John Watts 0418 716 033
We started Astute North Queensland 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 Queensland the success it is today. 20 years on and with a number of subsidiary companies, including Equipment Finance, General Insurance, Financial Planning, Accounting and Bookkeeping we have group of individuals that genuinely build relationships with our customers.
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 Toowoomba 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.
If you want to deal with someone the way bank managers were in the old days, contact us.
Orla Watts 07 4041 3100
In 2000 John and I started Astute North Queensland because we felt there was a real need for customers to get better service than others were offering.
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 since 2000 John and I have established successful sister offices in Port Douglas, Atherton, Mareeba & Ayr.
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 very young with my family to travel. My parents packed up the caravan and worked their way around Australia for three years with us kids in tow. 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. My role is to look after our clients helping keep them informed through-out their purchase/refinance and then after settlement to ensure we stay in touch, review their loans on an annual basis 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 Queensland 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 Queensland, 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.
Cath Allen 07 4041 3100
I am a Planning Assistant where my main role is keeping our existing customers happy and helping our new customers to make sure their experience with us is as easy and hassle free as possible. It is great to see customers achieving positive outcomes for themselves and their families. Helping families build a better financial future is always a rewarding experience.
I came to Cairns in 1999 for a three-month holiday and fell in love with Cairns and my hubby. I have had many years working in customer oriented businesses within Cairns, mainly in Hospitality and Small Business Management.
Gus Soper 0400 636 953
I have been part of Astute North QLD since 2007 and during this time I have learnt 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.
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.
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 Queensland 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.
Simon Cody 0404 503 985
I decided to leave the Banks and join Astute North Queensland after getting fed up of turning people away I thought we could help. I like the fact with this job I have access to over 30 lenders, meaning it’s not very often we can’t find our clients a solution
With 7 years’ prior experience in banking and lending and now managing the Astute Port Douglas office since 2009, I know what it takes to make your experience of getting your loan an easy one.
With a commitment to results, I really enjoy getting my customers their first home, dream house or investment property. I love my sport and am often found playing Rugby, Cricket, Tennis and a few rounds of Golf. I love taking my partner diving on the Reef, and it’s clear to see I’m not lacking on energy.
Friendly and always up for a chat, whenever you’re close by pop in and talk to me about how I can help you get the finance to suit your individual needs.
Phil Collins 0421 965 638
I joined the Astute team in 2015. Originally from the South Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne my partner Jodie and I moved to Northern Beaches of Cairns in 2013. After we had been here for a year we decided to settle down and buy a house. I have a son named Josh and we are looking forward to bringing him up in the outdoors and in the sunshine of North Queensland.
Originally from a trade background with 6 years working as Bricklayer in Victoria I have a great understanding of the build process.
Like most at Astute, I love what I do and would like to think that I have become great friends with my customers. My team has grown over the journey to include Andrew, Customer Service Manager and Karla our Aftercare Specialist. This allows me more time to help my customers and deliver a great service.
Michael Jacoby 0408 805 648
I have over 30 years banking experience, predominantly in business banking in North Queensland, based in Townsville. Over the years I have also worked in Toowoomba, Chinchilla, Dalby, Stanthorpe, Darwin, and until very recently in Brisbane working for a large Asian Bank in Corporate/Institutional banking. However, my preference is very much towards assisting the family owned business owner/operators of Northern Queensland.
I have been fortunate to have experience across a broad range of industries including hospitality, accommodation and tourism; professional services firms; smaller end manufacturing; transport and logistics; marine services; construction and trades; mining services; civil contractors; property investment and property development; motor dealers; retailers and wholesalers; health; and the agricultural sector amongst others.
I will be able to assist market sectors including small business, larger commercial businesses, emerging and lower end corporate, property investors and developers, and agricultural.
I am very pleased to have joined John and Orla Watts and the Astute North QLD Group based in Cairns, but am available to discuss current or proposed business banking arrangements across Queensland.
Whether you are looking at a specific transaction to be financed, refinancing existing debt, a review of current banking arrangements, or just would like a chat, I am contactable by email or mobile any time.
Debbie Fagan 0432 539 569
Originally from Ireland, I came to Australia in 2007 as a backpacker and like most backpackers fell in love with the Australian life style and knew it would become my home.
