Maritza Kriel encourages clients to look well into the future, but to act now, writes Alan Hartstein.
Maritza Kriel says the most profound mistake clients make is not taking a sufficiently long-term view of their super requirements and failing to save adequately.
One major reason for this, she believes, is that we all lead busy lives and important things, such as financial security and planning, often get shifted near the bottom of people’s to-do lists. In worse-case scenarios, they are never addressed.
This is compounded by the misconception that financial advisers only benefit wealthy Australians and that they don’t really have the average Australian’s best interests at heart, Kriel adds.
Kriel, a finalist in the 2016 AFA Rising Star Award, is a former stockbroker with a Masters of Economics degree from her native South Africa. She founded MK Wealth Solutions, a financial planning firm specialising in self-managed and retail superannuation funds invested in direct equities, in her hometown Brisbane in March 2015.
Educating clients to develop good habits
Every client at MK Wealth Solutions goes through an evaluation process, Kriel says. The firm then develops a personalised ‘road map’ that shows clients exactly what it is that they need to do to reach their financial goals.
“Part of our education process involves teaching clients about the effect of cumulative growth. If you start saving when you’re younger you’ll have a much healthier retirement income,” Kriel says. “Unfortunately, clients in their 50s that haven’t put much money into their super plans have a very limited time frame to work with.”
The other main focus of MK Wealth Solutions’ education is centred around structuring savings before and during retirement to make sure clients do everything possible to maximise their income in retirement.
Client education involves regular ongoing discussions and articles regarding investments and contributions. It also includes wealth protection and insurance, Kriel says. “We actively involve clients in the advice process, which gives them ownership of their financial planning and investment. This also involves explaining complex financial and economic terms in a way that relates to their personal financial situation so they understand the direct impact of their investment decisions as best as possible,” Kriel adds.
Rectifying clients' mistakes
Clients often lament the fact that they haven’t paid enough attention to saving for super over the years, Kriel says. “Unfortunately, we can’t turn back time. However, we look at every individual situation and work with what we have over whatever time frame we have left, to structure and plan for the best possible outcome.”
Often this includes strategies such as debt consolidation so clients can take ownership of their situation and direct as much of their money as possible towards their end objectives instead of paying shockingly high interest rates on things such as credit cards.
This, Kriel says, makes them feel more in control than they ever have been before because they know exactly what they have to do financially for the first time in their lives. “More often than not, just removing uncertainty and putting a longer-term plan in place can help to significantly lower clients’ fear and anxiety levels,” she says.
Communicating with clients
MK Wealth Solutions offers clients a highly personalised, practical financial planning experience, Kriel says. This includes monthly phone calls or emails for general discussion and catch up, as well as a monthly educational newsletter. “It goes without saying that all clients have access to me via phone or email at all times should they wish to discuss a pressing matter,” Kriel says.
All clients have an MK Wealth Solutions mobile app on their phones, which provides regular updates on their investments. The app also contains a discussion wall which allows clients to ask questions about a particular topic.
Kriel also provides her clients with an analysis of retirement goals and lifestyle protection based on their current financial situation and future objectives, and a financial plan (statement of advice).
These documents serve as a blueprint for the client’s financial goals and are reviewed on an ongoing basis. This also helps clients track the progress of their investments, review strategies and discuss amending them if their own situation or that of the general investment environment changes.
On top of that, MK Wealth Solutions gives clients a large amount of market-related information through its newsletters, website, social media pages such as LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook and Twitter, and its mobile app. Additionally, Kriel says, they offer clients a budget calculator to track their finances if they desire one.