The essential ingredients for success

With Grant Hackett OAM, CEO of Generation Life.

Three-time Olympic gold medallist and CEO of Generation Life, Grant Hackett, shares the lessons he learnt during his sporting career that have influenced his successes outside the pool and in the financial services industry. In this episode, Grant also explores the role investment bonds can play as a tax-effective investment solution.

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Matt Heine: Hi and welcome to this episode of Between Meetings. My name's Matt Heine and I'll be hosting today. Our guest today would be well known to many of you. He's a multi award winner, having won 58 metals and 26 gold, at the Olympics, Commonwealth games, and also the world championships. He's also got the prestigious honours of an Order of Australia, a centenary medal, and an Australian sports medal. Currently he's working in the financial service industry as the CEO of Generation Life. Welcome to the show, Grant Hackett.

Grant Hackett: Good morning. Thanks Matt. Thank you for having me.

MH: Now, Grant, your biography is not one that I normally get to read out on this show. It's very diverse and you've obviously had an incredible career. I thought today it'd be really interesting just to get a bit of background on obviously how you got into swimming, your swimming career, but more importantly, what are the key lessons that you've taken from your athletic career into business?

GH: Well, there's a lot, firstly. The reason I really got into the sport was by default. I was actually four years of age when I started swimming, my brother was 10. We were living in North Queensland at the time and he asked to do a surf race down at the local Surf Club and mum and dad didn't even know whether he could swim or not. So he said, "Look, I can swim. I've been doing some at school." Anyway, he finished third in this race, but my brother is super competitive and in first and second were two girls. So he was pretty upset and he said to mum and dad, "Look, I want to do some swimming lessons." And he went to the local swimming pool, within six months he was state surf champion. So a very, very talented, arguably more talented than me as an athlete. I just went in the public lanes, you follow your big brother everywhere, you do what he does. And swimming evolved from there. I was involved in probably three sports. One was swimming, one was surf lifesaving and the other one was rugby.

So for me, the real critical point in swimming came in 1993 when Sydney won the Olympic Games and Juan Antonio Samaranch from the IOC, the president, the then president, read out Sydney. And for me I was like, "Right, I want to go to an Olympic Games." And I obviously couldn't for the other two sports. So I really focused on swimming and my main race being the 1500 metre freestyle, which I won there.

The parallels from sport to business or sport to anything, are exactly the same. The ingredients for success across the board, whether it's in your industry, whether it's in politics, whether it's in sport, it's all the same. It's around teamwork, discipline, commitment, having absolute clarity over your goals, understanding what it takes from a week to week point of view. I think the one thing I've learned about success is there's absolutely no shortcuts. You have to be very, very clear on your goals. You have to break them down into digestible bits. For me, if I use a parallel of swimming, what I did when I was 13 and I decided to go to the Olympics, I thought, "Well, who's the best in the event that I want to go for?" And at the time, very well known Australian, Kieren Perkins was the world record holder, reigning Olympic champion.

So I went, "Well what does he do for the 1500 metre freestyle at age 13 or 14 or 15?" And we didn't have Google back then. We didn't even have the internet. So I went and researched all those through swimming magazines, not just in the 1500 but across the 200, the 400, the 800, and 1500 for each age group category. And then each year my goal was to either beat those times or to emulate those until I got to the open category at age 18.

So the methodology that I adopt back then is very similar to what I do today. And for me, the way that you're the best at anything is surrounding yourself by the best as well. So having great people around you, having inspirational people around you, having people around you who are better at certain components, that you're not too good at. For me I was good at sport because I had an amazing coach, I had great dietician, I had a great physio therapist, I had a great masseuse, I had a great team manager, I had unbelievable competition which I invited in. I wanted to know what do the best do. And one of my rivals was Ian Thorpe and Michael Phelps and two very good friends of mine.

But I was like, "What is the psychology that makes these guys so unique and different to everyone else?" And my understanding of that now is so much greater. Because I knew it in a practical sense back then, but I've really studied a lot around high performance and high performance cultures since my sporting days. And every time I check in with these guys it's like it's a different mindset. And for me, I remember when I started out in financial services, I was at Westpac and-

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MH: Kieren Perkins, I think, was at the time.

GH: No, Kieren was actually at NAB. He was at NAB. Yeah, so we both went into financial services, which is quite funny.

MH: Was there a reason for that?

