September 30, 2021

#255 Rob Skinner – Transcript

Share :

LinkedIn
Twitter

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

clients, practices, people, bit, licensee, business, advisors, started, pod, money, conference, running, fees, years, number, fraser, couple, energy, planning, planner

SPEAKERS

Rob Skinner, Fraser Jack

 

Fraser Jack 

Welcome back to the x y advisor podcast I’m Fraser Jack and today I’m talking to Rob Skinner. Welcome Rob

 

Rob Skinner 

Good morning Fraser

 

Fraser Jack 

how are you very well now we’ve known each other for a number of years now but before we get into the history in the back end of it, let’s talk about just give us a quick overview of you and what you’re doing at the moment.

 

Rob Skinner 

Okay, cool. Um Oh currently I’m the head of practicing engagement at fortnum and Ford and private wealth which I’ve been there for about two years is my current role so we’ve got about 90 odd practices 230 advisors, I guess a mid mid or large licensee group before that, I was thinking knowing this was coming up I went back in history and looked at where I’ve been in the industry is a little bit scary but no I think it’s 26 years ago I started as a paraplanner so that was where I kind of kicked off so that the road to where it

 

Fraser Jack 

was back in the day when paraplanning was was a brand new profession right

 

Rob Skinner 

I got my business card and it had financial paraplanner on it and I had to educate everybody what that did and I likened it to you know paralegal that that I’m the person that sits next to the planet so you all my mates even people in the industry I think back back then you know we’re getting I guess used to the concept of what a power plant actually is so and I was fortunate then I did three different power planning roles and I was lucky enough to be part of some good firms so I learned some really good stuff that very early on in my career you know kind of kind of power planning which is good and then and then I got stolen by God but I’m actually actually pulled back out to an organization called commonly temple I don’t know probably the people listening to this who have got a bit of a bit of experience in the industry would would recognize that name they got bought by Roland sunlight so I went to the kind of BDM land and then into a national sales role quite a while ago but that but that was good taking what I learned from insider practice to them getting out and seeing other other practices

 

Fraser Jack 

This feels like to me it’s a pendulum swinging right you’re you’re into the paraplanning into into the III call the nerd side of it all you know like you’re getting into the numbers, then you’re then the pendulum swings the other way and all of a sudden you’re you know marketing in sales.

 

Rob Skinner 

Yeah, absolutely. And that and I think that’s probably more where I naturally sat Fraser So once that but I like the intellect side of it. So I need to have the knowledge to then be able to sell so you know, I was with a national sales for a company called Hartley point or Hartley’s taking kind of a broking business traditionally into doing financial planning, which is I don’t think has ever worked in Australia but I saw some of the clients that were getting advice in there and some of the outcomes weren’t terrific and so I then looked at well maybe I can do this myself. So after that national role, I’m based in Newcastle and I thought I’ll have a crack and be a planet and so started with no clients no centers of influence because at a national role I wasn’t even really embedded in my town. So I literally opened the door got a brand and waited for the phone to ring someone said to me you know you’re not going to get paid for six months I said rubbish on I have this works. I’ve done my spreadsheet. What’s gonna happen, but I think that was spot on.

 

Fraser Jack 

It’s the I related back to the food. apprentice number you know, you start out the door, open the door, first year apprentice, you got no clients and you get paid about the same wage as a first year apprentice, and then eventually, it tends to double each year after that everything can tell, yes, you’re getting getting some money. Absolutely, I was about the same time I started. So I think we’re sort of on the same same wavelength, the computers were a new thing. You know, you had to type everything up on a word, Doc, there was no spellcheck. It was it was hit the phones, you know, get on the phones and call people.

 

