November 18, 2021

#269 Whitley Bejah – Transcript

Share :

LinkedIn
Twitter

Fraser Jack
Welcome back to the xy advisor Podcast. I’m Fraser Jack and today I am joined by Whitley Bejah. Welcome.

Whitley Bejah
Thank you.

Fraser Jack
Hey, how do I go with the pronunciation? Good?

Whitley Bejah
Yeah, good.

Fraser Jack
Yeah, I’m pretty good at making it up. I’m pretty, pretty happy with myself. Tell me about you. Tell us about what you’re doing at the moment.

Whitley Bejah
Cool. So I’m what we call a practical, academic. Yes, we do actually exist. So that means that I’m a practicing advisor and mortgage broker, as well as an academic at Griffith University. So I’ve been doing that for about five years. Now balancing the both of the roles, but I’ve been an advisor for the last nine years.

Fraser Jack
Wow, that’s incredible. So the practicing academic, yes, they exist. Because we do like to put dish dish a little bit onto academics, don’t we just say, Well, you know, you how would you know? Yeah, happens in the real world? Yeah. So you’re, you’re the one I mean, I’m sure there’s plenty.

Whitley Bejah
It’s actually a few of us. In Australia. Yes. I’m pretty happy about it.

Fraser Jack
Yep. Yep. Nice. Tell us about your journey. Let’s just go back in time. How did you decide to that you wanted to get into financial advice. And in the financial services area,

Whitley Bejah
I guess I never wanted to, to be honest, I just sort of fell into it. I feel like a lot of people do fall into it. Well, at least they did back back when I first started because we didn’t have the opportunity to go to university and study financial advice. So for me, I actually grew up watching my dad be an advisor. So he has been an advisor for the last 40 years. He’s always worked from home, I had absolutely no idea what he did for a living. And for some reason, I thought he was an accountant. And I think in my last year of my undergraduate university degree in Tasmania, I was on the hunt for any job. And he had just purchased at another company. So he was looking for an admin person. And I said, okay, no worries, I’ll do that in my last year. that’ll that’ll bog me over while I finish my degree. And then I realized pretty quickly after working in that admin role that I really liked financial advice, and I really wanted to pursue that as a career. So I went out and did my rd 146. Easy, and yeah, it was awesome. Ese, basically, within 12 months, got my accreditation or my AR and yeah, I’ve just been loving it ever since.

Fraser Jack
Isn’t it funny how a lot of people don’t know what you do? Yeah, even even in your own family. And like I said, your dad was an advisor for many years. And I don’t actually know what he does. I think I think when I was an advisor, my kids didn’t know what I did. And now that podcasting, nobody knows what I do. So it’s even better. So moving into that isn’t in an admin role. Tell us about that. We like that study where you maybe see me was paper files back then it was

Whitley Bejah
paper files. Yes. So we had, oh, goodness, I don’t know if people are still using coin. But um, we practice used coin. And the two other firms that we purchased, were using very, very old school paper files. My dad actually was pretty progressive at that point, because he had most things on coin electronically, which I thought was great. So I guess my job at the beginning was basically to move all of those hardcopy files into digital files, which is great. I’m being sarcastic. But it was it was a good learning curve was a good learning curve and sort of told me like, this is what not to do. Like, you know, this is because all the files that we use at the moment for our practice now are digital, which is great. And I work remotely. So my practice is actually based in Tasmania, and I’m obviously in the Gold Coast. So I’ve been remote for the last five years. And it’s just been so easy to have everything electronic, which has been such a joy.

Fraser Jack
Cool. So you started through that. Tell me about the moment then you became an advisor? And,

Whitley Bejah
yep, I still didn’t really know if that’s what I wanted to do at that point, to be honest, because, again, I was so new to it. And, you know, doing the diploma, I think at that point as well, was quite difficult for me, because I’ve never done anything like that before. And I just remember thinking, gosh, there’s so much paperwork involved. Do I actually want to be doing this for a career. But it was when I started sitting in with clients and actually helping people meet their goals and seeing real change. That’s when I realized that that’s actually what I what I want to do. It’s not so much the paperwork, the paperwork is just part and parcel of the job, but it’s the actual helping people that gets me excited. Yeah, that’s sort of why I really did pursue this as a career. Yeah.

