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2019 AFA Rising Star of the Year finalists - Chris Carlin, Ellie Fordham, Daniel Jackson, Jade Louise McKay, Rebecca Maher, Victoria Devine

August 2019

What’s your X-Factor?

2019 Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) Rising Star Award finalists have their X-Factor down pat.

In the final stages of the Award’s judging process with the winner to be announced in a few weeks at the AFA conference in Adelaide, it was a question the finalists were ready to answer.

But knowing your differentiator or your X-Factor has broader value than just in an awards process. It can be the game-changer which fast tracks your career success and makes working life feel like an extension of your strengths.

According to Gallup research, people who use its Clifton Strengths Assessment tool to help identify their unique strengths are more engaged and productive at work and three times more likely than others to have an excellent quality of life.

The thinking is that knowing and playing to your strengths helps increases the likelihood you’ll be confident, feel happy and energetic, achieve goals and be treated with respect.

Four of this year’s Rising Star Award finalists identify their X-Factor and explain how it feels.

A skill that comes naturally

Rising Star Award finalist Daniel Jackson says it was his employer who first identified his X-Factor when he noticed Jackson’s high client satisfaction rates.

“My X-Factor is my ability to connect with my clients and explain the advice process where it is both entertaining and educational. I walk them through the process so they get a real interactive experience from start to finish.”

Jackson is a financial planner at DBK Financial Solutions in Wodonga, Victoria. He joined DBK in 2013, working in administration, compliance and as a paraplanner before becoming a financial planner in 2015.

To Jackson, his X-Factor feels quite normal. “To me this was just naturally someone who I am, someone who likes to obtain knowledge and share that knowledge.”

Making the most of study

Fellow finalist Victoria Devine regards her education as her X-Factor.

“My background in psychology is my differentiator, and allows me to provide advice that fits the individual. Money is such an emotional topic and everything comes back to how we feel.”

Devine is Director and Financial Adviser at Zella Wealth, a business she launched in Melbourne three years ago. She is also founder of She’s on the Money, a financial education business, thriving online community and podcast she launched in 2016 to educate women about money.

Devine’s academic background allows her to bring together her psychology qualifications together with financial advice. She holds a Bachelor of Psychological Science and a Post Graduate Diploma (Hons) of Organisational Psychology. She also has a Master’s of Business Administration from RMIT and a Diploma of Financial Planning, Accounting and Finance.

She says after working in organisational psychology, it became clear people were stressed about finance. “I love the tangible outcomes that could be achieved with my clients, which is what drew me to move into the industry and is the reason I’m so passionate about financial advice.”

Business tools for business success

While personality traits and academic qualifications may be differentiators for some, for other people it may be how they use business tools to create value for their clients. Chris Carlin says his real differentiator or X-Factor is his strong presence on social media.

Carlin is the founder, Financial Planner and Mortgage Broker at Master Your Money Now, a business he launched in Geelong Victoria in July 2018.

While Carlin acknowledges that other Rising Star Award finalists use social media platforms in their businesses, it is the power to engage with a younger demographic that has him taken with the tool.

Chris is a regular commentator on blogs, LinkedIn and Instagram on finance-related topics and Master Your Money Now has been rated within the Top 10 Personal Finance Blogs in Australia. He calls the medium ‘edutainment’, highlighting the importance of being entertaining while educating people about money.

Conversation starter

Jade McKay is a financial planner with Essential Financial Advice (EFA), a practice located in South Bunbury, Western Australia. She has also recently established her own advice business Manu Forti.

While to some her X-Factor might be the fact Jade is a qualified veterinary nurse and works at a veterinary hospital on weekends, she says her X-Factor is her ability to build meaningful relationships with her clients and how she can turn an advice conversation into a personal conversation.

“I have an ability to connect with clients on a personal level, which allows them to open up to me. It helps me frame their advice to suit their needs.”

Whatever your X-Factor, this year’s Rising Star finalists demonstrate how natural an X-Factor feels and while study and business tools may help to highlight this, ultimately the real differentiator is you.

Tips for the 2019 AFA Rising Star Award finalists and for sharing your X-Factor

  • Back yourself - you either applied for, or were nominated for a reason - don't be coy in talking about yourself and your strengths
  • Distinguish yourself from your business - this award is about you as a person and whilst I'm sure you're a fabulous team player, be clear on why you do what you do in the scope of the business and outside of it
  • Take the time to prepare - your career goes by quickly so it's important to take the time to reflect on the client stories, business innovations or moments of growth that really set you apart, so that you can articulate them clearly
  • Don't be shy - if you have an opinion (whether on the future of advice, education reform or anything), be confident to share it - last year's cohort were judged right in the middle of the Royal Commission and FASEA preparing guidelines, and of course we were asked about it
  • Enjoy the process - the challenge of judging, organising my thoughts and articulating my views was incredibly rewarding, so be sure to enjoy each step along the way (kind of like the pain at the gym to build the six-pack).

Source: Rebecca Pritchard is Financial Freedom Fighter with Wealth Enhancers and 2018 AFA Rising Star Award winner.



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