Rob Skinner 

Yeah, absolutely. And you have a few of those moments are those people that come into your life or come back into your life that then can be quite instrumental in helping your business. So again, I was very lucky with some of the clients I had, I think I literally ran into a mate stat at the post office, he said, What are you doing and I said, Well, I’m, I’m a planner now. And he said, I think I need one of those. And then the rest is history. And he became my biggest referral source and I got into the Newcastle club got me, you know, just introduced me around, we’d catch up every quarter and strategize about how we could introduce me to certain people, you know, that he knows so so you know, you remember those things, they kind of pivotal pivotal time so so through that, you know, built building the business, you know, just just me kind of day one. And then I started lecturing, financial planning at the grad school in Newcastle, which was fascinating. I had to build the whole curriculum, and build the test. So year one was intense, you know, you get paid seven grand, it’s not, you don’t do it for the money. So you know, but what was really good about that was was seeing kind of middle management and all that kind of stuff, really want to learn about money. You know, we’re going through testamentary trusts and franking credits and mortgage offset accounts. And the questions that came in I basically, after, you know, 13 weeks had to put together a mini financial plan, and that are engaged. So I did that for a couple of years. And that kind of led to a company called energy with a mate of mine who go up and I’ve met Lynette, who very much worked in their kind of behavioral space. And we kind of came together to say, let’s build something that can educate Australia that was lit, let’s give Australians a safe place to learn more about money. That’s what we started with. And back then, there was no Money Smart, there was Fido, Fido was fairly ordinary as far as content goes. And we thought, you know, if people could get the behavioral side of money, and the technical side of money and get their handle on both of those, that’s a pretty powerful proposition. So so we thought, you know, people would turn up and pay for that in truckloads. But that didn’t quite happen that way. And we dragged before hopping on here, you know, energy was probably a FinTech before fintechs around. Yeah, that was back as 2006. So that was like, you know, 15 years ago. And what we started with and what we ended up with, you know, we were working with a website developer, so you know, putting websites together, and we would just come back going, can you build a module for us? And so they’d go and explore that and go, Oh, we think we can do it like this. And, you know, we lost a bit of money, we built our modules in Flash. And for those that you remember, pre Apple, and you know, flash was a good thing, when Apple came along, flash wasn’t a good thing. So we threw those out and kind of started again, but and that business model changed as well. So having a new product, you know, how do you price something like that, and we needed, I don’t really like the word, but we needed distribution. So we needed to work out who’s going to pay for this, and how would it work. So we had kind of four different areas, that we ended up concentrating back on financial planning practices, and we had a couple of industry super funds as clients as well. So so that was while still running my planning business. We were riding on weekends, kind of, you know, in fits and starts. And then it got to a stage where that Knowledge Center, which was kind of the product of the energy started getting a little bit of interest, and there was going to eventually be a conflict of interest. Because whilst I was running my planning practice, I don’t know how many planners would have been comfortable to upload their client lists on product that I’m also kind of running. So the other thing both of those businesses were quite busy, so the the chances of running two was going to be fairly fairly slim. So so I decided to sell the business much to the surprise of my state manager. Back then I was licensed for a security because funnily enough, the business was in its prime, like it was it was flying, it was growing quickly. I mentioned to you, you know, it’s a flat fee business. When I started my planning business. I started with what I knew and I did 1% of funds under management, and that’s how I rock and roll. And then, probably 18 months into that I found that that model didn’t work for me. I had someone that was saving a million bucks a year and I had someone that There was earning a lot of well that particular client you know had four mil to invest in I had another client that was earning good money but had 50 grand to invest and it didn’t seem right that they had such a difference in fee or or if you like the guy that was earning a lot of money they didn’t have a lot he couldn’t afford advice and he’s in the industry today and has admitted publicly to being a client of mine but he he said to me rob you need to find a way that I can become a client because I need you and your current fee structure to pay you 500 bucks a year is not not gonna work so we took a couple of days out of the business with a mentor of mine and rip the business apart and you know we weren’t the first with flat fees but but we will certainly early and then got rid of all commissions and I know I had a bit of a fight with my dealer group getting out of you know what was the volume bonuses or under a different name so that was a little bit difficult but but it was good and we had clients referring clients based on fees I remember sitting down with one client and I said we’ll go through now we’ll go through fees after everything else you know so you can add value now get through fees he goes I know what your fees are How do you know that you guys are Mark told me I said what do you say guys go to rob he’ll look after all your financial shit for four grand a year

 

Fraser Jack 

marketing point of view from a marketing message point of view so yeah, an easy for one client to tell another potential client

 

Rob Skinner 

yeah and I think for different people certainly that I mean it would be a different fee point now you know that was there was you know 50 days

 

Fraser Jack 

to go because in three days or four wasn’t yeah that’s

 

Rob Skinner 

me nearly 20 years ago wow when you say it like that phrase it makes me feel

 

Fraser Jack 

sorry to feel a

 

Rob Skinner 

bit but yeah when it was different and I had I mean half of my clients would have been out of the industry so within the industry and they liked that fee model too and I remember doing you know after work block for them doing a session in Sydney to you know a whole lot of PDMS bdms and all that kind of stuff and I disliked the cleanliness of the body I mean of that model I mean that’s kind of fairly much probably mainstream these days but you know I sold my practice in March 2009 which was the low in the in the market and then a lot of people said well you know that’s terrible time to sell but but it was a flat fee so I didn’t didn’t really matter but I made I made sure all my the new advisor look good because you know my clients had to use a bad performance so I did them do them a big fat bit but that was actually a horrible experience Fraser like I had to you took responsibility for the GFC to do for the if it was my pick a low sort of idea it’s a good turnaround for everybody but it wasn’t very nice because I had I had about 70 clients and you know I had to resign 70 times and I actually found that quite difficult because a lot of the proposition to those people is I’m young I’m going to be forever You know choose me as your planner and then you know that that didn’t work out but anyway that that’s so I’ve struggled with having that person or that business to consumer

 

Fraser Jack 

Tell me tell me through that conversation What did you say to them

 

Rob Skinner 

um so I went in search of obviously planner to buy my practice I ended up having two planets I had a Sydney base and a Newcastle by Sofia on two different planets. So it was an easy conversation but but people are emotional around their money so so the basically the conversation was you know, I’ve been building something on the side to educate Australians around money and that’s something that’s a passion of mine and I’ve come a fork in the road that I can’t do to say I can either build my business or I can go and educate a wider community of people so they knew that the intent was really good but then I’ll sit down said I’ve found your planet luck I probably interviewed 15 planets I probably sat down and I needed to make sure that the the model was going to work and that the clients were going to be looked after so that that wasn’t easy but ended up finding a good home for both those client bases so yeah, so the conversation but you know some some most of the clients were fine some of them were angry some of them you know, especially the ones that have been on for a year you know, and they know the inverted commas being sold. So you know that can be a little bit awkward.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, it’s always it’s always interesting where people you know, because it’s very easy to say you can sell a portion of your client base or sell down that there is those difficult conversations to be had and a lot of cases where you are actually like I said breaking up with breaking up or resigning from other people so yeah, it’s interesting. Just Just what we were talking about that financial planning business and obviously with within a cheat you’ve come up with some unusual names for the businesses you’ve started with whether they will come from