GH: I always loved financial services. It's funny, people see you as this one dimensional individual because that's all they get exposure to. They don't really understand your personal life, your passions, whether you play guitar, like music or not. They just worry about whether you're winning medals for the country, which is fair enough because that's all you're exposed for. I started trading shares when I was 15. I always loved finance. I was always fascinated with it. I was always fascinated with commerce as well.

MH: Is this something that your parents drove? Because what you've just told me, you've gone through quite a lot fairly quickly, but at the age of 13 or 14, you'd made a decision that you're going to swim at the Olympic Games, you'd started researching, reading magazines. You were trading shares. What was it that drove you to do these things?

GH: I was probably an overly active kid. I think the thing that really drove me was curiosity and I wanted to learn, and I probably understood, no one actually taught me about goal setting when I was 13, I just defaulted to that behaviour. So when we won the Sydney Olympics, we won the bid there, I thought to myself, "Well, what have I got to do?" Because just to give you a bit of perspective on that, I was five laps behind over a 30 lap race. That's where my time was. I mean that's like Usain Bolt going across the line and you're still at the 40 metre mark. You were so far behind, it's ridiculous. So you just go, "Well I've got to break it down to digestible bits and I've got to make the necessary steps because that other person was where I was at one stage or another and I just have to understand that progression." And then it makes those big, huge, scary audacious goals, very digestible. So that's what I did.

And probably I had people around me who believed in me. I also had a lot of people who didn't. I had a lot of people who questioned me along the way and say, "Well, no one can be that good or you can't be that good." Because they believed that they couldn't be that good.

MH: How do you turn down the noise in that situation?

GH: Go to the people that count. I remember in 1994 when Kieren Perkins smashed his own world record at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, in Canada. And I was sitting there with my mom. I was home sick from school, which was rather convenient. And I was watching that race and he broke that record and I was so inspired and I turned to my mom and I said, "I'm going to break that record one day." And she said, "I know you will." And the way she said it and the energy she gave to me was so genuine, I was like, "Yeah, I will." I actually really believed it because my mum believed in me.

So you don't need too many people around you like that, but you just need enough that gives you that sense of belief and that you can achieve those very big things in life and it's just enough to get you to the next step, which then you push to the next step after that and then one day you're knocking on the doorstep of doing something great. And that's how it worked for me through my career.

In terms of the the business side, the commerce side of things, I was just always fascinated with it. At school, I couldn't wait to get my first textbook in business studies in year nine. Those sort of things always interested me. I always wanted to pursue commerce. I always wanted to pursue finance. I was fortunate enough from the age of 17, to be sponsored by Westpac as well. So I had exposure to quite a few CEOs throughout the 14 years that I was with that business and worked for seven years as well as an employee there. So I was fortunate enough to leverage off opportunities through sport as well.

MH: And when did you find the time to do your MBA?

GH: I always say I did my MBA on plane flights between Sydney and Melbourne. So the first 15 minutes I would take to sleep, I would then hear the seatbelt light go off. I then pull the laptop up, get the journals out, get into an assignment. And that was the way I did it. Any spare time that I had, I went in and I did the executive MBA too, which was an extra four subjects. So there's a lot of work involved in those sorts of things. You start out and I ended up having twins at the time, I was working full time at Westpac and I was reading the sport for Channel Nine on the weekend here in Melbourne. But it's really funny, the more you do, the more you manage to get done. As they say, if you want something done, give it to a busy person.

So for me, one of the questions you posed before just around what are some of the things that you can bring across from sport into business and what have you learned? Time management and being able to place your time but also manage your rest and recovery really well when you get it. So a lot of people will procrastinate when they get rest time. They'll sit in front of Netflix for too long or they won't make use of the time. When you're really busy and you're aspiring to achieve things that are difficult or challenging, when you get a rest period, I mean what I said when that first 15 minutes on a plane, I would get on there, put my seatbelt on and just close my eyes and either meditate if I couldn't fall asleep, I'm six foot six, if I'm sitting in economy, I'm squashed up there. So just I'd just meditate, you would never get to sleep. And then when that ding would go off, it was like my brain was wired to it. I would literally pull the laptop out of the pouch, I would then get into to whatever I needed to.

So your discipline around your recovery, around doing your work and around hitting your milestones is absolutely critical. And I think when you're training 80 kilometres a week in a pool, doing nine hours or so in the gym, eating nine meals a day, your disciplined and you have to be absolutely methodical. But you can't just do it, you've got to do it better than the other person on the other side of the world who's trying to do the same thing as well.

