For one of the country’s leading financial advisers, a thwarted career in sport was the redirection he needed to be at the top of his game in wealth management. KATHY SKANTZOS talks to Chris Smith.

As a fledgling university graduate with a sports management degree, VISIS Private Wealth Founding Partner Chris Smith had grand plans to play cricket for his country and big dreams to become the CEO of Cricket Australia.

But, as with many things in life, Chris’s career path veered.

The dream turned on its heel when he took a job as a trainee financial adviser in 1999 rather than pursuing a sporting career – and at the time he never would have thought it would lead him to where he is now, being named one of the nation’s best financial advisers.

Starting a business from scratch at a young age with limited experience in people management and just a few years in the business world wasn’t necessarily smooth sailing at the beginning.

“The biggest challenge was trying to become a businessman at 25,” Chris admits. “I was naive enough to think I could do it, and ignorant to the challenges of running a business and being a practitioner at the same time.”

Chris says he had to learn how to trust staff, empower them to make self-led decisions and set challenges for them to evolve.

“We had to get very good at running a business so we could grow and employ staff,” he says.

“Then we had to keep staff motivated and incentivised to stay for the long-term so we could share VISIS with more clients and grow to the size we are today – and hopefully beyond.

“The biggest thing was making sure I could be a good boss and mentor. If you’re genuinely focused on and motivated to share the success that you have with your staff, then it becomes very easy. It’s not me versus them, it’s certainly all about them.

“When staff can grow, you’re going to be rewarded just from the benefits that come with that.

“People want to come to work and do a good job. I had to apply great self-control to stop jumping on little things which were irking me. You’ve got to realise which battles are the ones worth fighting.

“Having staff members made me become a better person. I’m proud of how good our advisers and staff are that we’ve had for the long-term and what they’ve turned out to be.”

Looking back to its humble beginnings when VISIS was founded in 2001, the initial vision to create a private wealth firm that was fundamentally different to traditional financial planning services is a desire that Chris says has been fulfilled.

The firm remains an independent, non-aligned firm that’s grown to five partners, 32 staff and approximately 600 high-net-worth clients with A$1 billion under management.

VISIS is now recognised as one of Australia’s leading private wealth management firms, with a strong track record of providing sound, smart and successful financial advice to ultra and high-net worth individuals and families.

It is headquartered in Brisbane and has an office in Sydney with plans to expand into Melbourne in the near term, extending the success achieved for clients to more people across Australia.

With high service standards, strong client results, a growing awards cabinet and a strategic push into Victoria on the cards, Chris Smith and the VISIS brand continue to grow their reputation as leaders in Australia’s financial advisory sector.

Read more about Chris Smith’s career path in The CEO Magazine.