October 12, 2021

#258 Ross Marais – Transcript

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SUMMARY KEYWORDS

clients, business, people, months, cash flow, advisors, guess, advice, money, meeting, accountant, co working space, years, bit, fees, charging, pay, super, business owners, financial planning

SPEAKERS

Ross Marais, Fraser Jack

 

Fraser Jack 

Welcome back to the XY advisor podcast. I’m Fraser Jack and today I’m joined by Ross Marais.

 

Ross Marais 

Hey Fraser, how you doing?

 

Fraser Jack 

Very well. Thank you for joining us today. Now do you want to give the listeners a very quick overview of just you at the moment in your business?

 

Ross Marais 

Yeah, so Currently, I am 30 years old live on the Gold Coast. And my business is more tied financial, which is a financial advice, money management and financial education business, mainly working with Gen Y millennial, with a bit of a focus on towards business owners.

 

Fraser Jack 

Fantastic romance people just like yourself.

 

Ross Marais 

I guess that’s it. 100%

 

Fraser Jack 

Fantastic. And you’re just a you’re just yourself. You don’t have any other planners that work for you.

 

Ross Marais 

Yep, just myself. So so plan and one full time admin, admin staff.

 

Fraser Jack 

Very good. Let’s jump back in time. Let’s talk about you getting into this profession in the first place. Interesting story you sort of, but you knew about the profession before you sort of dived in?

 

Ross Marais 

Yeah. So well, man, Alan, he had a, originally from South Africa. So he was a dodgy insurance salesman back in back in the day. Like, obviously, there’s a big, big focus on the insurance side of things. And a lot of people started that way. So he was an insurance insurance focus, and then moved over here when we immigrated, and then he eventually had a hill Ross practice, got to take a stab in the dark for maybe about 15 or 20 years, he had his own practice. So I always kind of understood a bit about the industry and did a few summers working for him. Mainly, the thing I do remember the most is I think ANP bought in a rule that there couldn’t be any blank pages on fat funds. So as I suppose it was paper based factfinder. And it couldn’t be any blank pages because it was blank, it meant that you didn’t cover it. So you had to cross off. If you didn’t cover it, they had to cross it off. So I remember spending one summer that was my entire job was to go over all the fact vines that had blank pages and had to cross them off and they had to scan them through. So remember, that was like 50 pages of backbone and just crossing off all the blank pages that just didn’t need to be covered off. So yeah, always, always understood a bit about the industry. And another thing I really liked about I think the thing that drew me towards it was the sort of relationship he had with a lot of his clients. And that was something I always Yeah, always kind of liked about it. And I never really had much intention of getting into into the industry. It was always something like art, it’s maybe maybe when I’m older, that seems like an old person industry where you talk about money and the boring stuff so might be something I’ll be interested in later on in life, but it’s not something I was too focused on back then. Yeah, so

 

Fraser Jack 

it’s an interesting stat, isn’t it? Seeing your I guess, seeing your the relationship that your dad had with clients, you then I guess you did you do a business and marketing degree after that.

 

Ross Marais 

So I the story was I was very focused on rugby. So that was kind of going to be my career path. I was going to try and be a professional rugby player. Which obviously I didn’t didn’t eventuate. But as I was on path to doing that, and at the time I left school as like I didn’t didn’t really know what I wanted to do outside of playing rugby, I was my sole focus at the time. And my dad said, Oh, look, if you’re not really sure, why don’t you start doing a Bachelor of Commerce degree. And then if it’s something if the rugby thing doesn’t work out, then you can obviously fall back on that. So I started off doing the Bachelor of Commerce and then I yes, majored in financial planning and marketing as well. So it was a really good grounding because in one class would go to one class and I was always talking about the marketing of how to get people to spend money. And buy things and then we’ll go to the financial planning costs and as other people save money and invest in stock buying things, so it was this, it was a good actually, it’s a really good base to kind of see see it from both sides. So that was Yeah, that’s so I started doing that at Griffith uni. And I think when we graduated, I think we’re one of the first classes to actually graduate with the financial planning degree from the Gold Coast group of uni. Back here. 2013 2012 2013.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, and tell them tell me about getting into the the horizons program.

 

Ross Marais 

Yeah, so I left left University and didn’t have many job opportunities at that time, because I’m looking probably exactly what people are facing right now is trying to go through that professional year. So back then trying to hire someone trying to hire a 22 year old. With the financial planning degree with little to no experience. The job prospects were pretty minimal. The pay was maybe 40,000, or something like that. And I was looking for jobs, looking for jobs. I was living in Brisbane at the time looking kept looking, I couldn’t find anything. And then came across horizons program. And they were offering a very good salary for someone my age at that time. And yeah, it kind of seemed like the perfect opportunity, because they were offering good pay good traction program. And yeah, so we jumped on that went through the 101 interview process to get through that, jump through all the hoops. And yeah, I was lucky enough to get on board with the horizons program. And yes, and as to Sydney for three months of training, which was, which was epic. And then nine months back in the in the Brisbane office, cold calling lots and lots of people.

