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Positive change doesn’t usually happen by chance – it happens by choice. It requires strategic commitment and time investment – something financial advisers often lack when they are serving the growing needs of a number of clients.

Six years after Cervus Private Wealth co-founders Ross Potter and Adam Miliszewski started their Gold Coast-based practice, they’d reached a crossroads. The business could keep growing steadily – or they could put their foot on the accelerator.

“We wanted to build something that would be bigger than either of us individually, so we started thinking strategically about what we’d need,” says Ross.

Fuelling a stronger growth trajectory would mean investing in more people, more efficient platforms and processes, more control – and more clients through acquisitions. Ross and Adam had the energy to do that and were excited by the opportunity. But they knew it wouldn’t be easy.

“It’s easy to have that big-picture view. Taking the steps to put it into place is where the hard work is done,” says Ross.

So, he and Adam decided to get some guidance with those steps, joining a cohort of like-minded Queensland-based advice principals on Macquarie’s Virtual Adviser Network Build for the Future program in 2021.

“It made us laser-focused on enacting the changes we want, and managing them on a daily basis,” says Ross.

Be willing to experiment

Running an advice business can be isolating – especially during the past few years, with fewer opportunities to connect in person. It can be incredibly valuable to share personal and business insights within a trusted group of growth-minded peers.

Ross says he was surprised by his industry peers’ willingness to share what they had learned through the inevitable ups and downs of growing an advice practice. He knew one of the biggest hurdles to his own growth strategy would be finding the right people to support the back-office functions so he and Adam could focus on high-value investment advice.

“At one of the sessions, we discussed experiences with outsourced virtual assistants (VAs) with others in our cohort. We’d been reluctant, but when we heard you have dedicated staff members who only work for you, we decided to try it.”

The recommendation to use a specific group in the Philippines turned out to be a game-changer for Cervus. Ross and Adam are the sole advisers and with the support of an in-house office manager, adviser assistant and two VAs, they can focus on meeting those clients – rather than generating statements of advice and records of advice.

“I don’t think we would have tried VAs without that advice,” says Ross. “The type of clients we have, the experience needs to be exemplary. All the research shows the more time you spend with clients, the happier they are and the more likely they are to refer – it’s the key to retention and growth.”

Stay accountable for change

Having completed the program, Ross says he “feels a sense of fulfilment, because the things we said we’d do, we’ve done.” That includes self-licensing, implementing SMAs (separately managed accounts) and kicking off an acquisition strategy.  And he and Adam have also embedded practices to ensure that momentum continues. “We now know how to keep resetting our targets and stay accountable,” Ross says. “We sit down regularly to discuss goals for the next three months, year and three years.”

Underpinning this commitment is an understanding that growth is not the end game – it’s what you do with it that matters. “Our purpose is to inspire our clients to live exceptional lives and work together to enrich our community. Adam and I want that work-lifestyle balance – we want to have happy, healthy lives and families,” says Ross. Working with similar-sized firms and hearing from significantly larger ones has reassured the founders that it’s possible to stay grounded while still reaching for the stars. 

Take that first step

Taking a new path or making changes in your practice is always an ask of you and your team, but that commitment to the journey can help you ensure you’re moving your practice forward – not letting the market and competition move it for you. 

With a record number of advisers leaving the industry, there are new growth opportunities and a pool of clients with unmet advice needs. In the name of best serving those clients, it has never been more important to share knowledge within a shrinking pool of experienced practitioners. 

But it will take more than compliance-level advice training to achieve meaningful success in your business – and provide the quality advice and service more Australians will need in the future.

That’s why Macquarie Bank is investing in the next generation of high-performing financial advice firms through its Virtual Adviser Network Build for the Future program. Designed for advice firms with big ambitions, the 18-month program involves webinars, workshops, conferences and benchmarking exercises.

If you’re looking for new ways to evolve your business and explore different growth options in an increasingly complex environment, attending an introductory Build for the Future roundtable is a great opportunity to meet with other growth-minded advice business leaders in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. You’ll hear from Macquarie experts and have the chance to learn more about the Build for the Future program. 

Ross says he came out of every Build for the Future session with at least two or three really good ideas that changed his perception of how to do business. Imagine what you might take away from that first roundtable. “If you want to make changes in your advice firm and grow, I’d definitely say jump in and get involved,” he says. 

If you’d like to do just that, take that first step and register for your nearest VAN roundtable now.

Cervus 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 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.