November 4, 2021

#265 Natallia Smith – Transcript

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Fraser Jack
Welcome back to the xy advisor Podcast. I’m Fraser Jack and today I’m joined by Natalia Smith. Welcome.

Natallia Smith
Hi, Fraser, lovely to be here on your podcast.

Fraser Jack
Thank you for joining me today. Now, let’s give the listeners a very quick overview of you and your business at the moment.

Natallia Smith
TruWealth Advice, it’s my business. It’s a boutique financial advice practice. We started back in 2010, in Melbourne, and we specialize in helping single women achieve a better life.

Fraser Jack
Well, fantastic. Well said. And you definitely know who you look after which we’ll come back to. But before we go there, tell us tell us about your journey, whether that start for you and tell us tell us about coming to Australia.

Natallia Smith
Yes, 2001 I arrived as a graduate. My majors were languages and psychology. So kind of didn’t come from a traditional finance or accounting background. And at that time, as a 2122 year old, just completely not knowing what to do how to survive in a foreign country didn’t speak any language that I kind of had to go and just door knock and really try to get a job and then try to understand how to actually manage my own cash flow. So financial planning, that was really my eye opener, and it saves me, I suppose from a lot of fun troubles. Yes.

Fraser Jack
Yeah. I think about languages and psychology, obviously. Amazing. But what things that we deal with all around the world, it’s global. You had to learn English, but also the psychology side. Let’s go back to your university days, and where you’re from. Start, let’s start back there.

Natallia Smith
Yeah, sure. I’m from Bella roots, which is a small, very small country in Eastern Europe. It used to be part of the Soviet Union. So I was born there. And I left when I was 21.

Fraser Jack
Wow. And so you went to? You went to uni? There? That’s right.

Natallia Smith
Yes. And I did double degree. And my degrees were English and German. That was sort of one part of it. And the second part was psychology.

Fraser Jack
Yeah, interesting. Never No, amazing part of this whole conversation is that these even though, you know, you might think at the time you weren’t studying financial planning, having conversations with clients and understanding their their language and understanding the psychology behind, you know, the habits and beliefs, I think is a massive part of what you do today.

Natallia Smith
Absolutely. And I think that’s partially why I decided to go into financial planning, because it was such a great combination. And I’m really, I’m always curious about how people think and how we make our decisions when it comes to money. And yet, so that’s just, it’s really nice combination.

Fraser Jack
Yep. So tell me about your journey. You came here when you’re 21? Then what did you do?

Natallia Smith
I just I was trying to get a job. So, you know, is a 21 year old, you just kind of get any job that you can, you know, get and and then a friend of mine was talking about financial planning and how it was quite a popular at that time was a quite a new industry. And I thought all we know all yes, it’s a great opportunity to learn about money management, and also to, you know, to get started, so I found a small boutique financial planning firm, joined as an assistant, and they told me that I need to do my diploma in financial planning. So I got that, but at the same time, sort of realizing that my degree in psychology and language is not really a degree in Australia. So I went back to uni, and I did Masters in Business banking, finance at Monash. And that kind of gave me a broad, I guess, education, on, you know, around finances and business, which was great. So and then I’ve done my Advanced Diploma in financial planning, joined another practice. And that’s kind of how my career started

Fraser Jack
in you started as a client services manager, and then sort of worked your way into paraplanning wrote, talk to me about that.

Natallia Smith
Yeah, so I started with a smaller practice. And then AIPAC, at that time was quite a great business. So that’s when I get sort of had more experience with a larger organization. paraplanning and also another smaller financial planning practice really, different types of clients, different types of businesses. And eventually, in 2006, I think I saw an ad and it was ing financial planning. That’s when they decided to have a brand new division. And that was a brand new ein financial planning arm of their business and they were recruiting fresh people just out of uni or people that have never been financial advisors. And that was a great opportunity. And I I was lucky. Shaun Dunn was my manager at that time, and I was lucky to get recruited and started as a financial advisor.

Fraser Jack
thought now, I’ll go back to the AIPAC conversation for those people who don’t know, AIPAC, I’ve actually actually had a very good process that they put in place, which was really around the, I think one of the original client centric, putting the client first you know, that I asked them their, their information, their details, at the end of the conversation, not at the beginning. Talk to us about how that worked with what you’d learned in your psychology degree and help beneficial that part of your your journey was, yeah,

Natallia Smith
so it was a great place. And I think what I’ve learned from that place is that you really look at as an advisor, you can either choose to be a finder, which is a person who’s you know, your traditional sales advisor, attract new class customers, and you take them, you onboard them, sort of show them what you can do for them, and how to take them from that goals based advise approach on their journey. And then you introduce the minder, who is another Advisor that works in your business, and they look after you as a client on from an ongoing point of view. And that was a really good separation, and it allowed both advisors to do their job really well.

