Major milestone

Prosperity Advisers, one of Newcastle’s leading professional services firms, are celebrating 30 years of service to their customers. Hunter&Coastal Lifestyle Magazine asked founder and chief executive Allan McKeown to share the secrets of his company’s success.

Take us to the beginnings of Prosperity Advisers – how did it all start?

I teamed up with the late John Sneddon who had scaled back after he had built a major accounting practice. Just 18 months after our business began, John tragically and suddenly passed away. The firm, then known as Sneddon McKeown, was growing very fast and John’s mentorship and friendship was a great loss. We had a loyal and supportive group of clients who stayed with us during that transition period and many of them are still clients 30 years later. Today, the cornerstone of Prosperity’s value proposition is a single point of contact backed by a team of experts that can give you a 360 degree view of your financial landscape.

What were some of the biggest challenges and successes of the past 30 years?

The early 1990s’ recession and the Global Financial Crisis caused economic heartache for many and challenges for us as advisers as we worked through various issues with our clients. Being one of the early firms to adopt a holistic financial service offering was a larger challenge than we anticipated yet also a catalyst for significant growth. Director John Manuel, with an accounting background and a passion for financial advice, played a key role in integrating these services and is now recognised as one of Australia’s Top 50 Advisers. A particular stand out for me was when we were an integral part of the team advising Radio 2HD in a hostile takeover bid for rival NEWFM. It was a long, drawn-out public battle with a succesful outcome for our client. We have seen revenue growth in 25 of the 30 years which is an achievement we are all proud of. We have been recognised with many awards and inducted into the BRW Fast Growth Hall of Fame. Our own measure of success is whether we are creating stronger financial futures for our clients.

Tell us about your staff. How do you attract – and keep – the best in the business?

Professional services can have reasonably high turnover and we have many former team members who are now working overseas or are CEOs or CFOs of national corporations. At our 30 year team celebration recently we recognised 45 people who have been with us from 5 to more than 25 years including two directors who joined us as trainees from high school. Since inception we have been gender and race agnostic and promoted on ability, including Megan Smith who was promoted as our youngest ever partner when she was 27. What are the goals for the next 30 years? We continually evaluate new opportunities to grow the firm and whilst our heart is in the Hunter, Sydney is Australia’s biggest market and South East Queensland has tremendous growth opportunities. Our expansion into these areas gives our local clients insights and access to new opportunities Being a foundation member of the Leading Edge Alliance was an important step for us too. If a client is looking to do business internationally we have personal connections on the ground across the globe who can assist.

What do you do when you are not working with your clients?

My partner Jane and I have a growing extended family and spending time with them is a delight and source of energy. I have always had a strong sporting passion and have made many friends through my involvement with the Newcastle Knights, South Newcastle RLFC, Cooks Hill SLSC and Newcastle Jockey Club. In recent years the Arizona Cardinals in the American NFL have become a bit of a passion.