MH: What interested me, you were saying you swim 800 kilometres a week. What were you thinking about?

GH: All sorts of things. It's really funny. I actually find it more difficult now to go for a swim and do one or two Ks in the water, then what I did doing seven or eight Ks a session every morning and night. So back then you've got a bunch of training partners that you just love hanging out with. They're good friends of yours and you're always having a good laugh and there's plenty of banter going on. You've got structure in your training programmes. So you've got a really clear warm up, you've got a clear main set with objectives that you're trying to achieve there, then you've got a skill session, whether it's your starts or turns or underwater, you've got a coach on the side of the pool, always telling you technically what you need to be improving or pushing you.

So there's this whole structure around you. And not only that, you're training for a specific goal, whether it's a Commonwealth Games, a world championship, a Olympics or an Olympic trials, they're specific milestones across that four year period that you've really got your eyes on. So going up and down was easy because you had a real distinct set of purpose. And look, when I was going easy, I'd think of music, it was like meditation. Where now if I went and did that, it's a lot more difficult because I don't have that deep sense of purpose associated with swimming, except for not trying to get a gut or something like that. That's why I would go for a swim now, which is good enough motivation I guess.

MH: Yeah. I think that comment about purpose is really important because that obviously applies across every part of life, whether it's work, family, whatever it might be. And I think going into business now, particularly I guess, with the changes that the industry is going through, a lot of people have lost touch, lost focus on that purpose and they're bogged down in the weeds and it's very hard to lift yourself up out of it.

GH: Yeah. It's a really challenging thing to do. And I think with purpose, purpose is driven by one thing and that's your values. So whatever you value in life will determine what your purpose is and you'll create that meaning out of it. And so for me, when I was swimming, an Olympic gold medal was everything, and that might mean nothing to the next person, but to me I had a high value around that and what it took and the discipline and the tenacity to be able to push through that. Today when you sit here in business and you see the huge amount of dislocation in financial services, all the challenges that have been thrown, particularly to financial advisors, that is a very, very difficult environment to find purpose, direction. You need good leadership. You need to be clear on where you're going.

The thing is when there's change, the one thing I've really noticed, if you bring change forward quicker and go through the pain quicker, it is much easier to adjust and to adapt and to move forward. And when there is a huge dislocation and change, if you can remove the noise, there becomes opportunity. And normally a lot of people who resist change, they go through a lot more pain later on. They don't feel as good because they're not going to achieve outcome and they ultimately become the losers out of the fallout of something like we've just been through in the industry. People who bring the change forward, acknowledge what's going on, actually honest with themselves and embrace that. They become winners in that changing environment. And they will be winners and they'll be serious winners in all of that. And I think that's all based off what you value, where you find your purpose and the psychology that you bring to the table, when you're going through that.

I think the greatest test for anybody is adversity. And if you're going to be really successful in something or you're going to achieve certain goals that are rather challenging, you are going to go through adversity and people ask like, "Oh, don't you ..." I think that one of the sayings that I don't really like is, if you find your passion, you'll never work a day in your life. That's rubbish. We all work really hard.

MH: It looks good on a bumper sticker.

GH: It looks fantastic and it makes you feel good when you read it on Instagram. The reality is what passion does, it gives you the ability to work harder, face more adversity, and overcome more hurdles when they're put in front of you to achieve that ultimate goal. So some athletes will get their first injury and you know what, the feeling of their purpose and the goal that they're driving towards and the way they feel about it, it's not meaningful enough for them to go, "I need shoulder surgery. I'm out." Some people will go through 10 shoulder surgeries, lose an Olympics, spend another four years, something tragic will happen just before the Olympic trials, they won't even get to the Olympics and all of a sudden the third or the fourth time around, they win that gold medal. They overcame every single hurdle and piece of adversity because the values, the meaning and their passion to want to work hard and get through all that and their desire and will is so great, that they'll get that outcome no matter what.

It's the classic scenario of when someone's born into a super wealthy family, gets the opportunity to go to the best schools, associates with the elite in life, but it doesn't really do anything. And then you get this person who comes from a very broken family, no real guidance, but all of a sudden they end up ruling the world. Nothing was ever going to stop that person and they found value and purpose from where they came from and what they're doing. And no matter what the adversity was in front of them, they were going to overcome it.

