John Watts 0418 716 033
I started Astute North QLD because I was disappointed with the way Banks had done away with ‘Old School’ bank managers that expressed compassion, knowledge and authority. So we developed a company to fill the gap. I 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 Astute North QLD the success it is today. 13 years on and with a number of subsidiary companies, I now lead a team of 22 who continue to make the process of getting finance easy.
In 2005 my wife Orla and I established a Port office, followed by an Atherton office in 2006 and a Beaches office at Campus Village in 2009.
Originally born and raised in South-West Queensland, I went to school at Churchie as a boarder in Brisbane. After school I worked in Gove NT, the Kimberly’s WA and Barcaldine Central Queensland, working in the mining and rural industries. I then moved to Toowomba to work in Real Estate as an Auctioneer and Salesperson, moving back to Cairns in 1996 to continue my real estate career with First National.
I believe it is my diverse background that makes me good at what I do. I can easily relate to people of all walks of life and genuinely enjoys getting to know my clients. If you want to deal with someone the way bank managers were in the old days, contact us.
Orla Watts 07 4041 3100
In the year 2000 John and I started Astute North QLD 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, my 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 I came to Cairns in 1996 for a holiday. Soon after I met John and decided to make Australia my new home. Working side by side for the past 12 years, John and I have established successful 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.
Prue Swenson 07 4041 3100
I was born in country Victoria but left there when I was two years old with my family to travel and work our way around Australia. When we came to Cairns my parents loved it so much that they decided to stay. I married a born and bred local and am well and truly settled in with my own family and love the North Queensland lifestyle and what it has to offer.
I have been part of the Astute North Queensland team since 2011 and I work closely with Gus and Liam. My role is to look after our clients after settlement to ensure we stay in touch, review their loans and make adjustments accordingly as their needs change and portfolios grow.
Donnie Martin 0400 705 669
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 Astute North QLD 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 Astute North QLD, operating out of the Cairns 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.
Morene Rumble 0419 710 603
Like many Kiwis crossing the ditch, I have called Australia home for the past 28 years. It was early in my career as a Retail Area Manager in Sydney that I began to understand what challenges customers faced in both service and sales. I was committed to finding simple solutions for customers and creating robust systems that kept us both honest. This is when I really begun to ignite my passion for people.
After spending 10 years on the road, and like every great story I was presented with a golden opportunity to re-locate to Far North Qld. I became employed in the Motor Industry where I quickly established a strong liking to not only the industry but also the region and its vibrant culture. Having held various roles in Sales & Marketing, Finance & Insurance and Business Management in multi franchised Dealerships for 17 years; joining Astute in their Equipment Finance team was a natural progression for me. I feel privileged to be part of an easy going professional group.
If you value honest, accurate and detailed information to help you make a well informed finance decision on your next purchase, feel free to contact me your fully accredited licenced Broker.
Cath Allen 07 4041 3100
I came to Cairns in 1999 for a three-month holiday – that was 15 years ago! I fell in love with Cairns and have had many years working in customer oriented businesses within Cairns, mainly in Hospitality and Business Management.
I have been part of the Astute crew now for 4 years and really enjoy the great office atmosphere and vision that John Watts has created. I feel really lucky to have been offered a position with Astute North Queensland as a Key Assistant to both our Risk Advisers. My main role is to help ensure our clients have a simple and hassle free experience when dealing with us.
Gus Soper 0400 636 953
My 10 years with Astute North QLD has shown me that people love to deal with like-minded, approachable people. Just getting things done without the fuss has proven a far better approach than the way lending is often done in bank world.
Back in the day I started my working career in sales management. This taught me the importance of customer service, building relationships and delivering the right solutions and results for my clients.
It’s these foundations that have contributed to my success in the mortgage broking industry. Over my time I believe I have delivered some great results for my clients, working as their Lending Specialist and an Advisor. I have a strong commitment to all my clients and love to meet new people from all walks of life. Whether it is sport, travel, camping or kids, there are very few people I meet with that I can’t find some common ground with and help.
