Kristopher Meuwissen’s financial advice business Wealtheon comes not only from two generations of experience in the asset management sector. As a family business, it is moving into new ground in customer service. This was recognised in the 2021 Independent Financial Advice Excellence Awards where Kristopher received the award for Client Service Individual of the Year and was a finalist in six categories. In 2020, he was a finalist in two categories. Kristopher’s purpose is to give clients financial advice with service they won’t find anywhere else.
With a Diploma of Financial Services and a Graduate Diploma of Strategic Leadership and Business Administration, Kristopher worked for six years as a financial advisor at Ability Financial Planning until 2018, crossing over to Wealtheon in 2019 to run his own business.
It is Kristopher’s appetite for innovation that makes Wealtheon an award winning firm. Kristopher has innovated to tip the traditional method for financial service on its head with its financial 360 method that examines what clients want out of life and where their values are, and building financial advice around that. He has also innovated with technology for automated triggers on clients’ files to ensure nothing is missed. Kristopher and his partner Lauren Hughson plan to build a wellness program for clients’ health which will guide their investment and wealth management decisions. Another Wealtheon innovation.
Kristopher also has a vineyard Huxter Estate. He wants to produce something that he can share with other people and watch them enjoy. He is also developing a board game Drunk Business which has players pitching business ideas. There will be two versions. One is where friends can play it over a few drinks. And for the more abstemious, there will be a sober version.
Kristopher’s innovations are suited for his client base of business owners and entrepreneurs.
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Table of Contents
Let’s start with a brief introduction first. Introduce yourself to our readers.
Kristopher Meuwissen: Hi guys, I’m Kristopher Meuwissen, founder, director and principal adviser at Wealtheon, and co-founder of Drunk Business, Ad Docs and Huxter Estate amongst many other things! Whilst Financial Advice is my bread and butter, I am a huge advocate for side hustles and passion projects. My wife and I run a small vineyard in regional Victoria which gives me a great opportunity to get outside and away from the desk as well as produce some delicious wine. I love being my own boss and finding areas of opportunity for new businesses provides me not just an amazing challenge but also the benefit of trying new things and working with some amazing people.
Our audience is interested to know about how you got started in the first place. Did you always want to become a CEO or was it something you were led to? Our readers would love to know your story!
Kristopher Meuwissen: I’ve always been really keen on having ownership in everything that I do, and throughout my career in various industries I’ve found myself naturally falling into a leadership role. I love being able to help steer and grow a business and see an idea flourish and develop into a successful business, so falling into a CEO role was quite a natural progression. I started in financial advice at a very young age and was one of the youngest advisers in the industry at the time, but even before then I ran and managed a café in Melbourne as a teenager, which I suppose reflects my inability to sit still and not pursue an idea or goal to fruition.
“Selfmade” is a myth. We all received help, no doubt you love to show appreciation to those who supported you when the going got tough, who has been your most important professional inspiration?
Kristopher Meuwissen: I’ve had so many amazing mentors and people who have helped shape me and my attitude to business over the years. As a child I saw my parents run a number of successful businesses, including a financial planning firm which was where I learnt a lot of my key business skills. Both my mum and my dad have been amazing professionals to learn from, particularly in shaping my work ethic and showing me how to balance work and life. In my professional career I’ve had many mentors who have helped steer me in the right direction, including business coaches, key members of my licensee, other advisers who have shared knowledge and experience, and most of all my wife Lauren who has been my business partner for four years now.
How did your journey lead you to become a CEO? What difficulties did you face along the way and what did you learn from them?
Kristopher Meuwissen: In my career as an adviser I’ve worked in both medium sized family businesses and big multi-million dollar firms, and from this variety have seen what they do well and what they can improve on. I think having the experience from both ends of the spectrum and seeing how other people do things has really pushed me to want to do things my way, and combine all the great strengths and ideas I’ve seen over the years and put them all together into my own business. I’ve also seen the reward of working hard to build something that you can call your own, and I think the success is always sweeter when you achieve your own goal, not someone else’s.
Tell us about your company. What does your business do and what are your responsibilities as a CEO?
Kristopher Meuwissen: Wealtheon is my financial advice business that I run with my wife. We provide quality goals based financial advice to people all over Australia, and help them achieve financial freedom. Being the principal adviser as well as the CEO means my responsibilities are vast and varied and ever-challenging. Financial advice is an incredibly legislative and compliance driven industry so much of my role involves staying on top of current events and legislation, but predominantly is about driving business growth and pushing us towards that next phase of achievement.
What does CEO stand for? Beyond the dictionary definition, how would you define it?
Kristopher Meuwissen: Being the CEO means being the driver of the business. Everything starts and stops with you, and you are equal parts responsible for the failures and the successes. Being the CEO means always making the best decision for the business, even if that’s knowing when to call it quits. It’s a tough gig with a lot of weight on your shoulders, but is equally rewarding when you see something you’ve built or helped build grow to what you dreamt it could be.
When you first became a CEO, how was it different from what you expected? What surprised you?
