A minute on me - Darren Smith, Financial Advice Matters

When Darren started as a trainee Accountant in Melbourne almost 30 years ago, he had no idea of the adventures that lay ahead. After working in a diverse array of large and small companies in many different parts of the world, Darren created a new organisation, Financial Advice Matters, in Brisbane in 2015. 

Now, Financial Advice Matters has a team of 28 across five Queensland locations. The business has two core areas – delivering holistic financial advice, and coaching and providing coaching in financial wellness to workplaces and member-based groups. 

Tell us about the financial wellness programs you run 

We work with a variety of organisations and teams from a range of industries. This includes local government, mining, public utilities, not for profit organisations and retail. We have different ways of running the program, depending on the needs of the organisation. For some groups, we have a 12-month program, where each module takes the participants on a journey from the basics of managing money, setting goals, and managing debt, all the way through to retirement lifestyle planning. For other organisations, we take a subset of the program and run it in a much more intense format. No matter the format, the sessions are about the principals of money management and providing practical application for participants. 

Why did you start running these sessions? 

The need for financial advice and education has never been greater, particularly as a lot more people approach an uncertain retirement. One in four working Australians are in financial stress. This has a significant impact on their mental health and their productivity at work. Almost one-third of Australians are living pay cheque to pay cheque and many don’t have buffers to protect them against the unexpected. 

Financial wellness at its core is about financial confidence. The core of our workshops is to educate and improve the financial literacy and confidence of individuals. This puts them in a much stronger position to make informed decisions about their finances and alleviate unnecessary stress. 

What is the best part about being a financial adviser? 

For me, it’s the positive difference we can make to peoples’ lives. We help them develop a personal path towards what is important to them. It’s about being able to share the highs and lows with your clients and being a positive influence to help them achieve their goals. 

What are some of the things you do that give you stress? How do you manage that stress? 

I don’t get stressed very easily and my mindset is always about being open to possibilities. I endeavour to put myself in an environment where I am leading by example and acting on those things that are important and make a difference. I seek out ways to create energy for the whole team and focus on spending time on those things that I am passionate about and enjoy. 

What is your leadership style? 

I believe that the most effective leaders are adaptive and don’t rely on one style but bring the style that is required at that moment in time. What is consistent is the values that are continually demonstrated through actions. Some guiding principles that I look to apply are to communicate clearly and regularly and to set a good example for others to follow. In all interactions I try to be authentic and honest.  

I am a strong advocate and very passionate about what we do as a collective team and believe a strong leader fosters energy and collective purpose. 

Do you have any career lessons you’d like to share? 

Throughout my career, I’ve always had strong mentors. I believe that without a mentorship framework, you will be limiting yourself in your career.  

Along the way I’ve discovered that when you do something you really love and are passionate about, it shows. I’ve also learnt that it takes some time to find your calling. 

I’ve also learnt that building transferrable skills is extremely important, especially in this era of constant change.  

I’m proud of jumping outside of my comfort zone and embracing the opportunities that came my way. Thomas Dewar said, “your mind is like a parachute. It only functions when it’s open.” And I believe that being open to new approaches will lead to great things for you and your business. 

Being in unfamiliar areas or outside my comfort zone led to personal and professional growth and its these opportunities that guided me to seeing the potential of creating the wellness education side of the business. 

11 December 2019