Shaw and Partners has grown from strength to strength, expanding its business into financial planning and wealth management beyond its traditional stockbroking focus.
With strong management and a firm focus on client outcomes, the firm has successfully transformed into a high-end boutique wealth house and enjoyed substantial growth in assets under management and client wins.
Jonathan Jackson sits down with the Shaw and Partners’ Co-CEOs, Earl Evans and Allan Zion, to discuss the firm’s growing presence as one of Australia’s most sought after financial services providers and the future of the industry in an ever changing regulatory and technological landscape.
Starting out as Shaw Stockbroking, the firm has been more than 25 years in the making. Now Shaw and Partners is a leading broker and wealth manager holding more than $13 billion of assets under advice for its clients. Shaw operates offices in most Australian capital cities, with expertise that ranks among the best in Australia.
Two years ago, Shaw and Partners shook up its management structure to demonstrate exactly what a co-operative and collaborative financial services firm should look like. The new look Shaw and Partners emerged, with all its divisions Wealth Management, Institutional Dealing, Research, Fixed Income and Corporate Finance, contributing equally to its firm’s growth and success.
And they have, with strong growth in assets under management, a greater national presence and a very strong financial position. Shaw and Partners’ balance sheet boasts substantial cash reserves and no debt. The result of hard work and clever leadership.
After rebranding in July 2015, Shaw and Partners transitioned to a joint chief executive officer (CEO) model, with Earl Evans and Allan Zion both at the helm.
Highlighting their strong interest in the firm’s success, they are also the two equal largest shareholders of the business.
Under this management model, Allan Zion takes lead responsibility for all infrastructure and operational aspects of the business, while Earl Evans oversees all revenue-generating activities, including management of the Institutional Dealing, Corporate Finance, Research, Private Wealth and Fixed Income divisions.
It is a structure that works, for both the business and for its clients.
IT’S ALL ABOUT PARTNERSHIP
Evans and Zion are passionate about Shaw and Partners’ business offering. When asked what the brand stands for, they are clear on their vision.
“We are about honesty and integrity. Our job is to provide the roadmap for where our clients want to be financially. We do this by operating within the boundaries of compliance and by collaborating with our partners to unlock opportunities of significant value,” Zion says.
“It is about transparency, respect and having a true partnership with our staff, clients and providers,” Evans adds.
“We treat everybody as a partner. Partnerships are built on trust and delivering on promises – every time – and we pride ourselves on this. A lot of what we do is driven by the client, by asking them where they want to be in 20 years, what are their goals and how can we work with them to achieve those goals,” Evans says.
Zion suggests that this is not a ‘construct’ that just happened. A great deal of thought went into shaping the future direction and culture of Shaw and Partners before the firm rebranded.
“We made a conscious decision to think bigger picture and work beyond our own short-term profits. What we are interested in is longevity; but the recipe for this is not so simple, and involves creating a culture that is centred on giving our people the freedom to work towards their clients’ financial goals,” says Zion.
Now, Shaw and Partners boasts a private client advice firm and institutional and corporate advisory offering with skills and proficiencies among the best in the industry.
ESTABLISHED TALENT DRIVES OUTCOMES
Allan Zion has been Shaw’s Managing Director since 2009, after joining the company in 1991. Earl Evans joined Shaw and Partners in February 2015 from
Macquarie Bank, where he was CEO of the North American Banking and Financial Services division.
Shaw and Partners’ Non- Executive Chairman and Ex-CEO of Merrill Lynch Asia Pacific, Paul Masi, said Evans has made a significant impact on the growth of the business.
“Since Earl joined Shaw and Partners in February 2015, the company has expanded and evolved appreciably. We have grown adviser ranks and implemented stronger processes for the benefit of all of our clients,” Masi said.
Evans was very definite about the path that Shaw and Partners needed to take to make it successful and relevant to a broader range of institutional, corporate and retail clients.
“We operate with two fundamental questions front of mind: how do we empower our staff; and how can we provide a better offering to our clients? It’s all about precise execution in these two areas.”
“We operate under a flat management structure as a genuine meritocracy, as opposed to a more traditional top-down approach. This bodes well with our people because they know that they will be recognised for doing well for our clients,” Evans adds.