Fraser Jack
Yeah, many small businesses you are the both the founder and the mind are obviously and you have to be able to play both those roles in many ways. But as I mentioned, they with my Apex point of view, they had the to, you then went to ing where you essentially you the minder, or how did that work?

Natallia Smith
So ing financial planning, because it was a completely brand new business. That’s when I got my financial planning training, so to speak from more of a, I guess, institutional point of view, you do really learn a lot. And in a way, it was a great program, they sort of training because they have only recruited new financial planners. So they’ve trained us, it was probably one of the how many months of training, but it was just like a tizzy and absolutely amazing program training programs. It was fantastic. And at that time, they did obviously have their own products. So was ing insurances, ing superannuation and investments. And that’s how, you know, we were their distribution arm.

Fraser Jack
Yep. And so then, so then we’re good to go after, after ing.

Natallia Smith
And after ing my one of my colleagues from ing here got recruited to work at Macquarie private wealth in Sydney. And he mentioned to me that Melbourne office, they were looking for financial advisors. So I got in touch with my manager at that time, Doug Webber. And so a few of us were recruited. And in that here, they were also financial planners, and joined the existing team, which was Macquarie private wealth team.

Fraser Jack
And what was it? What did it mean for the clients that you were looking after? Or the type of clients you’re looking after? Was it a different demographic?

Natallia Smith
Absolutely, it was a very different business, different demographic types of clients, your idea was more of mums and dads and sort of really, you know, there was a lot of insurances. And that’s why I’ve learned the insurance side of the business, but also superannuation technical, it was really good. From a technical point of view, he didn’t really learn all the strategy side of things. And Macquarie was very investment focused. It was private wealth, who was dealing with high net worth individuals and really different style of clients.

Fraser Jack
And then it was from there that you decided to start your own business.

Natallia Smith
That’s right in 2010. Yes.

Fraser Jack
Tell us about that moment when you decided that you want to start your own.

Natallia Smith
Well, at that time, there were some bigger businesses, smaller businesses, but I felt only boutique businesses could have a client centric, I guess, focus where you are truly independent, could be truly independent. I mean, back in 2010, nobody probably was truly independent. But you know, you were closer to a situation where he had a number of different products and strategies, and you know, anything that, you know, if you’re a holistic advisor, that’s where you want to be. So and that’s kind of that was my decision to really join an existing group that we were, we shared our license, so it was one financial services license that we were all under, but we still had, but we had our own businesses, so was more of a car under there for sale approach, corporate authorized representative, and that was great because it gave me this opportunity to actually have a holistic type of a business where I looked after clients cash flow, and also you know, help them with their risk and insurances, and also debt management, superannuation looking at all of those financial planning areas that I I learned prior in my education and in my and had experience with I just felt like I just so wanted to help people from that point of view.

Fraser Jack
Yep. I’m just gonna jump around a little bit here. I want to go back a little bit to your McCrory days. You were there sort of around the the GFC time?

Natallia Smith
Absolutely. I joined in September and October, I think was when the GFC actually hit.

Fraser Jack
Right. So. So you started in a in a private wealth business where people are probably fairly heavily invested in the markets, you’re then you’ve joined that you’ve I’m imagining, you’ve been given a certain amount of clients to look after GFC is hit, people are hitting the phones, tell me about that moment?

Natallia Smith
Well, actually going back to the clientele, the model at that time, was that you bring your own clients. So it was a very interesting model. And I guess that’s where I think so it’s just, it was very interesting. It was very, I guess, you learn a lot, you learn a lot, and you just learn as you go, you don’t really have a manual, how to actually be part of their team. And I suppose and I was an outlier. From that point of view, and and now we’ll talk about diversity. And now we’re talking about obviously having women in that, you know, sitting around the table, but it was a very different environment. And I suppose that’s where, you know, you’re faced with so many challenges, and you just have to survive,

Fraser Jack
you know, yeah, a lot of challenges on imagine you’re you’ve come in there. It’s a fairly upbeat investment environment, where you haven’t just speak to clients about their losses, or where they was that there. Yeah, so

Natallia Smith
I guess when I joined Macquarie, against the GFC, was sort of happening, like, that’s just, it wasn’t really just a one off month or two months, it was going on for a long period of time. So really, it did help in the way to start a conversation, because a lot of my clients were amongst all of that sort of, I guess, turmoil. And that really helped me too, to get clients, because that was happening, just the timing was perfect, in a way. But at the same time, obviously, there was a lot of panic, there was a lot of fear. And that’s where I guess the psychology came into place. Because I did realize that, you know, it’s much more than just investing or, you know, we’ve got so many different biases were driven by greed and fear. And that’s how you start those conversations with clients, you really show them, you know, you help them to understand what drives their decisions.