I am a fully accredited ASIC licenced broker with a Certificate IV in Financial Services and a Diploma in Mortgage Finance. I also hold all the necessary individual accreditations with the Banks and the MFAA.
Liam Busby 0414 763 071
Back in 2005 when I was arranging our home loan, little did I know that 8 years down the track I’d be joining the Astute North Queensland team and working as a qualified Lending Manager.
My wife and I came to Cairns in 2004 planning to stay for just one year, fell in love with the place, now more than 10 years and 3 kids later we’re proud to call Far North Queensland home. My recent history consists of 9 years in the local Aviation industry in an operational role, and previously in the Tourism industry in New Zealand. I love my sport, whether it’s out on the ground or from the comfort of my couch. Running is something I enjoy, but should do more of as I work towards running a marathon in the not too distant future.
My aim is to put you at ease with the whole lending process, it can be daunting, but it’s our job to make sure it isn’t. Having been through the lending process myself for my home and investment properties I fully appreciate what people go through when they apply for lending. I will offer you a professional, honest and informative service as we work through your lending requirements.
If you’d like to chat with someone who is down to earth and cares about customer service then please give me a call.
Kin Fei Chan 0412 340 257
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 Astute North QLD after having experienced the exceptional service provided by this company. I embrace the opportunity of being the only Asian finance broker in the region.
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.
Damian Condon 0408 486 608
After 26 years and various management roles with ANZ, its exciting and rewarding to be part of a team whose vision of what true customer service should look like, is the same as my own.
Working for Astute allows me to provide the time and service level I don’t believe possible any longer with large institutional banks. The atmosphere is relaxed yet professional, which makes for a closer working relationship with our clients.
Originally from Cairns, I’ve seen peaks and troughs, and have always followed the residential market with interest. I’ve watched Cairns develop progressively over the years and am looking forward to helping people become part of this city’s future growth.
Stop in to our office any time, and see first-hand what genuine financial services look like.
Tania Pocock 0421 560 474
I joined the Astute North Qld team in August 2013.
Having grown up in Mt Isa I made the move to Cairns when I was 19 for the beach and the relaxed lifestyle.
I first worked for the Bank of NSW in Mount Isa at the tender age of 16. Moving to Cairns at 19 I switched banks and began my career with ANZ. Throughout my 27 year history with ANZ I managed many of the Cairns Branches, including Cooktown. I loved it until slowly I felt the customer aspect of my job was being removed and replaced with number crunching and paperwork when my real passion is people. I knew I wanted to interact with people and having so many years’ experience in finance it just seemed right to join Astute North Qld team.
I am very passionate about the work I do and providing outstanding customer service. I am more always up for a chat and love trying work with you to get the right solution.
Jasmin O'Rourke 07 4041 3100
Cairns local, born and raised, I graduated Year 12 in 2010. Still in two minds of my career path, I decided to put University on hold and immerse myself into the work force. It wasn’t long after that I had a full time job in a Car Dealership. I worked 7 months as Receptionist and then was offered a promotion into Accounts. The experience & knowledge that I had gained during my 3 ½ years in the motor industry had paved the way for what opportunities lay ahead in Finance Lending.
I jumped at the chance when offered a lending assistant role with Astute North QLD as I was eager to begin my career in Finance. Now, learning the ropes from experienced brokers Morene Rumble & Donnie Martin while studying for my Diploma in Finance & Mortgage Broking, I’m on my path to becoming a Finance Broker.
I thrive on making sure customers are satisfied from the service we provide and ensure that their expectations are exceeded every time.
Phil Collins 0421 965 638
I grew up in the South Eastern suburbs of Melbourne and made the move to Cairns with my girlfriend Jodie and our dog Muz. It’s been 4 years and it would be fair to say we have not looked back. When I finished school I became a bricklaying apprentice, I completed my trade and built residential housing for 6 years. When we moved to cairns I found it difficult to save money for a house through the wet season so I applied for JCU and started a graduate certificate of business. I continued my study and also completed a certificate 4 in Small business. Having bought our first house in early 2014 I can completely understand all the feelings and emotions that is the rollercoaster of dealing with a bank, the agent, solicitor, the list goes on!
