The unveiling of Olivia Maragna as the 2012 Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) Adviser of the Year topped off a four-day event that saw a record 800 AFA members congregate for the association’s national conference on the Gold Coast.

Maragna’s win was revealed during the conference’s gala dinner on Tuesday night and brought to four the number of major award winners unveiled during the conference.

On Sunday, Matt Hale was announced as the 2012 Rising Star. On Monday, Dean Lombardo took out the 2012 Excellence in Education Award. And on Tuesday afternoon Christine Hornery was revealed as the winner of the 2012 Female Excellence in Advice Award.

During the conference, the AFA announced Bernie Toohey as the 2012 Michael Murphy Award winner – an award the association describes as a “‘best and fairest’ accolade”.

For Maragna (right) and Toohey, it was the second honour bestowed upon them by the AFA. Maragna was the inaugural Female Excellence in Advice winner last year, and Toohey took out the inaugural Adviser of the Year award in 2003.

In a statement, the chief executive officer of the AFA, Richard Klipin, said Toohey’s award reflected “Bernie’s commitment to his clients, his business and his profession”.

“He lives and breathes the AFA’s ethos which is to lead, support and inspire members of the advice profession in order to build, manage and protect the wealth of everyday Australians,” Klipin said.

Klipin said the standard of finalists in the Adviser of the Year award improved every year.

“Despite what can only be described as interesting times, advisers are more than rising to meet the challenges,” Klipin said. “They are innovative, professional and an outstanding example to their peers.”

The chief executive officer of award sponsor Zurich, Colin Morgan, announced that as part of the award Zurich would fly Maragna to its global headquarters in Switzerland for an opportunity to meet and network with leading advisers from other countries.