Fraser Jack
Yeah, this is really interesting. So you you, you know, fell back on that what you’ve learned previously with, with your psychology, psychology degree, that, that that moment where you’re going through that, and you’re leaning into those difficult conversations with clients, what sort of tips or resilience tips around that? Could you sort of give the listeners around what you’ve learned from that time?

Natallia Smith
Well, I guess nothing is permanent, we know that there will be the next day. And it’s just one step at a time that we need to take to one small change accumulated will make a huge change and difference in the future. I guess from a client management, emotional management point of view, again, it’s really it helps to, to be humble, it helps to communicate and to open up discussions. And listen, I think, with any clients when it comes to listening, when you show empathy, and when you show that it is, you know, let’s just not get emotional about it. But at the same time you understand what drives their behavior, what emotions they’re going through, and how we can actually work together without making those mistakes. It’s not just about, okay, let’s just sell your stocks because then I’ll make a commission or brokerage. So that’s where I think the longer term relationship, that’s when it comes into play. And you know, you do learn that, you know, you’re here for the longer term. So you do make those relationships work for you.

Fraser Jack
Yeah, definitely an interesting time as you put it. But if we go back to now, the when you’re starting your own business, you found a group that everybody ran their own businesses under under a single or a joint license. That’s right.

Natallia Smith
Yeah. So it was called ESSA plan. And we all shared resources, we had some support. license, and yeah, so it was a gray sort of farm. For me, that was the first introduction to actually having your own financial services license. And yeah, so it just, and I think that kind of gave me that a probably opportunity to then obtain my own license and know that you know, it is possible. It’s not as scary as others think it is.

Fraser Jack
Yeah, yeah, exactly. Now, we’re the Masters in in business, banking and finance. Tell me about putting your business plan together to start your own business.

Natallia Smith
Yeah, well, I’m a believer in getting professional advice myself. So I do, obviously engage mentors and business coaches throughout my business career, I’ve had a lot of different people helping me. And I think that’s something that are always recommend is to really seek professional advice and engage the best. Yep. And so

Fraser Jack
you had somebody help you put a plan together and kick off the business?

Natallia Smith
Yeah, absolutely. So I had a lot of peers that have gone by themselves there, they’ve had their own businesses. And they, I guess that was a really good starting point where I listened I, I just learned from their mistakes. And yeah, so put together a plan. And I guess, with a financial planning practice, it is you either have a situation where it’s just you, and you’re more of a consultant, you’re more of a, you know, it’s you. Or you do follow the path of actually having a business, you’ve got staff and sort of, it’s a different style, I suppose, of business. So at that time, so I joined as a plan in 2010, I got married, I started the business, I had my first child, I bought a house, and it was like, wow, in two years, all of that, it was just a lot. So at that point, I kind of had to realize, am I going to have a lifestyle business where you know, you do look after a small amount of clients, and it’s very high touch, it’s very sort of unique in the way and you don’t really have too many staff to manage? Or do you grow your business and sort of work 80 hours a week, and I’ve seen both businesses have sort of have examples of friends doing both. And at that time, in having two kids, I sort of decided, you know, the first option is me. And that’s what I’ve done since then.

Fraser Jack
Well, amazing. So that you’re absolutely right, this sort of you you do one or the other, you don’t sort of sit in the middle and try and work out if you’re doing both, because I think that’s sort of a messy place to be. So you started your business. Was that what did you call a true wealth at the time?

Natallia Smith
No. So it was a supplier advisory? Because we’re all part of that license? Yeah. And so we branded probably four years ago.

Fraser Jack
Yep. pentose. And so with, with the, with the group, how many how many other advisors in the group,

Natallia Smith
we had seven advisors, and you know, sort of plus minus some, some advisors left some advisors came on board, it was a good enough size, it was a it was really, it was working at that time. But like with any business, you get to a situation where, you know, you sort of you come to a conclusion, maybe there’s something that needs to be done to change.

Fraser Jack
Yep. And so from that, from just a pure licensing point of view, were you on when did you become an responsible manager of that license at the time? No. And so you’re a part of that license, but then you you become a self license later on?

Natallia Smith
That’s right. Yes. In 2017, I think I obtained my own FSL. That’s right.

Fraser Jack
Wonderful. So talk to me about starting your own business, did you understand and know exactly who your niche client was at the time?

