We speak to Anthony Villis of First Wealth about the most successful change he’s made to his business, the best piece of tech he’s introduced to it, and what he’d change about the profession if he could.
What do you like most about your role?
Having the ability to do things that are important within financial planning and not to be restricted. Running First Wealth I don’t have anyone telling me what to do. Instead, we look at the problems we want to solve and the service we want to deliver. It’s no nonsense – there’s no bureaucracy, just the freedom to focus on what’s relevant.
What’s been the most successful change you’ve made to your business?
The most important change is the move to proper lifestyle financial planning in 2014 (thanks, Paul Armson).
Rob and I had almost lost the plot by that stage; we’d been going for five years and we’d been through the Euro meltdown, the financial crisis, and the fallout kept coming. We were asking ‘Do we really want to do this again?’ and started to rethink how we engaged with clients.
We decided we weren’t going to have those market-led conversations anymore, we were going to align ourselves with clients’ goals and aspirations. Without that change, we wouldn’t be here now.
What’s the best piece of tech you’ve introduced to your business?
Our own tech! We’ve created a platform called Open Advice, which was originally focused on onboarding. Instead of clients having to go from pillar to post to get everything done, we’ve built something where all that can be done in one place. From suitability to risk profiling to open banking to anti money laundering. This saves a huge amount of time and creates a much better client experience.
We’re looking to kick that onto the next stage now to see if we can automate more of the financial planning process, and to make it accessible to others who are interested in using a white labelled version.
If you could change one thing about the profession, what would it be?
If I had a Tardis and could travel back in time, I’d help people who’d been ripped off by misselling.
If we’re talking about the present, I’d like to see more inclusiveness and diversity - both in terms of the people who work in the profession, and the clients. Having a profession that looks more like the world we live in will encourage more people into it. I can see this is starting to happen, but it’s slow progress.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a financial adviser?
I’m design obsessed – I love photography, brands and marketing, so I’d probably be doing something digital marketing based.
What one word sums you up and why?
Tenacious – I’m like a dog with a bone. I’m doing a presentation tomorrow and the first slide features a quote that says: ‘Hard things take time to do. Impossible things take a little longer.’ You’ve got to be in the game if you want to get anywhere – you might get punched on the nose but you’ve just got to keep going at it.
Which three people would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Freddy Mercury – for his showmanship
Seve Ballesteros – he had amazing massive charisma
Sanna Marin, the Finnish PM - I love her attitude and it would be great to learn more about her day-to-day