Adviser of the Year and
Practice of the Year

The Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) and Zurich are pleased to announce that Darren Johns from Align Financial is the 2016 AFA Adviser of the Year, and Henderson Maxwell is the 2016 AFA Practice of the Year.


The accolades of ‘Adviser of the Year’ and ‘Practice of the Year’ are awarded to extraordinary and visionary advisers and practices, recognising qualities of leadership, innovation, customer-centricity and commitment to professional excellence. They are undoubtedly Australia’s premier financial advice awards.

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2016 AFA Adviser of Year and Practice of Year winners announced

The Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) and Zurich are pleased to announce that Darren Johns from Align Financial is the 2016 AFA Adviser of the Year, and Henderson Maxwell is the 2016 AFA Practice of the Year.

Now in its fourteenth year, the AFA Adviser of the Year Award is a joint initiative between the AFA and Zurich, and it is widely recognised as Australia’s most prestigious award for financial advisers. In its third year, the AFA Practice of the Year, which is also a joint AFA/Zurich initiative, is the foremost award for financial advice practices.

Zurich Life and Investments CEO Tim Bailey said “Advisers can and do make a profound, positive difference in the lives of everyday Australians,” he said. “These Awards, which Zurich has supported since launch, are an important opportunity to identify, shine a spotlight on, and share best practice within the profession. This year’s winners are testament to the way advisers are constantly innovating in order to improve both the customer experience – and the accessibility – of quality financial advice.”

AFA CEO Brad Fox said Darren Johns of Align Financial and Henderson Maxwell, both from Sydney, are outstanding examples of the high calibre and professionalism of AFA award winners.

2016 AFA Adviser of the Year

Darren Johns
Align Financial, NSW

2016 AFA Practice of the Year

Henderson Maxwell, NSW
(Sam Henderson)

About the awards

The AFA Adviser of the Year and Practice of the Year Awards have come to stand for many things – vision – leadership – excellence. They have come to symbolise a pioneering spirit and the highest professional standards. Many advisers are continuously looking to improve both their business efficiency and their client engagement proposition and both awards play a pivotal role in shining a spotlight on, and sharing, best practice insights.

Zurich has always believed in the value of advice, and in the professionals who provide it. Our longstanding support of these awards is our commitment to celebrating and promoting best practice in financial advice and is one of the significant ways we help support advisers.

Find out more about Zurich’s commitment to helping Australian advisers and protecting clients.

Adviser of the Year and Practice of the Year Awards Adviser of the Year and Practice of the Year Awards

Past winners

The accolade of ‘Adviser of the Year’ and ‘Practice of the Year' is awarded to extraordinary and visionary advisers and practices, recognising qualities of leadership, innovation, customer focus and professional excellence.

  • 2015 Adviser of the Year

    David Reed
    The Retirement Advice Centre

    "The business has had significant exposure in newspapers, interviews on radio stations, newspapers, industry publications and increased referrals from our clients."
    Learn more about David Reed.

  • 2015 Practice of the Year

    The Kearney Group

    “The AFA Awards process is extremely rigorous and it has been an incredible experience; we’ve learned so much about our clients, our advisers and the way we do business.”
    Learn more about the Kearney Group.

The judging process

A judging panel will assess all applications for both Awards and select a shortlist to proceed to further stages. These include telephone, written and face to face interviews. The top six Finalists in each Award category are required to submit their total active client list to an independent research and benchmarking company for the purpose of a confidential client survey. Applications for the AFA Practice of the Year Award will be required to complete a Practice benchmarking survey.

Ultimately three finalists will be selected for each Award and will be invited to attend a full day judging showcase held in Sydney in September (travel and accommodation expenses will covered).

  • Adviser of the Year judging criteria

    The 2016 Adviser of the Year is assessed against the AFA's 4 key learing pillars:
    - Business performance
    - Adviser performance
    - Quality advice strategies
    - Professionalism and leadership

    AFA membership
    Applicants who progress to finalist stage of the 2016 AFA Adviser of the Year Award are expected to be current AFA members. You can join online at www.afa.asn.au or by contacting the AFA on 1800 656 009.

  • Practice of the Year judging criteria

    The 2016 Practice of the Year Award is assessed against the cornerstones that support all advice practices:
    - Planning and governance
    - Operational excellence
    - Client management
    - People and performance
    - Marketing

    AFA membership
    It is expected that Practice Principals who progress to the finalist stage of the AFA 2016 Practice of the Year Award are Associate Members of the AFA and the majority of their financial advisers are current AFA members. You can join online at www.afa.asn.au or by contacting the AFA on 1800 656 009.

  • The judges
    Brad Fox
    Brad Fox
    Chief Executive Officer, AFA
    Deborah Kent
    Deborah Kent
    President, AFA
    Kristine Brooks
    Kristine Brooks
    Head of Distribution, Life & Investments, Zurich Financial Services
    Philip Kewin
    Philip Kewin
    General Manager Life & Investments
    Dr Rebecca Sheils
    Dr Rebecca Sheils
    Director, The Beddoes Institute
    Graham Peatey
    Graham Peatey
    Consultant, Caboodle Financial Services
    Peter Sobels
    Peter Sobels
    Publisher, riskinfo

Key Dates

9 May 2016 Applications open
22 Jul 2016 Applications close
5 Aug 2016 Telephone interviews of selected candidates completed
8 Aug 2016 Top 6 finalists selected
15 Aug - 2 Sep 2016 Site visits, client survey and compliance audits
5 Sep 2016 Top 3 finalists selected
20 Sep 2016 Finalist Showcase in Sydney
7 Oct 2016 Winners announced at the AFA National Adviser Conference (Canberra)

Frequently asked questions

Am I eligible to apply for the 2016 AFA Adviser of the Year or 2016 AFA Practice of the Year award if I have been a winner in the past?

Previous winners of the AFA Adviser of the Year Award and AFA Practice of the Year Award are not eligible to apply for either Award in 2016.

Am I eligible to apply for the 2016 AFA Adviser of the Year or 2016 AFA Practice of the Year award if I have been a finalist in the past?

Previous finalists may apply for either award, however the maximum number of consecutive applications from finalists is two in two years for the same award.

Can I apply for both the Adviser of the Year and the Practice of the Year award?

You can only enter one award and your application will be assessed against the criteria for the award you have selected.

Where do I send my completed application from?

Send your completed form to afa.award@zurich.com.au by 6pm (AEST) Friday 22 July 2016.

Will extra attachments supporting my application be considered?

Extra attachments will not be considered.

Who can I contact if I have any questions in regards to the awards?

If you have any questions about the awards e-mail afa.award@zurich.com.au