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The Wise Adviser: Farren Williams, Koda Capital

Farren has a passion for helping charitable organisations and families with their wealth management needs. In this interview with AEGN, she shares her excitement for the initiatives that bring together the often different worlds of investing and philanthropy.

 

Tell us a bit about your background and your current job at Koda?

I specialise in advising wealthy individuals, families, foundations and large non-profit organisations and have been an adviser for over 16 years. I love the variety in my role at Koda – the opportunity to help families develop a clear wealth strategy aligned to their needs and values and to help non-profits and foundations align their investment portfolios to their mission and helping them with governance and strategic issues. Koda’s success shows there is a clear gap in the market for this type of advice and the collaborative culture makes it a great place to work.

What are the key things that philanthropists come to you for help with?

Advice on how to get started or how to do things better – sometimes triggered by a liquidity event or a significant family event (death or divorce), sometimes simply by an awareness that their current adviser isn’t able to help on issues outside the traditional investment arena – things like philanthropy, family dynamics, next-gen involvement and tax planning.

How do these client relationships evolve?

Ultimately, we help clients develop a strategy to achieve maximum impact in the areas they care about.  Every family is different – for some this can lead to us facilitating really rich, impassioned conversations across the generations, bringing out values and issues that perhaps may not have been shared before.  These discussions can build greater understanding and respect amongst different family members and provide a stronger foundation for other conversations that need to be had around the family wealth.

What initiatives have inspired you most in the last year?

I have been really excited by initiatives that bring the sometimes very different worlds of investing and philanthropy together. Some examples include using water rights to achieve better environmental water flows in the Murray Darling, new environmental technology that provides cleaning and sanitisation with electrolysed water and a brilliant new engineering solution that coverts plastic waste into fuel at a commercial scale, saving landfill and emissions.

Is there anything that still surprises you about working with philanthropists?

I am often surprised and impressed at the many different ways that people approach their passions and interests. And once they start their journey, there is often a real fire- in-the-belly to learn more about an issue they want to tackle. When we have a boardroom full of inspired people to discuss a particular issue, the energy is palpable and there is genuine desire to learn from others and share experiences.

What are the qualities that you think philanthropists are looking for in an adviser?

A genuine commitment to philanthropy, knowledge and expertise, empathy and integrity and a personal and thoughtful approach.