Fraser Jack
And you started by sitting in on meetings with your dad. Yeah, yeah. And what did that teach you?

Whitley Bejah
Ah, there’s a lot involved.

Because it wasn’t just him. It was there were two other advisors in the firm or there are two other advisors in the feminine. Yeah, I was sort of shadowing all of them to see what they did. And what they did differently as well, which I thought was quite interesting. And then I sort of picked up my own style of of taking interviews and the way in which I do it client’s, which, if I’m being honest, it’s actually a more casual approach. I feel like a lot of the practices up here in particular, are very different to the way that our practice runs in Tasmania, but you know, we are in a small regional town. So we do have a more casual approach to dealing with things, obviously, it’s still professional advice. But um, yeah, the way in which we we deal with client meetings is probably a little bit more on the casual side. At that point, I was still doing visits to people’s homes as well, yes. I don’t do so much anymore, because I can use zoom off teams to

Fraser Jack
home home visits these days are online. Yeah. Tell us about your progression through that practice.

Whitley Bejah
Yep. So yeah, as you can see it often sort of admin CSI type role. And I was doing that for about two years, or, yeah, two years while I was doing my study, and everything like that. And then when I got my AR, and after I’d done the shadowing process, so that probably was about six, six to 12 months of training. So that was before the professional year, I guess. But we still did it. But we just wasn’t it just wasn’t registered like that. And then I was sort of bad on my own. And, and part of that, at the time was we had a commission structure, I was obviously on salary, but we got a commission bonus as well with that. So I was on the hunt for new leads, generating new business. And I’ve always been a bit of a go getter. If I can, I can say that. Before getting into advice, I was doing event management and commercial real estate of all things.

Fraser Jack
Putting on music festivals. Oh, yeah, yeah.

Whitley Bejah
So you know, that allows me to go out and meet new people. And you know, I’m pretty confident with with getting out there. So finding new finding new business wasn’t really something that was that difficult to me, because I like to say that I’m a bit of a people person.

Fraser Jack
Yeah. So so. So how old were you then?

Whitley Bejah
Oh, 21.

Fraser Jack
So you’re 21 you’re an advisor, you’re out there hunting down your business, plenty of competence in what you are able to bring to the to the table, how were you finding people to talk to,

Whitley Bejah
I actually talked to my students about this all the time. Because when, when you are so young, especially as a young female, it’s really hard to get people that are older than you to take you seriously, especially, I guess, people that have accumulated a lot of wealth. And they used to perhaps dealing with, you know, the previous advisor, for example, who was you know, in his late 50s. So to go from that, to, you know, 20, something year old female was quite difficult to break that barrier. And

Fraser Jack
that barrier, more so in your head than the client’s head? Or is it at 50 years?

Whitley Bejah
It’s 5050. Yeah. Because in my mind, I was thinking, how can I give advice to you when I don’t have all of my finances sorted as well, like, I don’t even have a house at this point. So it’s

Fraser Jack
like, your limiting belief, right? That’s my limiting belief more about that product and those that strategy in those clients.

Whitley Bejah
Exactly. Right. But then you get the other side, we I was getting a lot of condescension. So I was getting lots of Aw, thank you, sweetheart. Or, you know, like, I just think, come on, like, I will be on that. Anyway, I just took it on the chin and just kept going kept going with that. But yeah, you’re right. But this is what I say to my students all the time is like when you first leave university, and you get into the financial advisor sector or the finance sector, you just, you are really overwhelmed. Because at that point, you may not have, you know, built up the portfolio that you want to have. And you second guess your advice. The advice is great, right. And at that point, my advice was really good. And if I didn’t know the answer, I’d go back to somebody else on the team who had 20 or 30 years experience, and I could get the answer from them. But in my mind, I had to get over that barrier myself. Right to syndrome. Yeah, that’s exactly right.

Fraser Jack
And how did you I mean, apart from, you know, getting years of experience, how does, how did you sort of get through that?

