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#uncovered – Question everything

Momentum Consult gathered at Arabella in the Western Cape for their Annual Conference. About 150 advisers in the Consult stable evaluated the MMI and Consult business strategy and performance, looking at factors influencing and enabling growth. Hannes van den Berg, Momentum Consult CEO, set the scene:

“The answer is only as valuable as the question. The unknown remains a mystery until it is known. Obscurity can’t be covered without uncovering it. Uncertainty is only expelled through exploration. Sometimes the answer is not straight-forward…. It needs discovery and disclosure. All we have to do to reveal opportunity is to delve deeper into the world of financial planning and advice.”

Under the theme “Leaving nothing uncovered”, the aim was to discover the route to ensuring Lifetime Financial Wellness for people, which CEO of MMI Holdings, Nicholas Kruger, said is the main purpose of the group.

Nicholas mentioned a few things about the Momentum growth strategy. On the topic of Multiply, he said that Multiply enables client centricity, ensuring clients stay longer and create more wealth, they purchase more solutions and claimed less.

On the back of this MMI has a big focus on India with Multiply. A JV with African Bank will also see a broadening of MMI’s reach within the South African market. Interestingly they have scaled back on their Africa expansion but still maintain a variety of initiatives such as an MTN agreement to distribute products via mobile in Ghana and Uganda.

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Kanyi Nzukuma, CEO: Momentum Retail was next up. He stressed that the backbone of their strategy is the fact that Financial Planning is becoming a profession, providing an appropriate channel to clients.

Brand independence is less important than “being unbiased and providing unbiased advice”. According to him, the financial well consumer:

  • Partners with a financial planner
  • Has a financial plan
  • Has a budget
  • Engages with their financial plan and budgets on a regular basis

 

He said they follow an Omni-channel strategy where social media, call centre, mobile and web provides clients with access to financial wellness, but always with a financial planner at the centre.

In a panel discussion the floor was opened for questions around the business and the strategy.

Hannes opened by answering questions around the current volatile environment we operate in. He said that they couldn’t predict what the markets or politics will do but they can make sure they have a great financial plan and make the client feel he/she is in control of what he/she can control. On the question of training and the fact that much of the training is outsourced, Hannes said that the Momentum Academy is being strengthened with appropriate staff and is a large part of the recruitment process and the growth focus.

There is still quite some way to go before Momentum Consult can list on the JSE but the focus is on growth of distribution and building a variety of channels to achieve this.

Kanyi stressed that to build a successful business, especially in this environment, you need a clear vision and plan, not just from a financial perspective. You need the right people with the right skills and a passion for the business. Finally you need to be obsessed with your clients.

Nicholas responded to a question around the disappointing share price of MMI He said they believe in the medium to long-term opportunities of being shareholders, as management owning shares and as general shareholders.

New business performance is a big focus for MMI. He mentioned that the saying goes, “take care of the business and the share price will take care of itself”. They are taking care of the business and building on the various strategies to grow new business eg India, African Bank, MTN in Uganda and Ghana and strategies like Momentum Consult’s own growth in South Africa.

He mentioned that management changes within the group fit with MMI’s growth strategy and has been well received internally and externally.

*****

Nigel Wilmott, Financial Coach and Prof Gina Görgens-Ekermans, Associate Professor & Chartered HR Practitioner were up next to discuss financial coaching. He described what financial coaching is all about. According to him its all about a One on One, client led relationship helping people articulate what their goals are. He said that it keeps the client on track and accountable with a collaborative focus on long-term behavioural change. For Nigel, coaching is about performance improvement; taking an existing level and improving it.

Gina explained that, based on research done at the university on the psychology of money, sensation seeking and delay of gratification plays a major role in financial behaviour, with emotions having a big impact on financial decision making. On top of this, socio-demographic factors play a major role in personality and the money relationship.

Nigel concluded by saying that financial advisers should mostly not play the role of financial coach as well but should look at having that facilitated by either an in-house financial coach or an outsourced resource.

*****

Bertie Nel, Momentum Consult Head of Financial Planning and Advice spoke about the concept of trust, unpacking the drivers of trust. It starts with perceived ability (can you do it) and then perceived benevolence (do you care) and then perceived integrity.

He went on to show how financial advice should evolve, reflecting on the Starbucks strategy of client service:

He then translated this to the financial planning environment and how Momentum Consult is approaching the future in the advice continuum:

Eugene Zwane and Phil Masinga, South African football legends, then joined Nigel and Bertie on stage to discuss financial coaching in relation to football coaching and the need for planning holistically under the financial wellness umbrella.

Both of them explained that sports professionals, as example of many specific professions, have specific financial coaching needs. They earn big money, but it is in a short period. They usually do not have any skills to cope with a sudden very positive change in their fortunes and planning towards the end of their professional career.

According to Phil, many stars received very bad financial advice and invest in bad investment offerings.

Eugene said that he spent most of the money as he earned it. Only at the end of his career did he start looking at investment and finalising his studies. Phil explained that in many investments he through good money after bad. He felt that the advice that he was getting was not about him as a client but more about the commission that the adviser would be receiving.

Bertie and Nigel reflected on that, referring to the fact that their was trust in the advice, but unfortunately this trust was abused. The regulatory changes in the industry is aimed at assisting with this by limiting the reliance on commission and requiring higher qualifications and ethical monitoring by the Financial Planning Institute.

Both Eugene and Phil said that they now take time to assist others making good decisions for their finances and careers after their sports careers.

****

Michael Jordaan, Montegray founder and former FNB CEO revisited client centricity, starting with a slide, showing how companies with big advantages for a very long time suddenly lost out to new businesses that focussed on the client.

He said that people are changing faster than the businesses that are serving them. Talking about convenience he mentioned that convenience is the new loyalty and extreme simplicity is essential, saying that simplicity is like a joke: if you have to explain it, it’s not that good.

Michael’s advice towards being an awesome company (at least scoring 9/10) is very simply set out in one slide:

He stressed that people are the drivers of success and empowering champions are essential. Finally he concluded by mentioning that we do have problems as a country but that we can solve these by focussing on smaller parts of the challenges one bite at a time.

All in all a wonderful two days, leaving everyone with a sense of purpose and empowered to be able to go back and make a difference, one client at a time.







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