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Matthew Larkin (Fr 2013)

Matthew Larkin St Andrew's College Alumna (Fr 2013)

Matthew (Fr 2013) is one of four Larkin children who attended St Andrew’s. At College, he was on the House Committee as the Fresher Rep, was in the DramSoc, and dabbled in B-lane swimming. He is now the Head of Finance at Ordermentum after roles at fintech startup Superhero and TAL Australia. Alongside his corporate role, he has co-founded ‘Unbroke’, a mortgage broking service, while also working part-time as a fitness instructor. In this profile, Matthew shares his visions for his personal and professional growth and how he keeps his many plates spinning.

Please tell us a bit more about yourself – where are you originally from and where did you grow up?

I’m Matt, a 2013 Fresher. I’m one of five Larkin children, four of which went to Drew’s and one to Wesley. I attended the College from 2013-2015 and studied at UNSW while doing it. A slightly unusual path at the time, I know, but couldn’t recommend living at Drew’s enough. I grew up in Taree, NSW, and spent my childhood there until moving to St Andrew’s for my first year of university.

Why did you choose to reside at St Andrew’s College?

For many reasons. Primarily it looked and sounded like so much fun from hearing about it from my brothers. For me, the College looked and reminded me so much of Hogwarts I thought I’d apply and see if any of that magic rubbed off. I also have a twin sister, Gemma, and I wanted to live close to her (we were neighbours in our sophomore year and heavy year).

What parts of College life were you involved in? And do you have a favourite memory you can share?

Social glue mostly (aka not that sporty). I was a mid-tier sportsman at best. I just didn’t have the ferocity of spirit needed to succeed on the Rawson field, so I left that to my other siblings. In my fresher year, I was on the House Committee as the Fresher rep, was in the Dramsoc, and dabbled in B-lane swimming. I have to say, I’m still recovering from some of the things I saw on Fresher Clean-up (having horror flashbacks as I write this)! Being on the House Committee for over two years was great. However, the role of Fresher rep is not for the faint of heart or those who value sleep-ins!

It is hard to isolate a single memory as there are so many good ones. Ultimately, I think it is the College lifestyle and rhythm that I think back fondly of. Hanging out, not doing much and distracting other people in their rooms instead of studying was a lot of it. One thing we used to play a lot of was tennis. Big group games where I was often accused (falsely) of being vicious with my topspin and penalised severely. We had some great contests on the court.

During my fresher year, Drew’s won all 4 cups, which I believe had never been done before in the history of the College, or so we were told. The elation of the entire College at that victory was a spectacle and a great thing to be a part of.

You previously led the finance team at ‘Superhero’. Can you tell us a little more about what this involves and what you do day-to-day?

Superhero is a fintech that has been in operation for the past 3.5 years. The business was initially launched to increase access to the Australian and US markets. The longer-term vision of the company is to increase transparency, control and optionality in the management of your wealth.

My role was to manage the finances of the company, and owing to its size, I got involved in pretty much all of the broad disciplines of finance – e.g. capital raising, day-to-day accounting and financial modelling etc. Above all, the role was about making sure that the entity is using its available financial resources in the most optimal way to deliver on our objectives.

What drew you to pursuing a career in the finance industry?

One quick related story – when I was in year 10, I did work experience in a hospital. I was watching a knee reconstruction take place, and I fainted in the operating theatre due to my shock at how graphic and violent it was. Any aspirations of doing medicine faded on that day.

Since I can remember I’ve been interested in understanding money. I started investing in shares (regrettably, with mixed success) when I was 18 years old. My favourite subject in high school was economics, as I liked the ‘big picture’ view and interconnectedness of the economic system. I suppose it is a mix of schooling, university and also the opportunities that have presented themselves living in Sydney. Also, another reason was that I obtained a UNSW Co-op Scholarship which was a great professional development opportunity. I realised during my time at university, and in my career to date that a finance skillset is a really broad one with many applications (and it is also quite interesting to me!).

What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your role?

Weighing up and assessing risks vs benefits of alternative scenarios and making business recommendations. Forecasting customer behaviour, particularly in the last 24 months where investing behaviour of retail investors has changed (or reverted to historic norms) so much.

What has been your career highlight so far?

From a technical point of view, supporting the sale and then subsequent re-purchase of the Superhero business. From a broader development point of view, working with the lovely and amazing people I have worked with throughout my career so far, particularly in small business, as there is a real hunger/go-get attitude, which I love.

You are also the Co-Founder of Unbroke, a mortgage broking service (you must be busy!) Could you tell us a bit about Unbroke and the motivations behind starting your own company?

Yes, I like to keep a few plates spinning in the air. I thrive on having a lot going on. Essentially, my business partner and I settled on property purchases and found that we felt a little unsure/lacked confidence in the finance process (and we would be considered to have high financial literacy!).

So… we felt we could simplify things and hopefully be someone others could trust (having both bought properties in our mid-20s). The motivation ultimately is to help young people achieve their property ownership goals wherever they are on the consideration lifecycle.

Unbroke was born at our desks one night after finishing up working late. We decided to work out what it would take to upskill, chipped away at the course and, in the meantime, set up a website and Instagram page and have grown the business from there.

We know you also worked part-time as a fitness instructor. Was it important to you to be able to turn a passion into a job?  

Lol, yes, I do a few things. As a kid, I was obsessed with spin class, I am not sure why; I think we just had a great instructor, and the workout was so intense. I decided to train up as a fitness instructor because I was attending the classes and thought it would be fun to motivate people to move. I purely consider this to be something fun to do and just another little quirky thing I’m involved in. So far, my motivation has not been commercial, so I guess I just followed a passion, and it so happens that it pays a bit of money to do it.

What do you like to do outside of work? How do you switch off?

I fill my spare time with teaching fitness classes, planning/daydreaming about future holidays and hanging out with friends and family. It probably sounds quite tragic, but I am the type of person who looks forward to public holidays so I can focus on my business/own personal development, so I guess I have to answer this as I currently don’t really have an ‘off switch’.

Do you have any other hobbies or interests?

I’m quite a curious person, so I dabble in a bit of everything. A current obsession of mine is reading about WWII history and the economic model that has ensued since. Human behaviour shocks and surprises me. So much to learn from the past. A key interest of mine is aviation. When I was in High School, I trained as a pilot, so I’ve had a lifelong interest in flying.  

Where do you see yourself (and maybe Unbroke) in 5 years’ time?

Hopefully, with children, for one. My husband and I have said after 30 years old, we’re going to seriously consider what that could look like. Professionally, I’m not sure. I think I’d rather just keep doing interesting work and learning new things and see where that takes me. In terms of my business, likewise, will keep that going, but certainly adopting the evolving tech space to simplify the process for our clients and make the back office processes more efficient.

Is there anything else we should ask you about or you would like to add?

I think that it is nice to see the College has improved on inclusivity. It was intimidating being a young LGBT person at College at times as an 18-21 year old. I think that is one really positive change, and I’d like to see that inclusivity continue.

Matthew Larkin, St Andrew's College, Fr 2013
Matthew Larkin, St Andrew's College, Fr 2013
Matthew Larkin, St Andrew's College, Fr 2013