 

Fraser Jack 

Tell us about Tell us about that training, because that’s for those people that haven’t seen or been through that program. Tell us about what their training was. It was

 

Ross Marais 

unreal. So obviously at the moment, because a&p is getting an interesting rap, but their, their training program was top notch. So it was three months in a classroom, five days a week nine to five. And we’re just obviously learning all the ins and outs of, of everything to do with financial planning. The one big aspect was the meetings. So obviously, it’s pretty hard to train someone to have a client meeting. Because if it’s not a real situation, it’s not it’s not really real. So what they did, which was unbelievable, when you think about they got actors, real actors to come in and simulate a meeting. And I remember, the one I had was a one meeting, the lady was crying. And then the next one, she was really stormed out of the meeting, because she wasn’t happy with the recommendations or wasn’t happy with ours. I was talking to her. So it was like and I think back now we actually filmed so he filmed it had actors in it, they filmed it. And then we watched it back and got assessed on how we had it ourselves and what the how we overcome the objections and everything like that. So for someone, I was 23 at the time, and to go through that process of having as close to as possible real life meetings with these real actors was unbelievable. So yeah, I couldn’t couldn’t speak highly enough of that whole process. And that training that we went through, looking back at it, how that kind of set me up to where we are now.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, and then when it comes to training, this is a really interesting topic when it comes to training. The role play is the cringes thing that you can think of doing. Like, yeah, like if we say, Now, we’re going to do this roleplay because no, I really like seriously this is not but going through that in a forced process. How much faster is the roleplay it driving? You know, I guess the knowledge and the dirt and the development?

 

Ross Marais 

Well, I think it’s Yeah, it’s especially when it’s roleplay with someone that you don’t know so like most cases like are you me phrase we’re gonna we know each other, we’re going to do a roleplay or it’s like you do it with a with one of your staff members or something, someone in your team. So it’s you just can’t get that effect where as these people came in, you never met them. You just got given this scenario, and then you’re giving the advice. And obviously the fact that they were actors, so they do it for a living just made it so much more real. And so much more intense. And it was Yeah, it definitely sped up that process because I guess the alternative was your otherwise just having real life meetings. And for the very first time so the first client You see, that’s the first meeting you ever had. Whereas the least this process I think we did I think it’s maybe six of like actual so there’s like three different scenarios. One was the fact finding meeting and then one was the advice delivery meeting, I think so it was like six meetings, just obviously a cat topology jumps ahead and then you had obviously someone analyzing that and then marking on that and giving you feedback on that meeting as well. So yeah, the the intensity and the support that we got through that only not in not only that initial three months, but also the nine months after that initial training was Yeah, it was unbelievable. And the fact that we were getting paid to do that as well was obviously even even better because I’m sure most people don’t get paid for that process. Yeah, it’s

 

Fraser Jack 

an interesting thing. It’s interesting thing doesn’t really happen these days. Tell us about those the additional nine months you mentioned that there was a lot of cold calling. Tell us about that.

 

Ross Marais 

Yeah, so after three months in Sydney, we We move back to the Brisbane office. And it was kind of like, the closest thing I can think of is like a graduate year back, which probably what people are going through now, but it was a meeting on Monday, the staff meeting on Monday staff meeting on Friday and kind of church training, maybe on a Wednesday as well. So it was kind of concentrated for that nine months. And then we got given a list of clients. And we had to we got signed to actually real real clients. And then we real policies and pay clients insurance, super investments. And we also had to reach out to them and see if we could offer any advice and see if they needed any help with those with those policies and give advice throughout that nine months. But it was very much as though that structured approach so obviously all advice got vetted heavily. We had our team leader and their manager on top of that, that sort of advice before it went out. So it wasn’t like we were just giving advice willy nilly to anyone but yeah, it was it was probably I think it got awarded one of the best training programs back then and got awarded some quite a high level of training program award. So yeah, I couldn’t kind of speak highly enough of it. I think it scrapped a scrap now there’s maybe a different process. I’m not entirely sure.

 

Fraser Jack 

I’m not sure if it’s still running. We’ll have we’ll have to check with a MP but i think i think it sort of lasted for quite a few years. And then and then yeah, the times change and things moved on but I’m just thinking that the year that that calling regime of cold calling I remember my first day on the job I had to telephone that was about it, and you had to ring during people. How did that go? How do you think that’s changing in the long run?

 

Ross Marais 

Oh, again, it’s that experience of going through that and being trained through that process as well. So we would have initially I guess that first three months again, we would go through that process of not real clients get feedback on it, but that listen back to our calls that analyze it what we did well what we didn’t do well and then in the real world going through that process as well of calling people and just that yeah, that experience of actually picking up the phone and telling someone that they have a superannuation fund that they didn’t actually know how to super fund with and explained to them the first time and it’s just that that training that was Yeah, it was pretty hard to replicate not in that not in that environment I guess

 

Fraser Jack 

yeah, but you’ve come out of that that training sort of 12 months of training for the intensive training to starting your own business

 

Ross Marais 

yeah so I guess the the back a little bit backstory on that is they had you have the option at the end of that program of you can either take and purchase an a&p book, which I won’t go into because interesting at the moment but purchase the book or go and get work for an a&p practice. Otherwise, obviously you can just leave and go work for yourself. So at that time, a bit of a guest to take one step back. Alan, my father, he had helped us practice hits, sold that a couple of years earlier and semi retired, went traveling. And then at the time that I was finishing the 12 months of horizons he was kind of getting a little bit bored of retirement and said look, why don’t we look at starting up a business together which was obviously pretty incredible opportunity for me to have someone with 20 plus years experience to wanting to start a business so yeah, we ended up starting more time financial which is the current business in 2015. So July August 2015 so we’ve just clicked over six years or six years three months or so at the moment so yeah that was the the path I decided to take so left ANP and yet decided to start start more time financial back in back in 2015.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, the Philly Philly, great move by your dad, I think on that particular point, just knowing the potential thing the potential in a sudden going right let’s start a business I’ll be I’ll be here to Becky. But even from the very beginning, he wanted to take a backseat, right? He wasn’t even will be the front person. Yeah, exactly.

