May 25, 2017

May 25, 2017 | Risk Pulse

What judges look for in an Adviser and Practice of the Year

The AFA Adviser of the Year Award is now in its 14th year, recently being joined by the Practice of the Year Award also. As a proud foundation partner, Zurich believes strongly in the value of quality advice and the professionals that provide it. Our mission is to support and celebrate profitable and sustainable business that are re-thinking the traditional ways of operating their businesses and engaging with clients to help lift the quality of the profession as whole and deliver advice to more Australians.

We know that successful advisers and businesses come  in many different shapes and sizes, and there is no ‘one size fits all’ winner of the Adviser and Practice of the Year Awards. To find out more about what the judges look for in a successful applicant, we sit down with 2017 judge, Deborah Kent.

Why did you decide to come on board again as a judge for the AFA Adviser and Practice of the Year awards?

It is an absolute honour to be judging the pinnacle Awards in the Financial Advice profession, and getting an insight into what outstanding advisers and practices are doing to promote and provide great advice to Australians.

What is the biggest misconception advisers might have about the awards process?

The most common thing we see ad judges is that advisers and business don’t back themselves. They either think that they are not at the standard to apply, or that the process is too difficult and they don't have the time.  

This is absolutely not the case. As a judge, the key things I look for in applicants is that they believe they  or their business is at the forefront of advice embracing technology efficiencies, that they have a great culture within the business, great client engagement, are moving and adapting with industry changes, and educating the public on the benefits of financial advice.

If this sounds like you, I would heartily encourage you to apply.

What are your top tips for filling in the initial application form?

This can be a pain point for a lot of potential applicants. The best advice I can give to make sure you fill out every part of the form and give the judges a good upfront indication of who you are and what you do. You don’t have to have a media presence or your own app – far from it. We encourage advisers to be themselves and let their authenticity shine thorough, however we still need to see some evidence. For example, if you have a social presence, provide some links or analytics. It doesn’t have to be an in-depth response but failing to give enough information may eliminate you early from the process.

What are the three most important things judges look for in a winning adviser or advice practice?

From my perspective, what makes someone stand out as an Adviser or Practice of the Year is:

1. A demonstration of your uniqueness.
2. Honesty and being yourself – let judges understand you as a person, show us what your beliefs are, what your purpose is, and what has shaped your advice philosophy.
3. Professionalism, commitment to the industry and how you genuinely make a difference to the lives of your clients.

Past winners of the award have all been very diverse (both in age and gender, as well as specialisations, practice size and profile). What is that X factor, in your opinion that makes an adviser or practice stand out to the judges?

A winning practice or adviser is one that genuinely puts the client first and promotes a healthy business culture. They are someone who shows leadership, embraces change and is a role model for others in the industry.  

Another common connector between all of the past winners is that they treat improvement  like a continuum and not a point in time fix. Meaning they have processes in place to benchmark success, dissect it into parts and constantly refine each component.

What would you tell a client if they asked why the Adviser and Practice of the Year Awards are so important?

The AFA Adviser of the Year and Practice of the Year are considered the ‘pinnacle awards’ in the financial advice profession and something that every adviser and practice should aspire to.  Winning these awards shows that you are a business of high integrity and professionalism, always acting in the best interests of clients.

Do you have any further comments or advice?

If you are nominated for these awards, take it seriously and put in the time to fill out applications appropriately, it sets the scene for the judges to consider you but most of all, good luck!