Making a difference in clients’ lives and building greater financial literacy in the community are driving forces for this year’s winner.
Mia Taylor from Sydney-based Evalesco Financial Services is the winner of the 2017 AFA Rising Star Awards that aim to shine a light on the industry’s most dynamic up and coming leaders.
The awards recognise advisers with four years or less experience who provide quality advice and an exceptional client experience, are contributing to the financial literacy of their clients and perhaps the community, and are committed to their ongoing professional development.
ANZ Wealth has partnered with the AFA to help acknowledge the industry’s rising talent over the 13 years it has been running.
Taylor joined Evalesco in 2014 as an associate adviser and began in her role as financial adviser in January. She’s worked in the financial services industry for more than ten years, initially in mortgage broking but then drawn to the financial planning side of the various businesses she worked for. Since completing a Diploma in Financial Planning in 2007, she’s continued to add to her qualifications as her career developed and will begin a Masters in Financial Planning later this year.
For the judges it was Taylor’s ambition and her dedication to delivering high quality service to clients, combined with her single-minded goal to develop financial literacy in the wider community that most impressed them and gave her the edge in a strong field of finalists.
One of the judges, Jenny Brown, founder and CEO of JBS Financial Strategists, says Taylor’s leadership qualities are inspiring. “Mia is an exceptionally passionate and driven person, with a view to helping empower more people to be healthy, wealthy and happy,” she says. “She’s constantly looking for ways she can improve and asking, ‘How can we do more?’.”
Fellow judge, the AFA’s chief executive officer, Phil Kewin, says Taylor “embodies” the qualities needed in a new adviser. “Mia has a willingness to learn and develop her skills, and she’s able to show great empathy and build trust with her clients,” he says. “She’s innovative in developing new ways to communicate with clients, and she’s already taking a leadership role in the industry.”
ANZ Wealth head of sales, Don Sillar, also a judge, says Taylor has an “x factor”. “Mia has a strong attitude and commitment around the reason she goes to work every day – she’s intelligent, articulate and ambitious, and has a strong passion for the industry,” he says. “She’s very motivated to effect change in her clients and really wants that role of being a life guide. She has a strong focus on her clients’ financial literacy but also wants to take that to a wider audience and is putting that into action.”
Taylor was inspired to become a financial adviser when she saw the profession’s potential to make a difference in people’s lives. She says helping people overcome “financial paralysis” to lead happier lives is a key motivation, as well as her quest to change the community perception that “financial advice is just investment advice”.
“I want to use everything I’ve learned to deliver advice which goes far beyond just great financial outcomes,” she says. “Great advice is more than a comprehensive strategy- it’s how the relationship and advice work together to empower clients to face challenges or have the difficult conversations they may have been putting off.
“The conversations I have [with clients] aren’t always around money – they might be around health and happiness and identifying what it is that makes people happy.”
Taylor says having grown up in a low income family, the role of financial adviser struck a chord with her. “It really meant something to me,” she says. “A lot of financial advice is targeted towards high net worth clients, but I could see how valuable it is for people who don’t have such a great starting point.
“That really motivated me to develop my skills to be able to teach people who don’t have basic financial literacy skills to help themselves and pass it on to their kids.
“I’m not afraid to put myself out of my comfort zone if that means I’m reaching a greater audience and ultimately helping more people have healthy relationships with money, and developing a community of healthy, wealthy, happy people.”
Amongst Taylor’s initiatives in her mission to help people “en masse” is the creation of podcasts including a recent series, “How to talk to your kids about money”.
“I’m looking for ways of reaching more people, making the complex simple, by trialling things like podcasts, like social media,” she says. “With good content hopefully we can build some traction.”
Taylor is also heavily involved in giving back to the industry taking an active role with the AFA, particularly its GenXT committee.
“There’s huge value in talking to other young advisers who are also looking for improvement, sharing ideas, and finding better ways to do things,” she says.
“Ultimately, that sort of collaboration can have benefits for the whole industry, raising the professionalism and delivering more value to clients.”