Outback Rabbiter to a National Award Winning Financial Advisory Business

When I lost my first job as a jackaroo 800km west of Sydney during the wool crash of the late 1980’s, little did I know that I would become an international investment banker and founder of a national award winning financial services business years later.

(Ian Robinson: Jackaroo 1990)

As we roll into 2017, it is a time of reflection and gratitude for our journey, as we appreciate that we have got to where we are now because people have believed in us, not because of the underlying talent.  To gain our experience we were mentored and supported by some of the best.

A ‘tail’ of Rabbits

Losing your first job forces you to play your hand.  For me it was to take stock and then seek to capitalise on the growing demand for rabbit meat as an export delicacy.  A pair of rabbits would earn me the equivalent of four young bloodline merino ewes.  Hardly a just reward in comparison to shooting sheep and pushing them into pits.  Such was the dislocation of the wool sheep market at the time.

(Rabbit pay slip)

To accelerate our rabbit offtake program from the more traditional means, a partner in this venture and myself constructed rabbit fencing, trapdoors and holding yards around an existing irrigation system.  During the night, the rabbits would make their way from the sand ridges and onto the lush irrigation pastures through our prefabricated tunnels.  With all the trap doors then sealed, we enticed all family members to clash pans and yell at 4.00am to muster the rabbits into the pre-constructed yards.  We would capture more than 1000 rabbits in one muster.  It was an incredible sight to see the ground move in the predawn light.


The Great Recession

With my rabbit money, a HECS debt, a scholarship and contract labouring, I graduated with 1st Class Honours in Agricultural Economics straight into the recession “we had to have”.

Over 30 applications and multiple interviews with a borrowed suit, I cracked my first role as a money market dealer for what was one of only two AAA rated investment banks in Australia.  It was the break I sought with profound thanks to the colleagues who took me in and believed in my unproven talents as a trader.  The RBA would have to make an announcement to move the market 25 basis points.  In full flight, I would move it 10 points on any given day by pushing our balance sheet into the market.  They were great times working with excellent people within the industry.

Like all things shiny and new, the bank quickly become yesterday’s news and was sold.  I did not want to be the person to turn the lights out as it was time to go global.  A one-way ticket and two more degrees whilst working 15 hour days allowed me to experience Canada and London with various global investment houses.  I have been honoured and humbled by so many people allowing me the right of passage to work alongside them in such exciting circumstances.  Six years went like a lightning bolt before returning to Australia.

(Big Ben, Parliament House: London)


Standing Guard to Rural Business Owners

Post GFC, it was evident that the world of banking had changed.  Farmers in rural and remote areas were now faced with a new reality of dealing with banks on terms and timeframes that did not make sense to them.   There was no-one out in the bush standing on point as their guardian and too often the belly cry of a business falling into the bowels of the banking system was one that needed to be remedied.

My incredible business partner Brad Sewell and myself founded Robinson Sewell Partners out of the passion and excitement of assisting farmers and commercial business owners through the rabbit warrens of bank policy, procedure and new age culture.    To bring together a wealth of domestic and international banking pedigree, with the DNA of rural empathy and hard work, we pioneered a new service, we forged new ground and slowly but surely, we began to make a difference.

The Now and the Next: Expansion

Six years later we have won multiple state and national awards for our efforts, but this is only because, once again, people believed in us and supported us throughout our journey.  More importantly for Robinson Sewell Partners, we are now beginning to leave a legacy of farmers and commercial businesses owners who have expanded on the back of our capital procurement, educate the next generation of children on the interest savings we have generated, and created more confidence in the industry through our educational programs and alliances.

(Michael & Lisa Stout, Ian & Alex Robinson, Jodie & Brad Sewell)

Thank you everyone for all your support, encouragement and belief.  We are now expanding to provide our services across Australia.  If you know of anyone who seeks to leave the corporate banking landscape for the challenges of private enterprise and commitment to supporting business owners through their funding journey’s, please let us know as we are seeking like-minded people to join our growing team.

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