A purpose-based advice approach

Thabojan Rasiah left a high paying, secure role as an employed adviser in 2017 to start his own business - Rasiah Private Wealth - to figure out how he could deliver advice in a way he believes will allow him to make the biggest impact on his clients' lives.

Four years in and Thabojan has built a high-touch, fee-for-service business which really centres around delivering purpose-based advice. So what does this look like in practice... really? Thabojan's advice process is a four-step journey, depending on the clients' needs and where they are at. Before we dive a little deeper into each step, something really important to first focus on if you're thinking about incorporating more of a purpose-based advice approach into your offering is - mindset.

Getting out of the box of what Financial Planning 'should' look like

A mantra Thabojan has carried throughout his career is this...

Don't get defined by a particular way of doing things.

Thabojan didn't just come up with this himself though. He has been lucky enough to have some great mentors in his career who have helped him adopt a forward-thinking approach, and he actively seeks external input through his peers and coaches who can look at what he's doing and offer an objective perspective or help him look at something a different way. 

It's also important to really understand 'why' you want to give advice. While this might seem really basic, your answer to this question is the 'thing' you can always come back to on those days that are far tougher than others. For Thabojan, his 'why' has always been about helping people, and his drive is to do the things that are going to make the biggest difference in people's lives. Having given advice for over 15 years, Thabojan realised when he does one-off pieces of work for people, it's helpful but it doesn't change their lives.

He recognised the longer he worked closely with his clients, the more benefit they got from the advice relationship and the real value he was able to add was giving them peace of mind - removing their concerns and anxiety and connecting them to what's most important to them, their purpose. 

Thabojan's purpose-based advice process

1. Introductory call

Thabojan will have a 30-minute phone call with anyone who enquires. He doesn't have a filtering process to qualify leads and he doesn't charge for this meeting. This conversation is an opportunity for Thabojan to learn about the person and their circumstances, figure out if they would be a good fit to work together and run them through his process.

Running a prospect through his process means explaining the way he can have the biggest impact in their life is by understanding them at a deep level. Understanding their values, what's important to them and what sort of legacy they want to leave in the world. Thabojan will tell a prospect he insists on connecting with them at this level, because if he can connect with them at this level, he can have a much bigger impact as the advice he gives will be in line with helping them achieve the things that are most important to them.

Thabojan knows this approach isn't going to suit everyone, and while it's difficult to turn new business away, if they aren't a good fit for his business, he will refer them to another adviser or provide them with some resources to help, depending on their circumstances.

2. Discovery meeting

If Thabojan determines a person or couple are a good fit for his business; if they've got enough complexities to justify the in-depth process, he'll move to a discovery meeting. Again, there is no cost or obligation to proceed at this point. Why? Thabojan invests a fair bit of time upfront without charging to really make sure the advice relationship is going to be a good fit for all involved.

It's in this discovery meeting (or sometimes meetings) where Thabojan goes deep to understand the clients concerns and anxieties in life, particularly around their money, with the ultimate goal of discovering (and helping his clients discover) their values and purpose.

This meeting can sometimes get pretty uncomfortable pretty quickly, but Thabojan says if you can push past the awkwardness and politely nudge your clients into that space where they might be feeling uncomfortable, this is where the breakthroughs happen. In other words, this is a clients 'a-ha moment', and the point at which you make a strong connection with them on an emotional level. Getting to this point with a client is not easy. Thabojan's advice is to continually practice and go into these meetings with the mindset of knowing 'why' you're doing this - to ultimately help your client.

3. Wealth Management Plan

Through the initial engagement process, Thabojan will build and then present to a client a 'wealth management plan'. This is not a Statement of Advice, it's a PowerPoint deck of the key things relevant in helping the client get to where they want to go in life, and constructed in a way that uses the client's own words as much as possible. It's a visual representation answering the questions - 'why is money important to you?' and 'what in your life is worrying you or is causing you anxiety?'.

The wealth management plan then leads into the things you'd typically find in an SOA, but presented in a way that reduces the financial planning jargon and compliance. Thabojan will summarise the key issues he is going to help the clients deal with in a way they can understand. It's at this point Thabojan will get the person's buy-in to the process and sign them on as a new client with an ongoing service arrangement, paid as a monthly retainer.

4. Interactive cashflow modelling

After the discover meeting/s, Thabojan then moves to interactive cashflow modelling to map out together with the client, what their future might look like financially. Here, they will play with different scenarios using XTools, and it's typically at this point where clients really get engaged in the process. They'll start asking questions like - what if we work more? What if we spend less? What if we travel more? What about private schooling?

The scenarios Thabojan and his clients build in this session will also go into their wealth management plan. Up to this point, there has been no discussion about product or strategy. The entire conversation has centred around what's important in the client's life and what the future might look like. Thabojan says it can sometimes take a while before any 'formal' piece of advice is presented to a client because he needs to fully diagnose a client before prescribing the medication. 

Are there any similarities between your advice process and Thabojan's?

Thabojan's approach to delivering advice is unique, high-touch and purpose-driven. During this XY+ web event, we asked advisers tuning in live if they do anything similar or equally unique in their process. Here's what a few had to say:

Jayden Post said "I have a list of 'interview questions' for that first call to ask really great questions which creates the space for the client to talk."

Dylan Martin said "this is a big part of my new client approach - delving into goals and core values and recognising conflicts."

Clint Nice said "Two meetings before scope has been set has created great results for me over the past few months."