Ross Rickards

Ross Rickards 0429 203 636

Locally born and bred in the Burdekin I am very excited to open a business where I can provide old fashioned customer service and build long term relationships with my clients covering finance, Insurance and build their wealth.

After 13 years working for one of the big four in various lending roles, in 2018 I decided to take the opportunity to manage a major Insurance branch in Ayr. It was during my time in insurance that I realised I wanted to start a business where we could look after a range of financial services all in the one place.

Astute North QLD is a full service office providing Finance, Insurance and Wealth services that opened in 2000. Owned and operated by John and Orla Watts, Astute offers a full financial services suite incorporating home loans, commercial and business lending as well as equipment finance, personal loans as well as insurance and superannuation. This why I have joined Astute and want to bring this service model to the Burdekin.

I am a fully accredited ASIC licenced broker with a Certificate IV in Financial Services, a Diploma in Mortgage Finance and hold a Tier 1 accreditation in Insurance Broking. I also hold all the necessary individual accreditations with the Banks and the MFAA.

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Debbie Macdonald

Debbie Macdonald 07 4783 5229

I am Burdekin born and raised, starting my insurance career in 1998 working for a local insurance broker before the sale of his business in 2017 where I commenced work for large corporate brokerage based in Ayr.  I have a total of 22 years’ experience in general insurance and insurance broking specialising in farm, business and domestic insurance.


  • Diploma of Insurance Broking
  • Tier 1 Insurance Broking
  • ASIC RG146 Tier 2 General Insurance Compliance
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Sharni Lennox

Sharni Lennox 07 4783 5229

Burdekin born and raised, my passion for business and finance started my career at the young age of 16, with a school-based traineeship in an accounting firm. From there I moved into the insurance world with a local insurance broker at the age of 17, right at the very bottom – walking the mail to the post office. I spent the next five years progressing my way through the insurance chain, where I thrived on providing quality service to clients ensuring all requirements were met.

I have the tendency to never stop, and I will always be outdoors doing some form of activity whether it be hiking, running, playing sport, walking the dogs, camping, renovating our house, you name it. I also spend some time at the local gym, where I instruct group fitness classes.

This new journey at Astute is incredibly exciting and I can’t wait to face new challenges.  Purchasing my first house just weeks before by 20th birthday, I understand just how daunting this process can be and I look forward to ensuring a smooth and enjoyable experience for our clients.

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Daniella Palmer

Daniella Palmer 07 4783 5229

I am a Burdekin local, born and raised. Throughout high school I had a passion for business and health and completed subjects relative to careers in both areas. I have completed a Certificate II in Business and have worked as a Client Service Officer for six years in a busy accounting firm.  Within this position I undertook numerous duties and developed a high level of customer service and business management skills.  I began this role knowing very little about the tax industry but my knowledge quickly grew, completing tax returns, tax prep, ASIC registrations etc as well as general administration.

As well as working full time I also studied full time to extend my love for the health industry and completed an Advanced Diploma of Nutritional Medicine. I am always willing to learn new things and grow my qualifications and skills, which is why I am excited to extend my knowledge in the finance and insurance area on my new journey at Astute.

I purchased my first home when I was 23 and understand how exciting but scary taking this step can be.  I look forward to helping the community, making this process as easy and stress free as possible.

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Michele Male

Michele Male 07 4783 5229

I have been working in the banking sector for a total of 35 years and during this time, I have developed a strong knowledge of General Insurance and had experience with a variety of banking products. I moved to the Burdekin with my family from a small country town in South Australia.

I have lived in the Burdekin now for 15 years and for 13 of those years, I continued to work in the banking sector. I thrive on building strong partnerships with my customers and delivering high quality service. I enjoy working in  a community based environment, like the Burdekin as it supports me to build these partnerships. I am looking forward to my new adventure at Astute Financial and transferring my skills, knowledge, and expertise to future customers.

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Brytni Pearson

Brytni Pearson 07 4783 5229

I was born and raised in the Burdekin, starting my finance career at Honeycombes in 2020. Throughout my three roles as a Stock Controller, Finance & Insurance Manager and salesman, I learnt how critical it is to create positive customer relations and provide prompt customer service.

As I have recently purchased my own house with my partner, I realised it is a huge milestone, and can be very exciting and daunting at the same time. I am excited to be able to help people achieve their dreams of purchasing their own home or investment properties, all while making the process enjoyable, smooth and stress free.

I feel very lucky to begin this new journey at Astute. My role is to conduct yearly home loan reviews and make adjustments accordingly, to ensure clients continue to get the best service and to keep clients informed throughout their purchase/ refinance.


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