I started my financial career when I was in college as a trainee accountant. While working for that company I realised I had a massive interest in the area of home loans and wanted to work closer with the public with a more hands on approach. I moved to lending at that point where I worked for 7 years.
Looking to expand my career further and learn more about the industry, I moved to a sub-prime company where I worked as an underwriter. After a few years I became a team leader for the offers/valuation area.
Joining the Astute team is very exciting for me as we share the same passion for customer service, while understanding the importance of finding the prefect product for each person.
I look forward to my growth within Astute as I look forward to working with you closely.
Crystal Culshaw 07 4041 3100
I grew up in beautiful Port Stephens NSW and moved to Cairns when I was 12. After I finished high school I went straight into the banking industry, working for one of the majors for the past 16 years. I worked in nearly every role in the bank from telling, to management. I discovered my love of home loans and assisting clients with their home buying dreams.
After returning to work earlier this year from maternity leave, I found my focus shifted and I wanted a role focused on customer service rather than sales. I wanted to help my clients and I also wanted a better work/life balance. As cliché as it sounds, having kids really does change your priorities.
I jumped at the opportunity to work with Astute after having dealt with them on a professional level through the bank for many years. I am very excited to be part of a fun team, getting back into home loans and most of all, helping my clients on their exciting journey of purchasing a home.
Tracey Kitson 0408 796 239
I have over 10 years’ experience as a Financial Planner, having moved to Cairns from outback Queensland (Mount Isa), and joined the Astute family in February 2018. I grew up in Gladstone and started an admin traineeship with a Suncorp General Insurance Agent straight after leaving school.
My partner and I moved to Mount Isa where we called home for the next 13 years. I worked for a Financial Planning Firm where I completed my Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning. Here I found my passion for helping clients achieve their financial goals, protect their most important assets (their family), but also build strong trusting relationships to enable me to be there for my clients through the tough times when claims need to be made to ensure this time is as stress-free as possible.
As many have done before me, a short holiday to Cairns lead to a love affair with the region. The majestic rainforest surroundings and reef stole my heart and it wasn’t long before I trekked across the state to start the new chapter of my life with my family.
I have over 10 years’ experience as a Financial Planner and am with you every step of the way throughout your lifetime. I take the time to listen to your needs and objectives and find solutions that you not only understand but are comfortable with. I invite you to give our office a ring to see how I can assist you in the planning and protection of your financial future.
Jasmine Michel 0423 961 648
I have been lucky enough to be born and raised in beautiful Cairns.
As a teenager, I moved to my father’s home town in Argentina for 6 months where I went to school and learned a little of the language. I met a lot of amazing people and was bitten by the travel bug! In 2019 I backpacked around Europe for three fabulous months with my partner and a couple of friends, eating and drinking our way around the continent!!
Growing up, my parents ran a small local business where I learnt the importance of great customer service and the impact that good word of mouth can have on a business.
I began at Astute NQ in 2017 in the Equipment Finance team working as an Office Manager and have since become a Finance Broker specialising in asset finance, personal and commercial lending. I feel very lucky to be a part of the Astute North Queensland team and look forward to helping you with your finance goals!
Amy Spiller 0435 374 075
Perth born and Cairns raised and wouldn’t have it any other way! My journey with Astute started the day after my 20th birthday when I purchased my first property, where Tania Pocock was my mortgage broker.
Fast forward 5 years and having a quarter life crisis, I left my job of 7 years to kick start my career in Equipment Finance (which I knew little about!) and I absolutely love it and could not think of doing anything else! I look forward to helping you with all of your Equipment Finance needs and questions.
Jessica Cho 07 4041 3100
Originally born and bred in Seoul, South Korea I was always curious and interested in learning about other cultures which is why I decided to study abroad in Beijing China, this is where I completed my Bachelor Degree in Advertising Design. After graduation, I gained employment experience in various industries such as hospitality, early childhood education and retail as a sole trader in Korea. Over this period of time working for these different industries I learnt the importance of communication and social interaction with others.
