Charles Anstis Mandala Financial Group


established 2009; five employees; $750,000 turnover

GPA Matrix;

established 1973; thirteen employees: $3 million-plus turnover 1. He spends four hours a week meditating, treks in the Himalayas for a month each year and has built a dressage arena at his multimillion-dollar home in the Hunter Valley.

Charles Anstis isn't

your average financial planner.

More concerned with the teachings of the Indian spiritual guru Amma than with his next commission payment, he finds no conflict in the fact that his clients are predominantly money- obsessed, single-minded corporate high fliers or sports stars. Many have no interest in anything beyond amassing a fortune—and Anstis helps them do it. 'Yes, we've got $200 million of clients' money invested,' he says. 'And we've made a lot of people a lot of money—and I'm proud of that.'

But his spiritual bent means he's not content simply to sell his clients the right life-insurance policy: 'My job is as much about counselling my clients as giving them financial advice.

Very often, I find myself talking to clients who have more money than they could ever spend, and the money my investments make them each year is immaterial to them.

'So I find myself asking them questions, probing to find out what they actually want out of life. Why are they trying to build their wealth? What do they want to do with their money? You would be amazed at the number of people who have no idea what they're working for, what their ultimate goals are. I help them identify these things and build sensible financial plans to achieve them.'

The process can be emotionally challenging, Anstis says. 'Many people have never been asked these questions before. And aside from that, answering them requires thinking about your feelings, about yourself and your family, in ways that you may never have considered before.

The way you structure your estate for inheritance or tax purposes can reveal much more than you think about how you feel about your family and what your values are. Sometimes it's a draining process, and I certainly feel that I'm being trusted with very personal information.'

Anstis, from England's picturesque New Forest, dropped out of Oxford Polytechnic after only a year studying accounting and finance and

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sent me down to Cannes to look after them. Most of my work was straightforward banking stuff, but then I started helping them with every-thing from shopping to arranging their car from the airport. That taught me about service and how you can really add value.'

The ways of Middle Eastern princelings didn't always sit well with those of France. One day in the late 1980s, Anstis says, a member of the Saudi royal family walked into a tiny bank branch in Monaco and said he wanted $US50,000 in cash for a visit to the casino. 'Of course, the French thought this was out of the question and said it would normally take a week, not an hour— not to mention that they didn't know who he was. They asked him for ID, but he didn't have a passport with him. So he went outside to his car, came back with an envelope and pointed to the stamp, which had his head on it! Eventually, after much fuss, they gave him the money.'

During his time at Grindlays, Anstis was posted to Australia on a few occasions.

He decided it offered a better quality of life than the dirty streets and grey skies of London. 'My wife and I loved the Hunter Valley, so that's where we headed,' he says. 'I had a bit of money, but not much. But I did have a good contact at Lloyds of London, the insurer, who I knew I could place some high-risk and unusual insurance with— the sort many people wouldn't know where to find.'

Anstis opened the phone book and began cold-calling companies, offering his services. 'Essentially, I would find rare, bespoke insurance cover—often multimillion-dollar policies—to cover footballers or rugby league players that other people just can't negotiate insurance for.' Take a rugby league player looking for injury cover: 'A typical contract might detail wages of $300,000 a year, so that's $900,000 over a three-year contract period. Generally speaking, if a player is injured in Year 1, he might get the current season's pay and that's it. We'll find that player a policy that, in the event of a career- ending injury, will pay out $600,000, covering Years 2 and 3 of the contract as well.'

The sums involved can get very large indeed, Anstis says. When soccer stars play in international matches, for example, 'Their club needs to be covered against the player's suffering a career-ending injury while playing for his country overseas. These policies can be worth tens of millions of dollars, even more than $100 million.'

The work was lucrative, and Anstis's business grew through the 1990s. He was well on his way to his first million. Then he got divorced. 'It's like snakes and ladders,' he says. 'That knocked me back a very long way.'

But he kept on working, and the business kept growing. Eventually, in 2004, Anstis bought GPA Matrix, a financial planning business that he and his partner built into one of Australia's most suc-cessful. 'We have tripled the number of clients, doubled the funds under management and tripled the company's value,' he says. 'We now have 3000 clients who pay, I guess, an average of about $2000 a year in fees.

I suppose it was around 2004 that I made my first million, but it's not something that sounds an alarm when you pass the landmark. It just creeps up on you.'

So did the stress. About three years ago, someone remarked to Anstis, 'I don't know why you're so stressed, given the amount of money you earn.' Anstis instantly knew the man was right. 'I'd never really stopped to think about it,' he says.

'In that way, I'm guilty of exactly the same thing as my clients—possibly working too hard and not examining all my options properly. But I love what I do, and the moment I stop enjoying it I'll stop doing it.'

In 2009 Anstis decided to go it alone. He set up Mandala Financial Group, taking all his clients— and his tried-and-true business model—with him. He charges an annual fee of 0.5 per cent of the funds he manages, and usually nothing up front.

Because what he earns is a percentage of his clients' wealth, he says, the financial crisis hit him hard. The turbulence in the markets has also meant a lot of clients want constant reassurance and hand-holding. Many also need advice about how to cope with redundancy or shorter working weeks, stuttering cash flows, and the sense that their wealth is vulnerable.

Worried people can be hard to persuade, Anstis says: 'Very often their emotions go one way and the right decision actually lies in the opposite direction. Some people suddenly want to sell into cash, for example, when you know the right move is to ride it out or even invest more.'

Before he set up Mandala Anstis was busy managing the downturn at Matrix, where he spent a lot of time analysing the business on a 'zero-cost accounting basis'. He explains: 'I'd question whether we really needed various products and services at all. I cut back on marketing and PR.' He also thought twice about buying new equipment. 'I began to ask whether the photocopier would last another twelve months. It's a matter of taking a close look at expenses in every area of operations.'

Anstis is still wealthy—and still enjoying his wealth.

He may not drive flash cars or own a boat, but he does have a stud farm for dressage horses on his 20-hectare Hunter Valley estate. 'It's a real passion,' he says. 'Although it's a money-making business, I regard it as a hobby first and foremost. The horses are worth about $30,000 each, and it's a highly specialised market. My wife is a wonderful dressage rider—I'm not much good at all.'

Anstis also has five children in private education, 'a considerable expense', although he says he's 'happy when they're happy'. Overall, he says, 'I regard myself as very lucky, and try not to be seduced by money or the trappings of success. I love my family and my home and the freedom I have to travel—something many of my clients hanker after.'

He urges them to follow their heart, not just the money. 'I was recently talking to a client whose lifetime ambition was to buy a motorbike and ride around Italy. I demonstrated to her that not only could she afford to do it now, she could come back in a year or two and be earning more than she was today. She couldn't believe it, but it shows the value of educating yourself or finding somebody who can. Otherwise, you don't know what you might be missing.'

Nick Gardner

golden rules

When fear is the problem, activity is the answer.

Believe in yourself: you have the ability to change your own future.

Play to your strengths: acknowledge your weaknesses and delegate them to someone who is good at them.

Stick to your core business and really ensure you are delivering what you promise.

Customers are not dependent on us. We are dependent on them.

Plan ahead for your outgoings so you are not hit by surprise bills that can cripple you.

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Источник: Nick Gardner. How. I made-.my first million. 26 self-made millionaires reveal the secrets to their success. 2010

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