Whitley Bejah
Ah, the experience did help, to be honest. But also it was me taking my own advice. And actually implementing, you know, practicing what I was preaching, basically, as far as I’m trying to say, is actually building up some wealth of my own and being like, hey, you know, what I’m giving out to people and what I’m saying to people actually works, you know, and I’m part and parcel for that. I look back at where I was 10 years ago, and as to where I am now. And as thing holy moly, I you know, 2020 something year old Whitley never would have thought should be in this position. And it’s all to do with diligence. And yeah, being being committed to being true to myself, and to the advice

Fraser Jack
and the condescending thing. Did you have any tips for people going through that?

Whitley Bejah
Oh, goodness, um, pick your battles? Yeah, I think and again, I had this a lot when I was working in event management. I remember one of the site managers for one of the companies that I was working with a while ago, would always call me sweetheart, it always give me a bit of a pat on the bum. Right? And I just remember saying to him one day I’m like, Ah, this is so inappropriate. And if like I said, if I was a man, he wouldn’t be doing this. So why is it appropriate? For me? Anyway? I’m not going to get into that it’s a whole nother rant for another time. But for me yet pick your battles, because sometimes people will make off the cuff comments, because it’s a generational thing. Perhaps they don’t realize that it’s offensive now, in 2021 Other people might just be a little bit misogynistic, and that’s those people exist, and that’s okay. That’s, but you don’t have to take offense.

Fraser Jack
Yeah, the generational thing. I I mean, I’m in no position to comment, but the generational thing to me feels like it’s almost they may think it’s a term of endearment. Yeah, yeah. But it’s just a little reminder that that’s no longer endearing. Well, that’s

Whitley Bejah
it. That’s it. Like, you know, I I’ve even had, you know, my husband’s grandfather, you know, he’ll, he’ll call me sweetheart, not the kind of stuff which is fine. He doesn’t mean anything by it. It’s just Yeah, it’s a term of endearment. But if I if I wasn’t the person who I am, I probably would get offended, that kind of stuff. But I I definitely don’t. Yes.

Fraser Jack
professional context. Sure. Very good. With that we can we can move over there. So So are you still in that family business now? Because the same business? Yes. And how’s that worked from a succession point of view? Are you the succession of the business? Have you always been seen that way? Are you having to deal with it?

Whitley Bejah
Yeah, I was going to be the succession plan. But now I’ve sort of pushed on pursuing the career in academia as well. So the next sort of five or so years, it’s me focusing on my research and getting that completed, because as it stands, I’ll be enrolling in the PhD next year after I finished my research project, and that’ll be the next sort of three, three years of my life, right doing doing research. So, for me, getting into, I guess, a leadership role in the business is not something that I’m looking at at the moment, doesn’t mean that I won’t consider it later on. But yeah, for the moment, it’s not not a priority for me.

Fraser Jack
Fantastic. So if we go back to that journey, or your journey through when did you start with the down the education pathway?

Whitley Bejah
Ah, that again, I fell into it. So it was something that I wanted to do when I was older, right? So when I had accumulated 40 years of knowledge in financial advice, and then go back to as a retirement plan, and I think you’ve had Katherine hunt on the show before. But she was one of my lecturers when I was doing my masters at Griffith University. And because I did the Masters online, when I was in Tasmania, I never actually got to meet her face to face I didn’t get to meet anyone face to face. So when I first moved up to the Gold Coast, I just sent her an email and said, Hey, I’ve moved up here. I actually don’t know anyone, I’d love to catch up for a coffee. And yeah, after the end of our first or after the end of that conversation, she said, Hey, I’m going on leave. Next month, would you like to teach one of my courses? Okay, awesome. So it went from, I guess, a casual sort of contract role to then a full time, full time offering, but the universities and that now I’m continuing and it’s it’s great. Yeah,

Fraser Jack
we’re definitely a big fan of Dr. Katherine. Oh, yeah. So So that’s, that’s really interesting journey. I want to talk about the research in a minute. But before we do, I want to talk about something that you started up a while ago, in the, you know, in the spirit of sort of, you know, creating some content around helping people learn something from become financial literate, but also in the context of it’s, it’s helpful for business. Tell us about our women.

