Q&A with Sue Dahn, leading woman on Barron's 2018 Top 50 Financial Advisers in Australia list June 2018
Last week, Sue Dahn was named the leading woman and the third overall in Barron's 2018 Top 50 Financial Advisers in Australia list. A partner at Pitcher Partners for the last 20 years, Sue tells Industry Moves what she is most passionate about, including her dream to create opportunities for financially disadvantaged students. She also looks back on her best investments, names a career highlight, and reveals that, at 10 years old, her career path was already set.
- You have been voted the leading woman in the 2018 Top 50 Financial Advisers in Australia list, what do you feel made you stand out?
Barron’s go through a very rigorous process to gain an understanding of the size and quality of the practices that advisors have built. Both quantitative and qualitative factors help determine the top advisors identified.
- 20 years ago you were responsible for introducing a fee only model (very much before its time). What were some of the challenges?
The policy at Pitcher Partners Melbourne from the outset in 1998 was no commissions, no rebates, no soft-dollar arrangements with all costs in a transparent fee scale that declines as funds under management increased. The scale was and is based on the professional time-cost to serve each client. It simply does not cost twice as much to help a client manage $10M as it does to manage $5M.
- What is something that you are passionate about right now?
I continue to be passionate bringing the benefits of institutional investing to private clients. I continue to be passionate about reducing the ‘leakages’ from investment portfolios and the need to be very cost and tax aware. I continue to be passionate that every asset class should be working as hard as it can for each client. I continue to be passionate about keeping the costs for ‘purpose’ based organisations low because every dollar not spent on fees can go directly to purpose.
Right now I’m also passionate about the Pitcher Partners Charitable Fund which has just funded its first two scholars and my dream is that one day we will see a financially disadvantaged student graduate, join the profession and ultimately become a partner.
- What has been the highlight of your career so far?
My highlights come every day when I realise the enormous gift of trust our clients place in us to help them with their financial assets. I am always moved when I see committed young members of staff go the extra mile for the clients simply because it’s the right thing to do. I was humbled and honoured this week with the Barron’s award which names me but really belongs to clients and staff as well – without them I simply couldn’t do what I do.
- What has been the best investment decision you have made?
Indirectly it has been investing in education, travel and a solid relationship. These are the capacity builders for a happy and successful life. Financially we have all done well from our homes and I have had my share of ten baggers. But the best investment decision was without a doubt taking as much advantage of superannuation opportunities as I could afford – that has single handedly made the biggest difference to the assets that will back my retirement.
- …and the worst?
Quite a few bad investment decisions over the years too – the trick with bad investments is to exit quickly. If an investment is something you cannot exit quickly from do lots and lots of homework first.
- What led you to a career in finance?
I was helping my family of origin with finances before the age of ten – I never doubted that was where my work would be. It’s a huge lifeskill in my opinion, buts it's also portable, able to be resized and transformed and it's pretty good at paying the bills!
- Who has had the biggest influence in your life/career to date?
My Mum and my Oma.
- How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I work pretty hard because I do love it, but I schedule in extended regular breaks every 90 days. Planning those breaks and enjoying them allows me to sustain the pace.
- What advice would you give to your younger self at the start of your career?
Sue – don’t worry so much!