Every investment recommendation made by a First Financial adviser comes with the tick of approval from our Investment Committee.
The team has examined each investment option to ensure it meets our stringent criteria.
“We are charged by the executive board and licensee with the responsibility of advising on and influencing the investment policy of the firm.
Our job is to make sense of the investment world and make our advisers’ job easier when they have to select investments and build portfolios for their clients,” explains Graeme Quinlan, First Financial Senior Adviser and Head of Investment Committee.
Investment Committee purpose
The First Financial Investment Committee formed in 2013 as part of the company’s creation. The group comprises of numerous financial planning practitioners, the Managing Director and external investment professionals who are not involved in the firm.
The primary purpose of the committee is to maintain the company’s investment policy, support the team of advisers and oversee the approved products list. Through continual market analysis, the committee ensures a secure, clearly defined process is followed when selecting client investments. Graeme says:
“Our clients expect … and rightly so … a very professional service, in which ultimately the investments that are selected for their portfolio are the result of a well-structured process.”
Monthly meetings allow for regular review of developments within the investment and macroeconomic environments and provide the opportunity to make any necessary changes to the approved products list.
There are currently two external consultants on the committee: Emmanuel Calligeris and Andrew Doherty.
Both Emmanuel and Andrew have extensive knowledge and experience within the financial investment market.
Emmanuel specialises in macroeconomics, asset class and market themes. With over 25 years’ experience, including time as the Chief Investment Officer (CIO) at Optimix, the multi-manager unit of ANZ/OnePath, his understanding of market nuances is second to none.
His unique insight is invaluable to the committee.
Andrew has an equally impressive role and provides us with direct equity support. He has worked in London for JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse Asset Management in Sydney. Plus, he held the position of Head of Equities at Morningstar Australasia for 14 years. His depth of knowledge enables him to evaluate companies on the ASX and determine their quality through a robust assessment process.
“We know it’s good to have two independent consultants come in from different angles. We invite them to weigh in on all topics as they have such broad expertise,” says Graeme.
“We all have specific responsibilities on the committee, but we can also have a round table discussion about different matters.”
This diversity of knowledge amongst committee members creates a well-balanced team. There is a broad, long-term focus. Chris White, Managing Director and Investment Committee member, says:
“Emmanuel and Andrew come to our committee with high-level knowledge. The input we receive from them is extremely beneficial. They have access to much broader market information … they are both at the top of their game in terms of access to information.”
Structure and confidence
Most small firms are subject to the investment direction of their licensee. And this is often one of the big banks, so they don’t have the ability to control their own investment decisions.
At First Financial, we have our own Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) and the staffing resources to allocate to the committee.
Our size is our strength in this instance, and we adhere to our Investment Philosophy in any decision making process.
This means our clients can be certain that the information shared across our team is consistent and maintained with a well-defined goal.
We offer extensive guidance and support to our advisers, which subsequently provides clear continuity in the services delivered to our clients. Our advisers operate within the approved product list so there is complete confidence in the investments selected for portfolios. Chris explains:
“The committee creates the rules that the advisers adhere to … the committee understands and moves with the market, ensuring that we match it accordingly. We take a long-term view, we don’t swap and change ratings too often … but we do review them to make sure they are always appropriate.”
The investment committee draws on years of experience, an impressive wealth of knowledge and the ability to understand and interpret the market. This combination guarantees our clients enjoy true confidence in the construction of their portfolios.