 

Rob Skinner 

so I mean, Abacus was Abacus was the financial planning business and that that that shows How far through the Latin dictionary I got I was still at the still at the ACE Amica stands for well and Amethyst is a is a friendly legal person so it’s someone that aids you so so that’s where Abacus came from energies a different one and in hindsight that was hard for some people to pronounce we had a nervy and people that were just started stumble on the phone so where that came from what was after four bottles of red wine with Matt so you know we looked at what I was saying to before around the behavioural and the technical so we looked at synergy and energy and all this kind of stuff and then I’ve still got the pieces of paper mate we had you know four of us our partners as well writing down you know and even when you look at those the different personalities and we’re probably not going to go down this track today but you know we built this whole thing called money personality which is you know around the kind of deep values that we don’t necessarily even know ourselves so adapting like a Mongo sprig to money so it’s even funny looking at those pieces of paper now and the different way that the four of us kind of interacted but and we thought the inner luck we’re helping the inner if the inner can be at peace and then you know Matt wrote I think Skinner and linate these names limit which they are not very different surnames but they both got inner in them I Dublin ER and then we thought we need this G or this energy or the synergy so that that’s kind of where it came from we wanted you know we’ll probably be a bit naive but we wanted it to be the Google of money that if you want to know something of money you just energy yet that’s a bit hard to say. But anyway that that didn’t eventuate

 

Fraser Jack 

either wasn’t just interested to see what names come from because you’re right you know you go through these deep brainstorming sessions and you come up with all these different reasons why and you look into and then a client or come along and the end user be like what I don’t know what that means just completely missed they missed the point and you’re like ah but there’s really deep meaningful information inside of all of that and you like like yeah but I just didn’t see it

 

Rob Skinner 

Yeah, yeah it’s an i mean you know depends how much alcohol is consumed as well or yeah I mean in the in the beginning you know take it so seriously but um, you know, I saw you were wanted to send on LinkedIn someone having a bit of fun with names.

 

Fraser Jack 

People just look at stuff and they’re just a name after all and anything can be explained if you go deep into it if you want to get really deep but I think sometimes just the simple easy names are easy to share and easy to pronounce and easy to spell because that’s the other thing too you know people get all creative with the spelling of the names and and then people that try to type it into a Google search engine and can’t find it

 

 

yeah

 

Fraser Jack 

fantastic yeah so tell them tell us the obviously energy headed evolution as well

 

Rob Skinner 

yeah so with so we kept building that out saw the planning firm and then again with the Excel spreadsheet it took longer to get it out there and we were still finding our market so so I think I worked at that for maybe two years still with no you know, no income out I think we had enough people kind of using it that it was that it was paying its own way but certainly I wasn’t getting you know any income from that. And funny how you know life life rolls so I ended up I was a member of Newcastle club up here and I just thought Oh, let’s just be a bit tight with expenses. So cut a long story short resigned from their good mate of mine who was a client of mine was a coal mine developer kind of reached out because he saw I had resigned he was on one of the committee’s and said, What are you doing, I smell things are tight. And, you know, we’re getting to the fork in the road with the energy around. You know, we I personally had a goal that if I go beyond this time, I need to go and find a job. Or if I go beyond this amount of money, I need to go and find a job. So I passed both of those. I was entertaining, you know, what does contract work look like? And you know that this x kind of client of mine said, Well, can you give me a couple of days a week? I said yeah, sure. And it was it was fascinating. So that that’s not on my LinkedIn profile. I did actually for a time have two LinkedIn profiles. That business was fascinating. It ended up taking over my life, it helped energy stay alive. Energy was probably a day a week for me at that stage. I was running a phosphate business out of Tahiti, I was running a geothermal project that had projects in Newcastle and France and was doing kind of a biomass to energy project in Western New South Wales as well so it literally ended up having a business for every day of the week. But that was good and I ended up you know, energy I didn’t get neglected Matt and I was still dabbling. We had a great staff member in there running that and you know, I was gonna be this mining mogul and, you know, made a couple of billionaires Just a very different world But what was interesting though is the focus on the commercial model with with mining projects with your energy projects, it’s all about the commercial model. So it ended up I I was going to I sold my house I was going to move to Tahiti booked the kids in the school, looking at rentals over there and then one of my youngest daughter had a issue medical issue and the doctor basically said Look, you’re not you’re not going to go and live in Tahiti because you know, medical evac is too far it’s a five five hour plane ride to New Zealand so that all went I resigned out of there and I came back into energy and Matt and I were 5050 and I said Man, I’m going to give this a good crack and back then what are our shame when was that that would have been about 2014 2013 2014 you know Facebook Twitter the need for content just just started coming so I came back to Matt so maybe we need to give this a shove I’m happy to do it but we’re not going to do it 5050 so I ended up buying the majority of his stake out and we were a real beneficiary of of that need for content because we were already there we’d been building for years and we had that you know one thing that set us apart was that kind of integrated content hub so the articles and the modules and the calculators and the videos It was just something that a planet could turn up and brand and run with so um so we started getting really busy I think our biggest month you know we had 16 practices Come on so it was just a really good scalable business it was still lean for me I looked at what’s next I was always kind of like right this is happening now this is good what’s next I thought we could either take this into another industry or we could go to another country I decided to go that we go to another country look at the UK and some of our concepts would would be able to fly with that and then some would need to obviously worry right we’re already talking with X Files I think one of the guys one of the product managers saw me presented one of the first best gardener advisor edge conferences I think that’s where I met Michael back as well and and we got kind of talking after that so we were we were talking for hours for a little while around giving them a content feed and I remember one day then I said to him look I’m looking at going to the UK you guys just bought a big business over there you’ve got the scope Would you be interested in chucking half a million in and getting me over them I’ll give you a shave basically come back saying well the only way you’re going to get over there is if we own you and I laughed I laughed and then and then you know some numbers started going up on a whiteboard nine are that you know that’s interesting and then the rest is history we were fully acquired by ours in 2015 which was an experience in itself so I think again I was probably naive then thinking you know small business going into a big $2 billion financial services tech company this is going to be brilliant imagine what the Knowledge Center is going to become. But you know within that you the Knowledge Center is a is a small operation and you know what what ours has under that company is massive so we weren’t necessarily the priority within that group so I ended up kind of in a way still just running that business under ours and then you know was under a four year kind of burn out contract with them and then that was then the connected to fortnum so after you know looking or coming to the end with ours just kind of looking around it you know what what I would do next had a few different opportunities but I think for me fortnum I knew Neil our new his ability I think are underestimated when I kept Don’t tell him this I hope this is not going to be broadcast anyway

