Home / People / Full circle tree-change brings Mark Folpp’s adviser journey back home

Full circle tree-change brings Mark Folpp’s adviser journey back home

It was a long and winding road that took Mark Folpp from accounting to broking, funds management and ultimately financial advice. He still gets to channel his "inner fund manager", but the context is a whole lot different this time.

Accounting is a “noble profession,” Mark Folpp says, but he quickly worked out that it was not for him. Part-way through a commerce degree in the late 1980s, that’s what beckoned, but Folpp gradually got sidetracked.

“After a few years of working as an accountant in public practice, Coopers and Lybrand, and then in industry, for a manufacturing company called Comsteel, I realised that path wasn’t for me,” he tells The Inside Adviser. “I found it interesting but ultimately repetitive, and I didn’t relish the subject matter.”

But Folpp did stumble across something that piqued his interest. “I found myself working on some very early versions of clients’ self-managed super funds. They would literally bring in a shoebox full of dividend statements; I was fascinated by these things called shares and dividends and found that area very appealing. I began to learn about the share market.”

  • Folpp realised he wanted to work more in that world rather than reporting to investor clients. This led Folpp initially into stockbroking, and ultimately, funds management.

    The Hunter Valley native moved to Sydney in 1990 to work for broker Capel Court Powell as a junior accountant, supporting the financial controller. “It was at the start of 1990, just as the RBA cash rate hit 17 per cent and businesses were falling like dominos,” he says. He picked up a redundancy and retreated to the Hunter Valley, “hiding out in a small accounting firm” for two years, until he noticed an advertisment for a trainee financial planner with a Newcastle firm called Forsythes.

    “I applied for that role and got the job. I spent a few years there in a trainee role, and finished my degree at Newcastle University. In this role, I met the  representatives from the big fund managers in Sydney.  I found what they did, the subject matter etc., to be fascinating.”

    Folpp’s break in funds management came in 1994, securing a role with what was then Heine Investment Management, which would later go on to pioneer Netwealth. He spent a “great” four years there, learning the ropes of retail funds management distribution and sales. But the asset classes that he was dealing with were mainly property and mortgages – and the lure of equities was strong.

    In 1998, an opportunity arose at a relatively new equities manager, Investors Mutual Limited, which had been established by Anton Tagliaferro, who was well-known in the industry for having launched the Perpetual Industrial Share Fund and built it into a $1.6 billion fund.

    “I knew of Anton from his days at Perpetual and BNP. I spent 11 great years there with Anton and the team, developing the retail business for IML when boutique fund managers were still somewhat of a novelty. At IML, I really grew to love the essence of investing and being a messenger to financial planners and their clients. I learned a lot about markets, cycles and what distinguishes a good investment from a bad investment,” Folpp says.

    But the road always seemed to be pointing northward, to the Hunter. “After about 19 years in Sydney in a couple of funds management roles, I realised I wanted to transition to a client-facing advice role and get out of Sydney,” he says. Married to a Hunter Valley girl, with a young son, he focused his search on Newcastle.

    “One of the firms that I had dealt with for many years and had huge respect for was Lawler Financial Services, the predecessor of what is now PKF Wealth,” Folpp says. “I knew some of the senior advisers there and put out feelers.”

    In August 2013 Folpp started at Lawler, alongside senior partner, Mark Arnold with a view to him retiring and moving his established client base across to Folpp.

    He says he “rapidly” had to gain the qualifications he needed for that client list, completing the Diploma of Financial Planning and the SMSF Association’s Specialist Advisor accreditation, to be “fully licensed and ready to go” by the time Arnold announced his retirement.

    Now senior adviser in the PKF Wealth team and an equity partner, Folpp and his colleagues advise about 700 clients, with more than $1.1 billion invested.

    Folpp still gets to channel his inner fund manager, as head of the investment committee than runs the firm’s managed accounts, “We realised that we needed to streamline all of processes and especially the managing of portfolios,” he says. “This led us to adopt managed accounts across our business for many of our clients, where it was appropriate and beneficial.”

    The practice “should have done this years ago,” he says, but the technology was not fully developed.

    He says the family aspects of his full-circle tree-change make it one of the best things he ever did: in fact, his only regret about Newcastle is that he spent too long in Sydney before making the move back.

    “Sydney is a wonderful city with great career opportunities, but life there is hard, and now insanely expensive, even if you have a good job and income,” he says. “Newcastle allows me to take all three children to school each day and be in the office by 8.30am, parked and at my desk by 8.35am. That is a pretty cool achievement in modern Australia!” 

    James Dunn

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

    Print Article

    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.”

    James Dunn | 4th Apr 2024 | More
    Partners Private co-founder takes private equity path to portfolio management

    Sick of being locked out of large scale private equity investments, the group put together their own project in 2013. Forty projects and some outsized returns later, they’ve only recorded one that didn’t reach its targeted internal rate of return.

    Nicholas Way | 25th Mar 2024 | More
    David Leon: Leading the boutique, independent advice brigade

    After witnessing the evolution of the US advice market, David Leon knew his Australian clients would want product and advice to be separate. It’s why the Adelaide adviser was so surprised the Hayne Royal Commission took so long to come about.

    Nicholas Way | 19th Feb 2024 | More
  • Popular posts: