Discovery lures former ANZ planner

A former star ANZ financial planner has credited the support offered by AXA/AMP’s Discovery program as a key part of the reason she decided to leave the security of a bank planning role to start up her own business as a Charter Financial Planning principal.

MMA Financial principal Melissa Azzopardi said that after being initially contacted by Discovery they spent a lot of time working out a model that was suitable for her and helping to initiate that.

A business sign-up allowance also helped to cover some of the initial costs such as marketing and office equipment, but a major part of the appeal was knowing that that backup was there if needed until the business was established, she said.

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To perform the role of practice principal effectively you need to make sure all of those resources are there, and compliance plays a particularly big role, she said.

Azzopardi is the only authorised representative in the practice so far, which has been running for about six weeks. She said she has mostly had to start a new client base from scratch, although some of her old clients had sought her out.

The new business is based mostly on referrals, and it is important to be proactive in this area and not be afraid to ask clients for referrals, she said. A referral arrangement with an accountant who works in the same building and has a large client base is also helping, she added.

There is a big cultural shift in moving from a bank planning role to establishing your own business, according to Azzopardi. Rather than being in a situation where there is high pressure on targets and sales, now the focus is on building client relationships, she said.

Azzopardi said she hoped to be able to take on a fulltime paraplanner within the next three months and another adviser in the next 12 months. Her long-term goal is to have around four advisers working under her in the next five years, she said.

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