How a focus on culture and technology helped Quill overcome the challenges of building a converged client offer
If you run a financial advisory or accounting practice, chances are you've agonised over which business model will give you the edge now that regulatory changes are firmly in place and demand for financial advice is increasing.
For many, the incentive to offer clients combined accounting and financial planning services is greater than ever. What many don’t realise, however, is that setting up a multidisciplinary practice isn’t as easy as it looks.
Kevin Nicol, CEO of Queensland-based Quill Group, is one of the few practice owners who saw the value in a multidisciplinary firm long before the fallout from the GFC or the first debate about the accountants’ exemption.
Starting as a small practice earning $30,000 annually in fees, Nicol grew Quill Group into a multidisciplinary offering that earned $10 million in revenue in the 2016 financial year.
While Quill is a success story, its achievements didn’t happen overnight. From the early days of joint ventures and acquisitions, to referral partnerships that at times only generated one-way referrals, to major challenges with systems integration, Quill has lived through it all.
If you ask about why the team persevered, Nicol will tell you their philosophy is quite simple.
“Our ambition to provide a ‘one-stop financial services shop’ has always been driven by the belief that a client can be better served if the left hand knows what the right hand is doing,” Nicol says.
“Clients often don’t know where accounting ends and financial planning begins. With a converged business model, the client experience is seamless. Clients are ‘introduced’ rather than ‘referred’ to another professional. This is really important because it creates a stronger focus on outcomes in the client’s best interests.”
From its roots as a small accounting practice, Quill has grown to offer accounting, financial planning, insurance and self-managed super fund (SMSF) services from three offices and today has over 60 staff in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
Both the accounting and financial planning divisions are mature businesses. The SMSF division, Superfund Wholesale, was added six years ago with 36 SMSFs. It’s now the firm’s fastest growing division, servicing close to 2,000 SMSFs with $1 billion under administration. In July it picked up an award for SMSF Administrator of the Year.