Home / People / A shotgun ride with Dad put this adviser in pole position

A shotgun ride with Dad put this adviser in pole position

"We’re all humans trying to make a fist of it," says Muirfield Financial Services adviser Matt Torney. "And sure, finances matter, but people and relationships matter more.”

Looking back, Matt Torney feels that “born to be a financial adviser” is not stretching it. Growing up in the Victorian Surf Coast town of Torquay, outside the regional city of Geelong, as the son of well-respected local adviser Hayden Torney, he experienced his father’s enthusiasm first-hand every day.

Hayden had started Muirfield Financial Services in 1989, after a career as a teacher. “I saw the passion Dad had for the profession and helping people. He left teaching in 1989 and never looked back. He worked hard to build the business and I saw just how much energy and pride that gave him.”

That must have rubbed off on Torney and his brother Andrew, who both now work in the business as advise/directors. “The apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree,” he says. For him, the realisation only came after a detour into funds management, working as a BDM in Melbourne for almost a decade at NAB and MLC before moving into advice.

  • “Those roles gave me reasonable grounding in sales and relationship management, which are important skills as an adviser,” he says. “But working in large businesses in a sales role, I also saw the less attractive parts of the industry. I then knew what I needed to thrive, in a small business with more human connection and less hierarchy.” 

    In 2014 he made the switch back to Geelong, with wife Emily, to join his father’s business. “Dad was 65 and considering his succession plans; I was recently married and had a child on the way, so the timing was perfect. I knuckled down and gained my CFP, and rode shotgun alongside Dad in his final years in the business. I saw him at his best, and he gave me the space to find my own feet as an adviser,” he says.

    Brother Andrew joined the business in 2016, just as their father retired, having previously spent 12 years working at various financial advice firms in Melbourne and Sydney. “We have the privilege of carrying-on the legacy, and Dad gets to enjoy retirement. Andrew and I have complementary skills, and a great working relationship,” he says. 

    Sharing the surname helped with securing the client relationships during the transition phase, but it wasn’t only clients that Torney had to impress. “I moved into a mature business that Dad had created, that was running smoothly on the back of loyal and hard-working staff, all of whom are still with the business today. Our receptionist has been here 32 years! Without qualifications and advice experience I had to prove myself to them, beyond being the founder’s son. That was the toughest part of joining Muirfield.”

    The practice is proudly regional. “Our clients are generally salt-of-the-earth mums and dads from Geelong and the Surf Coast. We have centred the business on helping those who are on the cusp of, and throughout, retirement. For them it is one of the most daunting phases of their lives, so we think this is where we can add the most value, educating and empowering them.”

    The Muirfield philosophy aims to keep it simple, offering personalised service and investment management support. It has been self-licensed since 1997, so the model hasn’t changed materially over the years, but Torney says Muirfield has progressively invested in better systems and processes. “Our managed accounts development is an example of that,” he says.

    One outside interest Torney has incorporated is his passion for positive psychology and wellbeing (he holds a diploma in this field). “At a business level we live this. The three working directors all have young children, so we work four-day weeks: our staff can finish at 2PM through January and February. We also run ‘Wellness Wednesdays’ once a quarter, where we close the office and spend time together. On our most recent event, we did a learn-to-sail experience in Torquay and cooked a barbecue at the beach.”

    At a client level, while he doesn’t deliver anything structured around wellbeing and psychology, Torney believes the concept helps with having deeper conversations. “It’s not formally recognised in our profession, but virtually every day we’re acting as counsellors or a sounding board for clients and their life concerns. When people reveal matters of financial importance, over time as the relationship strengthens, they’re also likely to reveal matters of personal significance. We’re all humans trying to make a fist of it, and finances matter, but people and relationships matter more,” he says.  

    Torney now lives where he grew up, in Torquay, with the main office 30 minutes’ drive away in Geelong. “It’s a great place to raise a family, with the beaches, laid-back lifestyle and access to quality schools and health services,” he says. “We cherish the community we are a part of, and we try to give back, being actively involved at school and sporting clubs.”

    James Dunn

    James is an experienced senior journalist and host of The Inside Network's industry events.

    Print Article

    ‘It’s bittersweet’: CSLR head explains the challenge of punishing and promoting advice

    Just how thin the line that Berry walks becomes clear when he outlines the two paradoxical objectives of the CSLR. He has to highlight the worst in financial advice, while making it seem better and more trustworthy in the eyes of the public.

    Tahn Sharpe | 20th Jun 2024 | More
    Yarra Capital’s Dion Hershan on the value of humility and conviction

    “Some kids read cartoons,” the equities manager recalls, “and some read the sports section, but I used to read the stock market tables and try to figure out what was going up and what was going down.”

    James Dunn | 7th Jun 2024 | More
    Plugging the advice gap with new-to-market innovation: Leesa Swain

    After witnessing the horror of the GFC, a young Leesa Swain decided to help mitigate the ‘ripple effect’ of bad financial management and start a journey in financial planning that has led her to a new, digitally led solution provider.

    James Dunn | 3rd Jun 2024 | More
  • Popular posts: