Rising Star Finalist 2014: Catherine Wells

5 min read

Catherine Wells

Plansure Solutions, South Australia

Catherine Wells is almost an old hand in the planning industry - with over 10 years’ experience – but it hasn’t all been as a planner. Until three years ago Catherine was working as a Paraplanner from home and doing some contract work for Plansure Solutions. She was asked about her long-term goals and after some thought she became a planner the following year and hasn’t looked back.

Catherine started as a Personal Assistant in financial planning then moved into a customer service role before becoming a Paraplanner in 2006.

It’s been more than six years now and she has added to her technical skills with her Diploma of Financial Planning, Advanced Diploma, Bachelor of Business (Financial Planning) and is almost certified as a CFP, Catherine says.

“I feel like all I do is study but I love it.”

“I like dealing with people and helping them. Ever since high school, when I heard from career’s people about the share market I loved the idea of economics, shares and helping people. I knew what an economist was but not a financial planner. I started to understand what a financial planner was when I left school.”

It was Catherine’s mother’s experience running her own business that gave her exposure to accounting and financial planning, super and SMSFs and from there she knew what she wanted to do.

  • What did you hope to achieve through financial planning?

    Owning my own practice is something I’m hopefully in the process of achieving through business succession planning, where I can become recognised as a specialist in the SMSF environment.

    I’d like to be well valued by clients and I would also like to be known as a really great employer. I’d like to give staff opportunities and help to better themselves - I believe in this for itself and it also helps your clients and your business.

  • Have you seen yourself make a difference to clients?

    I have a mix of stories. One young client who came to see me wanted a share portfolio as he was earning good money - he now has $100K in shares.

    For one of my retiree clients who was worried about retiring, I found that just by doing the research that if one of the couple contributed 10% after tax their employer would match the contribution. This made a great difference. People just don’t know and then are relieved when you show them what they’ve got, for example, there is a big difference for some of retiring at 60 or 65. I showed them if we stuck to the plan then they’d be ok. They were public servants and had defined benefits.

    For a lot of clients the best feedback comes from just listening, and getting back to them within 24 hours. That’s a very important help in taking their worry away.

  • What did the recognition as an AFA Rising Star finalist mean to you?

    All my hard work and dedication is paying off. It is good for people who are starting out in the industry to see that if you persevere then all your hard work will pay off.

    It has also provided me with lots of industry recognition via LinkedIn.  Being congratulated by people in the industry and within our dealer group has been overwhelming.

    One of the best things about being a finalist in the AFA Rising Star award was the people I met.  Sam (Robinson) and I text each other a fair bit and Ben Nash is coming to Adelaide in January. We’re all going to stay in contact. We were all very lucky to have been in the same group.

  • What’s next?

    I’m hoping to buy into the business I’m working in. I’m also studying my CFP and I hope to finish that designation next year.  In addition to this I also hope to become an SMSF specialist via SPAA.

  • Do you think that financial planning is a good career for females?

    Absolutely, it’s a good career for women. Women are better at listening and are often more intuitive in situations. I know that I do things differently and sometimes I take on too much of a caring role and have at times made myself too available but there’s a lot of opportunity for women in this industry.

    I have a little boy who’s nearly four and by being self-employed I have the flexibility to be with him and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to be self-employed.

    Some friends who have been financial planners in banks have horrendous hours and have put off having families. I didn’t want to put it off or miss out on seeing my little boy grow up.

  • Have you helped a woman in financial planning this year?

    I have a few girlfriends who are financial planners so whilst I don’t help anyone in a formal manner, my girlfriends and I often bounce things off each other.  One girlfriend is a bank planner and another is a risk adviser.  We share experiences and give encouragement as friends do. We do this regularly and we share career opportunities for career advancement, client issues, relationship issues and also how to try and keep the work/life balance which sometimes seems to be the biggest challenge.


Advanced Diploma in Financial Services (Financial Planning) via Kaplan
SMSF Accreditation via Kaplan
Margin Lending Accreditation via Kaplan
Bachelor of Business in Financial Planning via RMIT University