Meet The Astute Financial Team
John Watts - Director
I started Cairns Home Loans (now Astute Financial) because I was disappointed in the way Banks had done away with the 'old school' bank managers that had care, knowledge and authority. We developed a company to fill the gap and believe the best thing we do is explain the process to the customer in a simple and easy manner.
It is this philosophy that has made Cairns Home Loans the success it is today. 13 years on and with a number of subsidiary companies, John Watts now leads his team of 12 people in making the process of getting finance easy.
In 2005 John and wife Orla established Port Home Loans, followed by Atherton Home Loans in 2006 and a Beaches office at Campus Village in 2009. Add to this the creation of Cairns Car Loans and Cairns Wealth and Insurance and it's easy to see their business model is clearly working.
Originally born and raised in South-West Queensland John went to school at Churchie as a boarder in Brisbane. After school he worked in Gove (NT), The Kimberly's WA and Barcaldine Central Queensland, working in the mining and rural industries. He then moved to Toowomba to work in Real Estate as an Auctioneer and Salesperson. In 1996 he moved to Cairns and continued my real estate career with First National.
It is this diverse background that makes John so good at what he does. He can easily relate to people of all walks of life and genuinely enjoys getting to know his clients. If you want to deal with someone the way bank manager's were in the old days, contact John.
Contact John: email@example.com
Verena Ali - Executive Assistant
Working for Cairns Home Loans I love the fact I am in a position to be able to offer a more personalised service. I am a customer driven professional who will always focus on customer's needs by being a proactive communicator, honest, reliable in my dealings, always offering my help from the start to finish throughout your home loan process. I will also assist you with insurance needs, any administrative tasks, to make sure everything runs smoothly.
Educated in south east Queensland, my family moved to Cairns in 1986. I started my career in administration and then grew my skillset by holding various sales executive roles with multinational companies. My sales experience has taught me the importance of providing consistent and exceptional customer service. I then bought a retail business with my husband which again reinforced my focus on doing whatever it takes to keep customers happy. After having our family I moved back into the finance industry for 6 years with one of the major banks having had various positions, and eventually as a Home Finance manager.
Going through the process of buying your home should be stress free. And it's my job to make sure it is. I'm here to help you so please feel free to call me for any information you may need in relation to your home loan, or if you would like to make an appointment to see John.
Contact Verena: firstname.lastname@example.org
Orla Watts - Cairns Office Manager
In the year 2000 John and I started Cairns Home Loans together because we felt there was a real need for a better service that was being offered then the banks.
With a background in Insurance Orla's management expertise combined with John's real estate background made for the perfect foundation with which to establish a mortgage broking business.
Originally from Cork, Ireland Orla came to Cairns in 1996 for a holiday. Soon after she met John and decided to make Australia her new home. Working side by side for the past 12 years together Orla and John have successfully established sister offices in Port Douglas, Atherton, and Cairns Beaches.
I'm passionate about the image of our offices, and look after them, ensuring we exceed all of the standards set by the regulatory bodies and our affiliates.
Contact Orla: email@example.com
Gus Soper - Lending Specialist
My time with Cairns Home Loans has shown me customers love to deal with like-minded, approachable people. My "get it done without the fuss" attitude has proven a far better approach than the way lending is often done in bank world
Gus started his career in Sales Management. In this industry he learnt the importance of customer service, building relationships and delivering the right solutions for his clients.
It's these foundations that have made Gus such a success in the mortgage broking industry. Over the last 6 years he's delivered exceptional results for his clients working as Lending Specialist for Cairns Home Loans. He has a commitment to customer service and a natural rapport with people from all walks of life.
He is a fully accredited ASIC licenced broker with a Certificate IV in Financial Services and a Diploma in Mortgage Finance. He holds all the necessary individual accreditations with the Banks and the MFAA.
In short, Gus has brought enthusiasm and simplicity back to all aspects of financing. If you want someone who will be with you every step of the way, contact Gus.
Contact Gus: firstname.lastname@example.org
Prue Swenson - Lending Assistant, Astute Financial
I am here to help keep our clients informed on a regular basis from start to finish throughout the home loan process ensuring everything is in order to enable a smooth and timely process.
