Ensombl has picked up Craig Keary as chair, as part of the adviser education and social platform commencing its global expansion journey in South Africa.
Keary, the former CEO of digital advice service Ignition Advice and Asia-Pacific managing director at AMP Capital, will oversee a series A capital raise and the opening of Ensombl’s first overseas operation in Cape Town, South Africa on 31 August.
The appointment of the former banker, who is completing a doctorate on the financial planning industry, will see outgoing chair Andrew Rocks remain on the board as a director.
Keary stepped away from the CEO role at Ignition in March, instead taking on a broader consulting role for the company which will continue while chairing the Ensombl board.
Ensombl now boasts a community of over 8000 advisers and Keary praised the “highly engaged” community the company created.
“I’m a big believer in the value of financial advice and joining a business that is really focused on a large number of the community that is highly engaged is a real privilege,” Keary tells Professional Planner.
“Based on that solid foundation the business has and the aspiration we have, I’m really focused with working with the board and management team and Clayton to focus on those new growth opportunities – both offshore and also in other adjacencies in Australia.”
Ensombl chief executive Clayton Daniel says the company has been planning its South African launch for around two years, settling on Cape Town as the next stop for its global expansion.
“We hadn’t launched anywhere else other than Australia, so we decided South Africa was different enough, yet similar enough to Australia,” Daniel says.
“We could use the blueprint of what has worked here in Australia but test it in a market where there were enough differences for us to see if our assumptions were correct.”
Ensombl launched an event in South Africa this month, as well as adding a home on the online platform specifically for South African users.
“We’ll give ourselves probably six months to fully focus in on that territory, get boots in the ground over there, set up the infrastructure,” Daniel says.
“As of next year, our plans [are to] continue to expand – whether it’s the UK or the US next will really be dependent on how the first six months go while in South Africa.”
Keary – who has spent a fair bit of time offshore particularly as Asia Pacific CEO of Ignition – notes how highly-regarded Australia’s wealth management industry is in other markets.
“As a result of that, what the team has done here in Australia… it is a globally leading piece of capability,” Keary says. “Going into one market at a time is the right approach.”
Ensombl – when it was known as XY Adviser – was created by Daniel, Ben Nash, Ray Jaramis and Adrian Patty as a means for professional development for a small group of rookie advisers.
The group expanded beyond groups on pre-existing social media platforms to develop its own and has since expanded to host Continuing Professional Development content and events, as well as its message boards.
Daniel cites US-based medical professional social network Doximity as the inspiration for the original XY Adviser.
“This finalises the Doximity strategy for us and ties everything together which has been four years in the making,” Daniel says.
“From there, once we spent a couple of years tidying that up, there are many opportunities for us in regards to how we deliver more value to both advisers and the corporate community. I’ve got some ideas on what potentially that would look like, but it’s still a couple of years away.”
Core to the business – as part of being a professional development platform – is education and CPD.
“We will begin allocating CPD points to the education that we do, but importantly, but we’ll be moving into a record of CPD to provide compliance tools for licensees to be able to monitor CPD completion,” Daniel says.
“It’s not just about allocating CPD points but adding value to licensees so that the advisers who are already consuming the content and education on Ensombl, will begin to contribute to their mandatory education requirements each year.”