We talked to him about disrupting traditional industries, growth and acquisition, and what brought him and his growing team with Hub Australia.
What brought you into the industry?
Perhaps naively, I envisaged that financial advisors all sat down with people to have great conversations like “Where are you at in life? Personally, financially? What are you trying to achieve in your life with the help of your financial resources?”
At the end of the day, money is just a tool to get what you want and what you value.
What was your experience in traditional financial advice?
When I started I almost immediately realised everything was built around sales and commissions from selling financial products – moving someone from one super to another because you have a commercial relationship with them so the advisor gets a slice.
They tried to teach me how to scare people into taking out personal insurance because the more they take the more commission you make.
In the three years I spent at one of the major banks, I didn’t see anything that resembled what I thought financial advice was.
For me that’s a shame – I think when advice is done well, when it’s personal and outcome-orientated, it doesn’t have conflicts.
It’s not about sales. It can be truly valuable for people.
What pushed you to start your own business?
I quickly developed a vision to transform financial advice. How people get it, how they engage with it, to help people realise the value of it – ultimately changing the narrative of what it means to be a financial advisor.
In my mid-20s, I set about learning my craft and my skills and developing myself whilst preparing to start a business.
I co-founded Verse Wealth in early 2015 with my then-business partner James O’Reilly. Our focus was to build a really personal approach to financial advice that was outcome orientated and valuable, and didn’t have traditional conflicts.
Fast forward four years, we’ve got a team of six and about 130 clients. It’s taken us a long time to build what we envisaged, but every moment has been worth it.
How is the industry changing?
There’s an undercurrent of progressive financial advisors that are with us helping transform financial advice and bringing it to the modern age – I think the values are all defined around transparent value.
There’s been a lack of both of those things historically.
What brought you to coworking?
I’d heard about coworking spaces and I was intrigued – I started by Googling coworking spaces in Melbourne, and Hub Australia came up so I decided to organise a tour.
When I first saw Hub Southern Cross, I thought, “Why are we working in a serviced office? How could we not be somewhere as beautiful as this, especially with the vibrancy Hub has?”
We found coworking, and we’ve loved it. As we’ve grown our team has loved it too – especially that there’s such a good atmosphere and sense of community here.
I think there are similar values and beliefs across the collective here, and the staff is great. The space is beautiful – our clients always comment on the beauty of the place when they come in for meetings, so it’s great for our client’s experience.
There’s also the diversity of your workday. We’re not trapped in an office – we break our days up by being in a café, in little break-away spaces, getting out on standing desks – from the team’s point of view, it’s really healthy.
How do you hope Verse Wealth will grow in the near future?
We’re looking to double the size of the business. Our long-term vision is to become a powerful leader in financial advice, and really be the beacon for what we call the ‘new world of financial advice’.
That means we need to have a lot of scale, but we’re not focused on scaling for the sake of it. We only want to be big because to have a big impact. We want to help transform advice and lots of lives, so we’d prefer to transform as many lives as possible – inherently that forces us to figure out how to scale.
How do your customers find you?
Our clients come from three primary sources.
We feature prominently on Financial Advisor-type websites, get referrals from our existing clients, and also from our advice partners.
We work closely with accountants, mortgage brokers, property specialists, estate planners and so on, to help manage the financial lives of our clients and make sure they’ve got the right team around them.
What defines Verse Wealth?
The service we offer is uniquely personal, and we manage someone’s whole financial life – that means having those other professionals around and recognising when they need advice from a mortgage broker, or an accountant, or a property specialist. That traditionally hasn’t been what’s been done in finance.
We help people achieve their goals and get what they value – that also means recognising that we don’t have expertise in every area and need to leverage other professionals. The difference is that we do that for our clients with a no commissions, no kickbacks philosophy.
To find out more about Verse Wealth and how they’re changing the face of financial advice, head to their website here.