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Lessons for Turnbull from financial advice innovators

Lessons for Turnbull from financial advice innovators

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By Glenn Elliott ·
November 27 2015

Lessons for Turnbull from financial advice innovators

At the annual Dreamforce conference in September, 2,000 Australian delegates woke to exciting news. For the first time we had a tech-savvy, successful entrepreneur as prime minister.

You could feel the anticipation. But two months later, what signs are there of genuine innovation from the Turnbull government?

Turnbull has moved quickly on innovation. Christopher Pyne has been elevated from education to industry, innovation and science. Riding shotgun is Wyatt Roy, our first-ever dedicated assistant minister for innovation.

A few weeks ago we saw the government's announcement of changes to crowd-sourced equity funding, with a statement on innovation to follow next month.

These signs of government commitment to innovation are exciting to an entrepreneur like me, because government is never at the vanguard of change.

Even the wealth sector wants a piece of the innovation action. I was hugely excited in September to see First State Super kick in $110m of members' funds into a new technology start-up venture capital fund.

As First State Super's chief investment officer Richard Brandweiner points out, it's a sum that can make a massive difference to start-ups, but is a tiny fraction of members' retirement savings. It's clearly a well-considered risk with a view to long-term returns.


Innovation and financial advice

But what does this cultural shift towards innovation mean for financial advice? How committed to innovation is the advice industry?

Licencees and practice principals I deal with fall into two camps.

There are those who want to innovate and those who are committed to innovation.

The wanters see technology as a silver bullet. They buy the newest gadgets and the shiniest software, hastily hurl them in front of their teams (and sometimes even customers) and wait for the magic. Needless to say, the result is typically confused clients, disgruntled staff and wasted money.

Live and breathe innovation

The committed live and breathe innovation. It surrounds them, penetrates them and binds together everything they do.

They have a big vision that they'll share with anyone who'll listen. They hire and empower innovative people to think creatively, encouraging their team to move fast, learn from mistakes and constantly improve.

They take incremental steps to move from old business models to new, making sure there's tangible commercial benefit at every point in the journey. The results for their clients and their businesses are real.

As a tech provider to the wealth industry, I see this difference play out every day. The 'silver bullet' thinkers want my help on how to connect their iPad to their CRM, how to roll out a web portal to their clients, or how to automate every step of the advice process. All by the end of the month.

Why innovate?

But my question is always: why?

Committed innovators want me to understand their ambition: why they want to innovate, what they want their business to achieve, what the experience for their customers should feel like and how their team should co-operate.

Committed innovators want to make sure their tech providers are as committed to long-term innovation as they are. Once that shared commitment is clear, they leave the details to the experts and focus on working together to turn innovative ideas into commercial results.

Let's hope Turnbull, Pyne and Roy share a similar philosophy when it comes to government support for innovation in Australia.

 Glenn Elliott is the chief executive and co-founder of PractiFI

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