AFA Rising Star Finalist 2014: Phil Thompson

5 min read

Phil Thompson

Thompson Financial Services

Balancing on a tight rope, juggling multiple tasks, performing on a high wire - all those comparisons to financial planning are probably old hat to Phil Thompson who started his career as a professional acrobat.

It’s not the most traditional entry into advice but it’s the way Phil moved into his current career.

Working as a circus acrobat, Phil decided that he wanted to travel and while travelling realised that his work was not sustainable for the long term and while he could do it until he was 40 he would then have to do something else.

His sister was a financial planner and accountant and after talking to her, he found himself guided towards planning. “Financial planning allowed online study and my sister advised me that financial planning offered more than accounting in terms of being able to get away from sitting in front of a computer,” Phil says.

“I was always interested in financial planning and worked in admin jobs in financial planning offices while I was studying for my diploma.”

Phil became full time adviser in 2012 and not long afterwards took over the advice business he was working at.

  • What did you hope to achieve in financial planning?

    I was always interested in finance and in other people’s dealings with money. Most people struggle with money - ether it’s overspending it’s really quite incredible.

    The reason I moved into financial planning was that I saw it as an opportunity to work in an advice business and potentially work overseas for a portion of the year. Originally I thought it would be possible to work in an advice business for 9 months of the year and for the other three months’ work overseas in an aid organisation or potentially allow the wife to work in a social enterprise overseas. Asia is where we really like. We have two young girls and we want them to grow up experiencing other cultures and not growing up to be snotty brats like us.

  • Have you seen yourself make a difference to clients?

    One of the most rewarding things about what we do is that we can see every day the changes we make in people’s lives. We get feedback all the time about our clients having less stress in their lives.

    One of the first clients I saw was stressed that she needed $150 a week for her child’s speech therapy. She had felt restricted in the plan that we had set. I told her that over the next three years, using this money would not have a huge detrimental effect on her savings. It was her money and she should make the decisions on what it is spent on. Obviously the speech therapy was super important. When she left I thought the meeting hadn’t been a big deal but the next day she emailed to say she could sleep better after meeting with me as I had lifted a weight off her shoulders.

  • What did the recognition as the AFA Rising Star mean to you?

    It’s been really fantastic. It was a really good process to go through. As a small business owner you think you’re doing the right thing, but you don’t know as you don’t get regular feedback but this process gave feedback from others with much more experience. To get a pat on the back is a huge confidence boost.

    Meeting the other rising stars was also really good. We got along super well. It was good to have four others in the industry to bounce off ideas, and ask tricky questions. It didn’t feel like a competition. We were all genuinely pleased when Ben won.

  • What’s next for you?

    At the moment I feel that what I’m putting in place is a lot more marketing - helpful marketing. I’m super passionate about educating people. People are generally crap with their finances and often have no knowledge or process. Each week I want to put up a basic video on finances - whether it’s super contributions or something else – my main aim is to make it entertaining and to make things simple so people understand more about their finances. This is helpful marketing.

  • Do you see financial planning as a good career for women?

    I see financial planning as a great career for women. I’m talking to Jean, my office manager into moving towards financial planning although she thinks that with two young kids she’s not thinking about more study and work at the moment. I think it’s a great career for females - and our next adviser will probably be female. I see it as a smart business decision. In this day and age, we need to be flexible as an employer because there are lots of different family makeups. My brother is about to become a stay at home Dad.

  • How have you helped a female in financial planning this year?

    I’ve tried to help my office manager who I think would be a great financial planner. At the moment she has two young kids so is not thinking about moving into it at the moment but I’ve always said to her if she wants to be a planner she’d be great and I’d help her with it or if she chooses she’s prefer to remain an office manager I’m happy with that also - she’s awesome at it.

    With two young daughters, any increase in the female participation rate in the wider workforce is super important to me.

Education: Bachelor of Arts,
Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning,
Cert IV in Finance & Mortgage Broking,
Margin Lending & SMSF Cert