 

Ross Marais 

So it was always it was always my my business first and he was there to help, which is again, pretty, pretty incredible opportunity for me to be able to do that. I guess not too many 24 year olds get get to be in that position. So yeah, that was the idea from the start. That was going to be my business. And he was going to be there to help and support me throughout the throughout the journey. So yeah, that’s what that’s what we did.

 

Fraser Jack 

This is a bit of a weird thing for you, I guess at the time because your demographic and his demographic were very different. As a Jew, how did you go through those conversations to work out who you’re going to help?

 

Ross Marais 

Yeah, so I had this other thing at ANP. We the book of clients that we have given like 99% of the industry at the moment is retirees, people with money. You follow the money, you work with people that have money that can pay you fees, and I was going through that experience and obviously we can help people in that age group and we can do a great job and add a lot of value. But I kept getting frustrated because I was 24 Time I just finished uni, I was getting as my first job, first real career job with a MP. And all my friends had gone through the same process. So they were coming to me saying, oh, you’re you work in, in financial planning or you work in finance? What’s this hex thing? What I do with this first like thing I can salary sacrificing and salary package? Should I take this job? Like, what does this mean? All these things that people going through that first job and moving moving out of home for the first time, kind of getting the started in their career? And they’re coming to me asking all these questions, and I would go to my boss and said, Oh, can I bring them as a client and help them with cash flow? Help them with all these things? So that no, because they can’t make any money from them, because they can’t afford your advice. They’ve got no money, and super so what’s the point? So I kept getting heated up against this brick wall of weed? No, you can’t help them, you can’t help them, you can’t help them. So that was my kind of vision from starting more time, financial was from day one, I want to help people help my generation. So I’m 30 years old. So Gen Y millennials. And that was kind of the the goal from the start. And as I quickly realized, and that was probably the the sticking point between me and dad arguing about what clients to take on because there’s all these retirees that you can help from day one and and get money in the door, because you can help them straightaway versus the clients I wanted to help that can’t afford your advice. And from a purely business perspective, probably not the best clients to try and target from day one. So yeah, it was this constant constant back and forth of working, bringing on some clients that are good for business, while also helping them versus trying to focus on the client that I wanted to work with that would be that, I guess, coming to fruition now that now they’re turning 30 and getting a lot more money in and working with them still now. So they’re starting to become those really good clients today. Whereas six years ago, they probably weren’t the best best clients to bring on board.

 

Fraser Jack 

Exactly. Right. It’s a bit of a dilemma for every business, right? But it’s playing the long game, I guess you could, you could say it’s playing the long game. It’s also pulling your values and your own patients and beliefs. But I guess you probably did end up taking on a few of the the clients who already had money just to help pay the bills and those initial years.

 

Ross Marais 

Yeah, so I was kind of glad that we did work with bring on those older clients at the start as well, because it gave me a good sense of what that look like for that someone had done really well and set themselves up versus someone that got to age 60 or 65. That hadn’t planned properly. And what that looked like as well. So then I could go back and kind of use that as a test case to talk to the people even though 25 and 30 year olds don’t want to talk to about super and retirement. But it’s good to say oh, I now can see what what people have done well, and translate that and give that advice to say, look, if you don’t do this properly, if you don’t set yourself up, this is what it could look like, because I’ve just dealt with this person last week that didn’t plan didn’t put extra money to Super, I didn’t do anything that we would have told them at 25. And this was the outcome versus quite a quite be that that did really well. So it was a good good learning point from my side to actually go through that process and and bring on the clients. While I obviously did want to focus on the younger clients and help them it was also good to work with them as well. Yeah, it’s

 

Fraser Jack 

a very good point, isn’t it? Do you have if you’ve seen how well it works, you can talk about and I guess all you really need to know is a little bit more about retirement and the person themselves. And you’re all of a sudden that you’re that you’re the person who knows more than them. Tell me about that. When you’re setting up their business, though, from a cash flow point of view from a younger clients point of view? How did you then go around and create your offerings that you have? And obviously that probably evolved over the last six years. But as you create your offerings that you took to the market, I guess, and and price it and then be able to make a profitable business?

 

Ross Marais 

Yes, it’s probably been something that’s changed too much in my in my liking. I would have preferred to have something from from day one, but obviously we all would have. So yeah, it’s definitely changed and evolved massively over that time. But yeah, initially, we were doing I guess it was similar to like a subscription model where we’re charging that that monthly, a monthly fee. Where possible, we’re obviously giving some advice around superannuation and insurance and things like that when people needed it. But we’re trying to try to charge I guess, like a, like a gym membership or something like that we’re charging, maybe $660 upfront for the cash flow structure. And then we’re trying to charge a monthly fee ongoing on there as well.

