Getting to know: Paul Sewell


After a stint in banking, it was a newspaper article that prompted Paul Sewell into financial advice.

Friday, December 15th , 1:20PM

by Susan Edmunds of Good Returns

Who are you and what do you do?

I am a Christian male, married to the love of my life – Katie. We have three sensational girls aged six, ten and twelve. I am a Director, Shareholder and Financial Adviser of FAHB Investments Ltd and Financial Advice Hawkes Bay Ltd. We are member firms of the Professional Investments Associates and DNA Advice. I have a great business partner, Michael Gallagher, and Office Manager, Karen Bidlake, and together, we specialise in Investment and Financial Planning.

How did you get into the industry?

I started my career in banking and after seven years, it wasn’t quite doing it for me. I was reading a weekly article on Financial Planning in the Dominion Post by Craig Wylie. I liked his common sense messages and approached his company, Financial Fitness Ltd., for a job. The business used to have a logo of a male without his top on holding a $ sign up. I started to look like the logo, as it took me six months to get a new client and, as a self-employed contractor, two-minute noodles were within the budget! I was certainly grateful for the opportunity and the mentoring I received. It was a great move for me, as financial services has opened a lot of doors and has been a rewarding career to date.

If there is one thing you would like to change about the financial advice industry, what would it be?

I would like it to be a profession.

What’s the best advice you have ever received?

Pay yourself at least 10% first, and use the other 90% to run your household. The 90% is a lot to do what you like with!

What could financial advisers learn from other industries?

Clearly, Financial Advice New Zealand is taking lessons from other industries – it is showing optimism, vision, effective leadership and a new thinking in order to succeed. Collaboration is essential for survival and being able to thrive. Success in the future is dependent upon the ability to work jointly with others, and building on what each of us can bring to a collaborative and synergistic approach. We are far too protective of our intellectual knowledge, and hesitate to share it. The duplication of effort in creating our own wheels isn’t efficient. Members must trust and respect each other, there must be open communication and a willingness to accept input from others. We need to partner with others in terms of resources, capabilities and competencies, in pursuit of mutual interests for all stakeholders.

What should be done to get New Zealanders buying more insurance?

Yes, Kiwis seem to have a culture aversion to insurance. Perhaps if we had less reliance on the state, people would be forced to take out more insurance. Take an example from Australia; when working in Sydney, if I didn’t have private health insurance, the government added an additional levy on my earnings that was more than the cost of health insurance. So, who is responsible? How hard is it for people to call a financial adviser to ask for advice? I do not know any Financial Adviser who offers risk management services that has said to a potential client: “No, you cannot come and see me for insurance advice, I am far too busy.” We all need to work together to get the message out.

What do you think the FMA has done well? What could it do better?

The FMA has learnt from past mistakes and it provides clearer guidance. I am looking forward to the Financial Services Legislation Amendment Bill, as this will provide many opportunities. I certainly don’t think adapting to the changes will be as confusing as the FA Act was.

How do you think your business might have to change to adapt to the new FSLAB rules?

We will probably become a Financial Service Provider. We adapted before, and made sure we had the right systems and structures in place as Authorised Financial Advisers, so I’m not anticipating a large change for our business. The FMA has indicated that they will be mindful of smaller business. I am not anticipating different standards just because you are a non-aligned independent small business, but one is expecting the licensing cost to be affordable for small businesses. We had the IFA Hawkes Bay Gisborne Branch AGM in our boardroom last week and we invited Hon Stuart Nash, Minister for Small Business. We certainly got our message across to Stuart regarding the concerns we had as small businesses. He understood, and will champion the cause for small businesses.

What could be done to improve KiwiSaver?

This is the best thing the government has done for the people of New Zealand, in terms of providing a nest egg later in life. They need to make it compulsory, increase the minimum contribution and make the contribution before tax.

What role do you see for adviser groups under the new rules?

As I said before about the learning from the other industries. We don’t need to be scared into joining adviser groups because of the new Bill. The experience from Australia on dealer group licences was that it wasn’t as difficult as a number of interested parties made it out to be.

What have been the benefits of regulation?

More robust systems and structures. Looking forward to the new bill, and all advisers complying with a Code of Professional Conduct.

What has been the most rewarding part of your career?

Helping people make smarter choices. Providing comfort, taking away some of the stress, and seeing people being able to make more informed decisions and achieving their objectives.

What’s the biggest threat to financial advisers?


What do you wish the public knew about financial advisers?

If they knew our value-add, more people would seek advice.

Are you a KiwiSaver member?

Of course.

If so, what’s your investment strategy?


Outside of work what do you do?

I play interclub tennis, am a boot-camper, gym-goer and mountain biker. I recently got back from a family trip to the States, UK and Europe. The next big family holiday will be to South America. I am a Trustee of Helping Hand Trust, providing pro bono advice and interest-free loans for those in need. I am a member of Hastings Baptist Church.

What would you say if one of your kids told you they wanted to be a financial adviser?

Great, it is a very rewarding career to be involved in. First step is to get the appropriate degree qualifications, then get some work experience with a corporate business and go from there.

What’s one thing people may be surprised to know about you?

I had the pleasure of playing the trombone with Roger Fox.

If you weren’t in this job what would you be doing?

A professional tennis player who hires a Financial Planner.

Comments from our readers

On 16 December 2017 at 10:38 am Steven Popodopolus said:

Paul is a great advisor and a credit to the industry. I get the impression that if all participants in the industry were like Paul, the need for regulation would be minimal.


January 31, 2019