Natallia Smith
When you just start, I guess you just talk to people about what you’re doing. And a lot of my first clients were my friends family. Well, I guess I don’t really have any family here. So my husband’s family, and he just be you just talk and you just have millions of coffees, and you just because you’re so excited, and you know, people feel it, they, they want to help you, and they do so I guess trust is one of those things that you know, if they trust you, they, you know, that they’d like to to help you. And that has started. Yeah,

Fraser Jack
yeah. So started with just a few and slowly have grown over over the years. You’ve never been one that wanted a you know, 1000s of clients. It was about providing holistic boutique, planning advice, as you mentioned before, things like cash flow, and, you know, really understanding their debt and risk and those sorts of things. How did you? How did you decide that that was what you wanted to provide?

Natallia Smith
And I guess the biggest part, what I enjoy about being in the business is my relationships with clients. And I do like to help them, not just simplify their lives, improve their life, but also transform. So do you have a lot of clients that go through a lot of complexities, and something else that I did in 2007? Around the time when I had my own license, I did Jim stack Paul’s program, cultivating financial advice, I think it’s called or certainty financial advice. And part of that program was all about value based pricing. So that was a really good starting point, in terms of understanding how to price and how to work with your clients and add that value. Because it’s not about you know, the very beginning of my business It was all about how much farm you’ve got. And you know, you charge a percentage of that farm and you generate and the more clients you have, the more farm you’ve got, the more money you’ve got in the bank, so is a revenue. So I guess that’s just a very different approach. And I think particularly now, it just really worked for me. So now I’ve got a very different structure, pricing structure, we do have a, you know, a calculator that provide us with that kind of really looks at what value we’re going to add to our clients. It’s not about how much money they’ve got, or you know how much insurance Commission’s we’re going to get from them. So that is a fantastic way of actually knowing that, what you how you price your devices based on the value you deliver to your clients, and they stay with you for that particular purpose. Because they see that value.

Fraser Jack
Wonderful. So the you really are looking at clients that are facing in or leaning into the complexities. And if I go back to the Find a minder type conversations, are you generally finding more clients? Or are you minding?

Natallia Smith
In my business? I have a team. So it’s me as the mind finder, I suppose we do have an associate advisor. So she’s more of a minder. And then we also have an administration person who does all the admin software, updates, all of that stuff. And also, we have contractor paraplanners.

Fraser Jack
Wonderful. So the business itself now has grown to the point where it’s you plus another AR?

Natallia Smith
Yes, will be actually just in process of actually getting that sorted.

Fraser Jack
Excellent. So another another person who’s going to be the AR, and admin assistant. That’s right. Tremendous. And so, so talk to me a bit more about what you learned with those values based pricing, how that’s a different mindset to understanding their funding, and the management and how you then go about calculating if you want to take on a new client today, sort of what’s the process you’d run through? Yeah, so

Natallia Smith
we would look at their current needs, what they need to have, but also what they want to have, because those two are very different, sometimes will think they need one thing, but actually, in the one something else. So we’re really trying to understand where they’re at financially, we’re trying to understand how much value we can add them, because there could be clients that we see, they come to us, and they just sort of, they’ve got really different needs to what we can give them. So for example, we don’t just do superannuation advice, or just insurance advice. We really look at their complexity, for example, one of our typical clients is there might be a couple currently, and so the husband has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. He has been a, you know, he’s a very successful executive, his wife is in a situation that obviously goes through quite a lot of emotional strain. And so they they would like to ask to help them transition, in particular with, with our female client to a place where she knows she’s in control of her financial situation, she knows that she feels safe and secure, she’s got enough money for her and for her children to last them throughout their lives, they know that they’ve got everything, all the fundamentals in place to position for a better future. So it is quite a lot, because you’re dealing with obviously, a transformation that transition from one situation to another. And there’s a lot of uncertainty, because we don’t know when that is going to happen. But we know it is it will happen at some point. So you’re dealing with a lot of obviously emotions, and also, it’s just yet so that’s where but I feel the reward what we actually receive as advisors, when we work with those clients. And the end, when we sort of finish our, I guess, the transformation, the reward, we get the the amount of you know, what clients actually receive from all of that work is so significant. And so that’s what provides us with that extra kind of, I suppose happiness as a as a business because we actually feel like we add value to clients and we help them to go through major life events.

Fraser Jack
So if I try and simple simplify this down that understanding of you know where they are emotionally right now, and I guess this comes back to your, you’re telling me you’re the you’ve done the psych psychology degree, if I if I think about this as from a place a you, your clients, when they come in a very uncertain, unsure, they’re maybe a bit stressed, they’ve got some fear. And you’re really looking at trying to find all these things that are not just their, you know, structural portfolio type things or you know, financial strategy things, demonstrating that understanding of whether I’ve turned now and then looking at what the opposite might be for that, like, you know, from some answered from certainty, uncertainty to certainty. Yeah, And then your pricing based on that.

