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Stacey Martin – CFP Dip FP, NAB Private Wealth senior advisor, philanthropy expert, mentor, public speaker, Thought Leader, Women in Finance pioneer, and LinkedIn networking ninja – should have been a flautist.

Once a Grade Seven musician (“which is quite high”), her 18-year-old heart had been set on the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra when she missed out on a place at the Conservatorium.

“I’d never considered doing anything but music,” says the now 49-year-old. “We didn’t have career counseling in those days, so I just got a local job and ended up in financial services.”

A Young Liberal (“for the boys and the parties”), Martin was always looking to meet new people, despite being “incredibly shy” and having to force herself to stand up and speak.

When the Foreign Exchange dealer at her first merchant bank stepped aside, she put her hand up for the role, and Martin soon found herself in Sydney, working and “hanging out” with other dealers.

It was the eighties. The Australian dollar had just floated. She was “the kid” – a lone woman amid hundreds of men at foreign exchange events. “So I bought a red suit,” she laughs. “With shoulder pads.”

Stacey and hubby Peter at a Taronga Foundation ball

Stacey and hubby Peter at a Taronga Foundation ball

“I learned very early that you need to take control of your own career.”

Ten years later, Martin knew she had to better satisfy her “people person” nature and left dealing corporate millions behind. She followed her nose, and the investments that she and her future husband were making, into a career in financial planning.

Taking on a hefty pay cut and the Diploma in Financial Planning, Martin – armed with her bag of networking tricks and bright lipsticks – joined the Financial Planning Association (“in the days of Paul Clitheroe – brilliant”) and started to work in the gap she saw opening in wealth creation for younger and entrepreneurial clients.

At all times Martin’s priority is to help her clients achieve their goals.

“Stacey is what financial planners at their best should be,” says finance executive Nina Witenden. “Open, generous and connected,” says Caroline Hong, SME Association Business Advisor and Think Global consultant.

Integral to Martin’s client service is philanthropy advice

“When clients start talking about charities they’re interested or involved in during our values conversations – you see their faces light up,” she says.

“Financial planning’s not about money. It’s about helping people achieve what they want, and fitting their money issues around that.” At NAB, Martin manages around 50 clients on retainer.

Philanthropy makes sense on a ‘Maslow’s hierarchy’ model, Martin says. “Once clients have achieved financial security, they start thinking about how their success can make a significant difference to others.”

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Stacey and Peter have raised assistance and rescue dogs and pup Bodhi is the latest family addition

Taking the time to understand private clients is fundamental to realising their philanthropic goals, she says. Inter-generational transfer of wealth, finding the causes that tap their passion, facilitating ‘engaged philanthropy’ for donors who want to get stuck in amongst their funded projects – “the clients win, and the charities win”.

One of Martin’s philanthropic families established a Prescribed Private Fund (now PAF – private ancillary fund) after a trip to South Africa with their 19-year-old son, visiting AIDS-affected households run by children. The resulting fund – facilitated by Martin – was a turning point in the family’s philanthropy, from writing cheques to structured giving, and the son is now a youth ambassador for the cause.

“The impact of involving the children and transferring family values cannot be underestimated.”

Learning philanthropy

Like all of her areas of expertise – Asian finance, women in management, wealth strategies for expats, financial management for aspiring directors – Martin became a philanthropy professional by asking questions and getting involved. She was a “Philanthropy Australia groupie” for a period, and went on to write a paper for NAB’s internal use about its position in the philanthropic landscape.

Today, Martin incorporates philanthropic themes into her regular speaking invitations; among topics that include career guidance, women’s leadership, and financial planning.

“If there are more highly qualified people who can have these philanthropic conversations, it’s going to be better for everyone,” she says. “Look at all the charities that are crying out for money. There are already people getting advice who want to give but don’t know how. If you can join the dots and hit the mark? It can make a huge difference.”

Technical qualifications are a given, Martin says, but what planners need most is emotional intelligence.

“By gaining greater self-awareness, focusing on developing personal skills and growing networks, advisors will be in a better position to both notice and seize opportunities as they come along. The difference you can make to people’s lives is very rewarding.”

"Have an abundance mentality – what you give comes back tenfold."

“Have an abundance mentality – what you give comes back tenfold.”

Stacey’s Secrets to Success

  • Find out what you are passionate about. Invest in yourself.
  • Ask successful people about themselves. You’ll be surprised how much people enjoy telling their story.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Engage with more experienced professionals. Enrol in courses. Find good coaching.
  • Don’t be afraid to spend money getting advice – be it in business or personally, tapping into the expertise of others will make you more money than you spend.
  • Seek out a number of mentors from different business areas as well as personal development, or become a mentor yourself. When you teach, you are forced to articulate and embed your own learnings.
  • Stay curious. This industry is changing constantly and there is much to learn.
  • Join networks; one in your industry and one outside. For example, where your clients are, or in sporting or charitable bodies.
  • See competitors as potential collaborators. Grow the pie, don’t fight over the pieces!
  • Have an abundance mentality – what you give comes back tenfold. There are enough clients and opportunities out there for everyone!