One day, I had an epiphany! I wanted to pack everything up and travel around Australia! So I did! During my travels, I fell in love with the city of Cairns, its beautiful nature, lifestyle and it’s also where I met my husband.
I am proud to say that we have settled in this beautiful city of Cairns and I would love to help people with similar dreams with a very personalised service here at Astute North Queensland.
For whatever dream it may be, let us help you to achieve it and let us be a part of your story.
Andrew Hardy 0401 029 113
My Cairns journey has only just begun. I lived in the bayside suburbs of Melbourne my whole life and never considered making the move north until in my second week working for Astute in Melbourne I was asked if I wanted a challenge… With only a slight initial hesitation I accepted that challenge and haven’t regretted the decision since.
My work history prior to Astute had always involved administration in a faceless and non-personal manner where dealing with the customers was more of a process rather than a partnership. What I love about this new role is the relationships we get to create with the clients while at the same time guiding them through what is generally the biggest purchase they will make in their lifetime. The decision to choose to work with us is based on trust rather than a forced sell which in turn only builds better relationships!
I have had a great time so far and can’t wait to see what the next challenge this role offers me is.
Rebecca Flynn 0438 390 995
Originally from Melbourne, I moved to Cairns with my family in 1991 and started my career in Finance with Suncorp. After a transfer to open Suncorp branches in Sydney in 1995 I returned to Cairns and moved into the Insurance Broking Industry.
The allure that has kept me in the industry for 25 years are the relationships that I have made with local business owners, Insurers and the Cairns community. Being a local, I understand the unique needs of Far North Qld and the perils of finding and providing insurance solutions to suit my clients and most of all ensure they are protected.
I have partnered with Astute North QLD to create Astute General Insurance and I look forward to growing the existing relationships I have made and supporting new clients through all aspects of their Insurance needs through exceptional customer service, which Astute are so well known for providing.
At home there’s 2 teenage boys, 3 dogs, 1 cat, and 3 horses. I love being home cooking/creating which is not often or find me at the racetrack dressed to the nines in an original local creation (supporting local designers/artists is a passion) or at the gym thinking about getting back into Bodybuilding after a long off season 2016. I’m dedicated to whatever new adventure or challenge comes into my life and giving back to this wonderful community of Cairns whenever I can.
Karla Shearer 07 4041 3100
I grew up in Cairns and can honestly never see myself living anywhere else. Once I finished high school, I ended up spending 7 years working for various hotel groups and chains around Cairns. I realised quite quickly how crucial customer experience is and I enjoyed going above and beyond every single day seeing people happy and providing that “wow” factor.
Buying my first property at 22, I remember vividly the combined feeling of confusion and excitement surrounding the entire process. When my partner and I purchased our new car recently I got that feeling again and thought how much I would love to be a part of that process. I work with Phil to help look after new and existing clients and to make sure their exciting experience doesn’t just end on settlement day.
Olivia Mills 07 4041 3100
The definition of a true local – parents, grandparents, my partner Max and myself, all born in Cairns. It is no secret that we all love the far north. I finished school in year 10 because I decided it was not for me, and I wanted to work full time and set myself up financially at a young age.
I dove in headfirst with getting two jobs and studying a Diploma of Beauty Therapies. I then branched off into different aspects of beauty such as skin science and laser therapies. Not long after working in the industry I took the scary step of opening my first business when I was 18 years old. I built up a very successful small business here in Cairns that traded for 4 years and had a large client base.
After buying my first home at 19 years old through a broker at Astute, I was so intrigued by the process of the mortgage broker. I identified the reason as to why I had such an attraction to the industry, considering it is complete left field to beauty therapy, and it was because I love to make people feel good.
Buying a home is a huge milestone in people’s lives, it is scary and exciting all at once! I love the satisfaction of helping people achieve their goals, and I want to be there every step of the way. I have fallen in love with the industry and cannot wait to help service all my future clients with their home loans.
Kim O’Malley 07 4041 3100
As a kid growing up on the Mornington Peninsula, I pretty much spent every afternoon in my parents small business, observing and learning the basics of good old fashioned customer service. As a client of Astute, I was always super impressed by their amazing customer service and the genuine warm vibe the entire team exudes. I always thought that if an opportunity presented to join the team, I’d jump at the chance, and here I am.