MH: So with the benefit of having spent a lot of time in your life, thinking about the values, what were the values that led to your purpose back in your swimming career and have they transferred well to what you're doing now?

GH: Winning was one of my values, to be totally honest. I enjoyed that competitive process. I liked being in an environment where you would be challenged, where you had adversity, where you had goals, where you had clarity on what you were doing. So that was probably one of my underpinning values. Teamwork is a big thing to me.

MH: Even in swimming?

GH: Even in swimming, it's really funny because people go, "Swimming as such an individual sport." You watch the tennis at the Australian Open recently, it's such an individual sport. It's only an individual sport upon execution, no one can help you then. But the rest of the time it is all team orientated. You're working with teammates, you're working with coaches, you've got family, you've got dieticians, you've got this infrastructure around you to support you and help you and deliver the goals and you've got to work closely with them and you've got to give them feedback so they can do their jobs better. So there's this constant loop that's happening. And also you don't just have a relationship with them. When you get to a certain point in sport and it's very public and you're competing for the country and winning for the country at such a high standard, the public becomes a part of that conversation with you. You actually have dialogue with the Australian public.

MH: For better or worse.

GH: For better or worse, of course. And at the end of the day it is very much a team orientated thing. So for me that was a big part of my values. Working hard, work ethic, I think that really comes from my mum and dad. I realise the investment that they made in both my brother and I, in terms of both working full time, getting us to school, getting us to training at 5:00 AM in the morning, getting us back to training at 4:00 PM in the afternoon. So work ethic. I enjoy probably having big goals and then knowing that the process behind them. So sometimes for me winning is a big part of the value set because I do enjoy the outcome but I've really probably even more so now really enjoyed the process and trust the process as well and got more enjoyment out of that as well. So I've always had a really strong work ethic and strong pain threshold, particularly when it came to sport.

So I think those are the set values from a work perspective. Personally I'm a very loyal person. I'm a very determined person. And I think probably one of the things that I automatically default to as well is persistence. So I'm a very, very persistent person and I think that's probably my best and my worst trait as well. Because sometimes you got to know when to give up on things but I'm not very good at that.

MH: Having always been the one that's had the coach, how have you moved into being the coach in your new role?

GH: Yeah, no, it's a good question actually. I think I've always gravitated towards that leadership role because I enjoy seeing people do well. I actually get a lot out of that. And it was really funny, when I became captain of the Australian swim team, they reintroduced it because I was naturally doing that role and they said, "We want to formalise this and actually make you captain of the team and captain of the Olympic team." And I thought, "Great." My coach was really concerned because he thought, "God, this is going to distract you from your performance." And I thought to myself, "God, that is a concern but I really want to do it. I really want to more formally help others on the team and see them succeed or overcome adversity in their own performance and get their outcomes that they deserve." And it was really funny that year I got it, I actually got world swimmer of the year as well. I had the best competition that I've ever had.

I think for me, what I put into other people, I found came back 10 fold into me. And I think when people go, "Oh, you have to be super selfish when you're achieving stuff." In one aspect you do, you can't go out, you can't drink, you can't do other things. You have to eliminate, I guess, the social norms that you would normally have from a more normal life, as opposed to a life where you're going after things that are really hard to attain and are considered real high performance. For me, when I actually put effort into other people that are on the same team around me, they've got the same objectives, I actually find that comes back into my own performance, if I'm going to be completely selfish.

So I've always found that I've naturally gone into wanting to help people. It's just in my nature. And I find now, yeah, I mean I've got a job to do, but I just love working with people. I love seeing people do well. I love seeing people progress in their career. And I think the one aspect of my leadership is I love to have a laugh and I love to have fun and I love high performance. They're the things that I will always kick off with. We spend just as much time with our work colleagues as we do with our family. So let's have a good time doing it and let's have some clear goals and let's have clarity on what we're doing.

But at the end of the day, I think leadership, it's about being genuine. It's about actually caring. And I find as a leader, if you care, people feel that, they sense that, they understand that, they see that you've actually got their back and if you got to go through a difficult time, that you've got to support them through that. And I think that's one of the things I probably find a little bit more effortless than someone who's probably forcing leadership, that those characteristics don't come naturally. I think that's probably one of my stronger traits is that I really care. I really want to see people do well and I really want to find every single way to get them to a point that they feel like they've got the best out of themselves.

MH: Which often will mean having that [inaudible 00:20:30] conversations. That's something presumably you're very comfortable with having done it for most of your life.

