Practice makes perfect: FPI Professional Practice of the Year Award

The second-ever FPI Professional Practice of the Year Award, which recognises that successful financial planning is always a team effort, was won by Gradidge-Mahura Investments in 2021. The runners-up and very close contenders for the award were Crue Invest and BDO Wealth Advisers. Blue Chip spoke to the top three nominees.

1019
Craig Gradidge, CFP®, Investment and Retirement Planning Specialist

Gradidge-Mahura Investments

Congratulations to the team for winning the Professional Practice of the Year Award! FPI has reported that they could not imagine a more deserving winner and commended you for always going above and beyond for your clients across South Africa over the years.

In your opinion, what is the fundamental reason for your success?

I believe that there are several key reasons; firstly, putting the client at the centre of what we do, secondly, having an analysis-based financial planning process, and lastly, continuous professional development of staff. These drive a lot of how we run our business and the results that we achieve.

How have you espoused FPI’s Code of Conduct into your business?

A lot of the Code of Conduct is built into our advice and service processes. So, it forms part of our DNA, and has since we launched the business in 2008. Each step of the advice process has ethics and professionalism baked in.

Why choose Gradidge-Mahura Investments? What sets you apart?

We are independent which allows us to put client interests ahead of our own. We are professional in our conduct. We place significant emphasis on client confidentiality. Finally, we are transformed at every level of the business.

What is Gradidge-Mahura Investments’ (GMI) philosophy?

We can do well by doing good.

Please outline your mission and your offerings?

Our mission is to contribute towards the ongoing professionalisation of financial planning. We also have a responsibility towards helping the sector transform by demonstrating black excellence in a very tangible way. We have received messages from other black practices who have been inspired to join the industry after learning about GMI. We believe that a transformed financial planning sector will grow the market substantially over time. Our service offering is comprehensive financial planning including retirement planning, investment planning, estate planning and risk planning.

The team at Gradidge-Mahura Investments

What is the company’s focus for 2022?

We run a 10-year business strategy. In 2019 we outlined the vision for 2030. In 2022 the focus is on building up the asset management and asset protection parts of that bigger strategy.

Why did you enter the FPI Awards?

We believe that it is important to measure ourselves against the best in the industry. It is one thing to say that we are professional, it is something entirely different for an independent body to say that we are professional. It is part of our ongoing development and growth process.

We believe that a transformed financial planning sector will grow the market substantially over time.

What did you learn through the process?

We learnt from the various experts involved, especially what they focused on in their questioning. This gave us a sense of the key issues that they see when it comes to running a professional practice. We took the learnings from the 2020 competition and focused our efforts on improving on those areas in 2021.

Please add a message of motivation to the professional practices that may be battling amid the current time of inflation, deflation and uncertainty?

Focus on the process, the outcomes will take care of themselves. The winners in the long term are those firms that can deal with the boredom of doing the basics right over and over and over again. There are always challenges facing advisors and their clients. The trick is to move forward despite these challenges and to focus on those issues we can control.

Would you like to add anything?

We would like to see more black firms joining the ranks of Approved Professional Practices. This would mean a lot to us and to the industry and help motivate more black professionals to join the industry. Together we can reach out to untapped sectors of the economy and grow the market for professional advice.


Craig Torr, CFP®, Director

Crue Invest: Runner-up 

Congratulations to the team for your success in the 2021 FPI Professional Practice of the Year Award where you achieved the runner-up position.

In your opinion, what is the fundamental reason for your success?

Teamwork and a shared vision of success. We have a phenomenal team of 15 people who have a shared vision for Crue Invest. We are all passionate about helping people make the right financial decisions, and I think our achievement is testament to this. We have worked hard on creating a culture of teamwork and mutual respect, and we’ve put our clients at the centre of our business.

How have you espoused FPI’s Code of Conduct into your business?

High ethical standards form the backbone of our business and are in everything we do. The acid test in everything we do is whether it is in the best interests of the client. By putting the interests of the client above everything else, the rest of FPI’s Code of Conducts fall into place and becomes inherent in every aspect of our business process.

Why choose Crue Invest? What sets you apart?

A genuine desire to help people make good financial decisions and our commitment to remaining a niche, personalised practice. We form a relationship of deep trust and mutual respect with each of our clients. We know each and every client personally. We are not a financial planning factory that chases targets, and our remuneration structure supports this. As fee-based professionals, our team is incentivised to build long-term relationships with our clients and to help them achieve their financial planning goals over time.

What is Crue Invest’s philosophy, mission and area of expertise?

Our mission is to help people create and protect their wealth. We have a team of in-house experts including financial planning, tax and legal experts who are specialists in their respective areas. All our advisors hold tertiary qualifications and either hold the CFP® designation or are currently studying towards it.