Once finishing high school, I travelled to Osaka and assisted in opening several restaurants and bars. Upon returning to Australia I completed a Business Management Diploma in Hospitality at William Angliss College, and have worked in a plethora of hotels and restaurants over the years. I’ve managed to raise two absolutely amazing sons and was manager and morning show host on Radio Port Douglas for 8 years. I have spent a number of years singing for my supper as part of the local muso scene, and I’ve worked in sales within the automotive industry.
Whilst born in raised in country Victoria, we moved to Port Douglas 20 years ago, so I think I can almost call myself a local now. I am really looking forward to my new adventures at team Astute and hope to meet you soon.
Jade Holmes 07 4041 3100
I am a Cairns local, born and raised. I grew up on the sporting field playing hockey, football and everything in between! After graduating high school I entered the tourism industry and completed a Certificate III in Tourism. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting new people and providing a memorable experience and continued to work in the in the industry for over 5 years.
After moving between various administration roles, I joined the Astute North QLD team in January 2021. I jumped at the opportunity to work in an administrative role that allowed me to work with clients on a more personal level and provide the same high level of customer service I love. My role in aftercare is to be your home loan ‘guardian angel’, looking after existing clients to ensure their loans are tracking well, their rates are competitive, and discuss adjustments as needed.
Outside of work I enjoy spending time outdoors exploring beautiful Far North Queensland with my husband and puppy.
Jimmydee Baker Spittles 0475 050 753
I’m a Gordonvale local and have been since I was about three years old. I was originally born in Camperdown NSW, but my family decided it would be better to trade the city life for the beautiful sun of Far North Queensland.
After graduating from Gordonvale High School in 2014, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with myself, but in 2015 I started my career with Commonwealth Bank in Cairns and never looked back. I moved around the Cairns area working in multiple branches, until I decided I wanted a little bit more adventure and moved to Manchester, UK, for two years with my partner Sam.
I had an absolute ball leaving Australia for the first time in my life and travelling to 18 different countries in Europe, despite my last year there ending abruptly because of the pandemic. While living in the UK I worked at HSBC UK as a Universal Banker and a Business Loan Processor for Covid-19 relief funds. I loved my time there, but I am glad to be back in the tropics near family, friends, and my dog Moxxi.
I was finally able to return home in December 2020 and found that I wanted something more than working in a bank. I am very excited to be working with Astute, a local business with a genuine care for our customers and helping them reach their financial goals.
Amy Porta 07 4041 3100
From cane paddocks to coast lines and the suburbs in between, Cairns has been home for the past 27 years.
Born in Mackay to hard working parents, I am the youngest of two. We moved to Cairns when I was just three years old to be closer to family and for my Dad to pursue his dream of becoming a cane farmer.
My career in Insurance began in 2009, shortly after graduating year 12. I started in an administration role where I fell in love with getting to know people and providing the highest level of customer service. Over the past 12 years I have worked in various roles as an Insurance Broker. I hold a Diploma of Financial Services (Insurance Broking) and was awarded young professional of the year in 2017. I have gained invaluable knowledge of the unique insurance market in Far North Queensland and have made many wonderful connections along the way – colleagues, clients, insurer’s, assessors, and lifelong friends.
I am delighted to have joined the amazing team at Astute, and I look forward to getting to know you all and building on these connections in my next role as General Insurance Office Manager. I will work closely with our team to ensure we are providing the highest level of service. We hope to take the fuss and fear out of what can sometimes be a very daunting and confusing industry.
I’m a family girl at heart who outside of work, enjoys soaking up all of the goodness that this region has to offer – camping, water skiing, hiking, swimming in the ocean and entertaining with friends in our home.
Dariush Mirshafiei 0402 944 288
Dariush completed a Bachelor of Business majoring in Accounting and Finance at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane before starting his accounting career with a firm in the Brisbane CBD.
Being Cairns born and raised and realising that there is no better place than home, Dariush soon returned to the Far North.
Dariush has worked with all different clients, ranging from individuals to groups holding multiple entities, and can provide business and taxation advice while working closely with clients to help them achieve their financial goals.