If you want to have a friendly chat about your finances or even a point in the right direction please give me a ring.
Glenda Aitken 07 4041 3100
I grew up on a cane farm south of Cairns and attended boarding school in Townsville. After completing year 12, I started working with one of the major banks in Cairns and spent 29 years there in various roles with the last 20 years in lending and finance.
I joined Astute in August 2015 and love being a part of an organisation that prides itself on being a leader in customer service.
Alex Jorgensen 07 4041 3100
Born and raised in Cairns, I attended Cairns State High and like many others I had a ‘gap year’ after school. Shortly after finishing school I moved to Brisbane to begin a degree in Architecture at QUT. I knew this field wasn’t for me and moved back to Cairns.
I decided to pursue a degree in Business, majoring in Financial Management and Accounting through James Cook University. After four semesters I knew I wanted to be a Financial Planner, so I completed my Diploma of Financial Planning and requested advanced standing for Griffith University’s Masters of Financial Planning.
I began interviewing with many boutique financial planning firms and local banks before I finally met John Watts, and I immediately knew Astute was where I needed to be.
John’s vision of building lifelong relationships with clients and not pushing the banking industry’s sales culture was inspiring, and one that I strongly relate to.
If you are looking for a planner who cares about you and is going to be there for the long term, I look forward to meeting you.
Kendall Young 07 4041 3100
Originally I come from the small town of Mooroopna, Victoria where all of my family currently reside. My partner and I first came up to Cairns for a holiday in September 2011 and we fell in love with the laidback lifestyle it had to offer. Two months later in November we decided to make the move and haven’t looked back since!
Each day is like a holiday in paradise and I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. I love getting out in the sun every chance I get, so I spend most weekends on our jet skis up at the dam. I am determined to learn how to wakeboard no matter how long it takes me.
Apart from skiing I enjoy going into town for lunch or dinner with friends, watching the Taipans game every chance I get, and for everyone that knows me they know I’ll never say no to a drink!
I first began my career in finance as a Personal Finance Representative in 2010, specialising in debt consolidation and personal lending. I was offered the opportunity to join Astute in November 2015 as part of the equipment finance team working under Donnie and Morene.
Being able to work with a diverse group of lenders makes choosing and delivering our finance solutions to our customers all that more special, as we are able to select the right lender that suits your current and future needs.
I am always striving to provide excellent customer service from beginning to end and everything in between. Being a part of Astute allows me to not only meet your expectations, but to provide a personalised service each and every time.
Ciaran Moore 0475 615 308
With over eight years of financial experience, I am fortunate to have met families and individuals from all walks of life, and helping these people provides me with a great sense of satisfaction. I am passionate about finding simple, straight forward solutions to my client’s wealth needs and I look to build a long term relationship based on trust and integrity with each and every one of my clients.
I joined Astute as part of my re-location to the Cairns weather and lifestyle, and I truly believe the culture of customer service is second to none. Furthermore, having come from a professional sporting background, it has been extremely refreshing and rewarding to be part of a team that has a common, like-minded vision. Helping people to achieve their goals and dreams is not just a statement, it is a value that extends to our core.
If you have any wealth needs please do not hesitate to come in and meet me, I would love to be part of your financial journey.
Heather Chipps 07 4041 3100
After living in Sydney for 15 years, I made the move to Cairns at the start of 2015 and quickly fell in love with the beauty, the lifestyle and the lovely people.
I have worked in financial services since finishing university ten years ago, primarily in sales and business development roles. Delivering above and beyond customer service has always been my priority and after starting with Astute it was so refreshing to witness a continuous desire to exceed expectations and do the absolute best possible for our customers.