 

Fraser Jack 

When you say tried, was there issues with it? Or

 

Ross Marais 

Yeah, it was a massive challenge, probably from my side more than the client side. But just trying to avoid it, I guess still challenge now. But if you’re trying to one people don’t know the problem that they have, because they not educated and then you need to prove to them that you can solve the problem. And then you need to tell them that they’re going to pay you for a problem that they didn’t know they had, which they didn’t know how to solve until they come to you. So it’s this constant battle and even back then trying to explain to people saying oh, this is what, how we can help you. This is the face and work through there. So I found that that monthly a monthly fee exactly for younger clients worked out worked well. And obviously as time went on and on, we could take less and less money from from superannuation, which is obviously a good thing. Now, but that has to be the model of obviously, you just take all the fees from Super, and then you give them super advice, but also given all the other stuff as well, which has obviously evolved more and more now. But yeah, so we had a that was the fee model. And I guess one of the things that, if you asked me what I wish I knew earlier, what I do differently would be probably triple my fees from from day one, charge a lot higher fee, and make it a lot more business focused, rather than it was strictly kind of, I guess we’re doing things. What will client focus back then was how do we do the best thing for the client, but at the detriment of potentially the cash flow in the business. So that was the lesson I learned very early on that you need to wear both hats that you need to wear the business hat and either way, the client, the client hat as well.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yep. And it’s a it’s a great lesson to learn, but probably also something that you take as obviously now nowadays, you do a lot of work with your clients on business advice. So it’s probably a good learning that you take take forward into, you know, when you’re giving your clients, you know, information or tips or, or accountability, or what are you going to do with their business? Cash Flow?

 

Ross Marais 

Yeah, definitely. 100%. Fantastic. And

 

Fraser Jack 

tell us about the evolution of those plans. Where to from from that initial sort of kickoff, how have they evolved since?

 

Ross Marais 

Yeah, I guess the the fees of the fees have gone up as the the experience and confidence has gone up that you actually give me the advice that’s that warrants warrants that fee. So I think that Yeah, that was probably the learning curve of you’re worried that okay, well, how do you charge someone? And I guess that was the mentality of how do you get someone to pay for your advice when you’re trying to help them with their cash flow and money management. So that’s something that I assume most people do struggle with is that concept of any help someone that needs help with their money, but they need to pay you money for it. So yeah, that confidence and seeing the outcomes over the last six years or last four or five years of working with those people on an ongoing basis, seeing the outcomes we’ve been able to create for them, gives you the confidence to say Actually, no, I am worth the fees that I’m charging, because I know now I have the experience and have the foresight that I know I can add significant value. So I’m a lot more comfortable charging those fees. But in terms of in terms of packages, in terms of how we how we structure things, yet, we’re still still charging that upfront fee for clients do the initial work and then charging a monthly fee ongoing after that, as well. So it’s obviously just evolved, evolved more and more, but the premise is still the same. Still a heavy focus on cash flow, still heavy focus on the younger, younger demographic, people, people my age. So that’s been the core theme all the way all the way through. It’s been pretty cool to kind of work with those clients over a long period of time.

 

Fraser Jack 

Excellent. And tell us about the three packages that you have you sort of got they got great names, and they’ve got individual meanings depending on the client.

 

Ross Marais 

The ones now is that what you’re referring to Yeah, yeah, so it’s just something we’ve just gone gone through and re I guess rebranded those a little bit but we’ve got the the real boss package which is focused on people that are the boss, so self employed business owners, and part of that is we take a heavy focus obviously, like I’m sure they’ve all advisors do on their personal side of things. So we want to look at everything to do with their personal finances. But then most importantly, is focusing on that gap which I think is a massive gap that I’ve identified between what business owners need in terms of advice, and what their accountant gives them because I feel like not to rip on accountants but I feel like what they’re giving is really good but it’s limited to just purely on the business side of things and maybe just on the tax and compliance whereas this bit big gap between what business owners need to help with their that that crossover between their personal in the in the business world so that’s what the pub that real boss packages is understanding both of their worlds in depth and then working with their accountant to obviously do what they need to do from the accounting side. But then how do we manage cash flow? How do we actually plan in the business how does what we’re doing in the business have a direct impact on their on their personal life? And then we’ve got our dollar boss package which is for those younger younger professionals, non non self employed non business owners. So that might be a higher higher income earning professionals and then we’ve got our our master our cash flow, which is purely just a cash flow offering for people that kind of works across both those demographics but yeah, just mainly focused purely on cash flow. We’re not necessarily looking at any other parts of their advice. In part of that package.

 

Fraser Jack 

America, I got a couple of questions on the real boss program. You mentioned the cannon said did you find that the cannons do a lot of they’re sort of the factual historical work where you’re up to Weaver All those things and you find yourself working more on the future goals of the business and helping drive that business growth, almost like a coach, but not or do you get coaches in it? How does this all work?

 

Ross Marais 

Yeah, I think I think that’s probably the the key separation. And I’m finding that some of the more forward thinking, accountants are starting to come to that realization that they need to have those conversations of what does the next 612 months look like not just how did how is the last financial year. And where I came to kind of realize this was because being the demographic I’m working with, there’s multiple goals happening all at the same time and multiple conflicting goals. So there’s, I want to pay less tax, but also want to buy a house next year, I’m wanting to know my partner’s taking maternity leave, and wanting to get centerlink benefits. And I’m also getting paid from the business as well to reduce tax. So I want to distribute money to him or her. But I’m also wanting to, to qualify for settling. So there’s this constant, constant thing, and I realized, sat down with the client and now our call want to want to buy a house this financial year. And then we got the financials back from the accountant. And the accountant did such a good job, that he hadn’t paid any tax because they hadn’t distributed any money to him. So then when we put him in front of a mortgage broker to qualify for a loan, the mortgage broker laughed at the door because he said you didn’t earn any money last year, because your accountant said on paper, you didn’t earning money. So then I realized, well, the accountant didn’t ask the question of what’s your plans next 12 months. And then that’s why I realized that we kind of kind of come in, so then we can go to the account and say, Hey, the goal is we want to buy a house in 12 months time or in six months time. So we need your financials to look like this. Yes, we might pay a bit more tax, but it means we don’t qualify for a loan. So it was that I guess that missing paint piece where we can sit in there. We know the client’s goals intimately personal and business, and then we can reach out to the accountants, okay, hey, this is what we need from personal side, these are personal goals and making sure that everyone’s on the same page.

