Crisis, what crisis? This adviser has seen them all


You don’t spend almost 20 years in stockbroking and investments without riding a few waves.

And Brett Evans has crested over a handful of financial milestones, including the Asian financial crisis, the Russian ruble crisis, the tech boom, the tech bust, the global financial crisis (GFC) and the impact of September 11.

“It has taught me to be a better adviser,” Evans says when asked to describe their impact.

“During the GFC, for example, I was in more of a stockbroker role so I was riding the wave with clients.

“I learned the importance of getting on the phone to your client every single day, even if you have spoken to them the day before.”

Clients, Evans realised, were seeking reassurance that their money would be safe.

“It’s like a thunderstorm with children: the client wants to know that everything is going to be OK,” he said.

“When September 11 happened, I was woken at 4am by clients wondering what was going on and, from an index point of view, it had blown over two days later, but they were very nervous at the time.”

Perhaps the most seismic of the financial crises was the GFC, not because of the impact it had on markets – although that was considerable – but because of the change it prompted in Evans.

Until that point, Evans had specialised in investments and stockbroking for a range of big-ticket companies.


Expats need advice

He had worked in HSBC’s margin lending department in Sydney, in which he was given the task of growing the business, as well as on the money market floor at Suncorp in Brisbane, which exposed him to cash investment products.

When the GFC hit he was working for Citigroup, now Morgan Stanley, in asset management and stockbroking.

“It was a big company with a huge US work base and they would make changes that affected the US base and then those changes would affect us,” he says.

In March 2009, he and a colleague went out on their own to establish a hybrid planning and brokerage business Gamma Wealth.

It was a big success, but Evans left in 2012 to start his own company, the Gold Coast-based Atlas Wealth Management.

He noticed a huge gap in the market among expat Australians in need of planning and investment advice, and has built a firm tailored to overseas Aussies.

Plus, he had lived overseas as a child – growing up in colonial Hong Kong – so has a strong connection with the expat lifestyle.

“The Aussie expat has been under-advised forever,” he says.

“There has never been a solution to someone looking after their investment needs while they are away.”


Head held high

These investment needs can be as simple as making sure the insurance component of their superannuation is relevant and as complex as managing capital gains taxes on property.

From next year, expats will have to start repaying university debts once they start earning $54,000 (AUS).

“It’s going to catch a lot of people out and, with the dollar being what it is, it won’t take much to fall into that schedule,” Evans notes.

“Expats need to start budgeting for that change.”

Evans argues that change will be a fundamental driver in the planning industry over the coming years, and the challenge for industry leaders is to adapt.

“There are those who are embracing it and those that are aren’t,” Evans notes.

“In the future the industry will be degree certified and there will be a lot more structure around it.

“We will still be doing the same job, but hopefully we will have raised perceptions of how we are seen in the community.”

“I want to hold my head high at a birthday party when I say that I am an adviser.”

This article originally appeared in a interview with Professional Planner.

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