Growth by strategy
Published in BRW Fast Starters Flagship Edition, April 2007 by Leo D'Angelo Fisher
Many Fast Starters that explode out of the blocks come to understand the importance of a flexible approach to business planning.
Lea Zerbes and Dale Gillham had modest ambitions when they started Wealth Within, a business focusing on the rapidly growing numbers of do-it-yourself online sharemarket traders.
Gillham had been a professional private trader for over 10 years when he and Zerbes saw an opening to provide online traders with investment training and mentoring. “We started out as a hobby”, says Zerbes, the company’s managing director. The founders prepared a business plan, but the business soon took on a life of its own. “We originally saw a niche opportunity to provide traders with support, but within months we knew the business had to change,” Zerbes says.
DIY traders flocked to Gillham’s courses, their popularity heightened by Gillham’s best-selling book on investing and regular media appearances as an investment commentator.
As Wealth Within’s profile grew, so did demand for the company to apply its expertise to managing investments. The company launched an individually managed accounts service for clients. At the same time, the education side of the business was responding to growing demand with more sophisticated courses, including a nationally accredited Diploma of Share Trading and Investment.
Since the Melbourne business was established in 2002, Wealth Within has grown to a staff of 18 and has graduated over 600 students in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore (its training courses are available online).
Zerbes, a former major in the Australian Army who went on to complete an MBA at Bond University, says planning has been a critical element of Wealth Within’s success, adding that flexibility has been crucial to effective planning.
“As we’ve evolved, we’ve updated the plan every year,” she says. “It’s only been in the past 12 months that we’ve been able to consolidate our offering to the marketplace.”
With funds under management exceeding $50 million Wealth Within is developing wholesale managed account services for independent financial planners.
The business is also being segmented into two units: the Wealth Within Institute, which is the education business, and the financial services arm.
“The key now is controlled growth,” Zerbes says. As the company approaches its next phase strategies are being developed to ensure orderly expansion.
They include appointing a general manager for one of the new divisions, a five-year succession plan, and consideration of several offers to take the Wealth Within business overseas by licensing or franchising agreements.
In the meantime, Wealth Within is in the process of appointing an independent board, which it is doing with the assistance of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
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