 

Fraser Jack 

right listens to this he listens to those so yeah.

 

Rob Skinner 

So I will I better say something good then. So I think I underestimated where he was at. And for those of you that don’t know me, Armand he ran he ran wealth over at CBA then at ANZ and then his come out to fortnum so I think kind of seeing him operated operating I underestimated where he was at I knew the new younger back from kind of security days and you know, it’s an entrepreneurial business so it suits me it’s not you know, it’s it’s ownership kind of aligns with the practices practices owner, there’s not one big owner, there’s no kind of product involved. So it suited me if he go right back to you know, in the flat fee business. It worked well so it was a bit of a standout for me. So then being able to shape what we do, we didn’t want to have the traditional PDM type offer because you know, a lot of that those roles was subsidised from product like if you maybe look at the anps of the world security rules on the magnitudes of the fin wizards that you know they they get the money out of product in a props up that the licensee offer we don’t have the luxury of being able to do that at fortnum so you know we’re looking at well how do we do things a little bit differently within there to still get some really good outcomes for the practices

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, they’re just on that just on that obviously and going back a little bit to your mining your mining heyday and some of the commercial models I think it’s probably very simple to see a business insane mining where it’s just money in money out minerals You know, there’s no humans involved as far as that’s concerned it’s pretty much just you know that what’s the transaction what’s the cost what’s the what are we going to get out of it? Is it there’s like the simplicity that then you can overlay on any business because that’s the that’s pure business right this many money

 

Rob Skinner 

I think so. Some people might disagree with me that that that’s you can put that alongside of the care for clients I think it’s it can be really quite easy to design the business and I think my view is I’m surprised at still some people I guess practices still looking at you know, planning or fees or what the what the client value service proposition is and I kind of think wow, like you know, we’re grappling with that 20 years ago like maybe beyond that like I think you’re still being grappled you know with before that so I think No, my my mentor in my business when we looked at changing my business to flat fees It was very simple. Like we literally looked at where do we want to be like like and then let’s work backwards from there so we literally in a nutshell looked at what wage Do you want to earn Robach? 150 grand Ron Oh, cool. What are the expenses of the business for the business that you want to build? So what staffs in there what’s really not you know, you get that number? And what’s your profit margin? What’s 35% Okay, so that’s we’ve got our revenue now. So that’s easy, we’ve got the revenue that we need, what’s your service? So my service was this and I worked out what’s your capacity around that I could look after 120 clients I wanted to work, you know, 3040 hours a week or something I could look after 120 clients. So then I just had to, you know, divide that revenue figure by 120 that’s what everyone pays. I think you can do a similar thing that was for a small business but I think you can do a similar thing for a larger business, the costs are different. But you still get the head the headline number and the and the bottom number on what the service is in between. We can get cheeky with that, you know, I told my clients what number they were. So that’s how I explained the fee concept. My number three client at his review would always say now remember, we were number three, I’m like okay, that’s cool, you can remember that so I would tell them I can only have 120 clients your number 73 once I get to 120 I’m closing the doors, but I’d love your help to find really cool people that can be part of that 120 and that’s where I’ll still see practices struggling with referrals as well. You know, it’s like they’re going to get a punch in the mouth if they ask and it’s like no they don’t and if you can give them a compliment in doing and saying Fraser I love working with people like you it’s it’s great. One thing I learned from another business that wasn’t me but I implemented at work well that that using psychology I’d say Fraser I’d love you to refer to the business but I can only take two clients from you a year I can’t take any more I will blow up so it’s only two and that got instilled in my client base because we know hundreds of people so if I said the phrase or my pin for referrals, that it’s almost too hard so that’s somewhat gravitate towards that but I would educate my clients on the type of referral that was on my agenda type of referral and how to refer so if I said you’ve got to give my clients movie tickets when they referred I’d have the cheeky client ring up going Rob there’s a new movie coming out I’ve already referred you to but I found another one is that okay? That I send them through and I’m glad Jeff because it’s you sure you know I’ll look after them say so it was a bit of fun like it wasn’t wasn’t too serious yet

 

Fraser Jack 

it’s funny really interesting isn’t it the the human psychology when you when you put some parameters around it?

