Through the sale of Smith Sharpe and Abbott’s financial planning business to Invest Blue, the two businesses have formed an alliance to provide a more comprehensive range of financial services to their clients. Invest Blue’s David Stephen and Smith Sharpe and Abbott’s Grahame Sharpe sat down to talk to FOCUS about the new venture.
David: how long has Invest Blue been in business?
Invest Blue was established in 1996 by Paul Haslam and Steve Sewell, who purchased an established AMP Insurance Agency from John Trestrail and Terry Lloyd. Paul and Steve grew the business rapidly and expanded into financial planning. I joined Invest Blue as a Director in 2003 and since then, three additional Directors have come on board to assist with the growth and development of the business.
Today, Invest Blue employs over 30 staff and has offices in Armidale, Tamworth, Coffs Harbour, Grafton, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Gladstone and Rockhampton. Our services have expanded considerably over the years and through a number of alliances, we are able to offer our clients additional services as part of their overall financial plan, including accountancy, business advisory, taxation, general insurance, lending, stockbroking, tailored portfolio management and property services.
Grahame: what is Smith Sharpe & Abbott’s role in the business community?
We provide accountancy, taxation and forensic accounting advice and services to businesses throughout the New England region. We are also heavily involved in the Australian Year of the Farmer, as consultants to the board of directors and sponsors providing all financial, taxation and accountancy advice and services to this worthwhile charitable body.
All of us at Smith Sharpe & Abbott are very passionate about recognising the amazing work done by the Australian farmer and helping to get the message out there that we need to support our Australian farming industry.
David: tell us about the new partnership between SSA & Invest Blue?
Our alliance means Invest Blue clients now have access to quality, specialised Accountancy and Taxation services; while clients of Smith Sharpe and Abbott now have access to the full range of financial planning services offered by Invest Blue. As part of the alliance, Invest Blue has also purchased Smith Sharpe & Abbott’s financial planning business, to ensure their existing clients continue to receive quality financial planning services in light of Jack Abbott planning to retire in the coming years.
Grahame: how did this partnership come about?
A chance encounter with David Stephen in the streets of Armidale led to a conversation about the future of both of our businesses. Invest Blue had plans of growing their business and wanted to provide their clients with access to accounting and taxation services, and at Smith Sharpe & Abbott we were looking for a solution to a succession challenge we could foresee in our financial planning division.
We wanted to provide our financial planning clients with the best possible service, and we were confident that Invest Blue would provide our clients with that service. We could also see that there were many benefits for both our businesses and our clients of setting up an alliance between our two businesses.
Grahame: how will SSA clients benefit from this partnership?
Smith Sharpe & Abbott’s existing financial planning clients are now clients of Invest Blue and will receive the high level of service and advice that Invest Blue is known for. Not only will these clients have access to the local Armidale team, they will also benefit from the expertise of Invest Blue specialists, who work to provide the best possible advice and support to all clients. This will be a massive benefit to all clients, as they now have access to more areas of financial planning expertise and advice. Invest Blue also offers ongoing support and reviews, to ensure clients stay on track to achieve their goals.
Where we see that a Smith Sharpe & Abbott accountancy client requires financial planning advice, we will refer them to Invest Blue, with complete confidence that their financial planning needs will be addressed.
David: how will Invest Blue’s clients benefit?
Invest Blue clients will now have access to quality, specialised accountancy and taxation services provided by Smith Sharpe & Abbott. This will not only benefit our local clients, but will also benefit our clients located throughout Australia. For example, through the use of technology, clients in any location could have Smith Sharpe & Abbott complete their tax return, with the confidence that they are using a reputable and experienced business. Where we see that an Invest Blue financial planning client requires the services of an accountant, we will refer them to Smith Sharpe & Abbott, with complete confidence that their accountancy needs will be addressed.
Grahame: what excites you most about this alliance?
First and foremost, we are so pleased to have found a perfect home for our financial planning business in light of the succession challenges we were facing. We are confident our clients will be looked after.
The alliance also gives our clients a greater choice of financial planners, and they will benefit from the scale and expertise of not only Invest Blue but also their licensee, AMP Financial Planning.
We also have the opportunity to build our business through adding value to Invest Blue clients with our accountancy and taxation services.
We are excited to be partnering with a young and dynamic team, and we are all looking forward to working together to build both our businesses and to providing our clients with more services.
David: a closing summary?
The coming together of our businesses through this alliance is a really exciting development for our clients and our respective businesses. Both our businesses were founded in Armidale, and we share a passion for our local community and helping more people achieve their financial goals. Both businesses are very active in the community, working on a continuous basis with a number of local charities. We see so many synergies between our businesses and are confident that our clients and our businesses will greatly benefit from this alliance.
This story was published in issue 61 of New England Focus