SA winner: Scott Keeley

Scott Keeley decided he had to make a career change by the age of 30, or remain a public servant forever. He chose a career in financial planning and joined a small practice (Wakefield Partners) in Adelaide after 13 years at Centrelink.

“It was the hardest decision I had ever made, but I wanted to make a change by the time I was 30,” he told Money Management.

“Centrelink was a good, secure job but the prospects were limited and I didn’t want to remain a public servant for the rest of my life.”

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Keeley says his role at Centrelink involved working with retirees — informing them about the pensions and benefits they could claim. But it was not the detailed advice a financial planner can give.

“I was enjoying what I was doing at Centrelink, but I could only give them information and not advice about their particular circumstances,” he says. “I thought I could do much more and this made me think about the outside world.”

Keeley says that while leaving a government job after such a long period of time created a significant amount of anxiety, he hasn’t regretted it.

“Being involved in a large amount of the planner’s client interviews and being able to provide expert input in the areas of Centrelink benefits and aged care costs gives me a lot of satisfaction,” he says.

“And clients have said I’ve saved them a trip to Centrelink and they are really pleased with the extra service the planner is now able to provide by having me on board.”

Since joining Wakefield, Keeley has completed his Diploma of Financial Planning (DFP), having been named the top graduate in South Australia, and is now working towards CFP status. He has also started to build a client base — mainly people of the same age.

“These clients have the same concerns as me and I can relate to them,” Keeley says.

“These clients are often people who have been to older planners, but wanted to talk to someone of their own age group.”

He is also looking after clients who have a high reliance on Centrelink income support payments for their income.

“I am aiming to provide a high-quality financial planning service to those clients who might often be turned away from other firms who target high-net-worth clients,” he says.

“I don’t see that financial planning should be limited to only those who have significant wealth already.”

In addition to building his own client base, Keeley is providing paraplanning services to the other planners in the practice.

“My Centrelink knowledge has enabled Wakefield Partners to target clients in a relatively untapped market in South Australia,” he says.

“The planners and I are actively targeting those clients who are preparing to enter aged care facilities.

“I am being used to provide advice on the level of fees that may be required to enter nursing homes and hostels and provide financial strategies to meet these costs.

“While very much in its infancy, my knowledge of the complex rules and processes involved in entering, or even planning for, aged care facilities means that the planners can target a previously largely untapped market.”

And after hours Keeley is captain of a local cricket team, although at present he is resting after damaging a knee in the opening game of the season.

“Being captain of a cricket team is about dealing with personalities,” he says.

He also has a wedding on the cards for February … so there is little time to rest.

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