Skillset was fortunate enough to sit down with one of our longest Host Employers, Edward Brown from Bridges Financial Services. The Brown Family has been operating in financial advisory services in Bathurst for over 31 years. They are big advocates for helping skill the youth of the Central West NSW. They have brought on six trainees over the past 19 years with all of them having long tenures and others still working with Edward today. They have a wonderful business and a great reputation for offering friendly service with the right advice. We chatted with Edward about his experience working with Skillset and how his business is different to others.
What does your business specialise in?
Bridges cover a broad spectrum of financial planning and investment services to help clients reach their financial goals. We offer a holistic financial planning services including Superannuation, Investing, Personal insurance, Stockbroking, Retirement, Estate planning and Aged Care advice.
How long have you worked in partnership with Skillset?
How has your experience with Skillset been?
We couldn’t fault Skillset’s service; it has been outstanding. The process of taking vetting of the candidates out of my hands is cost-effective and pays for itself. When I have been presented candidates, both Skillset and I have always agreed with the person to hire.
How many apprentice/trainees have you taken on? Are any of them still working with you today?
We have hired six trainees in 19 years. The decision to take on trainees was suggested by my mother. The trainees that have been hired have had a long tenure which is incredible in an age where moving jobs often have become the trend. Every trainee is offered a position at the end of their traineeship with three of my trainees still working with me today, but the others have had long tenures themselves.
What roles/vocations have you hired your apprentices/trainees for?
All of the trainees start as Front of House and complete a business administration traineeship. Some of them have progressed to higher roles such as a Senior Paraplanner, Office Manager, and Paraplanner. Other trainees have progressed to other roles such as Real Estate Office Manager who is completing a Bachelor Degree in Nursing and a Business Development Manager in Banking. I check in with all of my employees who have since left the business and every person has a standing invite to the end of year Christmas Party and everyone attends. It’s just awesome.
How have you found the experience of having apprentice and trainees a part of your organisation?
I don’t understand why other businesses don’t take on trainees. It is a simple process that Skillset offer, it’s cost-effective and time efficient especially when I’m always on the road visiting clients. Thanks to Skillset’s assistance, I have been extremely lucky to have found such great trainees who are valuable assets to Bridges but also helped build a family environment. Bringing on a trainee allows you to teach people the way you want things done, from the very beginning. Within Bridges, the trainee is being trained by previous trainees which keep the processes functioning. It also provides a nice touch that the trainee knows that they have colleagues to lean on who have been through similar experiences. I find traineeships provide opportunities to young people that allow them to get training that they wouldn’t normally receive.
Why do you think it’s important to invest in skilling and employing local youth?
It is extremely important to invest in youth employment. I volunteer at Headspace as a financial counsellor and it’s this experience that has made me realise that it’s a must. We must develop skills otherwise our town suffers. It is a perpetual cycle. The most important thing though is that if you don’t train them, then how are they able to take on the world. I take pride in knowing that we are setting them on the right path to be successful in their own individual way. I’m also a big believer in giving someone a shot, they don’t have to have a resume filled with experience and accolades but they do have to have the drive to work and be committed. The benefits are two-fold. It benefits business and benefits the individual. Investing locally helps our local communities thrive.
What has the best thing been about working with Skillset?
The best thing is the people Skillset have given us. Our employees are the fabric of our business and we wouldn’t be successful without them.
What would you say to anyone considering engaging Skillset to take on an apprentice/trainee?
The ease of service is great. If the trainee doesn’t work out, then the ability to hand them back is a great business benefit. But I haven’t had to do that. The service they offer such as Pay Roll, Superannuation, insurances, HR, and WHS means that it is one less person I have to worry about for two years. It saves time, is cost-effective and we have the trainee locked in for two years. Finding the right person can be difficult but leaving it in Skillset’s capable hands means I can focus on my business.
The Brown Family History
Our family has been associated with Bridges since 1990. The business was started by my father, Geoff Brown and has now been operating for over 31 years. I joined Bridges in 2000 and took over management of the business in 2013. Financial planning was not something that I ever originally intended to pursue. I was in Sydney playing in a Heavy Metal Band when I decided to embark on the journey of becoming a financial planner. My father, Geoff has built a wonderful business that is focussed on providing the best service possible to all and I continue to ensure that this always our key focus.
Bridges Bathurst is located in George Street and Russell Street. Our service area covers the entire Central West, including Bathurst, Orange, Parkes, Forbes, and Cowra.
How long has your business been operating/when did it start?
My dad started his financial planning business in 1987 and it has been operating for 31 years. I joined the business in 2000 after I completed my studies and took over management of the business in 2013. The business has gone from strength to strength due to its exceptional reputation for the customer service we provide to clients.
What sets Bridges apart from other financial advisory services?
That can be put down to the businesses success in service delivery. It’s simple – be nice to people, help educate and build trust. We have had clients for 25 to 30 years with the younger generations choosing to seek advice from Bridges just because their relatives have had a wonderful experience. We haven’t had to spend a cent on advertising. We are successful because of referrals and building strong relationships. We have built great rapport and trust with clients. Providing advice on financial matters can be extremely sensitive but we’ve been able to mitigate risk and make clients feel like their best interests are always top of mind. We are a family business and we feel like the whole organisation is a big family. Put simply we succeed because we are nice to people.
Thoughts on leadership
I definitely like to lead from the front and create a positive culture within my workplace. I feel I have developed my positive leadership style by watching my father but I also learned it from hearing other people’s experiences. There’s no point in being abrasive, unhappy and quiet. You need to be the opposite of those things. I like to keep the workplace light-hearted and relaxed but results are important too, as is attention to detail. But at the end of the day, I want to have a culture where my staff feel like they can tell me anything they need to. Financial matters are a very sensitive topic. They have to learn how to deal with different personalities and I make sure they are exposed to these situations. I have been lucky to lead and retain great people. One of my trainees has been working for me for 18 years and then another trainee who has nearly been here for 10 years.
Where to find Bridges Financial Services?
Bridges Financial Services is located at 82 George Street, Bathurst NSW 2795 or you can call the office on (02) 6331 5111.
If you’re interested in finding out about employing an apprentice or trainee, please call the Skillset Workforce team on 1300 853 525. You can also find information regarding apprenticeships and traineeships here.