Q&A with Koda Capital Co-founder and COO, Andrew Rutherford

Koda Capital is a private wealth management company based in Sydney. The founders believed that there were too many financial institutions that had ceased offering trustworthy advice to their clients. For this reason, in 2014 they started a company that would deliver services that their clients can trust.

There are two main types of services Koda Capital provides. It offers all the information that its clients need to make informed financial decisions. It also provides services aimed at maximising the clients’ risk-adjusted, after-tax wealth.

It’s the only independent company of its size that covers these services. Being one of the pioneers, the principals have had quite some challenges along the way. Andrew Rutherford, Co-Founder and COO of Koda Capital states that the first couple of years were pretty tough.

To run the first businesses of its kind means that you have to experiment a lot. This is exactly what the principals of Koda Capital did, and it’s what led to the company’s great success. They’ve made their share of mistakes but managed to ensure that their company takes off.

As the company continued to grow, they made a decision to create an offshore team for their business.

Why did you start Koda Capital?

Koda Capital’s four founders all worked inside large financial services institutions and came to the conclusion that these institutions had lost connection with the whole basis of our industry: delivering trusted & trust worthy advice to clients. The embedded conflicts of the industry that the Royal Commission has laid bare more recently, were clearly unsustainable in our view, which is why we started Koda Capital in 2014 as a truly independent provider of advice to wealthy Australians.

How does it add value to your clients?

Koda Capital really does 2 things. We provide advice and ancillary services to maximise the risk adjusted, after tax wealth of our clients AND we help them make informed decisions that give them comfort over their own financial well being. It is a combination of art and science – dealing with both the emotional and financial needs of our clients. Often times, the most value we add is by helping a client make a decision that they wouldn’t make on their own and respectfully challenging their thinking.

What does your existing AU team look like?

Currently we have around 65 Australian staff but we continue to grow quickly. Our average age would be around 37 with a slight skew toward males verses females. We have 3 offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Everyone one of those staff serves clients either directly or indirectly. Any activity that doesn’t have a client on the end of it, we outsource.

What has been the best part of Koda Capital’s journey thus far?

The first month we made a profit was an exciting milestone and our first dividend payment in a couple of months will be another. But working with high quality people – who combine smarts with integrity – is a lot of fun everyday.

What did you find hardest /challenging about growing Koda Capital?

The first couple of years were a big bet: We had all invested a lot of time and money into the business – and we are the first truly independent business of our size – so there were a lot of unknowns that tested our faith in the first couple of years and more than a couple of mistakes made as we tried different things. We continue to innovate and push ourselves, but the business has a lot of momentum now.

You’ve now grown a team overseas. Where/why did the initial need come to consider broader talent markets?

We decided to expand our staffing footprint offshore for 3 reasons: the first was the depth of capable people in these markets meant we could move more quickly to find really good people and build up a long-term relationship. The second was that being a little removed from our Australian core, insulated them from the constant interruptions that are part and parcel of working in our Australian offices. And third, we could secure skills and productivity at an all up cost that made us more competitive than if we’d tried to procure those locally.

In what areas/functions are your Offshore team supporting your AU team?

Payroll, treasurer, accounts payable and receivable, management information, accounting (both statutory and management).

Your Offshore team really love the Koda Capital brand. What has the first 12 months been like?

We couldn’t be happier. The team is 5 today and will be double that in time. We have some really great people working with us: passionate, skilled, friendly and loyal. And technology means that distance issues have really been very manageable and well worth all the other benefits we’ve experienced.

What would be your recommendation/tips in integrating an international team/work force?

Treat them as though they were sitting next to you. Make the effort for informal, casual conversations and develop a relationship with them as people, not just colleagues. That has meant us visiting the offices offshore and them visiting the offices in Australia: that’s been a good investment that continues to pay dividends.

Why did you select ASW or go down the path of a third-party provider?

Dan Breese and Dave Dickie. More helpfully, we chose ASW because of their own staff in Australia and their commerciality in helping us get established.

How have you found the communication skills and the perceived barriers?

The reality is that communication skills vary with each person you hire. The key learning for us was to make sure your first hire had great communication skills – and can lead the rest of the team as you build it. Once you have that local beach-head, the communication skills of subsequent hires become less critical. And communication skills improve quickly once people are dealing with you in English every day so any gaps in the first few weeks are barely noticeable after a few months.

What does Koda Capital’s future look like in AU & abroad?

Growth, growth, growth! We see offshoring as the ideal way to blend agility and responsiveness, with efficiency and robustness. Our business is growing too fast, and our industry is changing too much – to invest in ‘status quo’ systems. Having smart, motived people offshore helping us solve new problems every day, means we can remain responsive to the changing needs of clients without compromising our cost efficiency and productivity.

ASW Global can help you to maximise the results that an offshore team produces. If you wish to take a look at what we have to offer, make sure to contact us today for a FREE consultation.

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