The AFA and ANZ have opened nominations for the AFA Rising Star of the Year Award, which has been running since 2005. Back then, Esther Althaus was the very first recipient of the award, and now she is preparing for her fourth year as judge.
While many advisers say they ‘fell into’ the profession, almost by accident, it was a very determined decision for Althaus, who now works for Acquire Wealth Management. She had three beautiful daughters by the time she was 26, and when she realised that her marriage was coming to an end, she decided to do an open entry course at the Securities Institute.
“It was in that course that I was introduced to the financial planning subject. Subsequently, from the financial planning subject and identifying with it personally…I thought ‘right, this is what I need to do’, so I focussed my studies on financial advising and then ultimately finding a job or career pathway that would enable me to become an adviser.”
While her lack of experience and status as a single mother held her back in the first instance of finding a job, Althaus says that it is now the reason why she is so successful.
“Where I focus my efforts on today is with divorcing and widowed clients. From my personal experience, I feel like the biggest difference that I’ve been able to make are with people in that demographic so I’m compelled to come back to these people and offer my services…In a way, some of them look at me like a bit of a role model.”
She says the financial planning profession has been a perfect fit for her as a single mother. And her favourite moment is seeing the body language of clients change, from anxious and tense, to relaxed and confident. “They walk out of your door with a bigger spring to their step, their shoulders are back and they’re walking out feeling that can-do and positive attitude. Every time a moment like that happens I feel like ‘ok, I know why I’m doing this’.”
She credits a lot of her success to the AFA Rising Star award that she won two and a half years into her career, and the support of ‘a family of like-minded people’ that she got from the AFA.
“It definitely boosted my confidence, and reassured me that it was the right career path for me. Being brought into the AFA community, it made me feel like I was part of a larger family, or community of like-minded people. When you work on your own it can be very isolating, you don’t always know who you can talk to.”
As a judge, she’s looking forward to the quality of new advisers that never ceases to amaze her. “We’re talking about people with a passion, and level of professionalism that is very advanced.”
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