Meet the 2017 Rising Star finalists

September 2017

Rosemary Ryan spoke to this year’s finalists about how they got their start in the industry and what motivates them.

For 12 years ANZ Wealth has proudly partnered with the AFA to recognise emerging talent in the financial advice industry. The ANZ AFA Rising Star of the Year Award has proved to be a springboard to a successful career in the advice industry and helps the industry’s best new advisers to develop personally and professionally. 


Sam Jewell

“My favourite part of the job is speaking to people, finding common ground, finding out about their lives and building those close relationships.”

Sam Jewell –  Rising Tide Financial Services, Melbourne

“If you want to get stuff done, then do stuff.” That’s one of the mantras Sam Jewell’s admired mentors at Rising Tide Financial Services imparted to him, and it’s become part of his strong work ethic and dedication to his clients.

Jewell joined the company after completing a commerce degree at Monash University in 2014 and was instantly impressed by the philosophy of the business as a relaxed and friendly place that aims to treat clients as “mates”, and where the client base tends to be a younger demographic aged 25 to 45.

A qualified adviser for almost two years, Jewell says that while he “fell” into the industry, he quickly knew he wanted to make it his career after he started at Rising Tide. “I love talking to people,” he says. “My favourite part of the job is speaking to people, finding common ground, finding out about their lives and building those close relationships.”

His passion and key goal in his role is to make quality financial advice more accessible to “everyday Australians” because of the impact financial health can have on a person’s wellbeing and happiness.

Mia Taylor – Evalesco Financial Services, Sydney

Helping people overcome “financial paralysis” is a key motivation for Mia Taylor who says she wants to show people that financial planning is so much more than investing money.

“It’s about empowering people to lead happy, heathy and wealthy lives,” says Taylor.

Having started worked within the financial services industry in 2007, initially in mortgage broking, Taylor found herself drawn to the financial planning side of the businesses. She joined Evalesco in 2014, in an associate adviser’s role and was “unleashed” as a qualified adviser this year. She plans to soon start a Masters of Financial Planning. Taylor says having grown up in a low-income family, the role of financial adviser had struck a chord with her. “I found it 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 out point.”

She’s exploring ways to increase her reach and educate more people as well as promote Evalesco’s "healthy, wealthy, happy” ethos including the launch of her own podcasts on a range of topics. “I’d like to look back and see I’ve developed a way to be able to help people en masse,” she says.

Mia Talyor

“It’s about empowering people to lead happy, heathy and wealthy lives.”

Karlee Hoog-Antink

If this is the way a financial adviser can interact with people then this is something I want to do.”

Karlee Hoog-Antink – Elders Financial Planning, Mackay

In January, Karlee Hoog-Antink left her home town of Brisbane to grab the opportunity to steer the financial planning operation at the Mackay office of Elders Insurance. While she’s worked in financial planning since 2007, she only became an adviser in January.

The one-time law student switched to a career in financial planning inspired by her boss, a financial adviser she worked for as his assistant during her university studies.

“He was a psychologist by trade and had an amazing way of speaking to people and getting to the bottom of their soul,” Hoog-Antink says. “I thought if this is the way a financial adviser can interact with people then this is something I want to do.”

Hoog-Antink is also a passionate community advocate using her skills to improve people’s lives; she’s particularly focused on empowering women by increasing their financial literacy through advocacy group Zonta International.

Lauren Walker – Euroz Securities, Perth

Growing up with a dad who was a financial adviser, Lauren Walker already had an understanding of what the profession entailed before deciding to enter the industry.

But it was once she started in her first position in 2009 with Lighthouse Capital in an administration role that Walker realised how well it gelled with her. She quickly moved into paraplanning, before becoming an associate adviser, and then adviser in 2016.

“I loved it straight away,” she says. “It satisfied my need for technical and learning but also the side that I love, sitting down with people, learning about their lives and experiences and then finding a way to improve their quality of life through financial means. I want to make it simple for them and be a trusted adviser and ally helping achieve their dreams. It’s a huge responsibility.”

Passionate about education for herself and her clients, Walker has completed the highest level academic qualification available, a Masters in Financial Planning, and now has sights on an MBA. In August, Walker accepted the position of private client adviser at Euroz Securities in Perth where she’s charged with launching and growing a new financial planning business.

Lauren Walker

"I want to make it simple for them and be a trusted adviser and ally."

Keats Brydon

"We need to position ourselves around what value we are bringing."

Keats Brydon – Finn Financial Planning, Melbourne

In 2014, Keats Brydon took a “big leap of faith”. After a 20-year career in sales and marketing in the financial services sector, first with AMP in Australia and Britain and later running her own consultancy, she decided to buy a financial-planning business.

“I didn’t have the qualifications and hadn’t given advice,” says the founder and financial adviser of Finn Financial Planning. “I crammed and studied and did what I needed to do.”

It’s proved to be a good move – since taking on the business Brydon has had 100 per cent retention of the client list and achieved an average growth rate of 61 per cent. Plus there are plans to soon open the first franchised office based on the model Brydon has developed.

Brydon says her sales and marketing background naturally led her to a “customer-centric” approach that’s at the heart of her business. Observing the good and the bad of financial-advice businesses she’d consulted to also helped her design the kind of holistic life-based service she wanted to offer under her “create, protect, enjoy” philosophy.

“The industry needs to position ourselves around what value we are bringing,” Brydon says. “A robot can’t talk to you about achieving dreams and life goals and that’s where we can make a difference.”

Andrew Debono -  Announcer Group, Sydney

A love of numbers combined with a natural ability with people led Andrew Debono into financial planning. It’s a career he’s now passionate about in an industry he wants to give back to with a focus on raising levels of professionalism.

After completing a double degree in economics and applied finance, Debono came on board at Announcer Group in late 2014 and has been a financial adviser since June 2015.

Debono has quickly proven his talent for the profession rising to become one of Announcer’s top advisers and earning the trust of clients who praise him for his enthusiastic ability to tailor his message to suit individual needs.

Innovation focused, he’s introduced features such as video messaging for clients, straight-to-phone summaries after meetings, to allow them to absorb the information in their own time.

“The interaction is what I most enjoy, the people and building relationships,” he says. “I’m a big believer in making sure my clients understand what they’re doing – I see my role as empowering clients with knowledge.”

Debono says he would like to help dispel negative perceptions around the financial-planning industry. “I want to be a leader for influencing change in the industry,” he says.

Andrew Debono

“The interaction is what I most enjoy, the people and building relationships.”