 

Fraser Jack 

So this is a really interesting part I about getting in front of the account, and not just getting in front of the candidate developing a relationship with a cannon, where the candidate is not threatened, obviously, but also then wants to work with you and with future clients. Tell us about how you, you talk to your clients to get in front of your account.

 

Ross Marais 

Yeah, I, I try and have a big emphasis for for those clients of now going forward, obviously, depending on the client, but going forward, we are now coming to all your meetings with the accountant. And so we like to start with when we do that fact finding process of getting a full sense of their current financial position. So that’s reaching out to the accountant saying, Hey, we’re doing some personal planning, can you please give me the corporate structure of the company structure? What’s in place? Where’s the trust deeds, because we’re going to be doing estate planning, we need to see the trust deeds to have a shareholders agreement. So getting that full understanding of their business world and personal world. And I had an accountant come back to me and he said, I’ve been working with financial planners for the past five years. And he said, not once Has anyone asked me for a corporate structure of that clients position? And I said, Well, maybe maybe not, but maybe the the financial manager working with or just doing super in insurance, they’re not doing that not looking at the whole picture, they’re not looking at the cash flow, understanding what the distributions of the trust are understanding all those implications. So working with the accountant, realize that and the thing I took my back to the accountant was, if I can help them with their personal side, then that’s going to make your job easier, because you can then don’t have to worry about getting angry at them for distributing money or taking owners drawings, more and more, because we can have put in place a plan, we can obviously stay at attack, we can save attacks, we can make sure they’re paying their super, all the things that the accountant the bookkeeper want them to do. But don’t they get their license to obviously give that give those recommendations. So some accountants are on board with that others see it a little bit threatening that we’re kind of stepping on their toes a little bit. But yeah, I think that the good ones kind of see it as a good partnership.

 

Fraser Jack 

So you’ve managed to develop some great relationships with accountants because of this.

 

Ross Marais 

Yeah, yeah, definitely. And yeah, as I said, it’s just trying to explain to them that we’re going to make your job easier, because we’re going to be helping them with these things that you keep chasing up about, and they don’t listen to you because you haven’t created the context of why you need to worry about saving for tax and all those things that you would think are pretty simple, but not always the case.

 

Fraser Jack 

And any success stories with the counts, then referring other good clients to you.

 

Ross Marais 

Yeah, there has been some some really good referrals Come come my way. And again, purely just from the accountants seen that for the first time, we were able to have enough money to pay the tax bill on time rather than have to go on a payment plan. Because the structure we put in place was we actually got one I think it was almost down to the dollar of what the tax bill was versus what we had set aside in the in the tax and super account that we’d set up for them. And he said, Well, that was the first time that we haven’t had to go on a payment plan with this client in the last like three years because we actually saved for tax. So that was Yeah, that was a good one. And yeah, the referrals have been coming through as well from the accounts that some of the accounts we were working with, because they can see the benefit of, of man, it’s mainly around that cash flow piece of helping them understand the cash flow, the different sources of cash flow coming from as salary versus dividends versus directors, drawings versus trust distributions, what the tax implications of all of those are, how much tax we need to save. So it’s a major focus on on the cash flow side of things. And that’s what that’s what the accountant sees, is the definite value add,

 

Fraser Jack 

is it that the way the client would describe you to their friends, or their other business colleagues is somebody that helps them a lot with cash flow? And plus does all the other stuff around the outside?

 

Ross Marais 

I think, I think so I’d like like to hope so. I’d Yeah, I’d say that’s it’s probably just helping them to understand what they’ve got going on. So what’s the way the terminology we use is what spendable money and what’s not spendable money. And for a lot of those, a lot of those business owner clients is the first time they can actually see a separation between their business world and their personal world, because up until then, it was just all mess, all mixed together. And just all one, one lump sum of Oh, cool. I made $200,000 in the business this year. That’s all mine to spend. No, no, no. You can only spend 50,000.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, yeah. No, that’s fantastic. And I really like wood. Is that your preferred your preferred place to be in at work in business with those clients? or? Yeah, definitely.

 

Ross Marais 

So if I had to choose the one over the other, that would be my, my preferred target market? Is those those business self employed or business owners? Just because there’s the complexity there, which I enjoy? We can there’s obviously a lot more work than just the personal side, we can do so much on the business side as well. And I think it’s Yeah, there’s a massive, there’s a massive gap between what clients are getting, again, not to, not to say accounts are doing a great job, but there’s just a massive gap in what terms of account what accountants can give them, versus what they need, from that, from that business side, and that overlap between the personal in the business.

