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‘I got my CFP, with the aim of changing the industry’

CityWire, 27 July 2023

Chartered Wealth director Kim Potgieter shares her unusual entry into financial planning and how a book helped mould the firm.

Chartered Wealth director and head of life planning Kim Potgieter sees herself as an anomaly, having joined the financial planning industry in her late thirties.

But from the start she was determined to do things differently.

After a major life transition, she returned to university to get her honours degree in psychology, but soon realised it would not lead to a new career. She’d always had an interest in personal finance, and helping people manage their money felt more like her calling.

She was determined to become a financial planner.

‘I had had several financial planners, and I felt I was missing something because they’d sell me something and disappear. I got my CFP, with the aim of changing the industry,’ she told Citywire South Africa.

Potgieter’s next challenge was to get a job in financial planning without any experience.

On a providential suggestion she approached Barclay Hoar and John Campbell, who ran Chartered Wealth Solutions.

The duo hired her as an administrator, as they had no planning positions available, a job she ‘absolutely hated’. Within two months she had resigned from that role and started to research what people most wanted in a financial planner.

‘We had an agreement that I could come back and work at Chartered [as a planner] for no salary,’ she said, adding that she started running their events.

Opportune discovery

Around that time, in 2008, Campbell won the Financial Planner of the Year award, and his prize was to attend the International Financial Planning Association conference in Boston. While at the conference, he came across a book, ‘Financial Planning: The Next Step: A Practical Approach to Merging Your Clients’ Money with Their Lives’ by Roy Diliberto.

‘When he read it, he knew it was for me,’ Potgieter said.

She contacted Diliberto and Mitch Anthony (a life planning expert featured in the book) who agreed to share their insights with her in person. Since then, Potgieter has been slowly implementing what she learnt.

Hoar and Campbell joined her on that trip and soon after, as the business changed course, offered her the opportunity to buy shares in Chartered. She bought a 33% shareholding and became a director.

‘I think they could see I was different,’ she said. ‘I brought a different element and energy to the business.’

A life plan

Potgieter explains that Chartered’s financial planning process integrates life-, scenario-, investment- and estate planning.

She heads up the life planning business.

‘Clients come in for “an interview” [and] I get to know what makes them tick,’ she said. ‘I don’t start with them talking about their money. My first question is always about what the next chapter looks like if it turns out well.’

A life plan speaks to what the client ideally wants and the steps they need to take to achieve this. ‘We focus on what [they want to do], and then we put monetary values to that,’ she said.

She uses Anthony’s personality profiling tool with each new client; it includes questions around their background, principles, life transitions and goals.

Steady growth

‘When I joined 15 years ago, we were about seven or eight people; we’re now close to 90,’ Potgieter said, adding that Chartered has R12bn under management.

The firm has experienced ‘good, steady growth’, which she said is more important than exponential growth.

‘If we grow too fast, then we can’t support our clients.’

She credits Hoar and Campbell with deciding to focus on building a sustainable business rather than maximising funds under management.

Part of that decision included paying staff salaries rather than commission – a rather novel practice in the industry.

Each client has a financial planner, with an in-house team of tax, fiduciary and investment specialists supporting them. Planners also have support from associate planners, client relationship managers and an in-house compliance team.

Potgieter (pictured above) said Chartered pioneered an articled planner programme 11 years ago and encourages other firms to follow suit. During the three- to four-year programme, candidates proceed from articles to associate planners and then financial planners.

Chartered has an investment committee for due diligence and a Cat II licence to mitigate risk, but outsources investment management to PortfolioMetrix and Morningstar.

Women in Finance

She also advocates that planners pair up in male-female teams (one person being an associate and another a planner) in client meetings, as they complement each other, with different strengths and perceptions.

‘I’m a great advocate of bringing more women into the industry – but so that we can work together with men.’

Struck by the scarcity of women in the industry, Potgieter started the Women in Finance Network (WIFN) in 2013 to form a community mentorship where other women could share experiences, insights, skills and feel supported.

A major focus for Potgieter going forward in WIFN, with the backing of the Financial Planning Institute, is to encourage women to stay in the finance industry. In addition, every year proceeds from WIFN events go towards funding a young female student’s post-graduate diploma in financial planning.

She is also the author of two books that shared successful clients’ financial journeys: ‘Retiremeant – get more meaning from your money’ and ‘Midlife Money Makeover’; a Dare to Lead facilitator; and a professional coach, certified via the International Coaching Federation.

Coaching is a qualification she believes is essential for all financial planners, as they are coaching clients to adopt the right financial behaviour.

Looking to the future

Potgieter and Campbell now lead Chartered and put a lot of emphasis on succession planning.

‘We are building a business that does not depend on us, giving our younger planners the opportunity to take over from us so we don’t have to sell to someone in order to exit.’

‘After 15 years in the business, I’m going much more into teaching and mentoring younger people… I love to share what I learn,’ said Potgieter.

Her advice to fellow financial planners is to ask for advice and assistance from industry leaders, adding that the worst they can say is “no”.

‘Be authentic. Don’t try and fit the mould. Keep the client in the centre of what you’re doing, and [your work] in alignment with your values.’

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