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24 September 2018

Meet the 2018 Rising Star finalists

The AFA Rising Star Award recognises the industry’s best new advisers. Virat Nehru profiles last year’s finalists.

The Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) selected six finalists for the 2018 AFA Rising Star of the Year Award. Now in its 14 th year, ANZ Wealth and OnePath has long been a proud partner of the award, which recognises emerging talent in the financial services industry.

Don Sillar, head of sales, ANZ Wealth – who was one of the judges – said the program introduces a great pool of talent.

“They have already made great contributions to the industry through client service, outstanding advice and community engagement,” he says. “It is important we support these advisers for the future of the advice industry and we look forward to helping them develop both personally and professionally.”

The winner was announced on October 10 2018 at the AFA National Adviser Conference.

 Watch the 2018 Rising Star finalists


Rachael Bursell, Finance Your Future

“I decided to move into an advice role when I became more aware of the issues surrounding women and the imbalances they experienced.”

Rachael grew up watching her father establish himself in financial planning, which was at the time, a small industry compared to today. She has been working in financial planning for more than 17 years in various positions, before taking on the role of an adviser in 2017.

“[Women] retire with half the superannuation balance of men on average, and women over 55 are becoming Australia’s fastest growing demographic of the homeless,” she says.

“I realised that if I wanted to contribute to changing that, then I needed to be in a position to action that change.”

She also volunteers for a local charity that provides crisis accommodation and support for pregnant women and mothers. She assists the women supported by the charity with budgeting and cash flow decisions.

“I want women to feel empowered – empowered enough to leave a financially abusive situation, empowered enough to know they can make it on their own, and that their financial security rests in their hands,” she says.

She has a Diploma of Financial Planning and is currently in the process of completing her Masters in the same field. She loves to travel, has an addiction to coffee and a weak spot for good gin.

“You need to be able to understand your client – not only through what they are saying, but often what they aren’t, because it’s the things they aren’t saying that are key to understanding what their goals and priorities are.”


Andrew Debono, Announcer Group

“I enjoy the growth aspect of the job – not only seeing my clients grow but also knowing that I’m improving my skills and learning.”

Along with constantly upskilling, Andrew believes the key to being a good financial adviser is to build strong relationships.

“Financial advice is all about relationships, and what I have found is that the most successful advisers build great relationships with their peers and their clients,” he says.

Andrew was interested in finance from an early age – his father piqued his interest in shares and investing and he went on to complete a double degree in Economics and Applied Finance.

While at university he worked part-time at Big W, and it was here that Andrew realised he was meant to be a financial planner.

“At Big W, my favourite part was speaking to customers and building relationships,” he says. “I then thought, ‘in what career could I have the best of both worlds; building relationships and being involved in finance?’ That’s how I came to financial planning.”

In the near future, he would like to have his own business, a ‘one-stop-shop’ where clients can get advice from different professionals at any time.

“I think this is where the industry is going and it is a must for professionals to provide advice for clients at the same time.”


Sam Jewell, Rising Tide Financial Services

“I get to meet people from all walks of life and help put them in a better position doing something I love.”

A qualified adviser for almost three years, Sam says he “fell” into the advice industry, but quickly knew he wanted to make it his career.

“I love working in this industry because I know I’m helping a lot of people,” he says.

He joined Rising Tide after completing a commerce degree in 2014 and was impressed by the relaxed and friendly culture that aims to treat clients as “mates”, and where the client base tends to be a younger demographic aged 25 to 45.

“I stumbled upon Rising Tide Financial Services five years ago and have never looked back,” he says. “I knew I was in the right place.”

Sam believes financial advice ought to be more accessible and affordable for all Australians.

“In the space of five years my emotional intelligence has developed to a point where I’m extremely comfortable having the hard conversations with clients and they appreciate that more than anything,” he says.

He loves footy – he is a self-admitted Bombers tragic – and often uses sports as a casual conversation starter to break the ice and connect with his clients.

“I barrack for the Bombers but all things footy tickle my fancy.”


Jacinta Martin, Financial Management

"I love being able to help [people] achieve things they didn’t know they could or tick things off their bucket list they thought would be a wish but not necessarily a reality."

A big advocate of bringing positivity to her clients, Jacinta realised she had found her calling of helping people create their own financial freedom when she started her internship under a WHK principal financial planner.

“I love being able to make a real difference to the way people live their lives,” she says.

After gaining more experience at AMP Financial Planning, Jacinta launched Altitude Financial Management at the end of 2015.

“Financial advice is about making people wealthier not in dollars, but what the dollars buy you – experience, happiness, independence and freedom,” she says.

Through her work at Altitude, she developed specialist debt and cash flow programs, designed to empower her clients to reach their full potential.

“I believe the debt and cash flow advice that I am producing is simple, relevant and empowering; [it is] quite different to the traditional financial advice of super, insurance and investment,” she says.

She wants to improve financial literacy in Australia, educating and motivating as many people as possible to live their idea of an unrestrictive life that’s free of financial strain.

“I would like to help first home buyers find affordable ways into the market that will help them build a strong financial future.”


Rebecca Pritchard, Wealth Enhancers

"I love that I can use the knowledge I have acquired to positively impact people’s lives."

At school, Rebecca diligently read the guidebook for the Dollarmites Club to figure out how to maximise her savings. At just eight years of age, she set a car fund in motion, and honed her financial fitness blitzing her friends at Monopoly.

“I’m passionate about getting the everyday person having a fun and engaging conversation about financial wellbeing the same way we do about eating well and exercising,” she says.

She solidified her passion for finances with a Commerce degree followed by a few years in the corporate finance world at KPMG, before joining the Wealth Enhancers team.

“I want to continue with my learning, focusing on developing my technical skills, my coaching skills, but also moving into more positive psychology studies down the track,” she says.

Rebecca wants to engage the younger demographic in financial planning and literacy, providing “fluid advice solutions” for young people that are always on the go and have a “global mindset”. She prefers to use a range of communication resources at her disposal – from Instagram, email and Snapchat – to connect with her clients.

 “I have pushed myself to be the leader of the [Wealth Enhancers] team within four years,” she says, “and am now in a position to train other advisers to work with Millennials.”


Ryan Skeen, Zella

“I’ve always loved helping people. Being a financial adviser means I get to do that every day in a very tangible and measurable way.”

Ryan began his career as a personal trainer, so having conversations about financial literacy and goals with his clients comes naturally. As does his holistic wellness approach to financial advice.

“I actually never planned to be a financial adviser, I thought I was going to be working in the sports industry,” he says. “It wasn’t until a lecturer at university challenged me to do something different that I found myself in a financial advisory placement – and I have never looked back.”

He is passionate about assisting, advising and educating young people in wealth management through a combination of financial advice and coaching.

“The diversity of people I get exposure to on a weekly basis is something I love and really value, as it means I am always learning something new and being challenged in my role,” he says.

He is also keen to educate the wider community on the concept of financial wellness with his involvement in She’s on the Money, a not for profit financial education platform for women.

When not at work, he loves to tee off on the golf course and play cricket at the St Barnabas Cricket Club.


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