Since founding Evergreen Consultants in 2016, founder and chief executive officer, Angela Ashton, has seen the group grow to nine full time employees and four part-time consultants.
It has branched out into the rating of alternative assets for retail investors and, most recently, has launched a responsible investing (RI) index (see our case study here), all in response to client and market demand.
The more things change
Ashton says the move away from institutions by the financial advice industry, and towards more independent dealer groups, has worked in favour of their model.
“Evergreen Consultants is still really focusing on managed accounts. It’s becoming a bigger focus in a lot of groups. We were one of the first but there have been a lot of new competitors. It’s definitely very competitive,” she says.
Ashton says the financial planning landscape of today is very similar to the world we lived in 25 years ago.
“It’s back to the future…and that obviously changes a lot of the group dynamics. I think that favours groups like us,” she says.
The better quality independent financial planning practices that are drawn to investment tend to seek out consultants with similar independence and experience.
Ashton says the type of client they suit is an independent practice with two to five experienced advisers that are interested in investment but that don’t want to be told what to do.
“They want someone to discuss things with. They are people who are engaged in what they do,” she says.
“We’re sort of carving out that niche and I hope making ground.”
The group started Evergreen Ratings – which rates alternative type investments for the retail market – in October last year.
Ashton says she used to be rung twice a week with requests to look at these investments for clients and launching a subsidiary that solely looks at rating such investments takes the burden off Evergreen Consultants.
“[It’s now] work we don't have to do. We can read the reports …we’re not forced to look at things to put in model portfolios…clients can read the report,” Ashton says.
The group has already rated approximately 12 investments and has four more it is currently looking at in the pipeline.
[Read our updates on these ratings here.]
After recently launching the Evergreen Responsible Investing Grade Index (ERIG Index) - which rates fund managers on the seven categories of responsible investing as defined by the Responsible Investment Association of Australia (RIAA) – the next move for Evergreen is likely to be in the ESG space as well.
[Read more about that index here.]
Ashton says in the current environment organisations need to have some kind of sustainable competitive advantage.
“We’re going to launch an ESG product coming soon,” she said.