This month FOCUS introduces Matt Meehan, owner and proprietor of Agbis, an established financial consulting business that supports agricultural enterprise, headquartered in Armidale. Matt is building on his financial consulting expertise and offering a broader cloud-based financial advice service for small business and individuals.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m married to Rose, a born and bred New Englander, and together we have three beautiful children, Claudia, Daisy and Sam. We live on a small farm out of town with a few cattle and a lot of kangaroos, along with our dogs, Charlie and Zip.
I came to Armidale after finishing Ag college and completed an accounting degree, after which I worked for a local accountancy practice for a couple of years. I then relocated to Sydney and then Inverell for several years, before returning to Armidale. I spent some time in banking and financial planning, before setting up my own practice, Agbis, in 2011.
What drew you to Armidale?
Being originally from the city but spending time working in the bush, I found Armidale had a good balance of city amenities and country lifestyle – a bit cosmopolitan with the university.
What led you to start up Agbis?
I’m somewhat independently minded, and I had a desire to own and operate my own business on my own terms and as much as possible, to provide advice free from conflict – advice that is in the best interests of my clients and not predicated on a potential commission. This is surprisingly challenging in our current industry.
What does Agbis do?
People are really busy in their day to day lives and often don’t take a step back and assess where they are and where they would like to be in the future. Ultimately, we provide financial advice that provides the foundations for our clients to achieve their goals and work with them as life changes.
Our advice includes life insurance to protect our clients, their families and their business, investment and superannuation, succession and estate planning, as well as accounting and taxation services. It’s a holistic approach, so everything works together and is designed for my clients’ individual needs.
You’ve recently launched a new arm of your business called Lifesolver; what is it?
Lifesolver provides cloud-based financial coaching and is supported by an amazing app. It enables people to take control of their own financial affairs, giving them access to their own life portal, putting all their financial information in one place – cash flow, bank accounts, investments, superannuation, debts, credit cards, life insurance, and Wills.
And for those with uncomplicated affairs, it also offers a create your own Will feature and an Executor Kit, with lots of additional more boring but useful features such as document storage. Along with it we give access to Kwidz, which is a free financial app for kids.
The key to the Lifesolver app is that it is independent of any one bank or insurance provider, giving people quick and easy access to their whole financial life in one easy to access portal, phone, tablet or desktop, anytime and anywhere. It’s designed to put you in control of your financial life.
Why did you start Lifesolver?
It arose from the fact that many people can’t afford customised personalised advice. I recognised a gap in the market, particularly for younger people, to make a good start with their financial decisions. It allows for financial coaching for people who aren’t running large businesses or are just starting out in life. Our clients can use it too, so we are always up-to-date with their financial position.
What were your biggest challenges starting up?
Building cash flow and managing the ongoing regulations associated with financial planning; there’s a lot of red tape.
What advice would you give a business just starting out?
Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Undertake a business plan, seek advice, do your homework. Most importantly, ask yourself the questions, “Do you have the passion for what it is you are about to embark on? Are you playing to your strengths and delegating your weaknesses?”
What inspires you?
Making a difference to people’s lives – in a good way.
Who inspires you?
Warren Buffet, not just because he is a great investor, but he happens to be a great person with a lot of great advice. My personal favourite is: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
Where to from here?
I’m officially launching Lifesolver in early 2019, as people’s finances are generally a mess post-Christmas!
If you’ve gone off track in December, what can you do to get back on track financially in January?
There are a few things you can do. Write a list of your debts and prioritise how you are going to pay them off. Talk to your creditors and negotiate payment terms. It can be amazing how helpful people can be. Communicate with your bank, and don’t put it off if you are overdrawn. If you communicate, they are often so much more helpful.
People don’t often have a cash flow problem; they have a spending problem. I recommend doing a budget for 2019 and save in advance or spread expenses such as Christmas gifts throughout the year.