 

Rob Skinner 

Yeah, I mean I used to tell clients we because we’d obviously track referrals and referrals is on the agenda so so if a client didn’t refer over the 12 months I’d say hey, referrals were talked about you know who were asked how to refer we noticed you haven’t referred just want to check in that you’re happy like are you okay like is there and sometimes I don’t want to make them feel guilty but I wish it Okay, we didn’t refer so you know, they go out of the office but it was a good check in to go. You know, we haven’t seen him anyone from you. Are you okay? Are you enjoying you know what we’re doing and, and we would ask for referrals. I know, I was talking to one of my practices recently who wants clients to be on three years before A lot asked for referral and I’m like Surely you’ve got to do that as soon as you’ve implemented the plan because they’ve just had a life changing experience the and I’m organized I’m you know I’m saving money I’m investing properly like that’s that’s the time that they’re gonna go until you know until it makes I think

 

Fraser Jack 

it’s definitely the time it’s the time that a lot of other businesses work on that same concept to when somebody purchased something and I spend a lot of money they want to tell everybody they want to justify their purchase and it’s a good opportunity for them to talk about you I really love the idea of the number two you know your number three client or number 73 client whatever it might be I think it’s sort of like what the the Australian cricket team and stuff does too doesn’t it like their their their numbers such and such of the of the of the scoring Yeah. Giving people anything like that I remember from my old racy cue card I’m showing you know my state here would say members since on it as well you know, like it was it’d been like members since this time and he like I can’t let that go now I’ve got to keep going because I’ve been a member since for this long.

 

Rob Skinner 

Yeah. And I you know, funny the way the other thing that often gets said you know, you don’t want people to become numbers, but I would literally give them a number. I wouldn’t then ring up and say Oh, hello client 73 how are you but but um, but it was good. They bought into that like, I think clients care you know, I play golf every Wednesday there was something I put in before I got my first client and I’d explain that to clients and they care about your financial well being like so they want you to have a life so you know that that’s an important thing and you know, be human. I think back to our one thing I was going to say around pricing and I still see even within our practices lots of challenges around pricing that seem to be a constant change of repricing as legislation changes and it’s you know, I look back to when I was a planner and you know what, what a planner has to do now is just intense and a lot of it you know, the client doesn’t want it doesn’t add value, but they still need to do it and kind of as they have to do more they need to reprice but it’s interesting with the value of advice we’ve got some practices you know when you’re looking at your business and you might say oh well I’m going to drop the bottom 20% of my business so that I can then focus on you know, building up the the target market or that top 20 we’re finding a lot of practice that are doing that. And they might say oh look you’re paying 1500 bucks a year minimum three sorry, you know, we can’t look after you anymore. And a lot of these clients and I say a lot yeah 80% of them are saying no we want to stay we’re happy to pay and so it stuffs then their model out there transition to where they want to get to because they thought all these people would fall off and they’d be able to you know grow the other end so it gives them another challenge but i think you know what that demonstrates is that people that have been able to partake in financial planning and seeing that wow I’ve mapped out where I want to be and someone’s looking after where I’m up to and they’re looking at legislation they’re looking at investment markets and what’s changing they’re checking in with me on my state planning they don’t want to then lose that so they’re used to it to then have to look after that and that’s what I used to say with my fees if you want to lose you know stop paying me fees you can have your file back you can have your soup you can have your investment you can look after your site planning look after all the insurances you can make sure that you’re on track with your financial and they’re like oh shit i don’t want I don’t want to have to do all of that. But it’s the people I guess that have an experienced financial planning you know that look at maybe a fee and God don’t either want to pay that but they haven’t had the experience

 

Fraser Jack 

it’s probably easier to when you are thinking about you know, repricing them or putting your fees up to be able to say to your existing clients look this is our new fee structure because they’re already they’re already there it’s easier for them lately winning their hearts and minds and winning the hearts and minds of new people

 

Rob Skinner 

yeah agree thoroughly agree that but politically and that’s where I think you know sometimes you know even looking at risk at the moment and the problem with you know, some of our practices that might be very reliant on revenue from risk I think there’s the challenge to around the value even in our our own mindset because it’s funny even some of our practice putting up fees the clients are fine they’re like yeah, but that’s fine but it’s more in our own minds and I think when you look at you know doing insurance I was talking with our advisors the other day and it’s like you know, personal insurance is is not like getting a house and contents policy online or a car insurance policy and I think you know, being able to frame up that to get that right insurance or or need to look at everything about where you are like where you’re going to go or your you know, financials, your salaries, your health, your family, your estate planning. I’m going to take all of that and then kind of work out The strategy of what would be optimal and look like I’m going to compare a couple of strategies, then once I’ve done that, I’m going to go out to the market and find the products that I think are going to be really suitable for that strategy. And I’m going to charge you five grand, like, like, this is not if you want to go online and buy car insurance, go for it. But But this is not something to muck around with. Because if you die, or if you have a traumatic event, or you can’t work anymore, that’s pretty serious. So, you know, and I think, I think when you put it like that, you’re like, Okay, yeah, well, there’s value in there. But but maybe we don’t, you know, we don’t articulate it well enough, or don’t believe in the value enough that we that we transfer to clients.

