From left Natalie Isborn, Lisa Fuentes and Jamie Melville

Scale has become a buzzword for advice practices but for businesses to grow, it must be done off the back of organic growth according to a panel discussion.

“Always prioritise organic growth over M&A… [an acquisition] should be the cherry on top,” Macquarie Group head of new business Jamie Melville told the Professional Planner Advice Practitioner Summit.

Alteris Financial Group epitomised this philosophy – after building organically it made the decision to pursue M&A.

The firm’s chief operating officer, Lisa Fuentes, has been involved in eight acquisitions over six years.

She started with the group 20 years ago when it was based in a small office Paramatta shared with another accounting firm.

“We went through all the organic growth stories that a lot of businesses have today,” Fuentes said.

“It got to about 2016 and the CEO and managing director at the time said, ‘look this is getting boring – I’ve refined the business so many times over I just want to do something different and I want to grow’.”

Fuentes was learning on the job as they went through the various acquisitions.

“We wanted to do bigger and better things and organic growth is not going to support that. We went on this journey of acquisition, acquiring businesses,” Fuentes said.

“The biggest learning curve through all of that is the bite-sized pieces; doing one transaction at a time, learning from each of them and moving forward.”

Her advice to other buyers looking at businesses it to focus on the opportunity at hand.

“Understand why you’re buying that business and looki at it as being a successful business in its own right because you wouldn’t be looking at it if it wasn’t,” Fuentes said.

“What is this business going to bring to the table? When you understand where that value is all your energy, time, and conversations internally with clients, is focused on that value.”

Cleaning up