back the entrepreneurs

Paul Barrett

Founder & CEO

B. Com

“Paul established AZ NGA in 2015, after a career as a senior executive at some of Australia’s leading banking and financial services institutions including the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, ANZ Bank and Rothschild”.

Originally from New Zealand, Paul graduated from Victoria University in Wellington. He came to Australia in 1998 and held roles with Connelly Temple, Rothschild before being appointed General Manager of the CBA’s Financial Wisdom dealer group and later General Manager of Distribution for the bank’s wealth arm, Colonial First State.

After seven years at the CBA, he joined ANZ Wealth Management, rising to Managing Director, Global Advice and Distribution.

In 2014, Paul helped 4 Pines Brewing Company establish its first Board, serving as the group’s inaugural Chairman. During a period of significant growth and expansion, he guided the group to become a Certified B Corporation and oversaw its 2017 acquisition by global giant Anheuser-Busch InBev. Paul is also Chair of the 4 Pines Advisory Committee.


Paul Brain

Founder and Partner Growth

B. Math

“Paul is a former aerospace engineer and management consultant who migrated from the UK to Sydney’s sunny northern beaches, where he met Paul Barrett. The pair established AZ NGA in 2015”.

Since 2015 Paul has successfully executed over 90 M&A transactions and subsequently transitioned these businesses into the AZ NGA federated model, whilst ensuring entrepreneurialism is maintained.

As a management consultant, Paul Brain successfully implemented capital programs valued in excess of $100million for both domestic and international clients.

His engineering background, attention to detail and critical thinking along with his experience in finance, life insurance and business management, ensures a high standard of operational excellence at AZ NGA.

Leaders influence, instruct & mentor

Graham McGeagh

Chief Operating Officer


“Regarded as one of South Australia’s most respected business leaders, Graham McGeagh moved to Sydney in 2018 to join listed professional accounting and advisory company, CountPlus Limited, as Chief Operating Officer”.

Prior to CountPlus, Graham was the Chief Executive Officer of Benson Radiology in Adelaide from 2011-2016 and the Chief Executive Officer of Finlaysons Lawyers from 2008-2011.

He joined AZ NGA in early 2022 to spearhead the group’s expansion plans and oversee the delivery of AZ NGA’s service proposition to member firms.

Graham holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Business Administration. He is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and an Affiliate Member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

It’s not what people say,
it’s what they do.

Natalie Dolan


BA Hons (Bus Admin & Politics)

“Natalie Dolan has 25 years’ experience in financial services. Starting her career at Olivetti in the UK before migrating to Australia in 1996”.

Natalie has worked in both start-up businesses such as RAMS Home Loans and larger corporates including Rothschild, Westpac, and AMP.

Natalie has proven experience running large marketing and operations teams and managing complex programs of works with varied stakeholders and partners. Natalie has the ability to ensure businesses execute on their strategy, by being focused, taking measured risks and ensuring change is managed effectively through clear communication and collaboration.

Inspire through integrity and authenticity

Dan Heckendorf

Chief Financial Officer

BCom(Acc & Fin), CPA

“Dan is an internationally experienced strategic finance executive having worked in banking, audit and assurance, private equity and financial services across the United Kingdom, and Australia.”.

Dan joined AZ NGA in 2022, after returning to Australia from the UK, where he was most recently Finance Director at non-bank lending disruptor Pepper Money

With over 20 years’ financial services experience, Dan has successfully led organisations through capital raisings, M&A and IPO transactions, and technology-focused transformation programs.

He has partnered with the Boards and management of fast-growing companies to execute strategy while protecting company assets through diligent financial management, prudent risk management and governance, and robust operational control.

Innovate everything.

Yasemin Onat

Head of M&A

B.Math, DipFinMarkets, DipFinPlan

“Yasemin is a specialist corporate governance and mergers & acquisitions (M&A) professional, who has helped businesses identify suitable targets, conduct due diligence, structure and execute deals”.

Prior to joining AZ NGA in January 2020, Yasemin honed her skills
and knack for doing deals at an accounting and corporate advisory firm.

Yasemin is passionate about helping AZ NGA maximise the value of the business and achieve the strategic goals through effective expansion and acquisition strategy, and corporate structuring.

Yasemin was previously a Trustee Director of an industry superannuation fund. In addition to her responsibilities for the scheme’s governance, Yasemin was also Chair of the fund’s Investment Committee and a member of the Risk Committee.