Whitley Bejah
Awesome. So the iron woman project was actually something that I was a co founder of with one of my friends, Skye Hawkins. So we started that project, our goodness, it was my first year advising. So I guess 2020 13 as a way of me, one increasing financial literacy, because it was a free event. And it was all about financial capability. So giving women in particular the skills and the knowledge about how to actually make better financial decisions. We also covered off on topics like economic abuse or financial abuse, which was really, really beneficial. So we actually got, which was

Fraser Jack
quite new back then. Yeah. It’s more prevalent now.

Whitley Bejah
Yeah. So we got Rosie Batty on board for one of our events as well. And she came in and spoke to that to everyone about that, which was just, it was really powerful. But, yeah, so the project itself was actually really, really useful for women in particular, but also from a business point of view. It actually helped us generate a lot of leads, which of course, you know, everything that there’s no such thing as a free lunch is what people say. Yeah. So yeah, I was actually able to convert a lot of those attendees that obviously requested advice into clients, which was really useful for me.

Fraser Jack
Yeah, lovely. Now, obviously, you had that event management background, so you’re able to easily run an event. Tell us about running. I mean, obviously, we can all start doing events soon, hopefully. Tell us about that idea of creating an event and then putting it on and the amount of work that goes into that.

Whitley Bejah
Yeah, well, it’s like it’s like when you plan a wedding for those Most people listening that I’ve helped plan their wedding, right, so much goes into it. And once the days they just think, Wow, this is going really quickly. But it’s been a great day. similar sort of thing when you are planning an event I was lucky enough to have because I’ve got the university connections as well. I was lucky enough to get some universities on board to help sponsor the event. So we were getting things like free catering free event venues and things like that. a&p actually came on board as well, for one of them to think that was the first one that we ran. Yeah, they were your license. The second one? Yes. Yeah, it wasn’t say. So we were able to have, you know, a lot of things sponsored, which was excellent. It was actually funny. The ones that we ran at the university had better conversion rates from a business point of view than the one that we held a MP, because people were thinking, Oh, maybe this is linked back to them. And I just thought that was quite interesting. That is interesting.

Fraser Jack
Is it the the preconceived ideas around branding? Yeah, and even just having a university gives it a bit more of a? Yes. datasource

Whitley Bejah
Yeah. And that’s what I thought, because I’m a big believer in education, as as you know, I’m a big believer in adult education. And for me, I specifically chose universities to to be the sponsors for those events, because I wanted people to actually get engaged with academia, because a lot of people just think we’re all dinosaurs, right.

Fraser Jack
And universities, universities have great facilities. Yeah,

Whitley Bejah
yep. And they’re often more than, like, if you if you’re thinking about running an event to anyone that’s listening is thinking about organizing a financial event like this, reach out to your local university, because they’ll be more than happy to help out and they’ve got the budget for it as well.

Fraser Jack
Yep. And when you say sponsorship, they basically provided the venue and the catering. Yeah, yeah. So

Whitley Bejah
I all I had to do was, essentially look after the accommodation for the for the speakers, as well, as organizer photographer, which I was also lucky enough to get. They they basically did it for free, which is great.

Fraser Jack
Yeah. Wonderful. And so of course getting numbers Yes. Getting now. Tell us about that. You know that the speakers, how did you find them, source them? Put them in place? And what are they talking about?

Whitley Bejah
Yeah, so just trying to think about who we’ve had. We had a powerhouse. You’ve heard of Kirsty W before. She is incredible. She is a real she, goodness. When she was 25. She built us up a massive property portfolio. So she was a multi million dollar property owner buys by 25. She was amazing. Then she started her own mortgage broking company recently as well. So yeah, I just think she’s a powerhouse. And she’s awesome. But she Yeah, she was one of the speakers that we had. We also had, oh, goodness, I forgotten her name. That’s terrible.

Fraser Jack
So on the biggest Did you speak as well?

Whitley Bejah
I did, but on the technical stuff. So I spoke about, you know, the importance of insurance and superannuation, that kind of stuff and debt reduction. But I wasn’t the main event. Like it wasn’t it wasn’t the weekly show.

Fraser Jack
You don’t need to be the main event. You just need to be somebody who’s bringing it all together. That’s it. And seem to be bringing it all together. When you how long was it event? A little bit. Go for? It

Whitley Bejah
was a whole day whole day? Yeah. So I think 10 To fall,

Fraser Jack
we ran them. Where did you find the consumers? Oh,

Whitley Bejah
because the free event, we’re able to get a lot of publicity on news and radio, which was great. So we actually just got a lot of people through that. Now we’re registering.