 

Fraser Jack 

Nice. Now, the dollar boss is, as you mentioned, for your, you know, employed professionals. They don’t don’t have those self employed complexities, is that sort of something that you sort of just have there and don’t necessarily market but that people, these people come along? Yeah. So

 

Ross Marais 

it’s, obviously there’s obviously still a massive, massive market for those those clients. And we do still work with work with a lot of them. And you’re happy to happy to continue working with those just because we can add so much value, but yeah, just not not as complex as the business owner. So probably a bit more of your traditional traditional client of doing cash flow, doing debt management, super insurance, putting in place investment plan, put in place in a state plan. And yeah, I guess why I like work with those is because it’s yet they’re my my target market is that they’re my generation as well. So it’s going through all the challenges that I’m going through of those conflicting goals of cyber house, having children getting married, maybe starting a business, maybe take time off work, having a career change, or those 10 to 12 major life events that almost most of us experience from the ages 25 to 35 that all have severe financial implications. If we get it right, it’s good. If we get it wrong, it’s pretty pretty dire as well. So yeah, a lot of a lot of value. And it’s something that I enjoy working with just mainly around the age of more than anything,

 

Fraser Jack 

and the mastery mastering your cash flow. You just doing the cash flow, tell us about that program, how you created it, put it together a price did and how you how you work with clients with

 

Ross Marais 

  1. Yeah, so that’s, that’s the big one that’s evolved over time. And yeah, it’s a it’s an interesting, interesting place to work in because I really enjoyed that side of things. I really enjoyed the cash flow. And it’s something that it’s modeled off. Steve Crawford’s cashflow cashflow program, so I did his I can’t remember the name of it now but I did his cash flow program a couple years ago and coach spending Yes, been in coach my spending coach. So it’s heavily modeled off of that back in that program. So that was really valuable going through that process. So it was always something that I was really interested in was the cashflow side because I could see that added so much value and realize that majority of people weren’t actually talking to their clients about that was our call you spend 60 grand Yeah, great, well write that down. And we’re going to base I on tire projections, all advice based on the fact that you told me you spent 60 grand a year. Now going through that process over the last couple of years. I know for a fact that no one has any idea how much money they spent, everyone’s got a reasonable Good idea, a reasonable idea of how much they earned because it’s what they earn. But we’ve got no idea of what we spent. So we use my prosperity for the for that program. And it’s probably something out of the three programs that we offer. It’s something that’s kind of falling away less and less just because it is so time consuming. And the what you need to charge for that needs to obviously justify the work that we do. So yeah, it’s something that, um, it’s there and still have a handful of clients that we do just that for. But probably out of the three, it’s probably the one that we do, unfortunately, do the less less amount of work in it just purely because it’s the scalability of it that it takes a lot of time to do it. Do it? Well. Yeah,

 

Fraser Jack 

it’s an interesting one, isn’t it? It’s the it, you’re absolutely right, it is hard to price it properly, and to be able to make it profitable, and also be so and keep it desirable for the client. But sort of, as you alluded to earlier, sometimes these are the clients that are going to be your future real boss clients.

 

Ross Marais 

Correct? Correct. And even with the real boss, or dollar boss clients, we’d might say, okay, for the first three months, we’ll obviously do the things we need to do that are urgent and fix those. But for the first three months, we’re gonna have a strong focus on the cash flow side of things to get that right, because it’s the biggest pain point I find for clients is understanding the cash flow, managing the cash flow, how they set up bank accounts, and obviously debt comes into the onto the into there as well. So yeah, it’s something I’m toying with at the moment of do I continue to offer that as a standalone offering? Or is it something that you could maybe look at, yeah, having maybe a group coaching or having a course or something around that offering? So trying to maybe use technology in there that it’s not so client focused? Not so sorry, client intensive, time intensive that people can do? A bit more DIY around that? So that’s something I’m toying with at the moment.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, that’s a really interesting point. I think there’s probably an opportunity there for some sort of group coaching, how much time does it take you to with each of those clients to sort of get them on track and into a new spending habit?

 

Ross Marais 

I’d say it’s at least at a minimum, minimum, three months. Some clients like the longest has probably taken us for a client as a full 12 months to get them to fully understand and change their habits. So yeah, with a minimum, we work with clients and there is three months anything less is just, I think, pointless, because it’s hard to change those habits in any less than three months. So minimum three months, ideally, we go for a full 12 months, but yeah, minimum 12 months, sorry, minimum, minimum three months. And that’s running, running through my prosperity. reconciling the bank accounts for them, giving them a cash flow report, each month with maybe a loom video to say, Hey, here’s what we did. Well, here’s where we’re falling behind. We need to watch out for this, having that quarterly check in meetings to make sure we stay on track. So

 

Fraser Jack 

and when you when you talk about Yes, interesting, isn’t it? Because 12 months would be a great group coaching plan. But how much time do you reckon would need to be? With like one on one actually, with the client? over that three month period? Is it like an hour a month? Or what? What do you thought?

 

Ross Marais 

Yeah. So we we break it up, if it’s a three month period, break it up into six, six sessions, so it might be in month one? It’s, it’s to probably 90 minute, 90 minute meetings? And then we’ll split those remaining four, four sessions over the next two months. So it’s Yes, every probably every two weeks, we were catching up and having an hour, hour at a 90 minute meeting, kind of face to face meeting. If for those clients that need that much intensity that’s probably allocate, and then there’s Yeah, the cash flow the reconciling and stuff in the backend that myself or or admin, help him with that, to reconcile that, and then spit out a report to give the client a sense of what’s happening. So yeah, we find that it’s an intense three months to kind of get them on, get them on track. And then after that, it’s it just maybe goes to maybe a monthly check in or a monthly a video call or loan videos want me to stay stay on track and kind of keep that accountability going.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, I think the accountability is the is the key then being the accountability, buddy, and a lot of teaching, and you know, this is the way you should be doing upfront, but then a lot of just accountability after that. Yeah, definitely. Fantastic. And tell us about the the future plans, any future plans for the business?