I still remember the nerves, confusion and questions I had when purchasing my home. I am really grateful to now be in a position to help answer those questions for our customers, and to make sure they are kept updated and informed throughout the process.
Outside of work I love exploring beautiful far north Queensland, travelling and having a sneaky beer or two on the weekend.
Jody Payne 07 4041 3100
I started in the finance industry in 2002 and cannot, for one minute, believe it’s been that long! I’ve worked for Banks, Insurance/Investment providers and local Financial Planning firms. I have a Bachelor of Business (Financial Planning) degree from RMIT and in 2010 I completed my Diploma of Financial Planning.
I specialise in getting to know what your goals are and I have a willingness and ability to explain complex financial issues in simple terms. I get frustrated when people miss out financially just because they don’t know how it works. My aim is to get you on the right path with the least amount of stress possible.
I am madly in love with Cairns and so very proud to call the region home. Downtime is spent enjoying the natural surrounds with my family and friends. I’m the first to laugh and the last to stress – I want that for you too! Come and see me – I would love to get you on the right track.
Renaee McSwan 07 4041 3100
Born and bred in Cairns, I graduated high school in 2001 and went straight into the Pharmacy industry where I then spent the next 11 years. After a massive life change for the better, I decided a career change was also in order so I applied for a job in a bank. I then spent the better part of nearly 5 years as a Personal Banker helping people achieve their financial goals. Towards the end of my time at the bank I decided that I wanted to work for a Local Cairns Business with good old fashioned customer service.
As a local I was very aware of the Astute group and its strong focus on customer service within the finance industry and also their strong presence in the community so when I was offered a position as an Aftercare specialist I jumped at the chance to join this amazing and professional team.
I look forward to helping my clients achieving their goals and ensuring they are well protected as their lives also change.
Jasmine Cassell 07 4041 3100
My partner and I moved to Cairns almost two years ago for a six-month stint and like most people that come here for a holiday or break we fell in love with the place.
After a few years in hospitality I decided that I wanted a change which is how I ended up in the finance industry working for the banks who gave me the support and opportunity to learn and grow in the finance industry and after completing my certificate IV in financial services I was offered a job as a home lender.
I absolutely loved my job and it is one of those jobs where you are lucky enough to change people’s lives. But with any large organisation I started to feel the pressure and wanted to focus more on personalised customer service.
I then made the decision to branch out and find somewhere that suited my outlook, and that is how I came to be at Astute. From the moment I walked in the door at Astute I knew that this was where I wanted to work, the whole team are so welcoming and supportive. The service provided here is so personalised and open, I have never seen anything like it.
Lina Rudani 07 4041 3100
I was born in Adelaide but we quickly relocated as a family to Port Moresby, PNG when I was only 4 weeks old. I lived there for 3 years before heading back to Australia and setting up roots in Far North Qld, Cairns. I completed my primary and secondary schooling here before completing my Bachelor of Business majoring in Human Resources and Marketing at James Cook University.
My love of people found me working in retails sales for 7 years before dabbling in the medical field as a Receptionist. Giving customers a wonderful experience from the moment they walked through the door to when they left was something that was very important to me.
I first experienced Astute as a client when my partner and I were looking to buy our first home. Something that is very daunting for most, was suddenly so easy as soon as we were welcomed by the team here. It was definitely a work atmosphere I wanted to be a part of and feel very lucky to be working here. The Astute team go above and beyond to make you feel valued, well taken of and most of all secure that you are in good hand
Brett Lederhose 07 4041 3100
As a born-and-bred local, I am extremely proud to call Cairns home. Both of my grandfather’s came to Cairns just before WWII, and it was my German heritage that gave me my ‘unique’ surname, which literally translates to Leather Pants!
A childhood passion for cars ultimately lead me to the industry and I started selling cars for Ireland Holden in 1993. I worked for heaps of different brands over the years, both in mainstream and prestige, as spending time as a valuer/buyer. I know that my success in the industry was mainly due to my constant focus on customer service and satisfaction. Right from the start, my personal goal was to always provide a unique buying experience for the customer by helping them buy the car, rather than just selling it to them.