Natallia Smith
So correct. So you do, obviously look at and we do have a 12 monthly engagement. So you do look at what are you going to do over the next 12 months with its clients, you look at how many meetings, I guess that’s one of the trickiest part of our profession is that currently we have to price we have to disclose our price upfront. So it is difficult sometimes to understand how much actually it will cost you to serve this client. So and what we do with our technology software, we do have in place where I do review all of our pricing and clients and cost, how much we’ve charged the client and what it actually costs us to serve the client. So we do look at that, and sort of try to improve it and you know, always sort of be closer to the actual cost plus profit situation. But he so at the very start, we do have our processes, we do have a phone call, we’ve got a discovery session during the discovery session, we ask a lot of questions, and then we’ll proceed to the engagement meeting. And during our engagement meeting, we show our clients the path, what we’re going to do for them how we’re going to do it, and also the outcomes that they could expect, and we disclose our pricing. So it is, but at the same time, our pricing could be a range. So it’s not a an x, it’s it could be you know, sort of 10 to 20% range, just because sometimes it takes us more time or more, I guess resources to actually complete our 12 monthly project. And it might cost more so clients are aware of that they’re understand that, but it just helps us to kind of have that a bit of room. If we need to charge more.

Fraser Jack
I really I’m quite enjoying the word 12 month project. Project management is often what a lot of, you know, executives might understand, for example, running a project and it needs to be managed all the way through phone call, I’m assuming a quick 1520 minute phone call just to say who we are. And I want to get to some other stuff that you’re doing with regards to So social media and branding later. But tell me about the discovery meeting. How long does that go for? And what are you getting into?

Natallia Smith
Yeah, so we, it usually goes for an hour, an hour and a half. And it is a meeting where we do ask a lot of questions, I guess probably very traditional financial planning meeting, you know, we do talk about how clients balance sheet, you know, you’ve got income, expenses, assets, liabilities, but then you also talk about their goals, their aspirations, their complexities. And we do delve into that quite a lot, we try to understand not just their complexities, for example, a health issue, or, you know, an upcoming operation, we do talk about potentially, you know, their relationships with their family members, if it’s a an estranged relationship, you know, all of those kind of little things that could potentially at some point, have an impact on their life. For example, one of our clients had to retire five years earlier, because her parents refused to go to nursing home. So she had to look after them, you know, all of those things. So we do try to understand as much as possible about people in their discovery meeting. And at the same time, their level of understanding of the markets level of understanding whether they’ve done any investing in the past, whether they’ve got any insurances wills, you know, it’s such a broad spectrum, because we are such a holistic firm, it is a very broad spectrum of questions that we go through cash flow are there spenders, are they you know, all of those kind of discussions, and it’s quite a lot to actually pack it all in, in, you know, in the 60 minute or 90 minutes session. But it is very, we control the meeting. That’s another thing I have learned throughout my career, I guess, you have to control the meeting, because people love talking. And they can go go off the tangent. So you try to bring them back into the actual what’s what we need to know about them. And that will help us to then provide them with a, you know, right framework and pricing.

Fraser Jack
So much so much to unpack inside this discovery meeting. The controlling the meeting is a very, very important part. So many different impacts, like I said, on a client’s life. A couple of quick questions. One is do you charge for that meeting? And and secondly, what percentage of that meeting is factual? You know, this is how much money I’ve got my super and how much is emotional.

Natallia Smith
Okay, so the next the second question, look, it is in terms of their financial situation, it is probably only 5% of their time, because it’s very straightforward. We do. I guess, look, sometimes it will have more complex, I guess financial, and sometimes they don’t really know what they’ve got, even if they’re very sophisticated people. So it’s just it’s interesting how sometimes it really just really depends on the person nullity type as well. So but we know that we can get the financial information from somewhere else, we also would we do actually, prior to our discovery meeting, we do have a type form questionnaire that they receive. And that questionnaire really, it does have a lot of non financial questions. For example, what is your best decision you’ve made in your life? What is your worst decision? All of those kind of really? personality type questions? And yeah, so we know with that we can get the financial side of things afterwards. So it’s not really it’s sometimes clients email it to us prior to the meeting, too. But we we are very much focused on non financial side of things in that first discovery meeting. So what we do, because currently what’s been happening, and we will talk about it in a minute, but we are getting quite a lot of inquiries. And it’s been I don’t know why, maybe it’s because of COVID on something else, but we are, we’re getting probably two to three inquiries a day. So because of that. We we started charging for our discovery meetings. It’s just because obviously, yeah. But again, look, it just something we’re going through currently, and is a surprising, it’s number one, you know, topic always that comes up, you know, conversations between ourselves in the team. So that’s really, you know, important to get right.