GH: Yeah, you've got to have tough conversations and you've got to have the ability to do that. A lot of people find it difficult to be completely honest.

MH: Authentic.

GH: Yeah, and authentic with it. The reality is if you try and be a people pleaser the whole time, dance around issues, retain staff that really don't even want to be there themselves and infect other really good staff. I always say within your team it's really critical to have a tight range and people go, "Well, what do you mean by tight range?" And I said, "Well let me use an example of sport because that's easy. It's a great analogy and people understand it." Is if I was on a relay team with four guys. One's Ian Thorpe, the other one's Michael Klim, I'm sitting there, then the other guy who's the fourth member of the team is, we're all nines and 10s out of 10 and he's a three. What does that say to the guy who's a nine? It says, well you can actually drop from a nine down to a three on this team and you still got a place here. However, if we can get that three up to a seven or eight, he's always putting pressure on the nines and 10s.

So you've got to make sure you don't have any threes, that you cut the threes because it will actually start and infecting the good people. And that's what I say by keeping a really tight range within your team. And look, don't get me wrong, I'm not that cutthroat where I say, if someone's sitting at a five or six, let's work with them to get them up to a seven or eight so they can put pressure on the rest of the team members, if they're on the lower part of the rung. But at the end of the day, you've got to be able to have honest conversations. And if they're difficult at the time, I find nine times out of 10 most people really appreciate it. They mightn't like it at the time. They might hate you at the time even, if it's that brutal. But they'll turn around, whether it's later on, whether it's a week, whether it's a year, whether they move to another role or another organisation and they'll probably thank you for it because I would never built for that anyway.

So I find being able to have difficult conversations, honest conversations, provide clarity, I think that is really underestimated. I find a lot of people can be sitting in roles or in businesses and don't actually have a clear definition of success and failure. I think that can be really, really difficult. It makes life a lot easier for everybody around you, but you've got to be willing to be honest. And also another part of leadership too, when you're doing those sorts of conversations, you've got to give a bit of yourself away. You're not a robot. People often think, and I think that was a concept probably 30 or 40 years ago, where bosses were perceived to be authoritarian, robot like-

MH: Control and demand.

GH: Control and demand, exactly. Where it doesn't really work like that. People want to know you're human and to be human you've got to give a bit of yourself away. So you've got to be willing to be vulnerable to some extent with your staff as well. And I think that way you connect better, you get more of you and they've got your back as well.

MH: One of the things that's an obvious benefit within sport is having a coach. And so many people in our industry, financial advisors or just people in broader parts of the industry don't have coaches. How important do you think it is in a business environment?

GH: It's critical. It's critical.

MH: And what's the value that that can add?

GH: Oh, well, it's infinite really, depending on where you're at within your career or where your business is at or what you're going through, what your skill set is, what your natural abilities are or aren't, I mean, a coach can help you and guide you. No matter how good you are in life, whether you're Tiger Woods or Roger Federer, you're sitting inside your own bubble. You need someone who's got an outside perspective and a skillset that can actually guide you to the next stage. We're all trying to ascertain that thing called perfection and you'll never get there because you'll never get to perfection. Yes, the levels get and the margins get smaller and smaller as you go up towards perfection, but no matter who you are, there is a next level and you need a coach and you need guidance and you need a mentor and you need to be able to take feedback.

I think one of the distinct things I've found between sport and business is the willingness in sport to have feedback. I would have a coach yell at me. I'd have people to be overly direct with me. I'd have teammates under stress. It's like being a SAS or a Navy Seal. If it's life threatening, I'll yell at you and you probably won't care that I'm yelling at you because I'm saving your life. So in sport it's almost the same methodology. It is so direct if you're doing something wrong but you don't care, you're just like, "I'm here to be better. I'm here to win. I'm here to get the best set of myself." Where in business, people don't always take direct feedback that well, they get highly sensitive and they take it as personal criticism, when it's actually just meant to shift them forward in what they're doing.

So there's two parts of that. It's one thing having a coach, but it's another thing to have the ability to be able to take constructive criticism, use it and move forward and make change. So it's a very much a two way relationship that needs to work and you've got to have the right connection and personalities as well

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Moving forward, I think everyone's relatively familiar with your sporting career, you went through Westpac, you're doing some different things there. I don't think many people would be familiar with the company that you're now running or what it does. Do you want tell us a little bit about what you're up to?

