For Stanford Brown, life begins at 30

Sydney-based financial planning group Stanford Brown doesn't do things by halves. On the eve of its 30th anniversary, it announced a string of initiatives that sets it apart from traditional advice businesses.

Last month Stanford Brown marked its 30 years in the business with a charity ball, raising more than $130,000 for the Children's Medical Research Institute (CMRI) along the way. During the group's acknowledgment speech, chief executive Jonathan Hoyle (Profile: Blood, Sweat and Tears of Joy) gave an update on how it plans to grow the business in the years ahead.

First, the group plans to attract and nurture talent through its 'Pathway to Partnership' scheme. "We envisage a larger company and we believe that to retain great advisers and staff, you need to offer equity."

"Our vision is to build an outstanding world class financial advice company using a partnership model similar to that adopted by law firms where people are promoted as partners,"  he said.

Chief operations officer, Mira Macura joined the company when she was 17 years old. Just last year - twenty years on - she became the fifth shareholder of the business, the first who is not a financial adviser and the first female shareholder.

Stanford Brown plans to train more staff and, like law firms and the likes of KPMG, has launched a graduate training program last year. This year's intake is six - three young men and three young women.

Attracting new staff shouldn't be difficult either given that last year the firm overhauled its work rules, abolishing formal work hours, introducing the opportunity to work from home and removing caps on vacations.

"We want our staff to work where they are most productive, when they are most productive and take the leave they need to stay productive." Hoyle said.

On innovation, Stanford Brown is disrupting the business outside in - it has its own digital advice team who are tasked to test and research all types of advice technology before rolling them out to the rest of the business.

This includes technology around online meetings, digital signatures, video conferencing, live balance sheets and data storage.

"The industry is on the cusp of a major technological revolution. Advisers have been quite slow to embrace technology but, collectively, there's a determination to more fully embrace them faster than we, as an industry, have done so in the past," Hoyle said.

Finally, starting next year, the company intends to publicly report on the diversity of their employment, providing reports to their clients on how staff are represented across gender, ethnicity and age.

"We have a huge commitment for balance in our company. We believe in broadening the balance in the industry and want to focus the minds of our hiring managers on these issues," Hoyle said.

He said their client base is diverse and is constantly throwing new challenges at them. "We cannot solve their problems with a monocultural team. Our clients want diversity in our business to manage the challenges they themselves are facing."

But perhaps challenges are all in a day's work. The company was set up by chairman and co-founder David Brown on the same day as the 1987 stockmarket crash. If you can survive that, you can survive anything.

Read more: Stanford BrownDavid BrownJonathan HoyleKPMGMira Macura
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