 

Ross Marais 

Yeah, so that’s, I guess that’s probably the area that I’m interested in is around how do we leverage technology and courses and things, it’s probably something I’m aiming towards, because at the moment, I’m pretty controlled, most advisors are getting to that point at right now in terms of the capacity and how many clients we can take on at one time. So I kind of see there, if it’s just going to be me as the sole advisor, which that’s my plan, at least for the next couple of years is just to be me and keep it nice and small and profitable. So there’s, I know there’s a limit to how many clients we can take on and service well, and I’m not trying to be the biggest take on hundreds of clients, probably I see that as maybe between 50 to 75 households has probably been at that, at that limit if we want to work with the clients we want to work with. And then so the way I kind of rationalize it is there’s the 100% of the people That we can work with, take the take the 20% that we were focused on whether those are the dollar boss or or the, the real boss clients take that 20% and work with them and they be our full time ongoing, full service financial service clients, financial advice clients. And then we’ve got this 80% of the rest of the market that I see that needs that cash flow advice that needs all this other stuff that we can definitely help with. But it’s once we’re at that capacity, then they can’t necessarily we can’t help them in that financial advice capacity. So that’s where I see potential of, of courses, cash flow courses, and something around that element. So obviously similar to what Victoria has done or what Glenn’s done with their their courses, that I think is really helpful that you can point those clients towards and say, Look, I can’t work with you as a financial advisor, because I’m either I’m full on my fees or x. And we just don’t think you can justify that right now. However, we have this this offering where it’s a DIY course, or there’s a coaching element to it that we can service and help that 80% of the market that that I know needs advice, and I’m passionate to give advice to, but I just can’t do do that for everyone. And that’s probably a lesson I’ve learned, taking probably a little bit longer to learn than it should have was that even though I know I can help everyone, and I want to help everyone I just can’t from from a business perspective. And that was that’s a tough, pretty tough pill to swallow when when you know you can help them. You can add so much value to them. But you just can’t do it for every single person that knocks on your door, which is again, it’s a good it’s a good it’s a good problem to have that you’ve got more people knocking on the door then last but it’s Yeah, it’s a hard one to swallow.

 

Fraser Jack 

It is a hard one to swallow when we’re all we’re all sort of got that desire to help people Now you mentioned Victoria and Glen, of course you’ve you’ve had a podcast for about two or nearly four years now started off as the the Young Money podcast but and then sort of changed or you move off the name to them more than money podcast. Tell us about. Tell us about that.

 

Ross Marais 

Yeah, so that’s something I really enjoy. And even though I’ve been doing for four years, it hasn’t been hasn’t been a consistent for years. So I’ll be the first to put my hand up and say it could have done a better job in that. But yeah, it’s something that I started a while ago, I was doing some work with bas Ganon social advisor. And yeah, that will kind of push me across, push me across the line to jump in and start doing a lot more around around that a lot more on socials. So that’s something I really, really enjoy doing that. So I’ve got a focus of kind of one episode is more of the financial education side. So talking about debt, debt reduction, or cash flow or super investments. And then the other part is interviewing people, my either do it selfishly, that’s something I want some, someone I want to know more about, I’ll reach out to them and interview them. But it’s always someone that’s doing something a little bit differently. So a strange job or had like a couple of social media influences on there that are travel influencers, travel bloggers that are doing something kind of outside of the norm, that are living life a little bit differently. And the reason I do that is because what we get to see as advisors, we get to see a broad spectrum of, of people doing well, people not doing well, people in lots of jobs, people in lots of industries, whereas I find that if you only are friends with lawyers, you only work as a lawyer, and that’s all you do nine to five, seven days a week, you only know lawyers, then it’s hard to see what other people are doing.

 

Fraser Jack 

I also think that it’s a good idea working with influencers, big influences, because they will be able to, you’ll be able to help them and then they’ll be able to help many, many other people, not necessarily with the influencer thing. But be able to know what know what you’re talking about and understand some of the concept specially with cash flow.

 

Ross Marais 

Oh, 100% it’s yet I think it’s a massive, a massive area. And as more and more people become working in that space of they’re running, they’re running a business that’s that’s what they’re doing, even though people see it as Oh, they’re just social media influencers, or they’re just that are just this, like they’re running a business, and a lot of them are running very, very profitable businesses. So yeah, it’s a very interesting space. And yeah, I guess that’s, that’s the focus of showing people what else is out there. Because we’re trying to share this, I look, this people, this person that had their job, they quit their job, they sucked for 12 months, but then look what they’ve been able to do. And this is what they did. And it was a passionate project project at the beginning of the hobby, but that turned into a business so or I’ve had a couple on there that they’ve been traveling the world petsitting for the past five years, they haven’t paid rent for five years. And they’ve just been petsitting all around the world obviously in the last 18 months being less and less but so it’s like getting people on like that, that just how do you it’s all money focused. And I guess that’s what I changed it to more than money that it’s has the money element, of course, but there’s a lot more to it. And we know that there’s a big intersection between life and money that overlap. So yeah, it’s something I really enjoy, and it’s probably going to be a lot more focused around that going forward is to how to do that more consistently and get more people on because it’s Yeah, I really, really enjoy it.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, then Test the end, and I guess your existing clients but also enjoyed or you probably picked up a few new clients from it,