Dariush enjoys giving back to the community through his involvement as treasurer of the Cairns and Regional Multicultural Association and coaching at Cairns Basketball.
An enjoyment for helping others drives Dariush and he looks forward to helping you achieve your personal and business goals.
Chanelle Grose 07 4041 3100
I was born in Sydney’s Northern Beaches as part of a very ‘sport orientated’ family. We grew up playing water polo, synchronised swimming, surfing, netball, dancing and having a heavy involvement in our local surf club
Never being a real academic, I did go all the way to the end of year 12. I started my first job as an administrator in real estate, working in Sydney’s most prestigious property markets, Mosman. I continued in real estate sales for another 5 years until my boss encouraged me to move to a career in finance.
In 2012 I started as a bank teller with NAB and enjoyed the process of becoming familiar with how it all worked. I eventually became a personal banker, then a home lender. After jumping ship to ANZ, I furthered my lending career as a home and investment lending manager. Having decided to take myself on holiday to Cairns to get away and seek some tranquillity, I met my partner with all of his 4 children at a restaurant very unexpectedly. Now 3 years down the track I’ve relocated to Cairns, I’ve completed my cert IV in finance and mortgage (followed by my Diploma) and have had a taste of what life is like outside the one bank world.
I look forward to experiencing more of what the industry has to offer and to help clients secure their financial future!
Harneet Gill 07 4041 3100
Originally from Sydney, I quickly moved to the beautiful tropics not long after getting married.
With a background in Financial and Banking products, I wanted to enter a sector where I could educate and help people. It wasn’t until I entered the world of Insurance and assisted in settling a couple of claims that I discovered how rewarding and fulfilling the industry is.
I am excited to find products for our clients at Astute that are not only tailored to their requirements but will also adequately cover them when life’s unpredictable and unforeseen events arise.
When I’m not in the office you’ll find me out hiking, visiting the beach or trying out new recipes.
Robin Kapun 07 4041 3100
Originally from Papua New Guinea I was raised in the Solomon Islands throughout my childhood. Due to a civil conflict, my family were evacuated to Australia where we moved to Cairns. I now consider myself a local having completed primary and high school as well as university at JCU Cairns. Feeling no need to venture from the tropics of Cairns, much similar to the Solomon Islands, I have worked in several industries including construction, aviation ground support and accounting. More recently I have worked in the financial industry as a Paraplanner for over 4 years and have recently joined Astute in a similar role working in the Wealth division alongside Tracey & Cath. I very much look forward to working with our clients to help improve their financial circumstances.
Michelle Mullins 07 4041 3100
I joined Astute in August 2021 after escaping the NSW (Central Coast ) COVID lockdowns & relocating with my family for the quintessential “Tropical Sea Change”.
Having spent many years holidaying in Port Douglas & Cairns the reality of living & working in paradise is now real!
My experience in finance/ insurance & sales within the motor industry, banking & equipment lending sectors has allowed me to assist many clients from all walks of life find the best solution for their financial needs.
My role at Astute is to assist Gus & Prue to ensure our clients feel at ease, kept up to date & informed throughout the whole process of financing/refinancing a property with exceptional follow-up service for years to come.
Outside of work you will find me by a pool, relaxing with a cocktail, riding my E-Bike or exploring the outdoors camping with the family.
Grace Browning-Tanner 07 4041 3100
I was born in Manila and emigrated to Australia when I was 5 years old. I did my primary schooling in Weipa then secondary schooling at Mt St Bernard’s in Herberton & TAS, Whiterock. My family owned the takeaway minimart in Bayview Heights so this meant I had little time for study & play as we were expected to help in the business.
After I finished school, I spent 25 years working in the airline industry, initially with Air Niugini as an International Travel Consultant, and then Qantas Airways at the airport as a customer service duty manager.
Outside of work I enjoy a good boxing fitness session and playing netball.
I am an Aftercare Specialist at Astute and love the ‘feel’ of the office environment that has been created.
Teghan Carey 07 4041 3100
I was born and raised in Cairns, went to Edge Hill State Primary School and then to Cairns High.
