Julian Gilbert: Building Wealth Matters Through Excellency and Adaptability

Published by Gary Ellis on July 1st 2024, 9:12am

For Julian Gilbert, the Founder and Director of Wealth Matters, adaptability and a constant pursuit of excellence are simply part of his leadership style.

“I graduated back in the early 90s,” he recalls, “and went into sales and sales management, which I found that I was good at.” After six years in sales, Julian’s path took him abroad. He moved to Australia, where he discovered his passion for financial advice. However, due to residency restrictions, he was unable to pursue this newfound career in Australia.

Undeterred, Julian returned to the UK, trading the “hot sunshine and glorious weather” of Australia for the opportunity to train as a financial adviser. By 1999, he had set up his own firm, Wealth Matters. “Within 12 months, I set up my own firm doing it and grew from there,” he shares. Today, the firm celebrates its 25th anniversary, having grown from a one-man operation to a team of 20, including six advisers and four paraplanners.

Julian attributes his firm’s success to its high standards and values. “I’ve always believed in having standards and values, as well as ensuring quality customer service with quick responses to queries and having highly qualified s working with me,” he explains. He insists on his advisers being chartered or certified, a level of qualification he believes is necessary to provide the best tax and investment advice to clients.

As Gilbert looks to the future, he is starting to step back and hand over responsibilities. “That means bringing in younger talent and people that can deliver to the same standards and values that I hold,” he says. With a graduate programme in place and a team capable of making challenging management decisions, the future of Wealth Matters looks bright indeed.

Building Wealth Matters

From its inception, Julian faced the daunting task of differentiating his firm in a crowded market. “There are a lot of financial planners out there, just like there are lots of solicitors and accountants,” he acknowledges. His solution was to focus on customer service, qualifications, and doing a “great job for your clients.”

The initial years were about getting the processes right and building a core team. As the business grew from a small-scale operation of five to six people, the challenge then became one of replication. “If you want to grow above and beyond that, then the challenge is scaling up with the right people,” he explains. Julian, who has always been self-employed and never worked in the corporate world, had to navigate areas where he was not as strong, such as financial angles, marketing, and tech.

Julian emphasises the importance of getting “good quality people and keeping them committed.” He also highlights the challenge of passing on skills and knowledge and creating replicable processes. “So high standards and growing and scaling are quite a challenge,” he admits. Despite these challenges, Gilbert remains committed to maintaining high standards, even if it means being a niche and boutique firm.

As Gilbert reflects on his journey, he acknowledges, “it’s still quite a challenge to go from nothing to 10 million.” Yet, his unwavering commitment to his vision and his willingness to navigate the challenges that come with growth are what make Julian Gilbert and Wealth Matters a force to be reckoned with in the financial planning industry.

When it comes to being a leader, Julian believes that it is about playing to one’s strengths. “I’m very organised and passionate about the industry and having a good amount of knowledge about it,” he says.

Alongside strengths, Julian also acknowledges that every leader has weaknesses, “acknowledge both because none of us are perfect,” he explains. For him, one of the challenges was managing managers as the business grew.

To overcome these challenges, Gilbert sought external support. He joined an organisation called Strategic Coach and read ‘Traction’ by Gino Wickman. He also brought in a coach from the same organisation, Alice Jordan, who helped create a proper management hierarchy for Wealth Matters and ensured that the right people were in the right jobs. As such, Julian is a firm believer in seeking help when needed, and is also committed to the growth and development of his team.

Leaving a Legacy

Julian has a clear vision for his legacy. He hopes to be remembered for creating a “fantastic financial planning practice” that has not only served his clients but also his staff. He envisions a legacy where his clients are financially secure, with enough for a comfortable retirement and protection for their children and grandchildren. “Their money is protected, and their the money goes to the right people at the right time.” he says.

For his staff, Gilbert hopes to have provided meaningful careers. He prides himself on running a friendly company that values its employees, pays above the local earnings rate for competitive jobs, and offers enhanced pensions and good company days off. He also takes pride in the professional development of his staff, many of whom have passed industry exams during their tenure at Wealth Matters.

Even for those who have moved on, Gilbert hopes to have made a positive impact. “I hope I’ve given someone a step up in their career ladder and that they’ve had a positive outcome from that,” he reflects. He takes satisfaction in knowing that former employees are grateful for their time at Wealth Matters and have left on good terms.

Beyond his business, Gilbert is also committed to giving back to the community. Following a health scare several years ago, he has focused on philanthropy, encouraging staff to do voluntary charity work and making charity donations. “We’re trying to give back a lot now and trying to leave the planet a better place than the one we landed on 50 odd years ago,” he concludes.

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Authored By

Gary Ellis
Senior Editor
July 1st 2024, 9:12am

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