- Category: Finance
It was a family holiday that peaked Michael Mansfield’s interest in finance and broking.
“My father took the whole family to the US for four weeks. It was a significant moment for me, going to America and Disneyland, and I remember talking to dad about it and him saying the holiday was based on some investments he made in gold and the share market. So, that interest in finance was always there.”
During his AFL career Michael studied a Bachelor of Commence, with a view to moving into business afterwards. Opportunistically, Fremantle Dockers were launching at the same time he was looking for outside work. Fremantle were looking to identify players they could secure and Michael was one of them. As an incentive to lure him, the fledgling club offered a position in a broking firm in Perth.
When Geelong supporters caught wind, Andrew Bell of then Bell Securities , now the Bell Group, rang Michael and offered him a position. 1995 turned out to be a good year for Michael as he started his career in broking and was nominated as an All Australian.
“When I first started broking, I was with Geelong and it was intense, but at that stage football hadn’t exploded into the professional organisation it is today, so I was able to get enough experience and traction that I had a foundation for when I finished playing.”
After he moved to Carlton, Michael gave broking away and concentrated on his MBA and football. When he finished playing, he did some consulting work and ventured overseas as part of an MBA exchange program. The destination was Italy and he fell in love with the place.
“They have a different curriculum. One of our lecturers in Italy had his own business, Ferreti Luxury Yachts and he needed some finance work done for the company. He tasked the class with the work and it became extremely interesting to see how things were done; we were able to get some high level experience on an important piece of work.”
By the time he came back to Melbourne, Michael had the practical experience and the theory to begin his career in earnest.
If there’s one thing you get a real sense of while playing football, it is that you are not just playing for yourself and your team, you are playing for the supporters.
The same can be said of business; you don’t necessarily start a business for yourself, you start one because you believe you have a product or service that can make a difference in people’s lives.
In 2008, Michael began at ABN Amro, which later became RBS Morgans, and he began to build a career around service. That customer focus (and of course teamwork) has been the basis of the company’s growth.
“Testament to the business we’ve been building is that we’ve been able to grow during the GFC. Funds under management have doubled in that timeframe and we’ve been able to attract other advisors because our service offering stands out. We offer people a clear strategy, which I think has been lost in financial services. We offer a holistic wealth management service. Our broking background is the basis and we actively manage the investment. We utilise the resources we have to manage the portfolio actively.”
There are two other directors in the Brighton office and between them they have skill sets that range from options advisory, to asset allocation and general financial services advice. They have also built a team that they know will work for their clients.
“We are focused on getting the right people from a cultural perspective. That goes back to football, you can get the right people but if you don’t have the work ethic and don’t want to work as a team it all falls apart.”
The directors at RBS Morgans believe they have built a team that is focused on how best to make their clients money and that means looking at an overall wealth strategy.
“If you can’t look at a client’s holistic situation, then you can’t advise. Wealth management is more about what the client wants to achieve long term, than trying to make some quick dollars. That means a good advisor has to give the client the confidence and direction to do that. Buying and selling shares is a minor part of that. Asset allocation is a key thing to wealth creation.”
In the current economic climate, the most important piece of advice Michael says he can give to people who want to shore up their wealth is to seek financial advice and seek different alternatives. “It’s a bit like any profession, people specialise in different areas and you can learn a lot from each of them. Also, in this market it’s important not to get caught up in the macro issues that we are facing and focus on what we can control. Have a clear strategy to know what you want to do, do it in a disciplined way and you’ll find real wealth comes from asset allocation.
The GFC hurt a lot of people. Those who survived, or who are once again gaining traction, are those who were disciplined. It is important to understand your asset allocation, where the opportunities are and how you can create your wealth.
For instance the domestic market has underperformed, yet dividend yield is at high levels compared to GFC levels. In a negative interest rate trending market, as interest rates fall that gap will continue, so the risk reward of cash is greater than the market cap of the ASX.
Michael says that in the current two speed economy, Australians are vulnerable and that interest rate cuts should have occurred sooner, but there is a horizon.
“We are more vulnerable and the current pain didn’t need to be that bad. However, dividend yields are sustainable and Australian companies are offering good returns while the rest of the world is sorting itself out.
“Meanwhile we have a sound banking system, but we are vulnerable to the leverage we have to China and to global GDP and commodities in particular. The foundations are nice and strong but the vulnerability is there in company earnings which dominate our market and index. They generate huge profits, but their underperformance has a huge impact on our economy. So what we try to advise is to stick with key strategies and don’t vary too much. Better days will come, but now is the time to maximise your wealth.”
There is a great deal to think about when taking a holistic approach to wealth management, yet under the right guidance you can make informed choices. It is important then to find yourself a team, who will work in your best interests and kick goals for you financially. RBS Morgans, under the guidance of Michael and his fellow directors, is successful because they work as a team and they have a culture built upon client relationships and service.