Her extensive financial services experience and qualifications; spanning superannuation, financial planning and corporate compliance, make her an invaluable addition to AZ Next Generation Advisory.

The courage to ​take risks, and the ​intellect to know how far.

Andrew Symes

General Counsel & Company Secretary

B.Arts, Hons. B.Laws, GradDipLegPrac, CCP

“Andrew has 25 years’ experience in the financial services industry across multiple regulatory regimes and jurisdictions.  Prior to joining AZ NGA, he was General Counsel & Company Secretary for the Yellow Brick Road Group (ASX: YBR) where he was responsible for legal, risk, compliance, audit and corporate governance”.

Andrew has also performed in senior roles with the CBA, Challenger, ANZ, IBM and AAS. His expertise includes corporate and commercial law, regulation, lending, mortgage broking, financial advice, distribution, superannuation and funds management.  Andrew is a member of the Law Society of NSW, and has a Bachelor of Arts (History and Philosophy), Honours Bachelor of Laws, Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice and Certified Compliance Professional qualifications.  Andrew is passionate about working with motivated people to achieve team goals, and thrives in situations requiring creativity and complex problem solving.

It’s always about the people.

Adrian Ashton


BA. Business, Grad DipFP, MFinPlan

“Adrian has worked in senior financial services roles, spanning advice, strategy, operations and sales. He joined Legal and General Australia in 1997”.

In 2000, Adrian joined Professional Investment Services before becoming Senior Manager Dealership Services for St George Bank Financial Planning in 2003. In that role, he managed the transition of several salaried bank planners (St George Private Bank) to self-employed (Securitor).

From 2008 to 2011, Adrian was NSW state manager, Leveraged Equites. It was a tumultuous period for the company against the backdrop of the GFC, significant regulatory reforms and the group’s purchase of the Macquarie Bank Margin Lending business.

Before joining AZ Next Generation Advisory in 2016, Adrian held a number of roles at AMP including Capital Manager and Director of their Licensee Advice, Mergers and Acquisitions group. In his capacity at AMP, he was involved in the purchase, sale and ongoing management of a number of Financial Planning business.

Adrian is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

We gain insights through data.

Tony Carter


B.App.Sci (Computing)

“Tony is a technology and data professional with extensive experience delivering value to organisations. He is a strategic thinker with commercial acumen, who utilizes data to identify and solve business problems”.

Tony graduated from the University of Technology of Sydney with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Computing. He was brought on in 2017 to implement AZ NGA’s data strategy.

Data driven decision making is now at the core of AZ NGA’s M&A activities and performance support. This data capability has allowed AZ NGA to keep ahead of the significant industry changes currently occurring and expected to continue over coming years.

Armed with group wide performance insights, Tony has undertaken a program of work to optimize firm performance in terms of both revenue growth and cost utilization.

Tony’s extensive management & solution experience, in a variety of industries (consulting, insurance, media, health) and organizational types (start-up, SME, corporate, transformational), equips him to provide the right solutions & commercial outcomes for AZ Next Generation Advisory and its group of firms.

Be positive to inspire change

Shannon Wood

Head of Business Improvement

BA DipFin

“Shannon is a business transformation expert. She leads change to drive productivity, improve workplace engagement and strengthen client experience.”

Shannon joined AZ NGA in September 2022. She has over 15 years of financial services experience, primarily in operations, strategy and business transformation.

Shannon has proven experience leading transformation programs, encompassing a strategic redesign across technology, business processes and organisational culture. Shannon is passionate about helping businesses grow and achieve their goals by harnessing digital technology and data insights.

Prior to joining AZ NGA, Shannon was General Manager of Operations and held Practice Manager roles at a number of boutique accounting, financial planning and business advisory firms.

Never stop
asking questions

Dominic Chiera

Chief Financial Officer

BScEcon, CPA, GradCertMgt

“Dominic is an experienced Chief Financial Officer and Company Secretary”.

Over the past 25 years he has worked as CFO for ASX-listed entities, private equity organisations and private companies in a range of sectors including property, retail and facilities management.

Dominic joined AZ NGA in 2020, bringing extensive commercial and finance experience.  In addition to his role as the group’s CFO, he also manages the Outsourced CFO team for AZ NGA member firm, People and Partners.

Dominic is married with two children. His interests include sports and current affairs.

Scroll to Top