 

Fraser Jack 

It’s it’s a big chore for a lot of people to think about or read or understand their policy documents, isn’t it when it comes to any type of insurance, and even when I’ve talked to planners about other types of insurance, you know, people don’t necessarily read their other types of insurance PDS or policies, it’s just, they know the insurance ones, the risk ones, because they’re trying to, to talk to clients about them, but it affects their, their clients. So they read it, but, you know, we struggled to read our own. So it’s always great to have somebody in your corner doing that. I agree. Now, tell me a bit more about your practice engagement role, how does that work? You’re sort of us sort of working with practices to grow themselves? Or how does that work?

 

Rob Skinner 

Yeah, absolutely. So so I think I learned to you know, we’re trying to do things a little bit differently and get smart with how we still and that’s evolving and that’s part of what I like it for them as far as it’s a bit of a bit of a blank page as far as how we can how we can help. One thing that’s that’s gone really well and came about, we had a couple of what we call pods, a pod groups, p groups that that meant we had to kind of that will trialing before COVID heat and they would meet six months later would essentially be a whole day but you know, when COVID hit over the obviously things changed around a little bit. So and community was a big thing probably in most licensees as well, I’m not gonna you know, we’ve got a community, we’ve got a culture. So his every other licensee, I would think the culture in the community wins inside of fortnum suits me. And so a lot of practices really want to help each other, we’re very fortunate that we’ve got, on average, you know, good sized practices, successful practices, and they’re open to share. So when COVID here, and we were looking at pod groups, what it enabled me to do was get rid of geographical boundaries, and to link like minded practices. So if I’ve got practices that have got jayvees, with accountants, I can get six of those together, because they’re often you know, tackling the same issues, or if I’ve got businesses that are younger and growing rapidly, you know, I can put them together if I’ve got businesses that have got four planners in their, you know, bigger corporate, you know, they might tackle things differently as well. So it’s kind of Brett and I didn’t get that perfect, when we rolled it out, I’ve actually had my first pod reshuffle, because in you would know that there’s different there’s different business models in this industry, and you can have practices that have 70 clients and go deep and they might charge 15 to 20 grand a client and they go deep, they might meet them quarterly, they’d love the investment side. That was never me personally, I admire those businesses and you know, they go they go hard on that kind of deep client connection. And then you’ve got the other businesses which was mile business that you you know, you do an investment review halfway through the year and you do an annual review. And and you have more volume of clients and a lot of price points. So we’ve got both of those kinds of firms. And what’s funny, I mixed up one of my pots, where I had, it was you know, I had a guy that was on average charging three grand a year and one planners senior going I charge 20 grand a year and this he was regionally he’s gonna give me a bit of that, like, No, I do that, but that’s a totally different business. So but these pod groups, and we kicked them off a lot 15 of them, you know, with five to six planners each in them, and it’s phenomenal Fraser and the I had one planner that’s been a planner for 20 years, and he’s first pod and he rang and he said, Rob, that’s been the best two hours I’ve spent in my entire career and I’m like wow, that is terrific. Successful guy right runs a very good big business. So these pods then I sit there now let’s make quarterly half of them said now we want to meet more regularly we want to get on with them. I’ve got one they call themselves a super pod one one pod meets monthly. And what what a lot of them do is we tackle a concept so we might do client experience so we might sorry Why if we get back to set we might do upfront client experience. So take me through when the phone rings and a client says hello I’d like to make an appointment take me right through To implementation so we’d go practice by practice around there as much as I’ve got they’re sharing their processes their documents yeah they’re emailing him after podcast and he go he’s everything I’ve discussed it’s just so open because there’s no there’s no you know threat if you like for each other or we’ll go through what is the review process look like or we’ll talk about marketing or we’re talking about technology we can bring you know gurus within the fortnum team so I had or Neil actually turned up to a couple which was really good you know we’ll have head of advice pop in for the first 15 minutes and just check that everyone’s got their head around you don’t have stiff DS and our size or whatever so it’s, it’s brilliant and I am I look forward to that you know, two hours with AP stuff happens you know outside of that as well which is fine. Some pods are just happy they just want to talk they just want to turn up we still fill in two hours with the general kind of around the grounds and seeing you know what what’s important or what’s going on for people good or bad but that’s been a terrific thing and for fortnum it’s a great way for me to see six practices you know all in one go so where I can’t obviously travel you know there’s the one on one experience as well but the pods is is really good they’re getting value off each other and at some stage I might mix them up again you know maybe in a couple of years once they’ve exhausted you know sucked everything out of their existing pod we won’t mix it up again and and go again with you know different people we still got practices joining so you know we put putting together new pods now once we get to you know five or six practice principles we’re doing at the moment I’d love to although we need the resource to do I’d love to do one for you know a couple for practice managers for paraplanners you know would be good as well to kind of roll roll that out but that that’s one positive I guess through COVID that we’ve been able to do that and advisors are not having to travel or you know come together and we can kind of mix and match the right kind of people

 

Fraser Jack 

it’s really interesting fascinates me the idea of community and how this all works and you know the size of the community you know everybody at a pod level of six everybody gets a say everybody has a decent amount of time everybody gets to know each other on a personal level. And you know, they’re not just you know, their knowledge of their business but they’re you know, what they what they like as a person, their attributes, their language, all those types of things. So I think it’s I think it’s incredible and then when you do mix those pods up they get like you said they get get something new out of them and but the the friendships and the pod doesn’t stop when you mix them up, you know, if somebody’s still got an idea, or they can jump on the phone, and they’ve developed some good, good, great relationships with their existing pod so they can still utilize them when they need to.