While I was at school I worked night shifts and weekends at an IGA X-Press. As I enjoyed working more than being at school, I worked 20-30hrs a week. After finishing school, I worked at Community Enterprise Queensland (IBIS) as a receptionist and purchasing / administrator officer for Thursday Island Mitre 10 for 3 years before joining a bank.
I fell in love with helping people and seeing how happy they were when I could help them with their requirements.
I moved to Astute in October 2021 as a Client Manager in the Lending team and am excited to see what my future holds here and help in any way that I can
Kayla Knight 07 4041 3100
I was born and raised in Cairns and when I graduated from Trinity Bay State High School in 2019 I had no idea what I wanted to do with myself. I spent a semester at university doing business then I switched into nursing for a semester and realised it wasn’t for me.
In late 2021 I bought my first car through Astute and had a very enjoyable experience. I had always been interested in Finance and Admin and when I heard about a job going at Astute in the Equipment Finance department, I knew I needed to apply.
I now work in the Equipment Finance team helping Amy, Jasmine and Donnie.
Bri Grunow 07 4041 3100
I grew up and spent most of my childhood living on the Atherton Tablelands. I made the move to Cairns at the beginning of 2013 and I absolutely love it here. If I am not working, I am either out doing a hike, soaking up the sun at the beach or out at the reef free diving and spearing fish.
I worked as a Dental Assistant for over 5 years and one day made the decision to try something completely different as I wanted a new challenge.
I started at Astute early this year and work with Phil, Andrew and Karla in their mortgage broking team as a Client Manager. I am beyond excited to see where this journey takes me.
Kaila McMillan 0468 579 736
Born in Cairns, I completed the early years of my schooling here before moving to Geraldton WA when I was 14 years old. Completing my schooling there, I then returned to Cairns to attend James Cook University in 2017. Here I studied a Bachelor of Business (Accounting and Business Law) graduating in 2020. Previously working for a large, local accounting firm, I have gained experience in insolvency and bookkeeping, however, I decided to take on some new challenges and get my ‘hands dirty’ in taxation accounting as well as enrolling to study for my Chartered Accountants qualification.
My partner and I built our first home in Cairns in 2020 with the assistance of Astute Financial, (who would have thought I would be working here years later). We live with our two fur babies – Macey the cat and Betty the Staffy.
Loving the Cairns lifestyle, I enjoy getting out and about and exploring everything the North has to offer – taking Betty with us every chance we get.
I look forward to being of assistance to you with all things tax and accounting.
Luke Hare 0408 570 088
My family made the move to Cairns from the cold winters of Wodonga, Victoria in 2004 with my three siblings and I. Attending Trinity Anglican School initially and then proceeding to commence a Bachelor of Commerce and Accounting at JCU in 2013. Fast forward from a gap year and running my own personal training business I then worked for several years within external audit at a local mid-tier firm providing me with great exposure and experience across a lot of industries ranging from small not-for-profits to large government organizations in locations such as Gove, Weipa, Normanton as well as Cairns and the surrounding regions.
Outside of study and career endeavors, I spend most of my time training and competing in Powerlifting and looking after my two naughty golden retrievers. I also enjoy spending time at a local watering hole drinking some cold pale ales with family and friends.
Joining the Accounting team at Astute in February 2022 I look forward to helping you work towards and achieve your business goals as well as minimizing the stress and weathering the storms around all things tax and accounting.
Jarmille Poggioli 0439 761 460
Jarmille is a Tableland’s local, wife of a farmer, a busy mum of four children and, without doubt, not your stereotypical accountant.
Helping business owners with all things accounting and tax for more than 15 years and, as a business owner herself, Jarmille understands the various issues challenging business owners in today’s ever-changing world.
Jarmille believes in working in her client’s businesses, not external to them, and is dedicated to partnering with her clients to help them achieve long term success. Recognising that no two clients are the same and tailoring accounting services and fees to suit each client’s individual circumstances sets Jarmille apart from other Accountants.
Graduating from Central Queensland University with a Bachelor of Accounting, Jarmille is a Chartered Accountant, an Associate of the Institute of Public Accountants, a registered tax agent, public practice certificate holder and a qualified Justice of the Peace.
When not at work, Jarmille enjoys the constant chaos of having an active family life and you will often find her helping down in the avocado orchard or out on the football field.