In 2011 I stepped away from the car industry and managed Minecorp/LFSS in Mackay, servicing the Bowen Basin, which provided an amazing insight and a fabulous learning experience.
During this time, I have been very lucky to spend a large amount of time travelling in India and living permanently in Mumbai. As they say, ‘you see some of the most amazing things, as well as some of the worst…it goes for smells as well ’. To me, these experiences were always an enormous reinforcement of how lucky we are, to live where we do.
I had my ‘mid-life-crisis’ last year and after getting my motorbike licence, I bought an F700GS. The love affair has continued to blossom and I look for any excuse to ride, at every opportunity!
I had come to know of Astute through numerous car sale dealings and the customers’ loyalty toward them always impressed me. After meeting with the crew I knew immediately that this was a team that I wanted to be a part of. Their committed approach to old-fashioned customer service is something that is rarely seen in today’s marketplace and matched my own strong beliefs.
With my knowledge of the car industry and the tremendous support behind me, my aim is provide a complete service to my clients by helping them at every stage throughout the process.
Chantelle Ball 07 4041 3100
Being born and raised in Cairns, at 19 I was itching to move away. I landed myself a job at Virgin Australia and left Cairns to live in Canberra. This only lasted a year before I moved back, realising Cairns is definitely the place to be.
Being a flight attendant meant seeing a lot of Australia which I feel so lucky for. When I returned my partner and I expanded our family of two with a gorgeous little boy, so I put flying on hold. When he turned two I started working for Jetstar based in Cairns.
That was until 2016 rolled along. It was a massive year, my partner and I sold our first home, got married and bought a new home – all within a week. This would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the wonderful team at Astute.
A couple of months later a position came up and I knew I wanted to apply. I wanted to try something new and I loved being in customer service, so I knew this would be a perfect fit.
I enjoy being a part of your financial goals and love seeing you leave knowing you’re on the right track to achieving your dreams.
Jo Hilton 07 4041 3100
Coming from the ‘gateway of the outback’ NSW, I moved to Cairns over 20 years ago. I came up for a short holiday and decided to stay in beautiful FNQ. Now considered a local, I have a real understanding of the Cairns financial climate and the needs and expectations of our customers.
I started my banking career back in 2005. Over the years, gaining knowledge and experience, I worked my way up to a Team Leader/Branch Manager role. Throughout my journey I have gained the trust of my customers through great service, exceeding expectations, clear communication and most significantly, genuinely caring about what is most important to them.
Working on wealth, helping clients protect their families, lifestyles and dreams, while planning for the future has always been a priority whilst speaking with my clients, and has made the biggest differences in their lives.
Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my family, getting out and about, cooking and chilling with a glass of wine whilst watching a great movie.
April Merta 07 4041 3100
I grew up on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria and made the epic move to Cairns in 2005. The tropical lifestyle, the welcoming people and the beautiful landscape makes me happy to wake up each morning and call this beautiful region my home.
I graduated with a Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Arts many moons ago and commenced my career in the city of Melbourne, working in various stockbroking and funds management support roles. Since moving to Cairns, I was introduced to the financial planning industry and have enjoyed it immensely, as it takes a more holistic and individual approach to client service.
From the moment I entered Astute, I knew it was different to anywhere I had previously been employed. Customer service is not a ‘catch phrase’ here; it is an ingrained value that all staff live by. The wonderful thing about Astute is there is a mix of relaxed, down to earth advice, coupled with absolute and complete professionalism.
I feel lucky to be a part of a team that provides high quality financial advice to the people of Cairns and assists them in strengthening and protecting their financial position with real and tangible solutions. We don’t use technical jargon here, we explain everything in a way that is easy to understand and ensure our clients always have a comprehensive understanding of our strategy recommendations.
We look forward to assisting you at Astute.