Finding the best of both worlds

It’s a big change when you quit your job as a Vice President at Merrill Lynch, and become a Practice Manager at a small financial planning firm. For Julia Schortinghuis, the transition was hugely enjoyable.

“I used to present at industry conferences on portfolio construction. Suddenly, I was working directly with clients, helping them to achieve their financial goals.”

The work was fresh and exciting, but Julia was very much aware that she could no longer draw on the expertise and powerful resources of a big financial institution.

She managed to find the best of both worlds when she started working in partnership with Macquarie in 2009.

“We’d had a connection with Macquarie from the beginning because many of our clients were already using their Cash Management Account. Then we started looking at their investment platform.”

A full-service investment platform was a key part of Julia’s growth strategy for the practice.

The big difference with Macquarie is that they are commercially minded. I have absolute faith in their ability to keep us ahead in the technology curve.

“Platforms enable us to implement Managed Discretionary Accounts, streamline the business and drive scale. When working with new clients who haven’t experienced a platform solution, constant paperwork would hit their mail boxes with contract notes and various corporate actions and notifications. The platform changes all that because we are able to effect transactions online and at the end of year, tax reporting is consolidated for them. I knew it would be a step change in efficiency that was vital to scaling the business.

Julia chose Macquarie Wrap as one of their main platform providers because she could see it had been specifically built to handle direct shares.

“The Macquarie platform was very user-friendly in terms of being able to run direct share portfolios. It was more sophisticated on the execution side and offered smart reporting that had clearly been designed with financial planners and accountants in mind.

“I’d looked at several other platforms that had obviously been built for a traditional managed fund model, with direct shares added on at a later stage. There was no comparison in terms of functionality. The platform gave us up-to-date, live information for ourselves and our clients – and full visibility and control. If we want to adjust a portfolio, we can run reports and in seconds the platform showed us all the clients that owned the asset. The platform is essential as the ongoing management becomes much easier and overheads are greatly reduced. The key benefit being that we can offer tailored client solutions in an affordable way.”

Given Macquarie’s experience, Julia also felt she was in good hands.

“The big difference with Macquarie is that they are commercially minded. I have absolute faith in their ability to keep us ahead in the technology curve. They were an early pioneer with Wrap, and their experience shows.”

She also values her relationship with the local Macquarie team.

You can be confident Macquarie will work in your interest to help you help your clients.

“They have an excellent understanding of our business. They know who we are and what motivates us. In our business, team culture is a critical success factor. Macquarie fits right in. They’re truly exceptional people, with a strong work ethic – who we trust to have our back. What’s been interesting is that, when team members go on parental leave or get promoted, the people coming in have been just as impressive.”

Two years ago, Lighthouse introduced Separately Managed Accounts (SMAs) to its clients via the Wrap platform. Julia says the process was smooth and well managed.

“The support Macquarie gives us is market leading. Nothing is too much trouble. They always go the extra mile. The team is very authentic and genuine about helping us to succeed as a business. If there’s ever an issue, Macquarie always deals with it promptly and professionally. And even after it’s been resolved they follow up to make sure we’re happy. They’re really proactive. Always asking how they can improve. It’s a genuine relationship.”

“We regularly run strategic innovation ‘light the house’ days and have had Macquarie join us to be a part of that. They get an even deeper understanding of our business so they can align their services with our goals – and we get their professional advice drawing on what they’re seeing in the market.

Julia also appreciates the connection to world-class expertise. “Macquarie gives us access to leading technical specialists within the industry. When I attend their workshops, the speakers are always of the highest quality.”

She regularly recommends Macquarie to other planners: “I tell them it’s mutually beneficial. You can be confident that Macquarie will work in your interest to help you help your clients.”

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