Joseph Van Vuuren 0447 520 683
Joe was born in the Netherlands, where he lived until his early thirties. This is when he met Lisa, who is a born and bred Tablelands local and he decided to leave the Netherlands behind and settle Down Under. He married Lisa and they have one son together. He is also the proud stepdad of one stepson and two stepdaughters.
Joe graduated from the University of South Australia with a Bachelor of Accounting, and he is a qualified Chartered Accountant.
Joe joined our team not long after we opened our doors in 2017 and embraces Astute’s distinctive and modern accounting and business philosophies.
Jamie Townsend 0408 709 666
Hailing from the City of Champions, a place known for its bitterly cold winters, Jamie and his wife moved to Cairns in 2004 seeing it as the perfect place to start a family where kids could run around the backyard freely all year round.
A love of sport saw him gravitate to roles such as Cairns Rugby Manager, Barlow Park Facility Manager, hosting his own weekly sports radio show and various ground announcing and emceeing events across several different sports.
After an enjoyable stint in radio advertising, Jamie took on his first major leadership position running the very busy Cairns Central Telstra Store. His eight and a half year Telstra career saw him overseeing the Cairns Central and Smithfield stores whilst working directly in Sales and Leadership Management across the wider business that included the Telstra Business Centre Cairns. This proved a wonderful learning environment for the levers that influence human behaviour. After leaving Telstra Jamie then took on the challenge of running the retail operations for Medibank in Cairns and Townsville.
Fascinated by the triggers that influence human behaviours and performance, Jamie has completed a Certificate in Business Psychology and is curious about everything.
Cassandra Gough 07 4041 3100
Originally from a country town outside of Brisbane, I studied Agribusiness and Ag Science at UQ. After graduating, I gained a spot on the CBA graduate program and spent the next 4 years with the CBA in Toowoomba as an Agribusiness Analyst.
I left the CBA to become a Small Business Banker with the NAB, and the role brought me to Cairns. It wasn’t long before I was doing a lot of work with Astute commercial, and when the opportunity for a position with Astute arose, I knew it would be a great move for me.
Outside of work, I enjoy everything the beautiful Cairns outdoors has to offer, with AcroYoga, skating, and diving at the top of my list of extracurricular activities.
Lisa Zolnowski 07 4041 3100
I joined the Astute group in 2019 where my finance career began as broker support in Equipment finance. I enjoy assisting clients with their purchases and making sure the whole process is a positive experience and take the stress away from purchasing a new home. My role at Astute is to ensure our clients feel at ease, kept up to date and informed throughout the whole process of purchasing or refinancing a property with exceptional follow-up service for years to come.
Gordan Peters 0458 190 484
Very close to being a Cairns local, I was born in the rainy town of Innisfail. After venturing down to Brisbane for a couple of years to study, I made my way back to Cairns to set up my life.
After my studies, I found myself working in the mining industry for a copper mine in Mt Isa. It took me 3 years to realise that working in the sun all day was not a great idea!
I moved back into town and started working for Australia’s favourite telecommunication company. Becoming a business manager for the Telstra Earlville store, I came to love business and especially found interest in the finance side.
Fast forward 4 years and I moved my skills over to banking, where I became a home loan manager.
I recently transitioned over to Astute Finance, where I’m excited to continue creating positive customer relations, and help people achieve their dream.
I’ve recently built a house at Trinity Beach, so I’ve become very familiar with the building process.
Outside of office life, you’ll find me camping, in the gym, or drinking my favourite coffee on the beach. I look forward to helping you on your home buying journey!
Dan Charnley 0433 291 155
I was born in Perth WA and come from a farming family. After visiting Cairns a few times, I decided to make it my home in 2006. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
I started my professional career in sales in the trenches of door-to-door sales in Perth, and later moved into the automotive industry. In 2018 I transitioned into the finance world, later deciding I wanted to continue my career outside of the dealership world.
When I am not at the office, you’ll find me either out camping, on the reef with my mates, or out on the hunt for some good grub.
I came to Astute because I believe in “good business” – finding and nurturing long-term mutually beneficial relationships with good people and doing the job right the first time. The day I walked into the office here, I knew right away I was with the right company.