 

Ross Marais 

yes, and a couple of new clients. So when I started, my goal was, I don’t expect, I don’t necessarily want to get any clients from this, it’s not gonna, it’s not trying to be a push of saying come work with me, it was more so just to educate people and, and trying to spread the word. And then I’ve realized kind of, in the last six months or so that the work I was doing, even though it hasn’t been super consistent, it’s been enough to kind of spread that awareness of someone’s like, Oh, I thought you do something with money. And then I saw you on the podcast, or sorry, had this or listen to that podcast with x, y, Zed person. So just creating that brand awareness, because we know as advisors that no one actually knows what we do, unless they’re a client. So it’s just trying to give them a little bit of an insight and say, Hey, there are people like me that can help you with these things, and talk to you about these things. So yeah, it’s been It has been a good Avenue. But that definitely wasn’t the focus from from day one was wasn’t a marketing thing to grow the business from day one. It’s slowly coming out, I guess.

 

Fraser Jack 

Fantastic. Now tell us about the logistics of your business. Are you working from home? If you got office, and you are you location independent, if you will, online meetings.

 

Ross Marais 

So we we probably take took a different approach to most where we started with an office, a physical office, that our own our own office, to one office, one boardroom, a reception area, everything that I guess if you looked at it right now sound stupid, but at the time, we didn’t have a capacity to work from home. So we started with an office, and I always had the goal of trying to be location independent. I’ve got a big passion for travel. So that was always my thing of how can we set this business up to allow me to travel and continue to run the business. So we started with an office, we had office for two years, then we moved to a co working space. So then had a co working space, shared boardroom, all that kind of thing, which worked really well. And then the the plan was to say, How can we get this to be 100% location independent, because I wanted to be able to travel and continue to run the business. So that was the goal. And I did a trial in 2020, January 2020. My partner, she just quit her job. And she was working online as well. So we did a trial in Bali for one month of working, working over there. And the goal was that we were going to travel for for one month, work remotely, come back for two months work normal work, travel again. And that was our game plan for 2020. So where did everything up, she’d quit a job she was working with that was the plan. And then obviously, January rolled around, and then COVID hit. So that put a big stop to the the travel plans. But it was good in a sense, because that was the plan of us to do that. So it forced us to that was the trial run in Bali. But then we came back and move out of the share space and spent the next 12 months working just purely at home to test the theory kind of we had to sort of not so much on the Gold Coast here. But that tested the theory of 12 months of being able to work from home, set the business up to be able to be 100% remote. And then in I think in April this year, I went back to having a co working space on a hybrid hybrid between co working space three, three days a week see clients, and then at home two days a week, but I’d say 80% of the meetings at the moment are online meetings. Yeah, nice.

 

Fraser Jack 

Now I think that the CO working space can work quite well if you’re, if you’re ducking in and out. But you can change that from time to time to you can still travel for a month and then come back and work in a co working space and jumping in element.

 

Ross Marais 

Yeah, correct. And that’s why I think it was the the good part of COVID. If there are some good things, it forced us to go online, which we had tended to and with those clients as well that previously if I told them I want to have an online meeting with them, they said no, I need to see you in person versus when it was COVID was like we have to have an online meeting. Okay, yeah, I did my with my accountant. Last week, I did one my grandson in Sydney two weeks ago. So yeah, I’m more than happy to jump on zoom. That’s great. And then the the benefit of that was, oh, How good was that? I didn’t have to drive and had to find parking. It was so much easier, so much more beneficial. Can we do an online meeting next time? So that was Yeah, that was a good a good outcome from from COVID

 

Fraser Jack 

Do you find that clients have ever now like I guess we used to hold on to this thing where you had this not at this office and then people would rely on the office being always being there. But now obviously with if you’re in CO working space or you’re chopping and changing, do you feel like now that will maybe with your demographic of clients that don’t really care? Yeah, I

 

Ross Marais 

don’t think they care. There’s still this little bit of that initial initial meeting, whether it’s, you meet them in person or if you’ve haven’t met anyone and I have quite a few clients. I’ve never actually met in person. But I still think there’s that little bit of a funny thing of a little bit of a barrier of talking to about someone about money and being never meeting them face to face. So whether that’s for a coffee or for an actual meeting in an office, I still think there’s that little element of it. It’s definitely reduced significantly. But yeah, I think that most people especially in the last 18 months, I’ve just come to the fact that working from home and not having a physical offices is acceptable whereas previously it wasn’t it was your financial planner that work from home, I don’t trust you even more that I don’t trust you as a financial advisor. So

 

Fraser Jack 

it always comes back to that level of trust, doesn’t it? I think to be fair, you building a lot of trust with all of the online content you’ve produced in your length of time you’ve been there, all those sorts of things. So hey, Ross, thanks for catching up. We probably leave it there. If somebody wants to continue the conversation with you though. What’s the best way for them to get hold of you?

 

Ross Marais 

Yeah, if they want to find me on Instagram, shoot me a message there. I probably not on x, y as much as I should be just purely from from buisiness. But I do like to jump on there just because there’s so much good value and content on the x y platform. So yeah, be sure to message me on there. Otherwise, yeah, follow me on Instagram and chat to me through there, but more than happy to jump on a call if anyone wants to chat further.

 

Fraser Jack 

Fantastic. Really appreciate coming on Ross and sharing your journey.

 

Ross Marais 

Awesome. Thanks Fraser. Appreciate it.

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