Associate Advisers and Adviser Assistants

James Grixti


Bachelor of Commerce (Financial Planning)

When you have a passion, nothing will stop you from achieving your goals and this is how James Grixti approaches every day.

“I have a passion for investment. First Financial hired me straight out of university, and being able to work in the industry is fantastic. I feel lucky that I am already in this role… an adviser assistant to one of the company’s principals. It’s a real highlight that they have entrusted me with this position.”

Daniel Smith


Bachelor of Business (Human Resources)

Before university, Daniel Smith hadn’t ever really considered financial planning… he hadn’t come across it in his everyday life, but through his Bachelor of Business at university one introductory subject opened his eyes and set him down a clear career path.

“When I started to select elective subjects, I chose an introduction to financial planning… I found the strategy topics really interesting and so I continually chose finance subjects and went from there.”

Jo Zhao


Bachelor of Medical Science
Master of Finance
Diploma of Financial Planning

Jo Zhao’s career started with a Bachelor of Medical Science but after a couple of years working within a hospital environment, she realised that it wasn’t her passion.

“I enjoyed it but I felt there were limitations… while I was working in the hospital I developed a strong interest in finance… I have a lot of family and friends working in the finance industry and that definitely influenced me to do my Masters.”

Joel Gleeson


Bachelor of Economics and Finance

I find it really satisfying when I’m able to help a client with something that is causing them stress or anxiety. This is something that gives me real job satisfaction… it’s really rewarding.”

Job satisfaction is extremely important and is one of the main reasons that Joel Gleeson decided to join the First Financial team.

Nick Donato


Bachelor of Banking and Finance
Bachelor of Accounting

“Ever since I had my first job as a teenager… earning just $50 a week, I’ve been interested in finding out how to make your money work for you… I studied both finance and accounting but definitely found my interest in lay in financial planning.”

Nick Donato decided early on that he wanted to work in the finance industry. Completing both a Bachelor of Banking and Finance and Bachelor of Accounting at Monash University set him on his career path. And joining the team at First Financial as an Adviser Assistant was the next step in his progression.

Matthew Benic


Bachelor of Commerce (Financial Planning)

My dad instilled the idea of being good with money into me when I was a kid. I had a saver account for the money I made when I did odd jobs, and that helped me learn about the power of savings and compounding. Having these little lessons about money from an early age got me interested in finance… I wanted to understand about making it work and finding the opportunities that are out there.”

Matthew is focused on becoming a financial planner and he is certainly on the right path.

Hayley Wong


Master of Commerce (Finance)
Bachelor of Arts (Media and Cultural Studies)
Diploma of Financial Planning

Hayley has been living the First Financial Investment Philosophy all her life, so when the opportunity arose it made complete sense for her to join our team.

My mum started encouraging me to use the three bucket system when I was a kid. She told me that when I start working and receiving a salary, I have to split it into three. One third to save for myself, one third give to her to save for me and one third for spending. I’ve been following that concept since I was a child, so when I read it on the First Financial website I knew it was the right place for me!

Nathaniel Johnston


Bachelor of Commerce
Bachelor of Economics
Diploma of Financial Planning

“Growing up, I was always interested in money and numbers… and I’ve always been very frugal in terms of saving my money. I enjoy the progress and watching my wealth build.

Of course, it was on a much smaller scale than our clients, but I like the idea of assessing where you are now and looking at the tools you have available and then determining the best way to use them – what you can put in place today so that you can get where you want to be in the future. This is where financial planning helps a lot.”

Matthew Magee


Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting & Financial Planning)

“I’ve always had a bit of a numbers brain. Through high school and early university I was drawn to accounting… but as I started getting more into studying at uni, I realised that accounting was a little too dry. When I did my first Financial Planning unit I really loved it and knew I wanted to focus my attention there.

Since I’ve started working in the industry I absolutely know this is where my job satisfaction lies. I really enjoy the client facing aspects of my work.”

Andrew Shavikin


Bachelor of Commerce (Financial Planning)
Diploma of Financial Services

Andrew Shavikin’s career originally started down the biological sciences route and while he found his studies interesting, he realised it wasn’t where his passion lay.

“I really enjoyed the analytical side of the work I was doing… but knew quite early on that I didn’t want a career in the sciences. I took a break and did my Diploma of Financial Services and that’s when I realised I wanted to get into the financial industry… to see if I could help people and support them as they get their finances on track.”