 

Rob Skinner 

Yeah, I agree. And I, I think, you know, the other thing is like fortnum fortnum, has grown fairly rapidly over the last, I guess, two years now. So you know, a couple of years ago, there would have been 95 advisors, they’re now kind of 230. So a lot of these pods, they don’t know each other, but they’ve never they’ve never met and that’s where the you know, one day we’re meant to have a conference next month that’ll turn into a hybrid conference I think Queensland is going to be the only state that’s going to get a little bit of face to face and maybe Wi Fi but you know the head these people haven’t met that they’re actually you know, yearning to meet him go and look it’s just not the same you know, virtually but at some stage it’d be good to kind of connect them all up and let them shake hands and have a drink at some stage.

 

Fraser Jack 

Exactly their conference today as you mentioned in the part in the last couple of years I’ve had to change a lot and the conferences that are still continuing this year are coming out their hybrid state talk to me about how you see that developing over the next couple of years we can we’ll go straight back to the in person conference or still go the hybrid

 

Rob Skinner 

i don’t know i actually think what else was going to be a face to face conference this year in October so that next next month we did a ring around you know we put our conference out I don’t know might have been June and we need to get the numbers up so head of learning and development and myself kind of got a list and we thought let’s do a ring around you know that was right when the New South Wales wave was starting to go up again. And a lot of them you know, we’ve got practice in regional Victoria so they’re going well I’ve got to get to the airport, somehow park my car get on flights do accommodation. We do have a fee for the conference. And so when they worked it all out they’re gone are looking I’m going to spend two or three grand doing this and I’m gonna have time out at the office and all that kind of stuff. As it’s played out, you know, we can’t have we’re gonna have it in Sydney, we can’t have it in Sydney anyway. And there was the nervousness of COVID. So it was a mix of COVID was probably the main one, they didn’t want to get locked out of their state. They don’t want to come into New South Wales and not not be able to get back. So I think that’ll be different than next year but but you know that the simplicity of being able to sit at your computer, not go anywhere, and I partaking in a conference or a virtual event, and maybe you know it’s a lot cheaper it’ll be interesting how that plays out but we were really keen to get people back face to face and there’d be an element that are all of the advisors that are really keen as well but those that might be a little bit more introverted and don’t like those because there was no other option before you know you had to turn up to get that you know that training and that that experience but but now you know, we do we do have that option. So where our conference, one of our kind of headline guys worked with work with Steve Jobs team and then was doing a little coaching for Google and ran Google’s first hybrid event he was encouraging Google to do they’re kind of the internal conference hybrid, they took quite a tough time to get around to that he used to have to fly to different areas for Google but he ran their first hybrid conference you know with 53,000 attendees anyway so he’s he’s given us some really good tips for how to in our Brisbane advisors are going to be very fortunate because he’s going to turn up in person to Brisbane and we’re obviously beamed been to different states but but it makes it more expensive Fraser that that’s the thing like there’s still a cost to running these and and virtual or a hybrid is a lot more expensive because you’re not just sitting here on zoom you need all the recording equipment and stuff like that at the physical conference so there is a it does become a bit more of an expensive conference

 

Fraser Jack 

it’s interesting in the the expense because you know the conferences and I’ve talked about conference expense for for many years in the in the way that when we used to go to the US conferences are a couple 100 bucks to go to and you went along and you paid a couple 100 bucks but you’ve spent a lot of time giving of all of your information and knowledge and those sort of things and your experiences and you’re receiving everybody else’s back there’s a bit of energy and hype around giving as well as receiving not just receiving and sometimes when you paid a few $1,000 to go to a conference you feel like you’ve already given a new event now waiting to receive but but yeah, there is a lot of expense in conferences and there’s a bit of a difference between the $200 online Yeah, I’ll get the content and the CPD online for a couple 100 bucks versus you know spending two or three grand to get there and flights accommodation and and rock up for a few days

 

Rob Skinner 

yeah and I think people are I mean there’s there’s a lot of stuff me around you know zoom fatigue and you can tell I mean I’ve got now into the habit of shutting everything else down when I’ve got a webinar because you can see you know people eyes wandering over to the second screen you know we’re very distracted in this environment as well so you know that we’re not learning as much as what we could if we were sitting in a conference room with our phone turned upside down so I think we’re a bit more distracted these days.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, absolutely. Now you mentioned it a couple of times with regards to the conference and the the some of the pod stuff the surveys and the ringer rounds that’s exactly how you present it or develop any content you ring around and ask for feedback and then to start delivering that say that what what are the top issues and those sorts of things? Yeah,

 

