News Kearney Group a leading light in continuous improvement. 29 January 2016 Read time: 3 min We’ve been called many things in our 30+ year history. A “Leading Light in Continuous Improvement” has got to be one of the best things. And in a recent article for Professional Planner, Melissa Mack has laid down just that claim. We were thrilled to pull back the curtain and give her a glimpse into what makes Kearney Group really tick. Here’s what she had to say. Kearney Group a leading light in continuous improvement. Kearney Group chief executive officer Paul Kearney has built his multidisciplinary practice by looking continuously at what could be done better, not just what is immediately before him. An early adopter of education standards and now technology, he encourages others in the industry to “think about their approach” and to continue to look for ways to lift standards. “With financial planning in particular there’s a long way to go and we think the story is not yet written,” Kearney says. “Ten to fifteen years ago the industry was not adequate. There’s been a lot of attention and publicity to bring it up to the standard we have now. “What could [still] be done could be much better than what’s before us. The medium by which we interact with clients will be dramatically different in 10 years’ time. “The notion on reliance of statement of advice will go, because what clients really need is not a dry 55-page document – [what’s needed is] an interactive means of gaining control and understanding of their financial needs.” This attitude harks back to Kearney’s first experience with financial planning. He established his accounting practice in the 1980s and it was his clients’ requests to look at advice they had received from early financial planners that led him to establishing a practice offering a full suite of advice services, including financial planning, accounting and bookkeeping. “It was about 1998 that three clients brought financial plans to the business,” he says. “The plans were awful and did not reflect what I knew was important to the client. “We thought that financial planning is to households what business planning is to businesses, so for us moving to planning was a simple logical step.” Fully encompass financial needs After seeing the first flawed advice, Kearney believed that the model should fully encompass a client’s financial needs. “Rather than a relationship between an adviser and a client, we have always had the very strong view that the relationship should be at the multidisciplinary level between the business and client by a group of advisers,” he says. Kearney has continued to innovate, including establishing a new software platform for his business, which was a key factor in winning the AFA 2015 Practice of the Year award. On delivering the award, the Association of Financial Advisers said, “The business is driven by the desire to lead industry change through developing innovative technology that is both novel and radically useful and strives to build first-class relationships with clients that empower client decision making”. Kearney sees his move into software brand OI Software – which released its first product, Charlie, to market in October – in a simpler light. “We have our own model and we are trying to see what our clients’ needs are and how we can offer a better service. “The piece that was missing was advice tools and education, which are valuable to clients, so we are delivering our own software.” He credits the win to three key elements of his practice: building genuine lifelong relationships with clients; bespoke advice on a multidisciplinary level; and employing and developing talent. Software brand The latter has also helped develop his software brand. “Staff choice is about trying to locate talent, so we made a decision in 2008 that we would only employ qualified people with university degrees and appropriate professional qualifications. “What we’ve found is that you always have to be scouring and looking for talent as you scale. “For example I’d harboured software ambitions since the 1980s and it was only when I was able to employ developers in 2009 that we’ve been able to truly deliver on this. “In all elements of business you gather ideas but they can’t be executed till you find the right talent.” He also believes becoming an adviser does not happen accidentally and employs a people-development manager in-house for ongoing education, development and training of staff. Read the full article here.