Kim Lewis, CFP®| Financial Planner Profile

Blue Chip speaks to Kim Lewis, CFP®, Naviganti Financial Planning cc, about her journey as a Certified Financial Planner®.

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Kim Lewis – CFP®, Naviganti Financial Planning CC
Kim Lewis – CFP®, Naviganti Financial Planning CC

What inspired you to become a financial planner?

I would love to say that inspiration hit but as is the experience of many Advisors, I mostly fell into the industry! I started as a 20-year-old at my present company as a Receptionist/Administrator and studied while I worked – completing my Post-Graduate (2013) and Advanced Post-Graduate Diploma (2016) through UFS and reaching CFP® status through the FPI. Admittedly, as a more English/History type at school, Financial Planning was not even a vague consideration when leaving school and I think there is a huge misconception about what Advisors actually do for their clients. It turned out that I loved the more creative elements of financial planning and the personal element of growing relationships with clients.

What prompts clients to come to you? Do you have a niche or distinctive value offering?

I believe that we have a unique business and am incredibly proud of it! Where we may be slightly different to other practices is that there are currently three Advisors in the business, but we do not have our own clients per say. We typically work in pairs of Advisors as well as a para-planner to ensure that the client is not dependent on one person in the business and to ensure redundancy. We do not advertise so new clients come in through referrals from existing clients or people in the industry. Our other niche offering, which I do not believe too many other businesses are involved in, is our focus on young people. We firmly believe that young clients should receive excellent advice and financial education from the very start – allowing them to start their journey on the right track.

What do you believe is the most important thing you do for clients?

I used to think that skills and competence were the biggest advantage you could give a client – I now believe that this is only one small component. In fact, integrity, relationship, and consistency are, to me, as, if not more important. We approach our clients with integrity, and sincerity and strive to always do what we say we are going to do. In this way we believe we build truly meaningful relationships with our clients and, to sound very cliché, we really do care about our clients (perhaps a bit too much sometimes!).

Yes, the skills are important, and I believe we have those in abundance as well, but at the end of the day you can be as skilled as you like but if a person does not trust you or believe you have their best interests at heart, that relationship is going to be superficial and inconsistent.

What are the biggest mistakes that you see clients make?

The biggest mistakes we see clients make are usually related to emotion. People habitually give money away, often money that they cannot afford, to family members without understanding – or ignoring – the implications of doing so. In the same vein, clients who do not action the hard, uncomfortable advice, or ignore the warnings that we have given them regarding the actions that they are taking do, unfortunately, have to face the consequences of these decisions.

How do you charge for your services?

Our Advisors are all salaried and therefore do not work off of commission and “policy pushing”. This allows us to give independent, unbiased advice right for the client. The majority of our revenue is sourced from annual advice fees.

What role does technology play in your practice?

Technology is an important factor in our business and we endeavour to ensure that we are streamlining the business as much as possible/viable. Technology is meant to aid businesses and ensure that our processes are as efficient as possible. A client’s experience with our business is assisted by technology where possible – such as an App that allows them to view live investment values and send messages directly to our CRM system.

We are completely paperless and make use of e-signing processes as much as we can. Even our Investment Methodology is largely driven by technology. This allows us to use our Advisor’s time where we feel we are best suited – the interpersonal relationship we have with our clients. We are also very cognizant of cyber security and use technology to make our business as secure as we can.

How do you utilize social media as a financial planner?

As a business, we typically do not make use of social media, for a variety of reasons, and rather source new business from referrals as we do not formally advertise at all. The most exposure the business has in terms of social media would be through the Advisor’s personal LinkedIn pages. The Advisors are all, in their capacities, active on LinkedIn for personal contacts, industry news and developments and sharing insightful information.

What do you enjoy most about being a financial planner?

There are a few things that I enjoy about being a financial planner but mostly it is the personal element of becoming better acquainted with many of our clients. I love getting to know people and watching their stories emerge – it is incredibly rewarding to be part of someone’s journey and struggles when they finally come out on top.

I also hope that younger clients continue to understand and see the value in financial planning and how much value this can add to their lives and overall goals going forward.  

What are the biggest challenges you face as a financial planner?

Globalisation, especially for young people, is a massive problem in the industry and something that I face as a financial planner constantly. The “old way” of advising clients is becoming irrelevant amid a changing landscape where young people are constantly on the move, often do not know what their goals are and have no idea where they will end up. This combined with an increasingly redundant “retirement” plan because people will need to work longer and are going to live longer – means that advising and planning for young people in different jurisdictions is incredibly challenging. This is something that we are extremely aware of, and we are working on, and have made strides towards, implementing a plan better suited to the needs of these individuals.

What is the biggest change you have seen in financial planning during your career?

The regulatory landscape has changed significantly since I started in the industry in 2007. Whilst I believe that the changes are for the better and legislation is far tighter now than it was then, in some ways compliance has also become “over the top” and one wonders how small new businesses can possibly survive the constant whirlwind of paperwork.

The professionalization of the industry is exciting and still has further to go, which will obviously necessitate more compliance and legislation – hopefully within reason.

What’s your one wish for the future of the financial planning profession?

In line with the professionalization of the Industry, I greatly hope that the different levels of financial advice given, dependent on qualification and experience, become legislated sooner rather than later. It is truly terrifying to see some of the advice that is given to clients by uneducated, inexperienced “brokers”- often at a high price. We spend our lives undoing poor advice. I also hope that younger clients continue to understand and see the value in financial planning and how much value this can add to their lives and overall goals going forward.  


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