Rob Skinner 

I think um so that that conference one was more we were drumming up numbers so trying to work out you know what, why they haven’t registered so it wasn’t it wasn’t kind of around the actual content for the conference itself but we have we did do a survey when was it maybe maybe a year ago around we kind of had to live in areas and trying to gauge the pain points for practices and then we were looking at running a series off that to help practices so and this is actually an example of something that we tried and it didn’t probably work the way I would have liked to but to have the freedom to explore you know different opportunities so our practices concept process and efficiency you know slash technology is the number one pain point and that was a standout so by far so out of the response I think at least 50% said that was number one out of out of 11 and then it kind of dropped down to be communicating you know value pricing was number two client experience number three and their business planning and performance management was number four. So we looked at then you know, running what are called some boot camps around that some kind of 90 day you know, exactly like a boot camp come in, we’ve got 90 days you want to lose seven kilos so come in, you want to enhance your client experience and then you’ve got them very measurable results. So he went day one and day 91 this is where you were, we had mixed interest with that and I reflected so we’re still looking at kicking off that in some way but not like I thought like we had four boot camps we thought they’ll all run at the same time with a view to building up this subject matter of boot camp. So that you can you know, like doing biceps for for 90 days. Now we’re gonna do legs, so you know, we could do that but, but the interest wasn’t as high as I thought. And then I’ve reflected like practices, we’re gonna have to pay for that. Phrase us So Fortnam is very much a user pays model. So so we charge a flat fee for our, our businesses, and then you know, things like this, if they’re really expensive, we need to say, Well, how do we pay for this and, you know, I think like all things, if a practice pays or a person pays, they’re gonna value it more as well than if it was a freebie, so. So we had a lot of our practices that are already going through coaching programs with a couple of businesses that we have relationships with anyway, so that kind of pushed them out, because they weren’t going to embark on something else, as you can appreciate, or as anyone probably is, in planning can appreciate the moment people are really busy. So you know, in this virtual environment, this would have all been via webinar. And I think there’s probably an element of it that they go, Wow, okay, another thing on my plate that I have to do. We talked earlier about the industry’s getting a lot of new clients in at the moment, a lot of our practices are really, really busy. And then looking at how they are one of my practices said, you know, do we gear up assuming this buisiness? Or when I say busy that new clients coming in new prospective clients, new business growing? Do we assume that this is going to continue? You know, at the moment, I think you have a lot of people navigating what COVID means, you know, really looking at life? Where do I live? Where’s my money invested properly? What are my goals, element of those fall out into seeking a financial planner coupled with the fact that we’ve lost a third of our financial planet, so so we’re naturally going to be busy. So I think a lot of them are just trying to keep their head above water service, their existing clients, you know, implement all this new legislation that’s coming in, which we have so often as a licensee, were the ones passing that down through to them. But then, you know, looking after these new clients, you don’t want someone to have a really shitty experiences their first contact with you. So there’s that pressure of, you know, delivering advice in a timely fashion as well. So I think one thing we haven’t touched on, I find fascinating, from running a planning practice, to then being in a licensee, it’s, it’s really interesting. So or being in the leadership team discussions and advice and where we’re going. And then, you know, planning practices, and there’s still a lot probably in the industry around, you know, are the licensees doing this, or the licenses or, or you’re doing it for yourselves, you’re not doing it for us. And I look at it, and I certainly you know, they are licensee. And this is not an advertisement. But I would talk openly like I have some things work, some things don’t work, but it’s arranged to protect that license. So it’s as much as I’ve got a job at Fordham, I need that license to stay intact. If it’s not, I don’t have a job and I value my reputation too. So fortnight’s reputation gets stuffed up, that’s going to reflect on that on my resume. But then for our practices, they’re operating under that same license. So it everything that should be done at licensee level is to make life easier for that practice. And that’s an ongoing challenge phrase, or like, one thing we’re finding is a bit of a formalist proposition, you know, it still is, but it used to be very much, you know, freedom within a framework. And that appealed to a lot of practices going great, we can have our own unique way. As long as we stay within those lines, you know, we we don’t we’re agnostic to product platforms, or that kind of stuff, what we found and then probably the last six months, and with all this change coming down, or practices going, Hey, we need a bit more framework, like we were happy to give up a little bit of our uniqueness. To get more guidance and more words, some of the projects we’re working on internally now looking at kind of recommended practice and workflows and things so they’re like we, we don’t want to miss something, we enjoy the the freedom. But you know, now we’re happy to give up some freedom to make sure we don’t get it wrong, which feels like a change like Island the last kind of six months,

 

Fraser Jack 

I can definitely I can definitely see or feel that change as well as definitely that because of all of the well the speed of the change. But also, you know that that little bit of fear, maybe a little bit of, you know, worry about and just give us give us those more narrow guardrails and give us I guess you mentioned it when you’re talking about the boot camps. The number one reason was around that, you know, people that have to process or just to show show us how to do it in a way that’s nice and compliant and simple. And we’ll just adopt that rather than try and reinvent the wheel.

 

Rob Skinner 

Yeah, yeah. No, I agree. I agree. So yeah, so that’s something that’ll that’ll just continue to evolve, I think.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, fantastic. I think that’s probably not just your licensee. I think that’s probably across the board. Across the board. Yeah, Greg. Hey, Rob. Thanks for coming. Catching up today. Really appreciate your giving up your time and having a chat to us and sharing all of your wealth of knowledge. I really appreciate it. I’ve just realized we’ve been talking for nearly an hour. Probably should leave it there. Thank you so much. If somebody wants to get home Do you and continue the conversation? Probably what’s the what’s the best way they can find you?

 

Rob Skinner 

I reckon they’d find me on LinkedIn is probably the easiest way, I think. Yeah, that’d be the easiest way if they want to reach out for anything happy to help.

 

Fraser Jack 

Fantastic. Really appreciate it. Thank you Rob

 

Rob Skinner 

Thank you.

Listen to the podcast on the links below or on your favourite platform

General disclaimer for this podcast and all XY Education podcasts
https://www.xyadviser.com/disclaimer/

DISCLAIMER: The XY Adviser website and all content contained on the website is limited to general information. It does not constitute legal, financial or other professional advice. XY Adviser does not hold an AFS licence and does not provide any financial services. Nothing on this website should be interpreted as financial advice. Before making any investment decision, XY Adviser recommends obtaining financial advice from a qualified financial adviser.