Fraser Jack
I think, I think a lot of advisors are charging for that discovery session now. And it kind of even though you’re not practicing, there was a bit of therapy involved in and in that, certainly, or knowing what are those goals and hopes and dreams and aspirations and being able to dig deep and then allow clients to be able to see that or have that experience? Does add value to them? Even if even if they don’t proceed? Do you also charge for the next part of the meeting the engagement meeting? Or is that something that you absorb the cost of?

Natallia Smith
Now we don’t charge for those? No. So it’s something that we guess bears a cost? And look, it is, again, it’s just one of those questions, we’ll always talk about it. I mean, the goal is to obviously help as many people as possible, but sometimes it’s just not really, you know, we’ve got a few pro bono clients. And it’s extremely hard, particularly now now we that we have to charge for what we do. And the cost of advice has gone up significantly. It is yes, one of the trickiest parts. Yeah.

Fraser Jack
There are now so tell me through Tommy, through that engagement meeting process, you’re obviously saying, this is where you’re at? These are the things that we can help you solve. These are the problems, I guess, that we can help you solve. And I guess a lot of them are emotional, as well as financial better position talked us through that meeting, how long does it go for, and obviously, you’re presenting your your costs during that meeting.

Natallia Smith
That’s right. So the engagement meeting has three parts, we’ve got a first part is our clients advice map. So we show them and currently all of our meetings are on Zoom. So we do share our presentation. So they see their financial path or financial map on on their screen. And it is, you know, we do talk about the financial side of things, but also aspirations, you know, goals, complexities, that’s what forms and any, any other matters that are relevant in their situation. It is a bit of a clarity, kind of a balance sheet, because most people don’t really see it in their life that way. So they know what’s going on. Sometimes they don’t know. But when you actually said on the screen on one page, and it’s all your financial map, like your financial life, it is quite eye opening. And they’ve really, like even net worth, you know, that’s that’s just something that most people don’t even understand that that’s the concept, you know. So that’s, that’s really good. So that’s the first part. The second part is our advice path. So this is our process, we really show them the framework, this is what we’re going to do for you our financial planning strategies that we’re going to work with and what we’re going to do for you how we’re going to do it. And the outcomes is very important that we always focus on the outcomes, what the clients are going to achieve at the end of our work together. So that’s an we were very focused on a 12 months project. Yes. So they’ve got that, again, clarity around our processes, how we do it. So it gives them that comfort. And, you know, I suppose they understand what’s involved in financial planning. So it is quite important because it’s a holistic approach as well. And so and then we finish off with our letter of engagement that outlines everything we’ve discussed. It has a summary of What we’ve discussed, and also our pricing, this is

Fraser Jack
a really interesting topic on pricing. Because this is a good process, you know, visualize, show them the visual of the map, where they’re going to be the pathway and the outcomes that they want to achieve, which is, you know, obviously that the benefits or the, you know, the the end game, focusing on the end game, focusing on the end in mind. And then the letter of engagement, which goes through the fees, do you find you have to explain people through that fee process? Or what’s the conversation like when you get to the professional costs?

Natallia Smith
Yeah, so I guess they are always say that we are fee for service, we don’t charge you based on how much money of God we charge you based on the complexity of your situation and what we’re going to do for you, and it is, that’s the fee, and it is, in most cases, people? Look, it really depends. It depends if they’ve been advised previously, or if they’ve never had any financial advice. So you’ve got this anchoring situation where if they’ve only engaged an accountant in the past and have never had any professional advice, or anyone helping them in the past, their expectations of how much it costs will be much lower than somebody who’s been through the process, the no head works. So that’s the against. So we kind of really try to understand where they’re at on their journey. But yeah, so that’s we don’t negotiate, we just say this is our fee. And we live it with them to decide what they want to do.

Fraser Jack
Yeah, this is our fee. And then and then silence, which is, which is a standard, you know, idea of you know, don’t keep talking about it, just say this is our fee, we don’t like I think it’s really good. Also, that you, you mentioned that you don’t back down, you don’t sort of say Oh, but we can give you a discount, or we can do these sorts of things. It’s just it’s

Natallia Smith
yeah, it’s very tempting. Because, you know, you just so so want to help people. And and I do have a lot of women that they’re just not in a position to, to have any Oh, look, it’s just yeah, it’s

Fraser Jack
really, this is a really hard part about the job, you know, as a financial advisor, most financial advisors I know, are in it, because they love to help people. And sometimes sometimes you have to be able to walk away, unable to help or not, not helping.