Fraser Jack
So it created a media release. Yeah. Sent it to the media. Yeah. And was willing to talk about it and promote it.

Whitley Bejah
Yeah. Yeah. And ABC, ABC Radio was really good as well. I think it had a few spots on

Fraser Jack
there. Yeah, brilliant. And what size? How many people think the first event was

Whitley Bejah
the actually the biggest one? I think there were 250 people at that event. Second one was smaller, I think with about 180. And then the third was even smaller again, because I we tried by that point to see if we could charge people. So we thought we should we try a small $49 fee? Yes. We just thought, you know, we want to get people that are going to be investing in themselves. And that one there. I think we had 65 people. And that was at RMIT.

Fraser Jack
Probably Great. Yeah. Yeah. Greatly to now, just on that he had just spoken to, you know, had a public speaking address for 250 people.

Whitley Bejah
Not at that point, no. So I learned a lot about how to present myself and how not to speak really quickly when I was nervous. And that came through with the feedback as well, like, in the feedback surveys as people’s like, the content was great, but she needs to slow down. And it was really funny because it was actually those events that made me realize that I did have a massive passion for educating people. So that’s when I started, I guess, pursuing the career in academia. So

Fraser Jack
you find something in those events where you’re really enjoyed that people listened to me and got something out of what I had to say.

Whitley Bejah
Yeah, yeah, it was more so the fact that you know, I could actually especially for the for the leads that we did take on is, you know, these people wouldn’t have been here if it wasn’t for this event. And just seeing their situations from when they first came to see me to sort of where they are now in particular, it’s, it just brings me so much joy. And what

Fraser Jack
was the 60s off the back of those events?

Whitley Bejah
Oh, goodness, oh, this sounds so lame. But life change, I guess, actually giving people the opportunity to reflect on the situation and to say, you know, it’s not as dire as I think it is. Or I’ve even had someone who didn’t come on board as a client. And they said to me, a few years after the event, I said, I’m so thankful I came because I took out a binding financial agreement, like you guys were talking about, and that helped me a lot through my separation. I’m like, Awesome, that’s great. So it’s helping to, I guess, I’m not just saying for women, in particular, but like, people in general, like, some people just aren’t aware of things that are actually gonna be really useful for them for their situation. And you know, I’m a big advocate on binding financial agreements, I can talk to you about those another time, if you like. But, you know, giving people that the tools and the resources to actually start thinking about, you know, how can I do things myself, as well as obviously seeking advice? Like that was like, that was the thing, like, do it yourself and then seek advice?

Fraser Jack
Yeah, it’s really interesting. And then that if we do the inverted commas, Benny, is that the general information, general advice type framework, running those large events where you can actually get to a lot of people, obviously, with online now we can get to masses of of consumers or humans that are not necessarily looking to get financial advice now, but could really do with some information? Yeah, definitely. And probably too much information, where they understand what it is. And rather than going maybe in trying to research and read through your marketing material, to get some, some straight shooting information about what they can do and how they can do it. But put those sort of things in place. Take us back to your university. scenario. We were I mentioned, we come back to this, some of the research you’re doing. What led you down this path? Well, first of all, let’s talk about what it is you can explain. Yeah. And then I want to know what led you down there? Yeah.

Whitley Bejah
So my research at the moment is still in its infancy. So I’m looking, I’m doing an honors project as a pathway to my PhD, which, like I said, should be completed will honestly be completed next year, early next year. But I’m looking at how your mindset influences your financial well being. And for me mindsets always been something that I have liked to investigate a little bit more, because I just find people really fascinating. And I guess the reason I chose that topic is because when I was dealing with with a lot of clients, some people had really, really negative outlooks on the way in which they viewed their situation or just their life in general. And sometimes there was connections between that, and their, I guess, their net wealth, and other times they weren’t. So I give you some examples. So I had this one, one gentleman who came into the office, and he was in his late 40s. And he actually had a lot of money, like a substantial amount of wealth, but it was all just invested in term deposits. And he just said to me, I I’m just really bad with managing money. I’m thinking now, you know, you’ve got like, $500,000 sitting in cash in your bank account, like, You’re not bad with your money. So why are you thinking that you’re bad with your money? And then they’ve got the other side of things, right. We think people think that they’re awesome at managing their money, and they’ve got like, $70,000 of unsecured debt. And you think it’s overconfidence, right, and that overconfidence. But, you know, looking at the two discrepancies with that, and just trying to think, why do people think like that? Yep. And yeah, figuring out if there is a link between that and obviously optimism, right, and seeing how that plays into effect. Yeah, it’s, yeah, there’s so many factors.