Shaw and Partners stay ahead of the curve by anticipating changes in the industry which allows it to be very nimble in responding to opportunities.
“We stay on top of the game by examining what international businesses are doing, where regulatory bodies see compliance practices and the industry heading and by not being afraid to implement changes when it is necessary to change,” Zion said.
With more than 25 years in the industry, Shaw and Partners has weathered volatile capital markets and recessions. During this time, while many competitors have gone out of business, Shaw and Partners has built a strong, robust firm that has been able to capitalise on gaps in the market and growth opportunities.
“Our cautious approach to organisational growth means we have not seen some of the issues that other firms have experienced across the rest of the industry,” Masi says.
“Shaw has always been a very stable business. Amid the deregulation of the industry, firms have come and gone and many international bulge bracket operations have made big promises upon which they couldn’t deliver, leaving good quality practitioners looking for somewhere stable to go.
Our stability is a key attraction for staff,” Zion adds.
SHARING THE GOOD FORTUNE
“It’s easy to say, but we live, breathe and sleep client service excellence. We’re here for the client, because at the end of the day that is who our business exists for and without them, we don’t have a business,” Evans says.
Shaw and Partners has also made a strong ‘in-practice’ statement about existing for the communities in which it works; by launching its own charitable foundation, which involves a dollar-for-dollar charity matching policy.
“The response from our staff on our approach to philanthropy has been overwhelming. I think that says a lot about our people,” Evans said.
The Shaw and Partners Foundation was established in 2015 to provide a platform for greater participation in community service. The Foundation seeks to strengthen communities through financial support, volunteering and skills sharing and allows each office to further integrate into their local community by tailoring their philanthropic work towards local causes and issues. It has been a galvanising force among staff.
Most recently, four Sydney based advisers abseiled 135 metres (33 storeys) down the 1 Market Street Building in the Sydney CBD, raising more than $20,000 for Triple Care Farm, a youth rehab and support program located in NSW.
Shaw and Partners’ second Foundation Institutional Day this year raised $241,983. All brokerage generated through institutional trades was donated to the Australian Stockbrokers Foundation and the Australian Fund Manager Foundation; which support a plethora of smaller charities including Sydney Children’s Hospital, Lou’s Place Women’s Refuge, Odyssey House, Mission Australia and Second Bite.
“Corporate organisations have a social responsibility to give back to the communities they work in,” Evans said.
“Some organisations do this extremely well, but there is always more that can be done.”
THE EVOLUTION OF FINANCIAL SERVICES
Where financial services for Shaw was once about buying and selling equities, today the firm takes a far more holistic approach.
For Shaw and Partners this has meant reshaping the traditional full-service broking model from equities and derivatives to now include a successful investment and corporate advisory business, a highly regarded internal research house, with expertise that ranks among the best in Australia, and a leading wealth management and financial planning business. The company has launched 11 separately managed accounts in past six months, providing clients with a comprehensive asset and risk allocation solution to managing investment outcomes.
Shaw and Partners has been assisted by an evolution in technology. Zion believes new technology has allowed clients to become far more educated and their expectations are now higher than ever before.
“What we are seeing is similar to the advent of PayTV and mobile technology in terms of how it has transformed industries. People now have information available to them 24/7 and where once advisers were the font of all knowledge, we have witnessed a shift in our clients’ expectations of our product and service offering. The average investor is far more educated.”
Success in financial service boils down to further educating an already knowledgeable client base. “To do that you need cross collaboration and partnership between top analysts, dealers and advisers and their clients,” says Zion.
It is this trait that sets Shaw and Partners apart from many of its competitors.
So in this age of rapidly developing technology, Shaw’s people matter more than ever before.
“It is about identifying skills gaps, anticipating needs and spotting potential to build the workforce for the future. We have put considerable focus and effort into upskilling and training our people and we will continue to upskill people that have talent with further education and personal development,” Evans said.
During these times of technological advancement and automation, economic change and industry disruption, Shaw and Partners has developed the depth of knowledge, clarity of vision and strength of purpose to work shoulder to shoulder with their clients – now and into the future.
For Co-CEOs Evans and Zion, this is the cornerstone of what underpins the ‘partnership’ philosophy, upon which the firm is built.