Natallia Smith
Yes. And I hope this is something that I’ve been trying to, I guess what I’m working on, how do we bridge that gap? How do we actually have a solution there for those women or anyone who, you know, is unable to pay the fee, but at the same time, they’re still getting educated? They’re still getting all that information that they need to to move to the next step?

Fraser Jack
Yeah. Yeah, certainly a tough one in the current environment, but they’re tight. They’re tight, they can be solved in the future. Talk to me about some of the older scope. Let’s go back to your target market. You mentioning women? Tell us tell us about the the target market for you.

Natallia Smith
Yeah, so it’s my ideal client. My avatar is 55 year old, single woman widowed or divorced. And just just single professionals, we don’t have one particular sector, we don’t work just with medicos, or just with lawyers. No, it’s all about can we add value to their life? Can we improve their life and take them to the next level? And I think 55 is 50 to 55. It is a great age, because that’s when we start thinking about our retirement. That’s when we start thinking about what have we done? What have we achieved and what’s next. So particularly, it is a single woman, and most of them have very different, I guess, situations, but at the same time, they all have that kind of need to get proper advice. And to YES to just to know that what they’re doing is right. And that’s what I hear every time I have a conversation with a new prospect. I don’t know if what I’m doing is right. I’d like someone to tell me. And that’s what we do. That’s

Fraser Jack
really interesting. Due to fit, you know, 5055 year old single women who have been divorced or widowed have specific issues that I wouldn’t even be thinking about.

Natallia Smith
I have a lot of questions, that’s for sure. And I get a lot of yeah, a lot of issues. Absolutely. And they could be different. They’re dealing with potential there. They’re like a sandwich generation, they’ve got your children you’re dealing with but also you’ve got your elderly parents you’re dealing with, you’re dealing with a lot of stress round. What do you do? How do you actually retire? If you come from, you know, a divorce situation, they just, they just scared. They just because for example, you know, again, it’s very common case where traditionally women outsource all of the financial matters to their husbands. And so when the relationship breaks down, they realize that they there is a huge gap in their knowledge. But it’s not just the knowledge itself. So the confidence because if we’re not doing something, we don’t know what we don’t know. And I guess that’s when they really face that uncertainty, they just feel lost, they feel like they don’t know what to do. And if there’s no one to trust, no one to ask for help, because finances, you know, it’s a very private matter, you don’t just ask your friends about finances. So you kind of like, you realize that you need, you just need more than what you’ve, you know, you’ve done over the last little while. So I guess what I see is the confidence, it’s just lack of it. Our job is to ensure that women feel safe and secure, they feel in control of their finances. And they’ve got that level of understanding that they can actually achieve financial independence. So how do we do that? And that’s when we come in?

Fraser Jack
Well, so your value proposition is from fear and uncertainty to confidence, or safety or safe and confident? It’s good.

Natallia Smith
I like the tagline. Borrowed from

Fraser Jack
tell yours. But no, it’s really interesting, because that’s obviously the value of the financial advice you’re providing. It’s not about you know, whether you can put somebody in a better position by this much or that much. It’s about that it’s really is about that emotional, that emotional growth, or that, how they, how they walk down the street, I guess?

Natallia Smith
Absolutely. And, you know, it’s interesting, like, one of our questions we ask is, What does money mean to you? And I had one woman just on the one. And she would say, like, she said to me everything. So I guess that’s, you know, like, that’s where you try to understand is the client you’d like to work with? What are your values, your personal values? And what do you value and what kind of clients you you’d like to work with? Because if you are, if you have different values, different sort of start from a different starting point, it’s not going to work? So I guess when we say our prospects, we really try to understand can we actually work with them? Yep.

Fraser Jack
So now that you know that you understand that 5055 year old women who are single have been through divorce or, you know, or worse widowed? Tell me about the the way that you, you they find you you mentioned you’re getting two or three per week coming in? How do they find you, I know that you do a lot of work with social media and videos and things like that, tell us about your sort of strategy of making yourself known to those to those avatars?

Natallia Smith
Yes, I think, look, online, social media. That’s really, it’s just an amazing, I guess, like, what times we live in? Yes, it certainly it helped us to, to be known out there to really have that message. Right, and to attract the right clientele. We, you know, in the past, we used to have relationships with advisor, sorry, with lawyers, accountants, and you know, that still happens. That’s still your traditional, you know, centers of influence, but at the same time, the ability to actually reach out to your specific demographic, and with very clever SEO and technology, it’s so possible. And that’s where think, you know, there is a client out there for everyone. And you know, it’s all about understanding who is your avatar? How can you what is your message? And how do you find them? And I feel like, man, it’s the best time to actually have that match, because it’s just absolutely amazing. Yeah.