Fraser Jack
And when I think about mindset of blows my mind just, that’s that wasn’t a joke. But the sheer different the different areas, I like to talk about the idea of, you know, your emotional, the the ball of emotions that we are as, as as humans, versus the logical thinking part of our brain is one part. But let’s go back to some of the other areas that you’re looking at. You’re looking at optimism versus pessimism. Yeah. What sort of a personality trait Are you? Yeah. Which leads into their mindset and thinking, what are the other areas?

Whitley Bejah
Yeah, so I guess the main I’m piggybacking off professor, Carol Dweck, so she did a lot of research back in the day into fixed and growth mindsets. But back when she first started, it was actually looking at fixed scientific, sorry, incremental, or fixed ways in which they viewed the world or viewed intelligence. So you know, people with a fixed mindset, for example, see that failures are reflective of you as a person and you know, I’m bad with money therefore, I’m a bad person or I failed at something therefore I’m I’m not very smart. Whereas People with a growth mindset for example, see those failures as opportunities. to learn, and to make improvements to better themselves and better the outcome. Yeah,

Fraser Jack
so emotional flexibility. Yeah, yeah. Behavioral flexibility, all those sort of things to be able to say, well, to reflect back on what you’ve done. Yeah, that was actually a positive learning rather than a negative self. Yeah, it now when it comes to money, a lot of people are in that, you know, money’s evil type thing. How can the mindset of past generations affect? Oh, I

Whitley Bejah
love that question. Um, our goodness, definitely definitely plays, it plays a huge factor, actually, especially, we all saw this with the DFC, right as well, when people say, Oh, I’m not going to invest heavily into shares, because my parents lost a lot of money in the GFC. You’ve got to and this is why I think I’m going to talk about my what I want to happen with my with my research, but um, one of the main reasons I’m looking into this is because I think this is a huge area that’s lacking in financial planning. And I think that I would, I would love to see questions about mindset and the way in which clients actually view themselves and the surrounding integrated into the fact finding and advice process as well, because I think that it’ll help the clients actually have a bit of agency, right. So it’ll, it’ll motivate them and encourage them to actually get more invested in in the actual financial planning process, as opposed to perhaps the older style of giving advice, which was I’m your advisor, you don’t have to necessarily understand what I’m doing. But I’m going to do it’s in your best interest. I shouldn’t say like that, but you don’t I mean, like the old school, the old school advice, definitely not the advice that’s being given now in 2021.

Fraser Jack
But I feel like the failure of a financial plan is the inability then of the the person the consumer, to take on the behaviors required. Yeah. So behavioral, you know, the idea of the fact fine being, you know, yes, you can get their data around what they spent, yeah. And their habits of spending and spending while they earn or anyone they spend or whatever that might be. But the idea around those past behavioral issues that have caused them to be in the situation now and to be able to solve it, yeah, down the track.

Whitley Bejah
Well, behavioral economics is fast. I think it’s fascinating. And, you know, Richard Thaler, and if you’ve read this, he’s got a really good book called nudge. If you haven’t seen it, I’d recommend reading it. But he basically says that you can encourage people to do things right by giving them a little nudge. And I’m not going to go into into too much detail, but that’s what I’d like to see in financial advice, right? It’s like prodding people in the right direction and making it making them think that it’s their idea. Yeah,

Fraser Jack
I’d love to also have that sort of nudge around the guard, some guide rails or guardrails around the, you know, their their spinning or their habits, you know, yeah, it’d be great to have a little text message to say, hey, you limit that thing you wanted? You just turned it off track? Yeah. Don’t turn it back. Yeah. So that’s, that’s a it’s a nice thing. What about? So a lot of that’s around spinning, but what about other behaviors and habits and mindsets? How do you nurture that?

