Viridian opens new offices

In some pre-holiday spending, Viridian Advisory over 20 new offices in November, and is looking to launch a mobile app in 2020, says chief executive Glenn Calder.

The new locations will house advisers that Viridian picked up last year when it acquired about 73 advisers from Westpac, representing about $4.5 billion in assets.

The acquisition has given Viridian a footing in South Australia and Australian Capital Territory, where it did not have a presence before.

"The offices were pretty much built around the people who have joined Viridian. Instead of asking them to relocate, travel or video conference with their clients, we decided to open offices where they were domiciled," Calder told Financial Standard.

Before onboarding the Westpac advisers, Viridian had six offices. Now, it has a total of 27 locations.

Its adviser count stands at 110 advisers in the Viridian Advisory license and 40 advisers under its licensee business.

"It was a monstrous effort from our chief operating officer, Michael Ehrentraut, who worked single handedly on opening them," Calder said.

Viridian's biggest geographical presence is across New South Wales and Victoria, where it has nine and eight locations respectively.

The company generated $28.1 million in revenue in 2019.

It has zero debt and follows an employee-ownership model with a total subscribed capital of $47.5 million, Calder said. Total equity value of the company stands at close to $150 million.

"It wasn't actually a big expense, there are a lot of incentives to get into buildings in regional areas," he said.

The company's biggest rental spend remains its Sydney office, where it occupies a whole floor on Margaret Street.

Calder says he has zero targets to acquire more advisers in the year ahead but sees the industry continuing to consolidate.

Viridian has been investing in its IT and tech systems.

"We have a chance this year to become more assertive with it...not having to rely on other third parties," he said of its IT spending.

A team currently meets weekly to develop a mobile application, with the goal of improving client engagement, and possibly -- down the line -- retention.

"I really don't like the term robo advice. Clients look at the relationships," Calder said.

"People are so unconnected to emails," he said, pointing to successful consumer banking apps.

"Another huge gap is in financial literacy. If we could develop something where people - more the general community, not even the financial planning community - could go to watch videos and get education on financial topics, that would be great."

Read more: Viridian AdvisoryGlenn CalderAustralian Capital TerritoryMichael Ehrentraut
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