I joined the Cairns Home Loans team last year to assist in the roles of administration and loan processing. I was introduced to Gus through mutual friends as he was looking for an assistant and I was in need of a career change. They have a great environment at Cairns Home Loans and make everyone feel welcome and at home. I am a local person and felt it was a good fit to join a local team.
I had not worked in this industry prior so I am learning from the ground up. I have previously worked in the tourism and freight industry in administration and customer service focused roles. I myself had never dealt with a mortgage broker and was none the wiser. After spending the last few months with Gus and the team I am impressed at how much simpler they make the whole process.
Organising a home loan can be a very frustrating and confusing process and this is all made so simple as they know the products and have an understanding of what types of loans would suit different people and their situations. I am here to help keep our clients informed on a regular basis from start to finish throughout the home loan process ensuring everything is in order to enable a smooth and timely process.
Contact Prue: email@example.com
Kin Fei Chan - Lending Manager, Astute Financial
As a lending specialist, it is my commitment to provide you with a professional and personalised service and to deliver the mortgage solution that best suits you needs. Our home loan services are free of charge to the borrower, and with no obligation, so come in and have a chat whether you are new to home ownership, looking at buying an investment property or wish to refinance your current mortgage.
With a Malaysian Chinese background, I am able to speak four languages fluently (English, Mandarin, Cantonese and Malay). I migrated to Australia in 2005 and completed a bachelor degree at the University of Queensland. I joined Cairns Home Loans after having experienced the exceptional service provided by this company. I embrace the opportunity of being the only Asian finance broker in the region from Cairns to Townsville.
Having been through the buying process myself, I understand that purchasing a home can be frustrating and confusing, especially if you are buying your first home. My job is to guide you through the process and give you the support you need to make it an easy, smooth and stress-free experience. I look after all the paperwork and liaise with other key parties including your conveyancer, real estate agent, builder and valuer. Having access to a full range of mortgage products and staying up to date with the latest rate movement, I will find you the right home loan with best features and competitive rates. So let me share your excitement of getting your dream home or investment property.
Contact Fei: firstname.lastname@example.org
Billie Williamson - Manager, Astute Financial Smithfield
My experience in banking has made me realise that it is genuine customer service and simplicity that customers are looking for. Therefore I aim to make your lending experience simple, easy and stress free. I am always up for a chat and welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss your lending needs.
I was born in Geelong Victoria, however spent most of my younger years growing up in a small town just off the NSW / Victorian Border called Moulamein. After finishing year 12 at Swan Hill Secondary College I moved to Melbourne to pursue my studies in Tourism Operations Management. At the end of 2002 I moved back to my hometown area of southern NSW and worked several jobs including my field of study.
In 2005 I packed up my car and made my way up the coast to Cairns. In my first 2 years living in the Cairns beaches area I gained some life experience working in numerous roles, from Bar/ gaming and tour sales to beauty therapy and reception.
More recently, before deciding to take on the exciting role of running Cairns Home Loans Beaches office, I was working for the Commonwealth Bank where I gained my lending experience after more than 3 years of service.
I now own a property and have been living out at the northern Beaches for more than 6 years. I love the lifestyle Cairns offers and have made this place home.
Contact Billie: email@example.com
Simon Cody - Manager, Astute Financial Port Douglas
I decided to leave the Banks and join Port Home Loans after getting fed up of turning people away I thought we could help. I like the fact with this job I have access to over 30 lenders, meaning it's not very often we can't find our clients a solution
With 7 years experience in Banking & Lending and 4 years as the Manager of Port Home Loans, Simon Cody knows what it takes to make your experience of getting your loan an easy one.
With a commitment to results he really enjoys getting his customers their first home, dream house or investment property. Competitive in and out of the office, Simon loves his sports and is often playing Rugby, Cricket and Tennis. He's also the Treasurer of the Port Douglas Cricket Association (Muddies). Add to that a few rounds of golf when he's able and taking his partner diving on the Reef and it's clear to see he's not short of energy.
Friendly and always up for a chat, whenever you're close by pop in and talk to Simon about how he can help you get the finance to suit your individual needs.
