Bridge Private Wealth recently found itself in a position that will be familiar to many leaders in advice businesses. Their team is ambitious, energetic and talented – but sometimes struggled to translate this into business traction.
The three directors in the business – Jessica Waller, Joel Xuereb and Neelan Sornalingam – had a strong culture of trust, but were finding it hard to come together on big business decisions. Jessica was Joel’s first employee when he founded Bridge Private Wealth in 2008, and she and Joel merged with Neelan in 2018.
“We had very different personalities and priorities,” says Jessica. “We knew we wanted to acquire more businesses and scale up – but deciding how to do that was blocking our progress.”
Knowing their collective potential, the directors took action to inject momentum into their strategy.
As many growth-focused small businesses would attest to – it’s often not finding an opportunity that’s the issue, it’s picking the ones you want to pursue.
“My goodness, we were gold medallists for coming up with ideas,” says Jessica. “But that meant we’d have a thousand doors open, and we needed to close most of those and just focus on three.”
Prioritisation is a critical step to executing successfully, as is being accountable for action, and it’s these disciplines the directors of Bridge Private Wealth are focusing on.
“Now we have a system where we have set, non-negotiable goals for the next 12 months,” says Jessica.
“If we have a new idea, we check if it meets one of those three goals. If not, we bench it. We store it with all those other great ideas, and once a year we go back to look at those ideas to see if they will support our new goals.”
The result is an uplift in meeting strategic targets, and Jessica says Bridge Private Wealth has “achieved more in 12 months than it did in five years.”
“We launched a new website, moved into a bigger office in North Sydney, engaged new paraplanning services, and also started working with a recruiter and business brokers to set the wheels in motion for talent and business acquisitions,” she says.
Bridge Private Wealth now has seven staff plus two paraplanners working offshore and is in the final stages of hiring two more team members. The team has leaned on peer insights for decisions such as outsourcing, and using a trusted referral to get the ball rolling.
The pandemic is the latest in a string of disruptions and changes to the financial advice industry, which has been managing years of shifting regulatory and market expectations. For Jessica, the camaraderie among financial advisers who are positive about the future of the industry is valuable and encouraging.
“I’d become jaded by the impact of the Royal Commission and then remote working during COVID – I’m responsible for compliance and operations in the business, all that red tape. I was starting to feel burned out,” she says.
“People sharing their great stories, as well as where they went wrong, all that anecdotal advice -it reminded me of why we’re here, and the fact we do good work.”
Clients are also a core source of energy, inspiration and insights. Bridge Private Wealth recently completed a feedback survey with clients, which proved fascinating and uplifting.
“It was encouraging to know our clients love us. But what surprised us was that the things they wanted to talk about were renovations or cars – what they could do with their money – not necessarily the investments themselves. So we now communicate more regularly with clients – including monthly emails –on the things that matter to them.”
Bridge Private Wealth’s client base tends to be time-poor executives and high net wealth clients who are approaching retirement, which Jessica says is “a really exciting time.”
“I love working with clients who have built their wealth to a point where there are strategies we can utilise to enhance their financial position. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, and many of them just need permission to start enjoying themselves as they’ve worked so hard to earn their financial success.”
Jessica, Joel and Neelan have also learnt to have honest conversations about what the business means to them and how it fits into their lives, in addition to their expectations of each other.
“Before, we just talked about the business. Being able to articulate a deeper purpose was great, knowing that we each have a different reason for being in business and how we can get the most out of each other. This meant that we could set our own boundaries for how we like to work.”
The directors may have different reasons for being where they are, but they importantly have shared professional ambitions – particularly when it comes to growing Bridge Private Wealth.
“We want to double the size of our business, targeting a billion dollars of funds under management. But we don’t just want to grow for growth’s sake,” she says. “We need that growth to be profitable.”
Bridge Private Wealth participated in the 2021 Macquarie Virtual Adviser Network (VAN) Build for the Future program. To learn more about the VAN Build for the Future program, watch this video or visit macquarie.com.au/advisers/van to join our community.
This article has been prepared by the Macquarie Virtual Adviser Network (VAN) which is provided by Macquarie Bank Limited ABN 46 008 583 542 AFSL 237502 (MBL). The provision of VAN, including the contents of this article, do not amount to a financial product or financial service nor does it involve the provision of general or personal financial product advice. The views and opinions expressed by the relevant client in this article do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of MBL.
DISCLAIMER: The XY Adviser website and all content contained on the website is limited to general information. It does not constitute legal, financial or other professional advice. XY Adviser does not hold an AFS licence and does not provide any financial services. Nothing on this website should be interpreted as financial advice. Before making any investment decision, XY Adviser recommends obtaining financial advice from a qualified financial adviser.