Now in its 11th year, the AFA Rising Star of the Year Award has unearthed some of the best and brightest talent in our industry. We spoke to this year’s finalists.
Meet the finalists
Adrian Patty – AP Financial Solutions
Adrian Patty travelled the world for two years before settling into his career as a financial planner. After completing the AMP Horizons program, Adrian started his own business in the Sydney CBD where he provides holistic wealth advice to a broad range of clients.
“I get particular satisfaction out of helping clients who have left it a bit late, and giving them peace of mind that they can support themselves in retirement,” Adrian said.
Adrian always looks to integrate a philanthropic outlook for all of his clients, which he believes provides an outlet for clients to express their feelings.
“Philanthropy isn’t just about High Net Worth individuals – I believe it can be fundamentally integrated into the advice process,” he said.
“People want to do things, they just don’t always know what’s possible. I find it’s always an enjoyable experience talking clients through their options. They get a lot of value out of it.”
Adrian has earned a reputation as a rising star of the industry by fostering a culture of networking and sharing among other advisers. He is a founding member of XY Adviser, a group that gets together regularly to share ideas and concerns.
Katherine Cairns – Peel Wealth Financial Planning
Katherine Cairns has worked in financial services for more than a decade. But it wasn’t until she returned from maternity leave that she started studying to be a financial planner while working part-time at Peel Wealth Financial Planning, based in Rockingham, Perth.
After Katherine started advising in 2014, the first insurance claim she had to help with was her mother’s.
“My mum was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer 12 months ago,” Katherine said. “She asked me to check her super for her – she’s since received a terminal illness benefit and she’s still on a salary continuance benefit.”
“Because of the insurance my mum’s had no financial worries and she’s been able to have world-class treatment. We didn’t think she’d make it to Christmas and now she’s cancer free.”
Katherine believes stories like her mother’s need to be shared to increase awareness about how valuable life insurance can be and encourages younger generations to seek advice from a younger age to have the right protection in place
“The mainstream media often shares negative stories about insurance, but every adviser has awesome stories that should be shared with their clients. If more advisers do that, more people will say ‘Hang on, I want someone to do that for me’.”
Throughout the judging process the judges observed a new age adviser who was leveraging technology to create efficiencies in her business as well as being extremely active on social media, to interactively engage with her clients and follow up leads. She also gives back to the New Zealand community living in Australia by helping them get the right protection in place.
Corey Wastle – Verse Wealth
Born and raised in Melbourne, Corey Wastle co-founded Verse Wealth in the Melbourne CBD in 2014. Verse is a holistic advice business that works mainly with Gen X and Y, professionals and small to medium business owners.
“My clients are time poor with a lot of work and family commitments,” Corey said. “They have things they want to achieve in life but they have ambitions that go unmet/unresolved without the right guidance.”
Referrals have played a major role in the early growth of Verse, particularly through LinkedIn – which Corey says makes it easy to source and cultivate relationships with like-minded businesses.
“We’ve been very proactive building our referral network with mortgage brokers, accountants, family lawyers. We’ve made around 30 business connections and we’re starting to see a consistent flow of business coming in.”
The judges were impressed with Corey’s dedication to his own self-development, his devotion to his clients, along with using technology to streamline the financial advice process.
“We record every client conversation on MP3 and we use our conversations to personalise our client’s advice documents. We also use video heavily – we’d rather send personalised videos than long-winded emails.”
Corey believes one of the biggest challenges facing the advice industry is to deliver advice that’s focused on what people value, not on products.
Mark Richardson – DFA Financial Planning
Mark Richardson grew up in Casino NSW and worked mostly in hospitality before finding his calling at DFA Financial Planning in Coffs Harbour.
“I was working late nights in hospitality and the director of DFA was my financial adviser,” Mark said. “He took me under his wing and gave me a 12-month crash course in financial planning.”
Mark realised that the people skills he learned in hospitality were transferrable to financial advice. And it’s this interaction with clients that gives him the most satisfaction.
The judges recognised Mark as a stand out for his highly personal approach to client relationships. He goes the extra mile to explain key messages – not just for the client but for their family as a whole.
“I look at the family unit as well as the individual. It’s not just about mum and dad, I want to talk about where the kids are at in life. I like to organise family boardroom meetings once a year to facilitate discussion and identify family needs.”
Mark has been known to travel to other states to support families through claim time. He truly goes above and beyond for his clients.
“I’ve had some dark days, had some bright days and I’ve managed to get through it and through these life experiences it gives me the ability to understand my clients and really partner with through their lives”.
Mark’s commitment to educating people about their finances extends to regularly presenting to children in local high schools.
Declan Doolan – Mr Insurance
For Declan Doolan, becoming a financial adviser meant following in his father’s footsteps. But it’s not something he was planning to do growing up.
“I took a semi-professional soccer scholarship in the US when I was 17, but I got homesick and came home without much of a backup plan” Declan said. “After that I did a range of different jobs, but one day I asked my dad ‘What’s this job you do that’s supported us all these years?’. He said he knew I’d ask one day but he was surprised how long I took!”
Declan now works in a risk specialist business, based in Murarrie in Queensland.
“We were one of the first businesses to charge for our advice and it’s transformed our relationships with clients. It takes the animosity out of it – our clients know we’re giving advice that’s in their best interests.”
The judges were impressed with Declan’s willingness to automate existing processes and finding new ways to improve efficiencies within his business through outsourcing filming and editing of client claim testimonials as well as using technology as a content sharing platform.
“I’m a bit of a problem innovator, in our office we had to put a suggestion box down because I keep interrupting people with new ideas. I constantly look to improve the client experience and how to make things more efficient”.
Declan’s status as a future leader is highlighted by his passionate advocacy for financial advice. He regularly used social media to help building the profile of his company, and insurance in general, in the broader community.