‘Boy band’ moment leads to alliance

Tahn Sharpe


March 13, 2018

Matthew Kidd, co-founder at Expatme and chief commercial officer at Omniwealth Services

Matthew Kidd remembers clearly the meeting that led to the formation of Expatme, an alliance of financial services firms that specialise in helping Australians abroad navigate planning, property, immigration and advice issues.

“I was collaborating with these guys quite often and coming into the same meetings, and I looked around the room one time and had this ‘One Direction’ moment,” he explains. “I realised we had a boy band, because all these guys have businesses that completely inter-link and there is no competition between them. I said, ‘We’ve got an alliance, let’s explore this.’ ”

Kidd, who is co-founder at Expatme and chief commercial officer at Omniwealth Services, says the concept came together easily from there: create a website that funnels Australian expats looking for financial services to professionals with the contacts and expertise to help them.

“It didn’t take long,” he recalls. “We realised pretty early on that we had a service offering that ticked a lot of boxes.”

The website (expatme.com.au) is essentially an online hub. As clients come onto the site, they choose their area of inquiry and get directed to the appropriate affiliated business. There are four participating firms:

  • Omniwealth (finance, financial planning, estate planning, tax and advisory)
  • Four Points Immigration (immigration services)
  • Bright Residential (real estate, property management)
  • Milk Chocolate (real estate, buyers agent)

Justin Browne, another co-founder of Expatme and chief executive at Four Points Immigration, there is a real need for this kind of consolidated service offering.

“In Australia, there is no existing service for expatriates that brings together so closely everything required to make a move abroad successful, either leaving Australia or returning,” Browne explains. “Changes to visas due in March 2018 will affect how long it takes to process visa applications, particularly for people wanting to bring partners back into the country.”

The changes Browne refers to include amendments to the Australian programs for skilled, employer-sponsored and family visas.

These changes, Browne explains, will make visa delays more common. A media release forwarded by the company states there was a significant reduction in 457 visa approvals during the last half of 2017.

“Australians working offshore or looking to work abroad will need to rethink their strategy,” he continues. “It can take up to 16 months if visas are not applied for in the right order.”

Potential financial planning clients who come through expatme.com.au before spending time overseas are sent to Omniwealth, where services are provided on a scoped basis, and charged an hourly rate. If and when clients return to Australia, they generally then transition to more of a traditional financial planning model.

“We don’t go through a full financial planning process while they’re overseas, because they’re not in a position to do that yet,” Omniwealth’s Kidd says. “So it’s more about specific tax advice or estate planning.

“Then when they come back, we engage them as full financial planning clients, which comes under a different model.”

Andrew Colagiuri, Expatme co-founder and director of Bright Residential, says all four businesses are constantly dealing with expat issues and specialists in the area.

“I guess our competitive advantage is that we’re all really conversant in the process of coming and going,” Colagiuri says. “We’ve collectively picked up a lot of tips, and know what traps to watch out for when people are looking at moving overseas.”

Kidd agrees, and sees further potential to expand the concept into a valuable resource for expats overseas.

“We want to add regular blogs, newsfeeds, contacts, things like that,” he says. “We’re also looking at adding a lot of Q&A information; for example, discussions about where to take your kids to school in different countries. We just think it’s got room to grow and grow.”

TOPICS:   Andrew Colagiuri,  Bright Residential,  Expatme,  Four Points Immigration,  Justin Browne,  Matthew Kidd,  Milk Chocolate,  Omniwealth