2023 Top 100 Financial Advisers: Matthew Donat, Koda Capital
21 Sep 2023
The clients who come to Melbourne-based Koda Capital adviser and partner Matt Donat often require more than just investment advice.
Most are self-made business people on the brink of selling their stake, and they need financial arrangements that can build resilient, long-term results.
“Clients who have a liquidity event present to us with $10 million, $20m, $50m, and they say, ‘I want an investment portfolio’, but what they really need is a whole wealth solution,” Donat says.
“This includes getting the structure right, making sure that there is an appropriate succession plan in place, and a lot about education of family members about how to manage wealth effectively.
“We work with a range of professionals, accountants, lawyers and other trusted advisers to provide a tailored, holistic solution to our clients.”
Donat, 38, has worked with high-net wealth clients in a career that spans 17 years. As an adviser with Koda for eight years, he provides services to founders who are selling or those who have just sold their businesses, as well as families, not-for-profits and charitable endowments.
Given his clients have already made their wealth, the top priority is often asset protection and risk management.
“Koda adopts a long-term endowment approach with a key focus on optimal asset allocation and capital preservation,” he says.
“A typical portfolio solution consists of a number of complementary investment ideas with different risk and return drivers, providing less correlation to the broader market.
“Each client’s portfolio solution is custom-built to their specific needs and objectives with access to a range of high-quality global investment opportunities that are sourced through a commitment to extensive global research and travel as well as some fantastic informal partners based locally and offshore.”
He says the firm — and each partner — also has a smaller number of clients, allowing them to tailor specific portfolios.
And given the nature of the clients, they are also prepared to take a longer-term view and invest in alternative assets that can sometimes have less liquidity.
“We don’t offer a vanilla portfolio solution,” he says. “We’ve got lots of different opportunities to complement what a typical portfolio might be.”
These could include agricultural or infrastructure assets, private equity, litigation financing, private debt, and many other diverse investments, he says. “However, we remain diversified. We don’t want to risk clients losing capital.”
Donat started in financial services as a chartered accountant — a role that he continues to credit for his “broad lens” on all considerations of wealth — before joining a multi-family office advising the Myer Family and many other wealthy families.
“There’s not many wealth advisers in the industry who have a really strong accounting and structuring background,” he says. “I’ve seen the full spectrum of accounting in a multi-family office, where you’re doing everything for a client, to now really focused on the investment strategy.
“My Achilles heel is that I’m still an accountant and I will help out with things,” he says, laughing.
He says he remains fascinated by the psychology of investing and decision-making, and even engaged an organisational psychologist a few years ago to educate himself, and in turn, his clients.
“I’ve built a full-blown financial education program that I take my clients through,” he says. “I spend a lot of my time educating and explaining to people about wealth, how it works. For those who don’t have it, wealth fixes everything, but for those who do have it, wealth can create a massive burden.”
He says Koda takes an independent approach and a shared ownership structure, with no product offerings or conflicts of interest. However, he credits its size — as the largest independent firm — as being able to access significant global investment opportunities.
“I’m surprised about the myriad of investment opportunities people can access,” Donat says.
“If clients can look beyond a traditional bonds-and equity portfolio, the whole world of investment opportunities really opens up. They can improve their risk-adjusted return and reduce volatility compared to the traditional asset classes.”
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