Whitley Bejah
I think, oh, goodness, I haven’t. I haven’t thought about that too much yet. Because I’m still, like I said, it’s still my infancy. But I think when it comes to other areas, it’s actually encouraging people to think that financial freedom God, that’s such an overused term, but financial freedom is possible. But obviously, that’s going to be different from person to person. And what I like and if you’ve heard of Dave Ramsey, he’s like, this really is American finance guy.

Fraser Jack
The hype? Yeah. Also straight shooter.

Whitley Bejah
What I like about him is that, you know, in his first I think, in one of his books, he says at the very beginning, you know, your current financial situation, situation is actually on you, where you are currently is based on the decisions that you’ve made in the past. Yeah, let’s just accept where we are now. And let’s go forward. Take ownership. Yeah. And I just think that’s awesome. Because we do need to take ownership over our own situation, whether that’s, you know, person, personal stuff, financial things, whatever. And I guess it’s sort of following on from that, you know, living above the line concept of, you know, life happens through me, not to me, not taking on that victim mentality. And going Yeah, progressing progress.

Fraser Jack
Yeah. So regret regrets a great one for that, but the victim mentality you mentioned is really interesting, because that means that you have to basically say that, you know, I can’t blame anybody else. For anything. I can’t be angry with anybody. I can’t be jealous of anybody. Otherwise that I can’t do that without being the victim. Yeah, so but I would be the victim, I have to then change that concept and just basically be given be happy for everybody else. Yeah. Easier said than done.

Whitley Bejah
But yeah, 100% But I love it. It’s great. And I like I’m really excited about how this research is going to influence you know, the financial planning process.

Fraser Jack
Yeah. Yeah. And and just on that, I want to touch on, towards and away from styles of motivation. How do you You see that I really

Whitley Bejah
had a moat. I had to actually motivate people. Yeah. Oh, I guess for me, it does depend on such a financial advisor thing to say it depends on the circumstance and the client. Right and depends on

Fraser Jack
what’s the answer? The answer is always It depends. Yeah,

Whitley Bejah
yeah. So figuring out how to best educate somebody, because you know, the carrot and stick method might work with somebody, but it might not work with the next person that comes through the door. So it’s figuring out, you know, what, how did they learn in the first place? But like, again, I think the mindset is going to make a huge difference on that. Because if you’ve got somebody that is quite optimistic, and you can, you can have somebody that actually is quite optimistic that has a fixed mindset, right, because they may have tried and tried and tried, but failed and failed and failed. And they’ve gotten to that point where they just think, Oh, I’ve just given up I just, I suck. Yeah, and that’s not the case at all. Yeah. Whereas, you know, so for somebody like that, creating new opportunities to actually change their mindset and intercept them on that, I think will make a huge difference.

Fraser Jack
Yeah. So this is where I see the advisors of the future having a really high emotional intelligence when it comes to the psychology. And we now understand and listen to the words that are being said from the client and to be able to then stop and instead of just jumping to the answer, yeah, stopping and listening to the words and saying, you said that thing? What if you said this thing and say, don’t change it around? Yeah. Yeah. So there’s, there’s a fair bit, there’s a pivot, we can add to the fussy training

Whitley Bejah
areas. But I feel like we’re just starting out on that journey. So let’s maybe continue as it is for now. And then add to it.

Fraser Jack
Yeah, he’s, he’s a, he’s fantastic. So is there anything else around that research you want to talk about that we haven’t covered? I think

Whitley Bejah
for me, like I’m looking at at the moment, for the honors, I’m drawing comparisons between, you know, an Australian sample and a US sample. And I think that’s going to be quite powerful. The actual PhD, though, is going to go into a little bit more detail, and include other areas like mental health, as well, and see how that makes a difference. And physical health. Yeah,

Fraser Jack
so I’m just thinking that, and when I when you said that I was trying on the spectrum of mental health and physical health and in going well, it’s funny, because mental health can can vary on that spectrum from high to low at any moment of the day. And so, so that would then create a timing issue for advice as well.

