Insights for advisers, by advisers

In discussion with Tim Townsend of Townsend Cobain


Tim Townsend, like many in the 1990s, fell into the world of finance, but fast forward through a 25-year career and Townsend highlights the decision to invest in himself, founding Townsend Cobain, with business partner Rod Cobain, as his best.

Beginning his career at the Credit Union in Victoria when they had just developed a wealth management side of the business, the main aspect that stuck out and attracted him to finance and advice was the idea that it is for the members, by the members, so your focus is always clearly on the needs of clients. Seeing the development and plans here, Townsend could see the opportunities and potential for growth in the industry.

He spent the next 8-9 years, learning the ins and outs of the industry, and building up the practice by focusing on what he highlights as “being both adaptive and creative at the same time”.

Taking on another challenge and experiencing a larger corporation, Townsend moved into the role of CEO at Perpetual Private Clients, before coming back to a smaller group who at the time were called Investor Group but are now Findex.

While working for a large corporation is great for experience and gaining exposure to large portfolios, as Townsend soon realised it’s not where his passion for financial advice and building solid relationships with clients was really excelling.

After 17 years, he made the big decision to invest in himself, be his own boss and have more control over the operations and way he and his team communicates with clients.

Townsend Cobain Private Wealth Partners

Townsend partnered with Rod Cobain to develop the practice in January 2013 based out of Melbourne, Victoria, and put the focus back onto the clients. The private wealth partners promise is to deliver personal, comprehensive wealth management services to individuals, families and privately held companies.

A goal for Townsend and his practice which you won’t always see at larger firms, is the personal touch and effort he puts in when communicating with clients, as he highlights being a financial adviser is possibly one of the biggest compliments you can be given. Someone putting their trust and respect in you and your advice and is even willing to pay you for that advice, is incredibly powerful.

This trust and respect Townsend quite often speaks about, and which can be forgotten about many times is going back to basics and working on the why a financial adviser is there in the first place and what the reason is. Alongside the values of each client, whether that is an individual, millennial, family or privately held corporation, with Townsend and his team then bringing in their technical expertise to be able to properly give the advice which is in the best interest of their client foremost.

A prime example of this is in ESG and whether it is something a firm is actually achieving or whether it is merely a statement and marketing tool to use. While it is great that it is becoming more mainstream, we need to be ensuring it’s more than just a sticker put on a company logo.

In keeping on his promise of opening his own practice to be able to give advice the way he thinks it should be done, Tim follows a rule of thumb ‘if I have to open a file note to know who the client is and what is happening, that isn’t the type of client relationship I want’.

Tim’s career and experience has put him in an excellent position to be able to see what the industry of financial advice has been like in the past and to sit back and decipher where it is going badly and needs to improve. This was spoken about further in an INDepth discussion with The Inside Network’s James Dunn recently. 

Where does he see the industry failing? In providing advice to majority of Australians rather than the small number of wealthy ones, which is only getting smaller.

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