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The Advise Wise motto, ‘Advice for Life’, is the perfect snapshot of the company’s mission and value proposition, says Founder and Managing Director Matt Fenning. “Financial advice is not just about dollars and cents but is also about helping people to live happy and fulfilling lives,” he tells The CEO Magazine. “This is achieved not just by providing technical advice, but marrying that with clients’ values, priorities, goals and the events that take place over the course of their lives.”
With 20 years of experience in professional services, Matt, who started his career in IT consulting before moving to management consulting and then regional and general management roles in human capital services, made the decision to transition into financial advice after completing his Master of Business Administration. He established Advise Wise in 2015.
“When I founded the business, the industry was moving through a series of reforms and many businesses were saddled with a number of legacy challenges,” he explains. “I saw an opportunity to apply my previous experience to the development of a best-of-breed professional financial advice business that I could build from a clean slate.”
The result is a business that strives to promote individual client goals and needs across an array of services including retirement planning, wealth creation, superannuation, estate planning, cash flow management and taxation. While recognition has been forthcoming – in 2021, the business was a finalist across three categories in the ifa Excellence Awards – Matt describes the Advise Wise growth trajectory as a gradual one.
Over the course of its first few years, the new company acquired several businesses that had decades-long brand and value recognition. The strategy involved retaining the best aspects of those brands while concurrently developing and improving its own value proposition. “In 2019, we elected to move to a self-licensed business model, and it was at that time we established our brand as it stands: Advise Wise – Advice for Life,” he says.
“The result is a compelling offering that accounts for what clients need from a financial adviser in a financial, practical, emotional and behavioural sense.”
Matt has concentrated much of his focus on building a people-first business. “All the plans and decisions we make are with our clients and our team front of mind,” he says. “We have worked hard to refine and improve our service offering year-to-year, whether that’s how we utilise technology or improve the infrastructure and processes in our business.”
Internally, Matt describes a progressive organisation with a customised development program in place to provide the team with the opportunity to learn, improve and advance. “This focus on being a learning organisation aims to make Advise Wise both an enjoyable and fulfilling place to work, where each team member sees a long-term future,” he says.
By virtue of the team’s advancement, he adds, Advise Wise “also builds our capability in serving our clients,” because, as Matt well understands, in a professional service industry the quality of your team will always be a point of difference.
Along with the culture, which Matt says is “everything to the organisation,” he believes that the high-level processes, smart employment of technology and methodology for client engagement all come together for a leading edge. “The result is a compelling offering that accounts for what clients need from a financial adviser in a financial, practical, emotional and behavioural sense,” he says.
Looking forward, Matt has no plans to mix up the strategy that has delivered so much success already. “Over the next 12–18 months, we will continue to refine and improve our client engagement process, further developing our use of technology to drive efficiency across our business and to exponentially grow the business with an aim of serving more clients and providing more opportunities for growth to our team,” he says.
As a leader, Matt’s aim is to provide great talent with the tools and resources they need to be successful. “I get out of their way so they can do what they do best, while being there to offer the advice, support and resources they need as they develop and grow,” he says.
In return, he says that the impact the company has on creating better personal and financial lives for its clients is the reason he gets out of bed every day. “It is a privilege to continue to help our clients on their journey and, as the business has grown, to help yet more people in that respect is really satisfying,” he says.