Meet Josh Lee, an advice director at 27 with a full book of clients and millions of online fans
Josh Lee may have experienced an extraordinarily fast track in financial advice, but he almost didn’t make it to the starting line and then stumbled out out of the blocks.
But at 27 and as a director in a thriving practice with more clients than he can handle, racking up millions of views on social media and with a profile to rival the savviest of influencers, it’s fair to say he’s hit his stride.
Josh wasn’t exposed to personal finance at a young age, but he was blessed with the support of a couple of important women in his early years. First, his mum, an aged care nurse who raised two young boys on her own after Josh’s father passed away. “We never went without, nor did we have an abundance, but she tried to give us the best life she possibly could,” Josh recalls. “And I was a bit of a pest as a child. I was always curious.”
His interest in advice was sparked when someone handed him an ASX guide to investing. For a young man who spent his teenage years making money trading football cards on Ebay, the idea of trading shares was revelatory. He knuckled down for his senior school years and got serious about the second important woman in his life – Alana, the lady he’s set to marry ten years later. “We got together in year 12 and that kind of centred me in a way,” he says.
Josh studied criminology at university, but it didn’t take. His older brother was a concreter, so he gave that a go while working nights as a security guard and studying for a business degree. After doing his basic qualifications Josh took an entry level role at the first advice firm he came across, IProsper Financial Planning, which was linked to National Stirling Group. In mid-2016 Stirling became the first advice firm to be taken to court by ASIC for non-compliance with the 2013 best-interest-duty requirements.
Josh says he knew something wasn’t right at his first advice group almost immediately. “After a few months I realized what the place was about,” he says. “That was my first exposure to advice.”
With only six months under his belt, at age 21, IProsper appointed Josh as an authorized representative. “That was bizarre in itself,” he says. “I knew nothing, so I could tell it wasn’t a good place to be.”
After eight months with IProsper, Josh left for a small, suburban practice.
“Then they started failing audits,” he recalls. “It was the same thing, they were more interested in product. I was starting to wonder… is this what financial advice is?”
He decided to give advice one last crack, taking up a role at Link Wealth Group. This time he struck gold and met someone who would become an important early mentor. “Sitting next me was an adviser called Marylou Cork,” he says. “She was a really good adviser. Really technical, just amazing. And I was like a sponge.”
With the guidance of Marylou, and Link’s founder Steve Sloane, Josh thrived. “I learnt what holistic advice was all about and just fell in love with it,” he says. “Steve put the opportunity in front of me and just said ‘Look, you can take this as far as you want to. There’s clients there, you can build a book’.”
At age 24, Josh had a full book of clients. On his 26th birthday he was appointed as a director at Link Wealth Group. “It all happened relatively quickly. I just hit the ground running because I enjoyed doing it and just engulfed myself in it.”
Along the way, Josh learnt a few tricks. One of them was how to leverage social media to gain new clients. Some of his short videos explaining simple personal finance and tax tips have been watched by millions of Australians, which goes some way to explaining the full book of clients.
“It started just before covid,” he says. “We recorded a video that got around 50,000 hits and I thought, ‘Oh, we might be onto something here’. I had a short video about the removal of the low- and middle-income tax offset being removed that got 2 million views, it’s insane to think how many people are watching.”
Surprisingly, Josh says he hasn’t really encountered too much concern from clients about his age. “Honestly, I never had that judgment or incurred that in any way, shape, or form throughout my career whatsoever.”
It’s worth noting that he doesn’t carry himself like someone in their mid-20s. He’s confident, has a steady presence and always takes a moment to consider his responses.
And yet, he’s never seen a catastrophic market correction like the Global Financial Crisis, which occurred when he was 13. Some would see this lack of experience as a serious deficiency in someone responsible for millions of dollars worth of client funds.
True to form, he doesn’t gloss over the importance of experience and the value of having dealt with clients that have just seen their portfolios take a serious hit. He got a taste during the covid blip, but appreciates that worse corrections are inevitable. “I don’t think there’s any way that you can teach that kind of experience,” he says.
For now, the young adviser says, the focus is building the Link Wealth out with more staff and a broader base of clients. Like most advisory firms these days, the Link group has an abundance of clients and is looking to bring on more advisers to service them.
Getting more young people interested in the advice field is what Josh calls a “real passion”. On Friday he’s set to present at his old high school about what financial advice is, how it can help people and what the job of a financial adviser entails.
“It’s going to be a weird dynamic going back into my old school and seeing my old teachers,” he says. “The principal is still there; he might get a shock when he sees me, I’ve changed quite a bit since year 10 or 11. It’s just a world apart.”