Practice makes perfect

Meet Crue Invest, winner of the Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa’s (FPI) 2023 Approved Professional Practice of the Year Award. Crue Invest, founded in 2004, provides expert advice on all aspects of financial planning. Blue Chip caught up with managing director and co-founder, Sue Torr.

The Crue Invest team with the award.
The Crue Invest team with the award.

Congratulations to the team for winning the 2023 FPI Approved Professional Practice of the Year Award! In your opinion, what is the fundamental reason for your success?

Thank you. To be honest, winning this award was part of our strategic plan, and the team has been very focused on achieving this goal. We have been intentional over many years in our drive to provide high-quality, fiercely independent advice to consumers, and I believe this has raised the profile of Crue Invest nationally. As a full-suite practice that has enjoyed substantial organic growth, we have remained deliberate about keeping our business highly personal and client-focused, never losing sight of the fact that it is our clients who form the basis of our success.

We have been relentless in our pursuit to share much-needed information with South African consumers on the benefits of holistic, independent financial planning and the valuable role it can play in achieving sustainable wealth – and our clients appreciate this. From an operational perspective, we take compliance, data protection and cybersecurity very seriously, and have tight management systems and controls in place.

We have also invested heavily in training, mentoring and upskilling our people to ensure that our clients have access to the expertise they deserve. Being intentional about developing a world-class advisory team, we now have nine CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERS®, two legal advisors and several team members furthering their tertiary education.

How has Crue Invest espoused the principles outlined in the FPI Code of Conduct?

We place the client at the centre of our business and ensure that all advice is in the client’s best interests. Being fee-based and completely independent, we can focus our attention on fully understanding each client’s needs and goals, and create bespoke financial solutions designed to help each client achieve their objectives.

Throughout all our processes, honesty, ethics and integrity remain front and centre, with a total commitment to full transparency at all times. Placing client interests above all else forges trust which is the foundation upon which our client relationships are built. As a team, we remain committed to ongoing professional development to ensure that we not only keep pace with industry advancements and best practices but also push each other out of our comfort zones. For instance, we’ve developed an in-house library of some great book titles covering a broad range of topics and run a weekly book club to discuss and share insights.

We’ve just initiated a weekly current affairs forum to ensure that, as a team, we remain abreast and objectively informed on what is happening in the world and how it impacts (or can impact) our clients. We’ve developed a fantastic ethos of growth and learning that is fortified by a culture of accountability and excellence in financial planning.

Why do clients choose Crue Invest? What sets you apart?

We have an incredible team of people with a shared purpose to help others navigate their personal finances and make their lives better. I believe that Crue has the “x-factor” – an inimitable team spirit and shared value system that reflects the soul of the business. We love what we do. We love coming to work. We love serving our clients.

What is Crue Invest’s particular area of expertise?

Being a full-suite financial planning practice, our expertise cover investment advice, retirement planning, tax and estate structuring, risk protection, business assurance, employee benefits and healthcare (medical aid and gap cover). Our financial advisory team of 14 is based in our Pinelands office in Cape Town while our healthcare team of three operates from our Brackenfell office.

What is Crue Invest’s advice philosophy and mission?

Believing unequivocally in the benefits of holistic financial planning, we were intentional about building an advice practice that reflects this belief and that enables us to deliver bespoke advice of the highest calibre. Each client is allocated a team of advisors and para-planners who work together to create a highly personalised financial plan, with each team being supported by a team of administrators who ensure that all financial solutions are implemented efficiently. Teamwork is at the heart of what we do.

Why did you enter the FPI Awards?

We wanted to raise the profile of qualified, independent financial advisors and the incredible value they can add to people’s lives and believed that winning this award would give us a great platform to achieve this. There are many excellent financial advisors out there and we want to encourage consumers to find a trusted advisor who they can partner with for life.

Being passionate about building the professional standing of qualified financial advisors in South Africa, we’d love to leverage this award to attract young talent to the profession so that we can play a meaningful role in building the base of professional advisors. And finally, we’d love to use the platform to create greater inclusion especially when it comes to creating opportunities for first-time investors to build wealth.

Our in-house education programme, Crue Academy, is a fantastic initiative designed to break open barriers for first-time investors, and we are doing great work in this space, especially through our partnerships with Just Grace (a Langa-based NPO), the UCT Investment Society and several other organisations. All South Africans should have access to the mechanisms of wealth creation, and we believe we have a role to play in creating access.

What did you learn through the process?

Entering the competition afforded us some great opportunities to examine our business critically and insightfully. As a team, we thoroughly enjoyed interrogating our systems and processes and challenging each other to scrutinise our business through different lenses. The process also provided a great opportunity to expose the younger team members to the operational aspects of running a business. In a sense, we spent time as a team “auditing” our business and sharing ideas for enhancements, improvements and innovation, which in itself was a team-strengthening exercise.

Finally, I think we came away from the competition having a deeper appreciation for the incredible profession we find ourselves working in. There are so many world-class advice practices out there, and to be counted among them is a privilege. 

The other finalists in the 2023 FPI Approved Professional Practice of the Year were Veritas Wealth and Integral Wealth Management.

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