Fraser Jack
So the technology and the platforms are there to to, you know, to find people. Tell me, tell me about the content you’re producing now and how you come up with that, and where that where that inspiration comes from?

Natallia Smith
Yeah, I guess the goal was think about, what do those women want to hear? And, you know, and it’s interesting, because sometimes it’s not about the latest contribution rules. They don’t really care about that as much. It’s all about, you know, it’s all but try to understand that segment that clientele, what do they think, what what do they care about? What do they worry about? And that’s where I think this is where I guess we as a small practice, we don’t have that kind of data. But there are there is a lot of data there. And I’m sure there are a lot of businesses that know so much more about my clientele than me, but they know they’ve got all the data, what do you search online? What do you say to your friends online? It’s all there. And I guess it’s a huge opportunity to, to kind of, you know, really streamline that and to make sure that you know, you’re heard. So from what we do our content, I guess, yeah, it’s how do we actually help those women and tell them what they need to hear? But at the same time, would they want to hear so it’s, it’s an art? Ah, look, I don’t have a degree in marketing. But it’s certainly it’s something that some advisors did really well. Really well.

Fraser Jack
Yeah, yeah. One of the things You’ve done really well speaking of really well is the videos that you produce, which is not easy. Some people get really freaked out and upset and scared. And again, you know, fearful and nervous under the uncertainty of creating videos. Talk us through your journey and creating videos for for your target market.

Natallia Smith
Yes, well, I guess just knowing that people like to see videos again, when you, and this is where you’ve got the trust, particular on social media, you know, you don’t know the person, but when you see them having that, you know, they, they post their videos, there is the trust, that is so much, I guess, you know, it just bigger. So from a trust point of view, it’s fantastic. But also, people get to know you, they get to know real you. And I think sometimes, you know, it’s all about that vulnerability. And now it’s, it’s a big thing, we always try to say that, you know, it’s just who do I trust how to actually choose a financial adviser. And I think being vulnerable, being open and transparent. That’s one of those key messages that you can send to your clients. And they they know that they know that what you stand for. And that’s how they potentially get to know you, and they trust you.

Fraser Jack
Yeah, visual, digital is such a big part of their trust. And obviously, we were doing a lot more online, which is a little bit takes a little bit more time to gain trust with somebody online. But visual is such a big part. I think the vulnerability and the authenticity of the videos that you create, are incredible, because that’s the that’s the point at which the client is up to in their life as well. They’re also feeling vulnerable. And as you mentioned earlier, that fear and uncertainty, but that vulnerability within themselves. So therefore, when they see it in you they have a connection.

Natallia Smith
Absolutely, yes. And I guess they are vulnerable, of course, and that also a lot of my clients, they they feel that the they’ve they’re very, they just don’t want to tell a stranger their deepest concerns and fears. So you do need to have that relationship and that level of trust with your clients. So how do you get that? And I think it’s really important to yet to be authentic. And to just, yeah, personally for me, I think that’s what helps.

Fraser Jack
Yeah, I agree that that that authenticity that shines through on your content, then comes back to this that they get to know you, they then trust you. And then they want to pour their heart out to. Natalia, thanks. Thank you for sharing that part. So from here, what what are the plans for the business and yourself? What are you going to work on? What are you working on the future?

Natallia Smith
years, I’d like to find that way of actually helping more women. And just because on affordability of advice, it’s really it’s a big topic, and how do we actually make it work for women. So that’s my next project. Hopefully, that’s something that will happen in the future. Because the more women we help, the better the environment, the economy, and you know, everything else that is going on, we know so many women retire with very little super homelessness is up there as well. So it’s really just helping because, you know, I guess I’ve got a very, you know, it’s just some my small team, we can only help so many clients, so how can we actually reach out to them anymore, but also, I think I’m very passionate about women in financial planning, too. Because I think it’s silly. Now, our numbers are quite small. So how do we actually improve that? And how do we make sure that women stay in financial planning and they get excited and they want to be financial advisors. So that’s just something I’d love to to contribute my time to as well.

Fraser Jack
Amazing. So having having a certain amount of clients that pay you to work and running a successful business and then being able to give back in certain ways to people and helping in ways and having that, like you said that pro bono type work but but also trying to do it at scale? 100% And that’s the big question. It’s, it’s certainly what we haven’t solved quickly, but that will you know, keep keep cheat. We’ll have to keep chipping away at it. Natalia, thank you so much. How can people get hold of you and continue the conversation if they want to reach out

Natallia Smith
they can find me on social media Surprise, surprise. So in Italia, Double L. Smith, and the business name is true wealth advice and true without the

Fraser Jack
wonderful. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast. Really appreciate it.

Natallia Smith
Thank you had fun

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