GH: Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, I spent for the better half of a decade at Westpac, VT and various leadership roles there and really enjoyed my time there. I've also started up other businesses outside of financial services. And then a few years ago there was the changes to superannuation, so we saw a great opportunity to move into the investment bond space. Now investment or insurance bonds as a lot of people know them as, have been around for a very, very long time. In fact they were the quarter of the size of superannuation once and obviously those changes, particularly that $1.6 million cap inside superannuation, we saw a great opportunity to go, well that 15% tax structure now can be maxed out. The days of putting as much money as you wanted to in there are over. So well what's the most tax effective structure outside of superannuation and investment bonds or insurance bonds are at a max tax rate of 30%.

And also because they're governed under the life act, they're a life insurance policy, you get all these ancillary benefits, such as estate planning, tax free transfers, et cetera, et cetera, around the bonds. So we said, "Well, let's go gung ho into this space." And so I joined a business at the time, it was called Austock Life. I was running the sales team there. Within the first year of doing that, we had a 72% uplift in sales. I then moved into running the listed stock, which was called Generation development Group and we changed the name of the business to Generation Life from Austock Life. And more recently I moved into the CEO role of the life business, Generation Life.

Now today we find ourselves on the latest market data, we're taking just over 37% of inflows. We're seeing the industry grow all the time. We're trying to get the awareness and the education out there, of the investment bond structure and it's just a really exciting space in financial services to be in at the moment because it is growing. We went from about 690 mil funds under management just a couple of years ago, to over $1.2 billion today. So we're growing rapidly. We're seeing our inflows this year at all time record highs, Q2 on the market results. We were over 60% up on where we were this time last year.

So it's a really exciting space to be in and we're building out new products and new product features all the time in the investment bond space. And we're trying to do as much as we can from a distribution point of view, to get the education, to get the knowledge out there. Because the days are over where financial advisors were just having product discussions with clients. We need to give actual strategies. And the strategies that can be deployed through the investment bond structure are quite remarkable. Whether it's people doing it for a savings plan, as a grandparent to their grandchild for private school fees, whether it's estate planning. We have 100% binding nomination, so falls outside your estate, whether you're on a 47% tax rate, this is a max tax rate of 30% so tax arbitrage in there.

So it's remarkable a lot of the strategies you can deploy. And that's the reason that we came up with the name Generation Life because there is a solution for every single generation. So yeah, for advisors, it's great that they can have strategy led conversations with what we're able to offer as a product manufacturer.

MH: It's back to the future in many ways. And education seems to be probably the biggest impediment to growth at the moment because a lot of people don't actually understand the applications. I think back maybe five, 10 years ago, there was all that education bonds.

GH: Correct.

MH: But now we're starting to see applications for high net worth individuals in many of the segments you just mentioned. Which of those areas is the fastest growing segment?

GH: Probably the fastest growing, so they used to be very, very popular for education purpose. Since the changes to super, where we've seen our inflows come from, one would be super as an alternative or complimentary to super, so you don't necessarily have to be capped out, but the fact that preservation age feels like it's pushing out all the time or you might be quite young and you're on quite a high income, at a high tax rate. You think, "Well, I want to run this complimentary to my super, knowing I can access it at any point in time." And if you hold it for 10 years, you can access it without any further tax to pay. So there's a lot of incentive to hold onto this structure for quite some time.

The other alternative we're seeing, because investment bonds don't produce capital gains or income. You can take a distribution if you want, but that's fantastic inside a trust structure. So a lot of our big deals from wealthy individuals or wealthy families, they might have millions of dollars of assets sitting inside their trust structure. As we know, you try and distribute the income that's produced from those assets. There's only so much that can go to the individual beneficiaries and then it ends up going out to a corporate beneficiary. Now, every time you want to get money out of a bucket company, as we know, you've got to pay the top up tax if you want that money personally

The reality is having a bond inside a trust, if you hold it for 10 years or more, regardless of the amount, you can take that out and it's tax paid. So you've solved this issue of top up tax. So we're doing a lot of our big bonds, ones of in excess of 10 million, inside trusts. So for us it's been a great alternative or complementary to superannuation. It's been great held inside the trust structure and that's probably where the majority of our inflows are coming from. Estate planning has been quite big, I've seen a lot of estate planning. So I think the education, to your point, Matt, around that, is really starting to get out there. The benefits of holding a bond for estate planning purposes, blended families, I think I read a stat that per capita, we're the second highest blended families in the world.

