Every year GPS Wealth, like every licensee, holds an annual awards night. The awards are designed to acknowledge the advisers and practices that have fulfilled key criteria set by the group’s board and executive team.

A panel of judges, which includes executives and advisers, consider factors such as an adviser’s participation in training days and events; their compliance and audit performance; CPD register; how competent they are in using the tools and programs developed by the licensee; the quality of advice they provide; their attitude, growth and development as an adviser; and whether or not they are a good ambassador for the financial planning industry as well as their licensee.

Product sales are not a consideration when determining award winners. That may inadvertently be a factor for licensees that are aligned to a product manufacturer, but as an independent licensee, the criteria is strictly based on merit. Advisers can’t self-nominate. They are nominated by the GPS Wealth team. The advisers value the awards and they’re highly sought after.

This year, Brisbane-based financial adviser Ben Budge was named GPS Wealth’s 2016 Adviser of the Year, while Newcastle’s Insight Wealth Planning took out the Practice of the Year award.

Outstanding organic growth

According to Budge, who established My Wealth Solutions with his childhood friend Guy Freeman, the award recognises his passion and commitment to quality advice, and his strong technical knowledge, soft skills and professionalism.

From a standing start in 2010, My Wealth Solutions is now a thriving practice that has eight staff looking after over 400 clients and a multi-million dollar annual turnover with 35 per cent profit margin.

In 2014, it launched a mortgage broking arm, My Lending Solutions and last year, Freeman and Budge opened a second office in their hometown of Townsville, which services around 40 clients. For the year to June 30, 2016, the business recorded revenue growth of 64 per cent, up from 59 per cent in 2014/15.

What makes the My Wealth Solutions story extraordinary is that the business’ growth is purely organic.

“Our strategy in the beginning was to grow organically so we didn’t buy a book of business and we never have but that doesn’t mean we won’t in the future,” Budge said.

“We had zero revenue in our first year but we’ve become a very profitable practice and we’re extremely excited about the future.

“This is a dynamic business that’s growing at a time when there’s a lot of uncertainty for investors and advisers due to regulatory change, market volatility and dwindling client-bases tied to Australia’s rapidly ageing population. We believe all these factors present an opportunity for good advisers to provide quality advice and add value for their clients.”

What makes clients tick?

In Budge’s case, he’s a young adviser who has achieved extraordinary growth in revenue and funds under advice by working hard and delivering quality strategic advice using the tools and programs developed by GPS Wealth.

According to Budge, being recognised by his dealer group and peers is extremely satisfying.

He cites one of his key strengths as his ability to find out what makes people tick. With that critical insight, he’s then able to develop a strategy that maximises the probability of a client achieving their objectives.

“There’s so much focus on technical skills, and I agree that it’s essential for advisers to be educated and highly qualified, but to me that’s a hygiene issue,” he said.

“Advisers need to have the knowledge and skill but they also need to be able to tell a story, take people on the advice journey and build trust. They need to talk to clients in a way that resonates with them and they need to be able to identify the gaps between a client’s current situation and their goals and objectives, and then deliver the right solutions and strategies.”

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