Jeana Scott’s finance background is diverse and enviable, in a career spanning more than 30 years and many continents. Travelling from her UK base, she did a stint in the tax haven of the Channel Islands, followed by a Middle East work sojourn to Dubai, before settling in Brisbane with her husband in 2001. Despite her varied background, moving to Australia and hoping for a seamless transition in the banking industry didn’t quite go according to plan.
“I thought I would slip in quite easily to the banking fraternity in Australia but it was not to be. I came with all the UK qualifications and experience, but that didn’t seem to count over here. They wanted me to re-take all my qualifications, including accounting to cover my Operational Risk background,” Scott recalls.
Scott decided that the banking industry in Australia didn’t offer the level of service she felt the consumer deserved and therefore decided to diversify within the finance industry. An initial job in the financial planning sector soon introduced her to broking. “I qualified myself as a financial planner and I was also able to write loans with the licensing group I was with, as well as doing financial planning,” she explains.
She spent five years broking in the financial planning fraternity, borrowing for investments both in property and share markets.
In 2008, armed with this experience and expertise, she took a leap of faith and set up Altitude Financial Solutions (part of the Altitude Financial Group), specialising in financial planning, finance solutions and accounting.
“My specialist area is gearing strategies. We don’t talk products, we don’t talk banks, we talk strategies to my clients.”
Since then, Scott has moved on to set up her own company, Kandu Finance Solutions in January 2010. Scott still services clients in the gearing strategies area.
“I get referrals through the financial planners and accountants. We work for what the client is trying to achieve and then we look at the finance requirements, so I’m very much a strategies broker rather than a product broker,” Scott says.
Looking for opportunities
Scott certainly hasn’t rested on her laurels waiting for markets to pick up. In 2007, she branched into commercial and business broking.
“Commercial and business banking is pretty much the same the world over; you must have the ability to build rapport and quickly take on an understanding of the client’s business and objectives; with the support of my business funders, I spend as much time now in the commercial field,” she says.
And when diversification is the name of the game for many brokers, Scott says the SME market is the sector she now spends most of her time in, specialising in debtor financing.
“Businesses are going to be struggling with cash flow, with budgets and trying to make ends meet, in these current business conditions and they’re going to need all the help they can get,” she says.
She believes the SME market requires the attention of finance brokers.
“With the help of my business coach I am focusing almost entirely on this market. I conduct presentations to market to strategic referrers, such as accountants and financial planners. The aim is to help them understand how debtor finance can help their clients achieve not only funding of their ‘cash gap’, but also how the extra cash flow will help their business grow with capital injection, releasing security that may otherwise be tied up with the more restrictive facilities of traditional banks, which in turn will help the clients with their wealth creation planning.”
A matter of balance
No matter what the economic outlook, Scott keeps positive as a business owner. “I’ve been in finance all my working life and love it and what it can achieve for the client. As long as ‘people’, whether business or personal, get their finance right, objectives will be achieved. The role of the broker as I see it, is to ensure that the clients do ‘get it right’ and have the best available advice regarding options. This is where the broker is invaluable to the client.”
Outside her hectic work schedule, Scott enjoys the odd game of golf and gardening - “my rose bed is my pride and joy”.
She also travels as much as possible to New Zealand to see the kids and five grandchildren.
“We have just spent Christmas and New Year with them and also travels to the UK, to see family and friends,” she says.
But for now, it seems home is where the heart is.
“I love Australia! Even though I’m an ex-Pom, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. The broking industry [here] is a wonderful opportunity to help people and provide that extra level of service the consumer deserves.”