So people that have estate planning needs or complex estates or they want to bypass a generation. Grandparents might be unsure about their kids' marriages or they might've had a divorce, but they want to leave something to the grandchildren and know it's not going to be contested. So it we're seeing estate planning come up on the radar quite a bit. Always very popular to save for a future costs. So things like private school fees. I mean how expensive is it to buy a home in Sydney or Melbourne these days? So to be able to help with future costs for a newborn or a child, obviously wanting to get into the housing market eventually. And then the final use we're probably seeing, which used to be a big part of our flows when it was both asset and income test exempt, but now it's just income test exempt, is just around the age care space.

MH: There's quite a lot there.

GH: There is a lot of strategies.

MH: Very passionate about this.

GH: I love it.

MH: Presumably people wanting to do a deep dive into the strategies, can get in contact with with anyone from your team.

GH: They can give us a call, just jump on the Generation Life website. We've got BDMs based all around the country, so we'll have someone come out. And look if there's a specific need or even just to talk through it, we're certainly ... and I do a lot of this stuff on the road myself. And there's two big objections that I hear. One is, it's too good to be true because there's all these benefits around it and all these strategies you can deploy and it's not. It's just like you said, it's things seem to go around in full circle and it's just reinventing the old. And the reality is super has just been so good for so long, that's where the money has gone.

And the other part is holding it on for 10 years to get those tax benefits. And so well no, you can actually access it at any point in time. Everyone thought that it had no liquidity around the structure, but if you put it in tomorrow, by next week you can take that money out and there's absolutely no penalties in doing that. And there's actually quite a few tax benefits inside those 10 years as well. So for us it's really just getting out there, doing the education piece. And really what I ask from advisors is, "Give us a scenario, give us what your clients look like and we'll tell you if a solution works. And we'll also tell you if it doesn't." Because integrity is a huge thing for us.

MH: Grant, just before we wrap it up, interested in your thoughts on where the industry is heading and what the big opportunities are for advisors.

GH: Look, the industry, like we said, has been through so much dislocation and there's going to be winners and losers out of that. Obviously, the vertical integration with banks, it's quite funny because banks actually bought all of those wealth businesses for what's happening today. Everyone going from accumulation phase, to de cumulation phase and being able to provide advice around that money. I think out of the Royal Commission, the one thing that is a concern is that people who really need financial advice, because there's two big things here that we've got to be worried about. One is sequency risk, we haven't really seen something since 2008. And the other one is longevity risk. So people like my parents will probably outlive their savings. So you need financial advice to be able to navigate your way through that.

So there is still an industry in absolute need and I think if you're able to find the way forward in terms of future proofing your model, I think that's where the big winners are going to come from. There is going to be a need for financial advice. You've just got to be able to go, "Well, how am I going to cover off the education standards? How am I going to do my risk and compliance? How am I going to do my governance and get the right support around that?" So there is going to be some headaches, some teething issues, but like I said, the quicker you can bring that hurt forward and embrace that new model, future proof your business, get the right people around you, the sooner you'll capture the opportunity.

And look, if you've got to change your value proposition to your clients, you've got to see your clients more often, there is opportunities in that where you can still charge your fees as long as you're demonstrating that value. So I think our industry has been through a lot of hurt. I like to think we're on the other side of it now and we're really in the adjustment phase of all of that. But the one message that I guess I would pass on to anyone in our space is that there is going to be opportunities in that, try and capture them. Because we'll look back in five years and we'll see, "Geez that person got it right. That person got it right. Geez those people got it really, really wrong."

MH: Heard a great quote yesterday, I think it might've been Paul [Keeting 00:34:52] that said, never waste a crisis. And I think it's just such a great quote for this time. And certainly if you can bring forward that pain, a great bit of advice and start to really set yourself for your future.

GH: Yeah, absolutely. Resilience and the ability to be able to adapt and evolve, are going to be your strongest characteristics when you go through change to this extent.

MH: Grant, thank you so much for your time. It's been fascinating. I love the parallels between sport and business. And all the best for the future.

GH: Thank you very much and thanks for having me. And might I add, congratulations on all your success, Matt. To the team here at Netwealth, You guys have done a phenomenal job and have a phenomenal reputation and we've all certainly taken notice of that.

MH: Appreciate it. Thank you.


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Views expressed are of the interviewee and may not be the opinion of Netwealth or its related companies.

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