'I do spreadsheets to calm down': Adviser profile on Joshua Drake

For Crosbie Wealth director Joshua Drake, a childhood spent getting by without much evolved into a consuming passion for understanding money and the systems that control it. Now he has an intense focus on sharing his knowledge with others who seek the freedom financial security can provide.


For Crosbie Wealth director Joshua Drake, a childhood spent getting by without much evolved into a consuming passion for understanding money and the systems that control it. Now he has an intense focus on sharing his knowledge with others who seek the freedom financial security can provide.

What has been the biggest change you've seen in the industry during your time?

It's definitely happening right now. Previous changes have forced us to alter systems and processes but the current changes are about advisers. It's not just a shift in mindset, it's a shift of people out of the system - and for the most part, for the better.

It's about the complete disintegration of financial institution dominance in the advice and distribution channels that we have operated within for 30 years. And it's the undermining of the relevance of dealer groups and their eventual transition into business-to-business adviser services companies.

It's the increasing power of the asset allocators over platforms as well. And whilst platforms do wield way too much power, there's no benefit going from the pot into the fire.

Finally, it's the move towards much more individual adviser responsibility, the demise of the one-man bands and the challenge of making advice affordable. There is clearly a line being drawn in the sand, and there is a long way to go to resolve these issues.

What changes do you expect to see in the future? And what are you doing to prepare and adapt?

When the current changes were announced, we made a conscious decision to get on with it. Let's put our effort into getting in front of this, we said. We assessed and completed all our exam, education and training requirements early on.

The future looks pretty good. We are not hanging around waiting for the legislators to set the minimum requirements, we are moving beyond that. We're continuing to utilise our client-centric operating model, engaging our licensed advisers and using collective actions to make a difference to the wellbeing of people.

How do you build your business and grow your client base? What has been particularly effective (marketing methods, referrals, advertising, etc)?

For a long time, we have relied on internal referral networks and existing clients. More recently, we have redesigned our digital presence and have begun looking to external advertising and social media to extend our brand and standing as the preferred option for successful people in Newcastle and the Hunter Valley.

What demographics do you cater to? (Age, occupation, etc)

We don't set age or occupation or asset restrictions. We want to work with people who are like us, typically those who are operating or working within a great business with aspirational and inspirational intent, seeking success and sharing in that when it comes.

Why is financial advice important to you?

There are probably a few elements that build on one another. Growing up, it was a luxury to have a chocolate milk one night a week at dinner. Every other night was orange cordial. At home, my two brothers and I were in one room, my two sisters in another. My bed was a trundle bed that I had to push back in under the double bunks every morning. Now I'm not complaining, but we couldn't afford much more. My mate Jonathon lived in a two-storey place with his parents. Plenty of room, plenty of (naughty) food - life looked easier.

So it seemed to me that money could provide a way to live easier. It would give me choice. They say money doesn't buy happiness but it sure can buy you a big yacht to park next to it. Clearly, money is not that easy to come by, and there are plenty of rules around how you get it, store it and spend it. To me, the logical answer was to understand it better. And to do that you had to learn about the systems that it operates within, and the people that operate those systems.

It seems unbelievable to me that with something like money, which can create so much joy and disaster in people's lives, so many either ignore it or, worse still, run away from it. Long story short, having grown up and modified my original, unreasoned thoughts, I am in the rare position to tell people what they ought to know, for their own good. What we do and what we know should not remain a mystery.

I have one quote that has stuck with me, from Kerry Packer: "I pay whatever tax I am required to pay under the law, not a penny more, not a penny less...If anybody in this country doesn't minimise their tax, they want their heads read because as a government, I can tell you, you're not spending it that well that we should be donating extra."

What have you done outside of the advice industry? Any interesting jobs?

Growing up, I was fortunate (?) enough to move up and down the coast of New South Wales as my parents chased work. Having 12 different schools and 43 different houses gives you a different perspective on things. I knew cattle farms, oyster farms, dairy farms, tractors, bikes, paddock bashing, weather patterns, rain, mud and drought, suburbia, riding your bike around the streets until the lights came on, playing soccer, squash, cricket, tennis and rugby league, camaraderie, trips to the big smoke, Luna Park and crossing the Harbour Bridge. And now, the fortunate life of an adviser: meeting interesting people, going interesting places and being afforded a lifestyle many would dream of. How good is it!

What interests do you have outside of the office? What are your hobbies?

Unfortunately, the office is my hobby. I do spreadsheets to calm down and read legislation for giggles.

What do you look for in a licence provider/partner?

We were granted our own licence in August 2019 and haven't looked back. You have to invest a lot of time in it but with good systems and good people, you can get there. The most beneficial part is the team engagement. We have a much better understanding of why we do things, clarity on how we do things, and more focus on those things that matter.

What is your ideal client base size? How many clients do you currently represent?

We currently look after $600 million on behalf of 550 client families.

When did you become an adviser?

Ever since I can remember, I'd been interested in shares. What appealed to me was the investigative nature of data analysis - which plays to my strengths - and the ability, seemingly, to make money by just thinking, rather than undertaking manual labour. I was working in the accounting division within our firm when I was fortunate enough to get tapped on the shoulder by my now business partner. It was May 2000, and we'd just spent six months gearing up for the introduction of the GST. As it came into force on 1 July, I had what I call my independence day. And on 4 July, I moved across into the dark side - our financial planning division.

What research partners have you used?

We regularly review the research houses and asset consultants. We use Morningstar as our primary source of information and analysis, and that data forms the basis of our approved product list. That said, we use the screening process to more or less cut out the undesirables, leaving us with a shorter list that requires further due diligence. Through our Investment Committee, we are responsible for all investment decisions and we own the consequences of those. We believe there is an expectation among our clients that we do all this and we have an obligation. We owe it to them. We will continue this way until, based on the evidence (portfolio performance is a great indicator), we need to change.

What platforms have you used?

We are fully Asgard eWrap and have been for many, many years. This will change, but not now.

Which managed accounts have you used?

We don't use managed accounts, although I can see that's where we will end up. There are clear efficiencies to be gained by using these structures, but we haven't had to fry that fish yet.