From the fraud squad to financial advice: In their own words

By Pride Advice

Adviser Brett Schatto (left) with client Russell Gibb

Author: Tahn Sharpe

This article was originally published on Professional Planner.

Russell Gibb, retired

We met when Brett was a young detective with the South Australian police and came onto my team; I was Detective Senior Sergeant with the fraud squad at the time, I think it was around 2000.

Eventually he decided to leave the police and pursue a career in finance. I lost track of him for a bit, but when I left the police myself to go work for ASIC as a senior manager I asked him to help manage my benefits and take care of an insurance issue that had cropped up.

At the time I was very concerned about whether to take my entitlement as a lump sum with the police after 33 years; I took his advice on that which was fantastic. I’d just been awarded a Queen’s honour and I was torn about leaving, I remember he was a great sounding board for me at the time.

My wife Josie and I both retired in 2011 and Brett took all the angst out of the process for us. We knew we were doing it right, it was all very seamless.

He’s very transparent and trustworthy. In my time working in the fraud squad and even at ASIC there were advisers doing the wrong thing, but Brett’s character was always evident. That’s been the same right the way through.

The other thing that gives us extra confidence is he goes out of his way to maintain his knowledge; he’s been overseas for training in Cambridge and he’s a guest speaker within the industry.

We have probably referred as many as five or six people his way and I would never do that if I didn’t have complete confidence in him, especially given my background. Jose and I have told both our married adult children – they’re our executors – we’d like them to consult with Brett in the event of our death or if they ever needed help.

I remember I referred our friends – who have much more substantial funds than us – to Brett as they were suspect on their adviser at the time. Brett looked over their advice and explained that they had misunderstood it and everything was order. That says something about him, there’s never any pressure.

I’ve had a beer and a meal with him and he’s very, very much a family person. He was extremely efficient and diligent as a police officer so I already knew his character before I became a client. Now I call him a friend as well.

Brett, Josie and Russell

Brett Schatto, principal adviser at Pride Advice 

I worked with Russell when I was a detective; he wasn’t my direct report but he was the Senior Sergeant in charge of fraud in Adelaide. That was the last unit I worked in the police before I moved into financial advice.

I was on light duty for a long time after an injury and I realised I had no formal qualifications, so I went to university and completed a commerce degree. I was going to use the degree to further my career in the force but I found something I loved – financial planning.

Eventually Russell moved from the police department across to ASIC, and he came to me about his benefits and some income protection insurance. After that was bedded down we would catch up regularly and consider retirement strategies. Even though he wasn’t an investment client in 2008 for the GFC we were still chatting and I was providing general guidance through that. Then he was offered a package in 2010 and came on as an investment client.

Having known him in the past when we were investigators, we treated each other with respect from the start and I never glossed over stuff. He was always open to my recommendations. You have to explain things but he picks things up pretty quickly and there was never any animosity.

He’s always had great attention to detail, too. There’s risk in having a client that’s just blatantly believes you, especially now with the FASEA code because clients need to understand what they’re invested in. It takes effort to gain his trust but once you’ve got it, you’ve got it.

I do think of him as a friend, we’ve been together through the trials and tribulations of kids, health problems… the lot. One day early on he came in looking red in the face and I suggested he might have circulation problems. He went and had a check-up and they found some sort of blockage, which he reckons means I saved his life. He listens to people he trusts.

He’s almost like a BDM, he sends friends and family and acquaintances to see me. His wife Josie comes into all the meetings, she’s had her own career in the police department and has her own investments and needs. We have a great relationship but she’s not as interested in it as Russell. She’s outsourced a lot of the scrutiny to him!

It’s been a very respectful working relationship and it’s been over 15 years now, so as an adviser you become part of the journey. I think they’ll be clients until one of us dies, or until we can’t add value for them. If the service isn’t adding value, we won’t charge. Right now their situation is complex enough that they still need us.

We have a lot of good laughs, I guess Russell likes to stir me up. He’ll go out crabbing before a review and bring me half a dozen crabs. He also likes a flutter and tells me who I should back on a Saturday. He’s quite an interesting character.