Date posted: 3/07/2020 5 min read

CAs feature among Australia’s Top 100 financial advisers

Australia’s Top 100 Financial Advisers 2020 list has been revealed, with many CAs making an appearance. We find out what qualities they possess that have seen them rise to the top.

In Brief

  • CAs feature in Australia’s Top 100 Financial Advisers 2020 list.
  • The lack of women on the list is concerning and more needs to be done to help to close the gap.
  • Aspiring CAs should embrace feedback and seek out a mentor to help them reach the top.

By Amity Delaney

A list of Australia’s Top 100 financial advisers has been revealed, with eight chartered accountants recognised in the top 50.

The list, based on a national survey and a joint project between The Australian newspaper and US publication Barron's, both owned by News Corp, recognises top financial advisers across Australia. It looks at factors such as assets, fees, professional credentials, client retention and quality of practice.

Only six women in the top 50 are women, two of whom are CAs. Acuity speaks to a few CAs on the list about this lack of diversity and the attributes that have seen them rise to the top.

Mathew Cassidy CA, Partners Wealth Group, VIC – Number 8

Mathew Cassidy CA

Funds under advisement $1,700,000,000

1. Did you work as an accountant before becoming an adviser?

Yes, I started my career at E&Y in Perth, from ‘93 – ‘97

2. As a CA, what qualities or attributes do you have that make you a top financial adviser?

Honesty, integrity and always putting the client first.

3. Why do you think there aren't more women on the list?

It is a shame that there are not more females on the list as they have a lot to add to our industry and there are so many talented females out there. I feel that the industry as a whole needs to do a better job, to not just attract more females into the financial advice industry but also support them in their development as I believe they have unique traits that are very valuable to the industry.

4. What advice do you have for young CAs aspiring to make it to the top?

Find a mentor, create an accelerated development plan for yourself, don’t be afraid of hard work and also work hard on your personal referral network.

5. What do you like to do in your spare time?

Keep fit, play golf and spend time with my young family.

Adam Stanley CA, Pitcher Partners, VIC – Number 18

Adam Stanley CA

Funds under advisement $5,900,000,000

1. Did you work as an accountant before becoming an adviser?

I commenced my career with Pitcher Partners as a co-op student in 1995 in an audit accounting practice area. After completing my degree, I returned to an audit accounting practice area at Pitcher Partners in 1997 and completed my CA studies. I was fortunate enough to be provided the opportunity to move to the investment advisory practice area at Pitchers in 2001.

2. As a CA, what qualities or attributes do you have that make you a top financial adviser?

Completing the CA program and commencing my career as an accountant provided a fantastic foundation for my move to a financial advisor. The practical, on the job experience as an accountant, and technical competence provided by the CA program – particularly across structuring and taxation – are skills that I utilise on a daily basis.

3. Why do you think there aren't more women on the list?

The history of the industry, like many others, was that it was male dominated. It is disappointing that there isn’t more women represented as from my experience it is such a rewarding career and it is very suited to females as it offers flexibility, and females are typically empathetic which means they relate well when dealing with the very personal subject of one’s finances. Pleasingly, this is slowly changing throughout the industry and we are very proud at Pitcher Partners that two of our advisers nominated in the top 100 are female: Sue Dahn and Kellie Davidson.

4. What advice do you have for young CAs aspiring to make it to the top?

Work hard and take every opportunity that you can. If you are fortunate enough, as I have been in my career, to work with capable people pay attention and learn from them.

5. What do you like to do in your spare time?

I have a small interest in a few race horses which can be both great fun and frustrating, depending on the day.

Peter Dunn CA, Koda Capital, NSW – Number 27

Peter Dunn CA

Funds under advisement $775,000,000

1. Did you work as an accountant before becoming an adviser?

Yes. I worked in the audit division at HLB Mann Judd in Sydney from 1993 to 1996, including a four-month secondment with Foo Kon & Tan in Singapore. After becoming a chartered accountant, I moved to London, working in finance roles with Electra Private Equity and Credit Suisse.

2. As a CA, what qualities or attributes do you have that make you a top financial adviser?

Chartered accounting provides a solid foundation for those interested in financial advice. A strong sense of ethics and building trust with clients are paramount in both professions. Skills developed in my CA days such as questioning, listening and an understanding of tax and structuring have provided me with a toolkit to better advise wealthy Australian families.

3. Why do you think there aren't more women on the list?

The lack of diversity (including but not limited to gender diversity) across the Top 100 list is concerning, and it’s also a reminder of a broader industry wide issue. We spend a lot of time at Koda thinking of ways to improve current diversity levels, and while we can’t change the industry’s shortcomings overnight we are doing what we can at a company level. By offering flexibility on working arrangements, creating and empowering an internal Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and making sure our recruitment and promotion strategies are set up to continuously improve the future of the Koda partnership, we are working hard to make the Top 100 list more inclusive in future years.

4. What advice do you have for young CAs aspiring to make it to the top?

Never stop learning. Listen more. Follow your strengths. Teams are more powerful than individuals.

5. What do you like to do in your spare time?

With four kids, I’ve forgotten what spare time is. We like surfing, skiing, playing footy and going on road trips.

Olivia Maragna CA, Aspire Retire, QLD – Number 36

Olivia Maragna CA

Funds under advisement $300,000,000

1. Did you work as an accountant before becoming an adviser?

Yes I worked at one of the Big 4 where I developed a solid foundation for a career in financial planning.

2. As a CA, what qualities or attributes do you have that make you a top financial adviser?

A genuine care for clients, advising with integrity and always ensuring you add value to clients.

3. Why do you think there aren't more women on the list?

Financial planning is a male dominated industry with only one in five being female. I do believe that we still have a long way to go in creating the right structure to support women to progress. At Aspire Retire, I feel like we have the right team structure and support system to allow females to progress to close the gap and it’s something that we are very proud of.

4. What advice do you have for young CAs aspiring to make it to the top?

Surround yourself with people you admire and don’t be shy to ask for a mentor. Embrace feedback and be open to learning new things in different ways.

5. What do you like to do in your spare time?

My enjoyment is relatively simple – spending time with family and friends is important to me. I am also on the board of the Future2 Foundation which makes a difference to young Australians in need which is something I am very passionate about.