, and we all found it of great value to our businesses, and our lives in general.
One of the highlights was our half day with John Kanengieter, on the subject of teamwork and leadership
John’s background on extended mountaineering expeditions gives him valuable experience that he now uses in his work. A teacher at heart, John is a principle trainer contracted by NASA to work with International Space Station astronauts in the dynamics of teamwork and leadership on extended space expeditions.
We were set a navigation challenge around the City of Philadelphia, and just as I was coming to terms with the GPS, the snow started to fall (heavily!). My team and I performed very well in the conditions, and we learned a lot about each other and our leadership skills that day.
On the conclusion of the course at Wharton, the group made its way to New York for a series of site visits. These included meetings with Goldman Sachs (including a tour of the NYSE), advisers from Morgan Stanley, executives from Franklin Templeton, the CEO and Vice President of American Century Investments, and a tour of the 9/11 Museum (with T. Rowe Price).
During our meetings with Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley we gained some valuable insights to the financial advice industry in the US. It seems that independent advice companies are rare, and most practices have to be aligned with big firms such as Morgan Stanley, who take a large percentage of revenue to supply staff and other needs. The way clients are charged also seems antiquated versus best practice standards in Australia; with a rather large percentage fee being the norm.
The CEO of American Century Investments, Jonathon Thomas, gave a great presentation about their history and what makes the company great. Through their ownership structure, more than 40% of American Century Investments’ profits support research to help cure genetically-based diseases including cancer, diabetes and dementia.
Overall, the Chief Executives Forum has been a fantastic learning experience for me, and the SWP business is already reaping the benefits.
I would be more than happy to share any of my stories from my recent trip or things that I have learned from the course with you. Feel free to let me know and we can arrange a time to meet and discuss.