Contact Simon: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jacqui Webb - Manager, Astute Financial Atherton
Graduating from Newcastle University in 2001 I was recruited into the graduate branch management program of the Commonwealth Bank. In 2002 I became the manager of Commonwealth Banks Tenterfield branch, and in 2005 I took up the management of Commonwealth Bank's Atherton branch. I have since settled in to Atherton with my husband and have come to know and appreciate some of the local community, it's stakeholders and it's people.
Over the six years spent managing these branches and acting as the lender I found that my client contact was decreasing and time spent dealing with paperwork and reports was increasing. Banking should be about customer relationships, not about sales targets and reports, so I began to look for a career path to bring the customer back into focus, as my passion has always been to provide excellence in service.
At the start of 2008 I went into partnership with Cairns Home Loans, to manage the new Atherton Home Loans branch. For me, Atherton Home Loans is about helping the people of Atherton achieve their dreams. Now, I am able to put my six years of bank management and lending experience, coupled with the knowledge and infrastructure that a reputable company like Cairns Home Loans provides, and offer the people of Atherton a dedicated, experienced and customer focused business. I am excited about being able to provide my clients with the most suitable lending solution and aim to set a new benchmark in customer service for Atherton.
Having been through the buying process myself, I understand that purchasing a home can be a stressful time. My job is to guide you through the journey and give you the support you need to make it a stress free and smooth experience.
Contact Jacqui: email@example.com
Peta Kelly - Financial Planner, Astute Financial
Having over 15 years in the finance industry I have seen the impact of not having any or insufficient personal insurance in place. Hence the reason why I believe in the service I provide to our valued clients through our various insurance providers.
Being involved in both the Financial Planning and Business Banking platforms in various banks, I have been able to gain a full understanding of the impact of not having your personal affairs in place.
I originally joined the NAB in 1999 in their business documents process centre in Brisbane. During my time with the NAB in various roles, of credit analyst through to Business Banking Manager, I yearned for a career change. After 9 years with the NAB I left and completed my Diploma of Financial Planning and starting my role as a Risk Specialist with an independent Firm. From there I joined the Commonwealth Bank as their Risk Specialist in Cairns and also more recently as a Local Business Banker. As I missed the contact with clients through my Risk Specialist role I made the move to join Cairns Home Loans in their financial planning team, Cairns Wealth and Insurance. To be involved with a team that offers great customer service who care about their clients and their goals made great sense to me.
Contact Peta: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cath Allen - Personal Assistant, Astute Financial
I enjoy meeting new people and achieving positive outcomes for them and their families. Helping families build a better financial future is always a rewarding experience.
I came to Cairns in 1999 for a three-month holiday - that was 12 years ago! I fell in love with Cairns and had many years working in customer oriented businesses within Cairns, mainly in Hospitality and Small Business Management.
I was lucky enough to be offered a position with Cairns Wealth & Insurance as a Personal Assistant to both Peta Kelly and Kathy Goodwin, where my key role is ensuring our clients have a simple and hassle free experience when dealing with us.
Contact Cath: email@example.com
Donnie Martin - Manager, Astute Financial Car Loans
Having grown up in Townsville and then Charters Towers, I made the move to Cairns after holidaying here in 1984. Sound familiar? Many people I meet come to Cairns on holidays and never leave.
I first worked for the ANZ Bank in Charters Towers, and when I moved to Cairns I worked for the Electricity Credit Union, Mercantile Credit and then AGC.
My father (Clarrie Clocker Martin) introduced me to the Motor Industry in 1987 and I have enjoyed a fantastic 23 years servicing the Cairns and Far North in Motor Sales and Management. Prior to commencing work at Cairns Car Loans I was the Business Finance Manager at Australian Motor Group for 11 years.
Already having a passion for customer service, and vast lending experience, I took up the offer as Lending Manager here at Cairns Car Loans, operating out of the Cairns Home Loans office.
With the knowledge I have gained from years of business experience, it is our mission to provide a prompt, trustworthy service to the people of Cairns and beyond who are looking for finance, not just cars - the possibilities are endless.
If you are ready to buy, just looking, or merely want some advice, please give me a call.
Contact Donnie: - firstname.lastname@example.org