Kristopher Meuwissen: Going out on my own, particularly in the financial advice space, was eye opening for many reasons. It was confronting not to have another level of defense or decision making above me or to fall back on, and a bit challenging not having another safety net – if we stuffed up it was on me and no one else. I found it much more rewarding than I had expected, and really liberating after working for other people for years as I could finally push the boundaries I wanted to push, and try stuff that I hadn’t had the opportunity to.
There are many schools of thought as to what a CEO’s core roles and responsibilities are. Based on your experience, what are the main things a CEO should focus on? Explain and please share examples or stories to illustrate your vision.
Kristopher Meuwissen: Driving the business forward. Plain and simple, the CEO needs to be the person who has their foot on the pedal and always be looking for the opportunities for growth. I think a big part of being a CEO is testing things out – trying the things you aren’t sure about to see if they work for your business, even if it seems unorthodox.
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts?
Kristopher Meuwissen: When we started Wealtheon we made a hard but necessary decision to scale our business to a maximum of 100 clients. Whilst this seems like madness to a lot of people in the industry, we really wanted to focus on customer service and quality advice rather than just volume.
Turning away potential clients (and the revenue that would come with them) isn’t easy, but it does mean that the clients we bring on board are 100% suited to our style of operation, are prepared to put in the work that they need to do, and are comfortable and happy with the expectations that we have set and will provide. Our style of advice isn’t right for everyone, and we aren’t afraid to refer someone on if they aren’t a fit for our business. This has benefited not only us (as we’re working with the kind of clients that we enjoy working with and are fantastic at) but also the clients, as they receive the service they want to receive, and enjoy a better quality of service due to the capped number of clients we service.
How would you define success? Does it mean generating a certain amount of wealth, gaining a certain level of popularity, or helping a certain number of people?
Kristopher Meuwissen: Success to me is so much more than wealth or notoriety. By working to build Wealtheon into the amazing business it is today, I get to spend every single day doing what I love and working to my own schedule. Together with my wife, I’ve built an awesome business that helps people achieve some amazing goals, and in the process give me the life I want.
I’m really proud to say that I have been consistently rated a full 5 stars on Adviser Ratings, and was ranked in the top 5 advisers in the region in 2020, and have been awarded some amazing awards from the leaders in the industry and nominated for more. Furthermore, I have some amazing testimonials from my clients that make me endlessly proud to be doing what I do. However, what I am most proud of is that I have been able help so many people get on track with their finances and meet their goals (even if that’s just being able to build a pool!) and give them the right tools in the right order. All of the stuff above is secondary.
Some leadership skills are innate while others can be learned. What leadership skills do you possess innately and what skills have you cultivated over the years as a CEO?
I can’t sit still. I can’t stand looking at a problem or business where things could be done better. I suppose it’s a natural proclivity to problem solving, but if I can see a better or more effective or efficient way of doing something, I can’t sit still until it’s fixed. I think that, mixed with a good old dose of workaholism, creates a great skill set for leadership. I also have worked in every facet of a financial advice business, from reception to CEO to everything in between, so I understand the value of each and every employee and their important and unique role in a business.
How did your role as a CEO help your business overcome challenges caused by the pandemic? Explain with practical examples.
Kristopher Meuwissen: I was lucky that running my own business meant I had the power to change how we did things in the early stages of covid. We quickly recognized that the world wasn’t going to be the same again for long time, and it became really clear that our clients would need different kinds of help, which we needed to respond to if we were to keep our business up and running.
I created a free COVID-19 financial survival kit full of useful resources such as budget planners, information and explanations on government incentives and example banking structures which I distributed via our social networks during the onset of COVID-19. This was aimed to help people navigate the confusing, confronting and sudden stop or reduction in income, loss of assets and drop in asset values for so many Australians. By being able to change our tactics and employ new methods of accepting the changes the pandemic brought and tackling them head on, we were able to not only keep our business afloat but have actually grown dramatically over the last couple of years.
Do you have any advice for aspiring CEOs and future leaders? What advice would you give a CEO that is just starting out on their journey?
Kristopher Meuwissen: Go hard. Go hard while you’re young, and don’t put it off out of fear or self-doubt, just have a go and try out your idea. If you never try something or give it a red hot crack, you’ll never know what you’re capable of or if it would’ve worked, and you’ll end up regretting not trying. That regret will always be worse than trying and failing. Not every idea will work, and not every attempt at success will pan out, but if you keep going you’ll learn some seriously invaluable lessons along the way which will make your next attempt so much better.
Thank you for sharing some of your knowledge with our readers! They would also like to know, what is one skill that you’ve always wanted to acquire but never really could?
Kristopher Meuwissen: I’ve always wanted to be able to learn another language. I know tiny parts of about 5 different languages – I start to learn it and then it ultimately gets bumped down the priority list, but my goal is to be fluent in at least one more – maybe Spanish!
Before we finish things off, we have one final question for you. If you wrote a book about your life today, what would the title be?
Kristopher Meuwissen: Building Foundations
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Kristopher Meuwissen for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Kristopher Meuwissen or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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