Letting someone into your financial life is one of the most intimidating things that many people do. Over the past 10 years of operating Summerhill Financial Services, many of our clients have become friends. We hope we can do the same with you.
Caroline began Summerhill Financial services out of a desire to use her financial knowledge to help clients realise their potential as individuals, not to just make money. We carefully select our clients to ensure that our goals are aligned.
We invite you to get to know more about the Principal Caroline Bell, Director & Senior Adviser Alex Perini and Client Service Administrator Margaret Coulter.
Licensing, memberships and fees
Summerhill Financial Services Pty Ltd is privately owned and has its own Australian Financial Services Licence (AFS Licence No. 300038). This means we have no affiliation to any institution or product provider, so can develop the most appropriate strategies for each client.
We're a Professional Practice of the Financial Planning Association of Australia Limited, the financial planning sector’s peak professional organisation in this country. Practices in this category must pass rigorous pre-admission standards and maintain education levels.
Both Caroline Bell and Alex Perini are Certified Financial Planners, which is the highest level of education and ethics in financial planning globally.
We are a tax 'financial' adviser and registered with the Tax Practitioners Board, the national body responsible for the registration and regulation of tax practitioners.
As a tax 'financial' adviser we are able to provide tax financial advice strategies which involve understanding and applying tax laws to a client's personal circumstances.
To be recognised as a tax 'financial' adviser, we must pass education and pre-admission standards and abide by the Tax Practitioners Board Code of Professional Conduct.'
Summerhill Financial Services was set up as a fee-based practice, so it doesn’t accept investment commissions.
You’ll find all our fees fully outlined in our Financial Services Guide. We’ll agree them with you before you become a client of Summerhill Financial Services, so you know exactly what to expect.
How our financial planning works
Who uses a
Our clients come from all sorts of backgrounds, with all sorts of different aspirations, and a vast range of experience in managing money. Some are very wealthy professionals, some are not; some are excellent at managing their money, some … are not.
However, all of them want expert guidance in building their wealth, and choose to receive financial advice because they have neither the expertise, time nor desire to manage their personal finances themselves. They want to spend their time on pursuits and activities they enjoy, rather than using up their free time trying to keep up-to-date with what they should be doing to make the most of their income and investments.
What do we do?
We provide you with the financial coaching to make the most of your income and wealth. We want you to have the time to do the things you want to do now, as well as making sure you are on track financially to continue to live the life you want to in the future.
Many people get the general idea of what “financial advice” is, but have no detailed understanding of how it all works. Some people have wondered if we set them a budget? Or buy shares for them? Or take over managing their bank accounts? Handle their insurance? And so on.
What we do for every client is what that client wants us to do and what we agree on. So firstly, we want to understand why you want to seek advice, and then our role is keep you on track to make sure you get there.
Getting to know you
Your Financial goals & Aspirations
Take a look at the (shortened) example financial goals listed here. In it, you’ll see an (example) clients’ goals and the timeframe in which they want to achieve those. This is an extract from a sample Financial Strategy — of of the first things we do to better understand your financial position.
After we understand your financial goals, we then go through your “personal balance sheet” — your assets and your liabilities. And now we have our starting point for tracking your financial progress.
Sample financial goals
- Buy a new home or renovate your existing home at a net changeover cost of $500,000 (over the next two years (2017))
- Provide your children with a private school education ($25,000 per child per year over the next 2-16 years (from 2017)
- Enjoy your lifestyle including travel (Ongoing)
- Achieve financial independence ($2,000,000 by age 60 - 2030)
As you work through our sample Financial Strategy, you’ll see we look at everything: your cash flow, wealth accumulation, debt management, tax planning, superannuation planning, investment management, risk management, estate planning, insurances and any other issues we need to discuss to make your goals reality. You’ll also see there’s a place for a summary of the next steps.
Under each of those areas is a series of action points, the reasons for those, the status — i.e., whether we need to discuss it, you need to find out some extra information, whether it needs to be implemented at a later date, or reviewed as part of another process — and notes from our meeting on those action points.
Because financial advice is different for everybody, and there’s no such thing as “one size fits all”, it’s important for us — and you — to know what you’re expecting from it. So you’ll also see a list of areas that our example clients noted as needing to “happen to call our relationship a success five years from now”.
It's about control
Take the first action point under “cash flow” for our example clients: we’ll “use strong cash flow to build wealth and aim to save $1,400 per month for future home renovation/ changeover”. To make that happen, we might track their cash flow and assess their progress against agreed savings targets.
Moving through the action points in other areas, examples of what we do are:
- ensure any debt you have is structured the most effective way for your circumstances and future ambitions
- manage your superannuation strategy so you’re making appropriate contributions, which are invested suitably
- review your insurance so you and your family are financially protected
- ensure your Wills and other estate planning documents, such as Powers of Attorney, are up to date and reflect your needs (we can work with your solicitor here)
- provide specific investment recommendations
- …and we also handle the administration for all these areas
We’re sometimes asked if we do tax or provide accounting services. We don’t: we purely offer financial planning and financial coaching services.
However, we will work with your accountant where we need to, and the same goes for any other specialist service you may require — legal, insurance, stock broking and so on. If you don’t have someone you like to work with in those areas, we can refer you to a specialist.
For clients who are looking for a tax adviser as well, we can refer Summerhill Financial Management for integrated tax and financial planning services.
Like a personal trainer ... for your finances
We regularly review your goals together, because these may change as your life changes, so we adjust and update as necessary. We find this also helps you maintain your commitment to meeting your financial goals.
How do we help you succeed?
Many of our meetings are held virtually — via web conferencing, Skype or Google Hangouts.
We do this so Caroline and Alex are available to clients regardless of where they are that week. Virtual meetings also have the great benefit of allowing meetings outside ‘normal’ work hours. Although most clients prefer meeting virtually, Alex will continue to meet clients who prefer face-to-face consultations in Melbourne.
The method of catching up doesn’t matter, touching base is the important thing because it allows us to continue giving you a personal and tailored service for your needs.
Regular Video Updates
We keep our clients updated with regular video updates around market conditions, important information and useful strategies for managing your money.
Tools to succeed
As well as our regular meetings and video updates, we also provide you with a range of tools you can use to manage your finances between meetings. These include our iOS and Android apps, as well as many others.
Join our waiting list
We only choose to work with clients who are looking for a long-term partnership. We have a waiting list for new clients, and, given we want to maintain the boutique nature of our business, we choose clients we'll enjoy working with over time.
We also expect our clients to be engaged with their finances: yes, it's our role to provide you with the information on which to base your financial decisions, but this is your money and your life, and we expect our clients to engage with us.
One of the rewards of providing financial advice in this way is seeing the tangible improvement in a client's financial position, which gives them more choices than they would have had otherwise.
You'll find our Financial Services Guide here. It outlines the services we can provide, how we're remunerated, details of any arrangements that may influence our advice, details of our internal and external complaints-handling procedures and how we collect and use your personal information.