In 2019 the cooperative joint venture between Milestone and Kepler Group marked both a culmination of historical achievement and a preparation for a fast-changing future ahead. With 2020 arriving with a landscape-changing global event this partnership could not have occurred at a better time for our people and our clients.
It's a move with origins dating back over 20 years, when Armstrong Jones formed The Portfolio Group (TPG) to supply services to a large group of advisory firms. As the brand morphed into ING and then ANZ Wealth, additional services began. By 2008 a number of the TPG adviser firms were coalescing into like-minded groups, including Milestone and Kepler.
Milestone was originally formed in the Wellington region, with the Canterbury office opening in 2009, followed by an Auckland office in 2010. There was no inclination to follow the cookie-cutter models provided by the larger institutional adviser networks of the time. Instead the team worked hard to provide each client with a unique and individually tailored service.
Around this time Kepler Group also started when five firms united under the same brand, their offices in Christchurch, Invercargill, Timaru, Palmerston North and Dunedin. With very similar guiding principles to Milestone, Kepler focused also on building the diversity of their client base to provide support to a wider range of client. The team bought with them a strong collegial spirit of support too, acting as locums for each other when needed.
Such support proved absolutely crucial. The GFC had taken its toll with the collapse of nearly all finance companies operating in NZ and the failure of a number of funds.
The 'hottest fires forge the strongest steel' is an apt metaphor for this time. Both companies learned a huge amount and their clients, hearing of the horror stories suffered by others, realised the value of the service.
The trust of the public in financial institutions and advisers had been severely tested. Within this turmoil Kepler and Milestone worked hard to maintain solid client relationships and sound strategies in preparation for the recovery.
While no one was left unscathed their clients fared far better than the 'DIYers' of the day.
The 'hottest fires forge the strongest steel' is an apt metaphor for this time. Both companies learned a huge amount and their clients, hearing of the horror stories suffered by others, realised the value of the service. The GFC highlighted the need to keep fund managers at arm's length to maintain objectivity. It is why MyFiduciary and Morningstar are now used for their research capability, optimisation tools and portfolio X-rays (which we base our approved product list on).
We will continue to grow our reputation as a leading light in New Zealand's financial guidance sector with diligent service, innovative approaches, focused expertise and unwavering commitment to our clients needs. Like them, we look forward to tomorrow with confidence.
Milestone formed a strategic alliance with UK advisory firm.
Resulting in a new service provided to UK immigrants requiring sound advice for setting up a new financial home in NZ. It was a marked improvement on what was offered by other companies at the time.
Milestone Direct Limited (MDL) was born
A platform for clients who wanted to quickly know about their investment performance. A 'first-contact' call centre was established, with the full weight of the partner?s expertise then available should it be required. This allowed the company to recruit and develop young advisers with a streamlined approach to building their experience and expertise. MDL also got the attention of product providers who had clients but no servicing capability.
Milestone developed the Insurance Advice Policy Statement (IASP)
Which delivers philosophical intent, pragmatic guidance and the framework for how to handle any conflicts with commission remuneration and product selection.
Kepler began to grow the Hummingbird Private Advisory
An initiative developed to exclusively focus on supporting women with specific advisory services. Hummingbird is now being developed to provide a valuable service to clients during their time of need.
Milestone would begin building a collaborative advice software tool.
While still a work in progress this unique tool now allows clients to 'fly the plane', simulating different planning scenarios and testing them out before committing. As an engagement and decision-making process the new approach is truly groundbreaking.
The unification between Milestone and Kepler became official.
After some (occasionally passionate) negotiation it was decided the Milestone brand would be retained and used by the new group.
Milestone expands into Hawke's Bay.
The most recent Joint Venture partner, Milestone Financial - Hawkes' Bay, was signed into the group. All part of Milestone's planned expansion, which has included a number of new Associate Members joining the group from across the country as well.
Our reputation is the most important asset of our business. We'll do everything we can to protect and advance this reputation. That's why there are no hidden agendas or half-baked measures here. We say what we mean and we do what we say we'll do.
We can't gain momentum without first making a solid connection. Close working relationships with our clients, within our team and throughout our network are therefore vital. Everyone has unique abilities and perspectives - we make the most of this strength for mutual success.
Quite simply, we love our work. Every day we have opportunities to empower our clients with financial guidance that is exciting, effective and enduring. We change lives for the better across months, years and decades. How good is that feeling you ask? It's pretty awesome.
The status quo is there to be challenged. We avoid complacency and lethargy by always seeking to innovate and elevate our capabilities. In doing so we continue to deliver pioneering approaches with our financial service, ensuring our clients can make the most of every change.