2015 Women in Financial Services Awards: Lisa Duggan

6 min read

Lisa Duggan

Being bold is something that has worked for Epona Financial Guidance planner Lisa Duggan. She made decisions she knew instinctively to be right and now with the accolade of being 2015 Women in Financial Services Awards Female Adviser of the Year she has been vindicated.

When she began in her business Epona Financial Guidance it was a traditional super and insurance business started by her father. “The scope was largely defined and we referred out full financial planning. We operated on commissions - trailing, and there were lots of clients who would typically expect us to go out to see them,” Lisa says.

Lisa started her career studying accounting. Mid-way through the degree she knew it wasn’t for her - it was too backward looking and she liked the relationship part of financial planning. Her father was a planner so she had experience knowing what planning was about and so decided while she would never be an accountant she would complete her degree and then become a planner.

She started initially as a salaried planner at Colonial Mutual 20 years ago, and then purchased her father’s business in 2007, while working in it.

The business has undergone a transformation. For one, the office is entirely female - it wasn’t intentional, Lisa says. The six people in the office all have similar values and philosophies of what we want to do, Lisa says. Susan, who has myriad qualifications but had no experience at planning, was surprised when she was called in for an interview but I thought she was so passionate about helping people that she was a good fit, says Lisa. They’ve now been working together for 5 years.

The future is especially busy for Lisa. First she’s heading to Cambridge University for a short leadership course, then she’s coming back to a newly completed home and then she’s finishing her second book for kids “It’s Their Life – providing your kids with the tools to get on with it!”. Her first book is now in bookshops and available online is “It’s your life - live it”.


1    How did you get to your award winning position?

  •  17 years of hard slog, which was followed by
  •  An anxiety attack which helped me step back from what I was doing and the
     way I was leading my life
  •  Building my self belief
  •  Business coaches
  •  Family support.


2    You’re now a role model in the industry and as research shows women need role models, what do you hope other women (and men) can learn from you?

We really do need role models. When I started out we didn’t have them and it probably took me longer to get where I am because of that. I hope women in the industry can believe in themselves and work with their own core values and understand that things can be done differently and hopefully can learn about the amazing difference we can make with client objectives and providing real focus on the ‘why’.

3   Why did you become a financial planner?

Normally I’d say by accident but when I really thought about it, I remember  growing up when I was asked what I wanted to be, I had decided to be the Prime Minister and not because I wanted to be boss, but so that I could bring about change and make things happen. I now have opportunities to bring about positive change - but obviously not on the same scale.

4    What makes your business different?

I started setting about changing immediately after purchasing the business in 2007. I deliberately wanted to make it like a community. We’re very non-corporate, very hands on and that flows through everything we do. The way the office is decorated is also more comfortable and homely, we are authentic, we dress differently. It wouldn’t work for us if we weren’t ourselves. It’s about treating our clients as you would treat family.

Being a woman makes it easier to have conversations with clients about personal relationships, kids, IVF, weight, self image and a range of other life issues.

Something that’s lacking in financial planning is women owners of businesses. We want more women in businesses but some of the older planners running businesses in the same way they have for a long time are entrenched in their practices and while they want to offer women roles, they are not necessarily the roles that women want. I’ve found that over the years there are several good women who have come into the industry but they have left because the business owners didn’t know how to change to adapt to a more diverse workforce.

5    What is your proudest moment?

I think winning the award, with my parents being hysterically happy about that and then the reaction of our clients has given me goosebumps. The reward itself is the professional recognition but to have clients come back and say these things about you - is wow!

I think I’d definitely go into more competitions now. It’s good for raising your profile and credibility with new clients. My natural inclination (like most women) was that I hated the idea of entering awards but I have probably changed my mind in the last two years.

Examples of her clients’ reactions to the award:

Congratulations to Lisa .....your award is absolutely very well deserved... we all know you are the best financial  adviser to be had.  Well done, keep up the good work, we all need you!!!


“Our long held suspicions have been proven correct, ditto for your humbleness as all these years you allowed others to keep stepping forward to take THAT AWARD but as always in life, THERE comes the time to hold back no longer even if you wanted to, but the people's choice could not be contained ........AUGURI, CONGRATULATIONS ..... WE EXPECTED NOTHING LESS IN THE QUEST FOR GREATER FINANCIAL PLANNING ……….."