With an SMSF Professionals’ Association of Australia (SPAA) chair on board and a history of pre-empting market moves, Katarina Taurian found out how Skeggs Goldstien has been growing for over four decades.
Skeggs Goldstien has been on the evolutionary path since its inception 49 years ago. During that time, it has made a habit of beating the crowds, including becoming involved in the SMSF space well before the boom and operating under a fee for service model since the late 1990s.
The practice has its roots in financial planning and started with Neil Skeggs in 1964, who was an insurance adviser for AMP. Skeggs started working with current director Adam Goldstien in 1992, before Goldstien bought the business and officially formed Skeggs Goldstien in 2000.
“Without the mentoring that I received from Neil Skeggs as a misguided 21 year-old, I would not be in this business today, nor would I have adopted a strong client-centric work ethic that was so imbedded [in him],” said Mr Goldstien.
“Neil taught me to care, stay focused and think strategically,” he added.
Today, Mr Goldstien is one of four directors at Skeggs Goldstien, a privately-owned financial services business which provides financial, wealth and accounting services for individuals and businesses.
The business operates under two structures; Skeggs Goldstien Associates and Skeggs Goldstien Accounting. Mr Goldstien and his colleagues Jonathan Reynolds, Darryn Fellowes, and Khoung Tang are all directors of both structures and equity holders.
“We all play an integral part of our businesses’ growth strategy direction and implementation,” said Mr Goldstien.
Skeggs Goldstien started dealing with SMSFs in 1998 – well before practitioners populated this space years later. Goldstien labelled the move “defensive”, one they took to continue maintaining effective client relationships.
“We also saw the opportunity with getting involved with something that was new and had potential for significant growth, and we invested time in the education and training and made sure we were in a position to take advantage,” Mr Goldstien said.
Approximately 60 per cent of the businesses’ revenue is SMSF-related, according to Mr Goldstien. The rest is equally split among general accounting and taxation, business advisory, corporate superannuation and general financial planning.
The practice deals with a broad range of areas in the SMSF space, including accounting requirements and audits. The only exceptions are some investments such as direct equities and direct property, which are outside of Skeggs Goldstien’s licensing capabilities.
Broadly speaking, the practice outsources many investments to professionals, such as stockbrokers, bond brokers and investment consultants. “My role is akin to the conductor of an orchestra: I need not know how to play the oboe but I do need to know when it needs to be played,” he said.
For Mr Goldstien, proving his worth as an SMSF specialist is not an issue – he has been actively involved with SPAA since it began in 2003. His role as chair of the NSW chapter has enhanced how he deals with his clients in the SMSF space by offering a level of credibility and being privy to information and advice that is not necessarily publically available.
“Everybody is a specialist today because that's where the money is. obviously. But I'm [able] to stand apart from them and say that, actually, I am,” Mr Goldstien said.
“I like the fact that I remain close to the industry, close to what's happening, I'm always learning, getting significant input and understanding from other professionals,” he added.
When dealing with clients, the practice does not subscribe to a “one size fits all” solution. Each client’s knowledge and understanding varies significantly, Mr Goldstien said, adding that the spectrum of clients range from those who “have no idea” to those who are more in tune with their options.
“I think what's unique about what we do [differently] from the other practices perhaps is that we let the clients choose a level of engagement,” Mr Goldstien said. “We normally have an initial consultation where we try and uncover and discover as much as we can about the client... they can guide it in one direction or another.
“If you are only requiring a limited advice or a very limited role or engagement, we can do that... we'll always look at a client's situation from a financial planning perspective first, so that's a holistic perspective first.”
The firm is “well placed” for the Future of Financial Advice reforms, having gone to fee for service in 1998, according to Mr Goldstien.
“There's many clients that we deal with where there's no product advice at all; it could be purely strategic or structural,” he added.
In addition, Mr Goldstien sees continuing growth opportunities for the practice, including potential acquisitions. In particular, he foresees the role of accountants in SMSFs, and advice in general, increasing significantly.
“We obviously see that as a huge opportunity for us, now moving down that route... we're able to provide those services together, and I think that's where the unique benefits are coming to the fore,” he said.