Written by Holly Johnson of CEO Magazine.
Without knowing how she would do it, Connie Mckeage founded OneVue, a fintech company with a steadfast vision to change Australia’s investment landscape. After eleven years as CEO, Connie continues to pursue this vision while overseeing the strategic direction of the company, delivering sustainable growth and driving change within an ever-evolving and dynamic industry.
“The short-term goal is to get the market to better understand why we’re different, what we’re passionate about, and how that allows us to deliver a more profitable, sustainable business model to our customers,” says Connie.
“In the long term, we want to change the very backbone of the industry; to deliver a low-cost, highly efficient investment environment. How we work towards these goals changes dramatically year by year because there are always new processes and technologies being introduced.”
Where it all started
Connie initially found her passion for commerce and finance after switching from a journalism degree to arts and science at university. She quickly discovered that she thrived in a rapid-paced environment. “Early on, I knew that I liked to change things and make them better. And, over the years, I’ve developed the expertise needed to take companies from their formative stages to a much more mature level,” says Connie.
Her extensive experience in the Australian, Asian, European and North American financial services markets saw her drive E*TRADE and increase awareness of the benefits of global IT frameworks in operational and business transformation. It also led to her being a founding member of Financial Executive Women.
"We want to change the very backbone of the industry"
Connie has received much recognition for her contribution to the investment space throughout her career. In 2003 she was awarded the Centenary Medal by the Australian Government for her contribution to Australian business leadership, and in 2015 she was an Eastern Region Finalist for EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.
For two consecutive years, she was also a finalist in the prestigious Woman of the Year category at the Women in Financial Services Awards. Most recently Connie was recognised by Insights Success magazine as one of the 30 Most Influential Women in Business.
From start-up to A$250 million in value
Under Connie’s leadership, OneVue has grown from a start-up to a listed company approaching A$250 million in value and administering over A$600 billion in funds. The company provides wholesale services to the wealth management industry. Its focus area is superannuation services including managed fund administration, platform and trustee services.
She says OneVue is committed to connecting investors and advisers directly to product providers. “What’s changing in the market is that we’re in a deflationary environment, so people are very cost-conscious. On top of this, there’s also a lot of regulatory change in the banking and finance sectors, as well as rapid changes in technology,” explains Connie.
“These changes present a tremendous opportunity to capitalise on our market position. We were recently named Best Innovator at the Self-Managed Super Funds Provider Awards 2017. This is because we know that change is inevitable, and it’s better to embrace it than to fight it. I wish we were braver as an industry. I wish we spent less time protecting the status quo and more time trying to change things for the better.”
Shaping the future of Australian businesses
Over the past decade, Connie has empowered OneVue to do much more than just invest – but to actively shape the future of Australian businesses and launch them into the global market. Exciting new initiatives such as the ASX’s blockchain, the share registries open access to data, the introduction of the banking sector’s new payments platform and OneVue’s own managed funds innovations will all help drive change through the industry. Important investors include Perpetual Limited, Thorney Investments, CFS, Tribeca and many others.
“Our number one corporate success was landing our first external shareholders, Perpetual Limited and Thorney Investments. This was huge because it meant that smart external investment managers were willing to bet on us, not just private people who already knew me,” explains Connie. “The second highlight was becoming a public company because our world changed considerably. And the third was when we hit the A$100 million mark,” she recalls.
“On the people side, the pivotal moment was when people started approaching us because they wanted to work for OneVue, instead of us having to seek them out. Lastly, without the clients that have stuck with us from the beginning, including Madison, Australian Unity and BNP Paribas, we wouldn’t have had huge client wins like NAB.”
The '20-mile march'
Connie recognises that it hasn’t always been a walk in the park. “The biggest challenge we’ve faced since going public has been building a sustainable business against the market pressure for consistent, increased short-term earnings. We want to invest in what we believe in, but we also can’t be too far off market expectations, otherwise we’re in oblivion,” explains Connie.
“We’ve completed nine acquisitions since I’ve been at OneVue but it’s very difficult to meet everyone’s needs. All you can do is stick to your strategy, and try and communicate effectively so you can bring as many people as possible on the journey with you.”
Connie believes in the ‘20-mile march’ where every day, each person comes in and does their bit. “We don’t do five-year plans here. We have a vision, and we have a series of rolling tactical executions against an overarching strategy. One of the toughest things in this business is that as the company evolves, the people you have in the beginning may not be right anymore,” says Connie.
“As CEO, I have to balance caring about people with caring about the company. You need transparency, consistency and equality. You have to continually step back and look at the organisation with fresh eyes and ask yourself, ‘Do you have the right skills to succeed? What’s missing and where can you find it?’
“The environment doesn’t stay the same, so the business can’t stay the same. Seismic changes are coming, and how we position ourselves to handle those are probably the most important decisions we’re going to make over the next 12–18 months.”