Since inception, we have been intentional about financial education and this includes ensuring all members of our team are able to continue learning and studying so as to enhance their expertise. We believe strongly in educating the consumer, and we spend a lot of time running workshops and writing articles designed to provide the consumer with as much information as possible.

As fee-based professionals, our team is incentivised to build long-term relationships with our clients and to help them achieve their financial planning goals over time.

Why did you enter the FPI Awards?

We want to continually improve our service offering and entering the competition is a good way of gauging our business against the best in the country. It helps us to take a good look in the mirror and to evaluate our business critically with a view to improving and enhancing our client offering. As members of the FPI, it is important to us to know how we fare against other practices nationally, and FPI’s feedback and input is important to us.

What did you learn through the process?

While we know we can be hard on ourselves, being nominated as runners-up really gave us a confidence boost and a sense that we are doing a lot right. It has motivated us to keep improving and innovating. We received valuable feedback from the judges which has given us good insight into how we can improve and better ourselves.


By Ricardo Teixeira, CFP®, COO Wealth Advisers and Leader: Non-Executive Director Hub, BDO South Africa.

BDO Wealth Advisers: Runner-up

Congratulations to the team for your success in the 2021 FPI Professional Practice of the Year Award where you achieved the runner-up position.

In your opinion, what is the fundamental reason for your success?

BDO Wealth Advisers is proud to be in the company of our peers who carry the FPI Approved Professional Practice trademark. It is humbling to be singled out as a finalist particularly when one reflects on the level of professionalism being displayed by all FPI Approved Professional Practices in South Africa.

Reflecting the adjudication process and in particular the engagement we had with the judges on the site visit, we would attribute our success to having a clear vision on why we exist, our reason for being in business. Our “why statement” guides our efforts and focus to continual improvement of our client experience as well as our business management processes to achieve our vision. Being clear about why we are in business has allowed us to scale the business nationally for efficiency yet deliver a professional client experience that is personal.

How have you espoused FPI’s Code of Conduct into your business?

A focus on the client. A commitment to the client’s experience and delivering best advice with the right calibre of professional advisors that represent the BDO standard and ethics.

We are a proud ambassador and advocate of a career in professional financial planning in South Africa through our mentoring of CFP® professionals for the future.

We have embraced pro-bono financial planning initiatives to help all South Africans make informed financial choices. This is supported by a wide range of consumer education material that we regularly update and make available on the BDO website.

Why choose BDO? What sets you apart?

BDO Wealth Advisers offers a full range of wealth advisory and financial planning services to individuals, companies and trustees. We are connected to BDO’s global network of audit, tax and advisory specialists across 162 countries. We are experts in our field with proven results and successes for our clients. We are trusted to offer objective, proactive and tailored advice.

What is BDO’s philosophy, mission and area of expertise?

We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to live the life they want. Our goal is to help our clients get to the right solutions so we can positively contribute to their lives. Our expertise lies in organising our clients’ financial affairs, holding our clients accountable to achieve their goals and providing objective and proactive advice.

Why did you enter the FPI Awards?

Being part of the BDO in South Africa professional services brand and BDO global network, the focus on quality standards and professionalism has always been an important aspect for BDO Wealth Advisers. So, when FPI first introduced the FPI Approved Professional Practice™ accreditation in 2015, we were early adopters of the practice standards and requirements laid out for the accreditation. This commitment to adopt global best practice led us on a journey of continual improvement and enhancement for our practice.

The announcement of the inaugural award for FPI Professional Practice of the Year in 2020 immediately caught our attention. It is a great initiative to raise awareness of the level of professionalism in South African financial planning. As a result, we saw it as an opportunity to benchmark BDO Wealth Advisers against our professional practice peers in the industry.

We believe that we keep good company with our peers as accredited FPI Approved Professional Practices, so by entering the competition we hoped to gain insight into how BDO Wealth Advisers stacks up against the best in the country.

It is humbling to be singled out as a finalist particularly when one reflects on the level of professionalism being displayed by all FPI Approved Professional Practices in South Africa.

– BDO Wealth Advisers

What did you learn through the process?

We all have a vision of how we want to be seen as a professional advisor. However, talking about your business is often very different to demonstrating and showing what you deliver, and how this is applied across a large team and multiple offices. The adjudication process therefore allowed us the benefit of receiving impartial and objective assessment of how we measure up against the FPI practice standards. It highlighted the areas we could improve and enhance, but also left us with a deeper appreciation for the depth of resources, range of skills and experience we have in our team that makes us unique.

Going through the adjudication process most certainly emphasised the need for continual improvement. Operating a professional wealth advisory practice and delivering a quality client experience is an unending process of development, refinement and enhancement in order to remain relevant to your clients and the environment within which you operate.