Whitley Bejah
Yeah. So I will goodness, that’s, that’s gonna, it’s gonna be it’s gonna be a really exciting journey, I think when I get to that point, but the reason I want to look at that is because there is this thing called the mind body connection, right? And we see this a lot in sports science and in health where, you know, people can essentially with a, you know, we all know what stress does to the body as well, right? So if you really, really stressed it’s, obviously have negative impacts on your physical health. So cortisol. Yeah, yeah, affects the cortisol. But also, there have been studies where people have basically other thought they were cursed. For example, there’s one study with this woman thought she was she was cursed. And she was completely healthy, but her body absolutely deteriorated. Other Other research has been done, where I remember this one person had a stomach ulcer, that was bleeding. Again, given a placebo pill, well, you know, little, some treatments, obviously, not accurate. placebo treatment. And yeah, it stopped bleeding. She got she healed, you know, things like tumors, tumors reducing based on psychology, and I think, wow, if that can happen in the body, based on how you think, yep. What kind of an impact is that going to have on your money, you think differently. And it’s not just a case of obviously, just just thinking it’s there are other factors involved as well about, you know, financial capabilities and actually empowering yourself, but I think it’s going to make a huge difference. Yeah.

Fraser Jack
So financial security is, you know, love to see the numbers, but that turns it into financial happiness. Yeah. That turns your your mind into into a happy place. I’m happy about that much. I’m really happy about my future. My security, therefore, I’m going to be healthy and live longer. Is there any stats around it? People that live longer? Because they’re financially secure?

Whitley Bejah
I haven’t seen that yet. But I’ll definitely be looking into that. I reckon I reckon there is. But oh, it’s quite interesting that you that you talked about, you know, longevity and things like that, and happiness, because, and this is getting this I haven’t, I’m not quoting research on this, this is just my experience. But you know, going to go into other countries where people are actually a lot poorer. They’ve got a greater sense of community in general, like, generally, their happiness and well being is a lot higher than people perhaps in Australia that are earning a lot more and don’t have that sense of community and that, yeah, yeah, it’s

Fraser Jack
interesting. There’s been some, I don’t know, I can’t quote them. But I remember talking to somebody about this around the idea of happiness and sustain people that don’t have a lot of choices as well. Or a lot of media, a lot of tea. He sets a lot of news feeds are actually quite happy. Yeah, can be very good. Now tell me about this research and such as data, how has that affected or changed the conversations that you’re having with your clients?

Whitley Bejah
I had a lot. And it’s actually made me a lot more picky with who I actually take on as clients. Interesting. Because I’ve sort of gotten to the stage of my career now, will I actually don’t want to work with someone unless they’re actually invested in themselves. So it’s not just a case of you know, they like me as an advisor, it’s, you know, do I think that you’ve got the capacity to actually change your situation? Are you invested in that process?

Fraser Jack
Yeah. What do you say to them? How do you go through that process? Like, what what’s the criteria that you said,

Whitley Bejah
it’s a polite vetting conversation? It’s not? It’s not I don’t cut them off. You know, there’s been a few people where I’ve said, Look, maybe you’re better suited to another advisor in the practice or another advisor?

Fraser Jack
Could you just ask a lot of questions, and then, you know, internally through your own values, what that’s it that means? Yeah, yeah. Okay. It’s good. It’s good to be in that position, isn’t it? Where you don’t have to take on the work? Yeah. Yeah. And it has that work with your employer in Boston. Nice.

Whitley Bejah
Oh, you know, that’s fine. It’s fine. Because I I’m basically I capacity at the moment now anyway, so I’ve been at the point, probably for the last 18 months where I’m not taking on any new clients unless they’re coming through the lending side of the business. Yeah. Because, you know, with with my role at the university, that’s my full time role. And I’m doing advising and brokering part time. Yeah. So I’m pretty busy. As it stands, I’m pretty busy as it is. But yeah, so, you know, in order for me to actually service the clients that I’ve gotten do a good job. It’s just yeah, I’ve met my limit for, for advice clients. And

Fraser Jack
so for us, it’s about less clients, but a much deeper relationship with our clients looking after everything. That’s it. Yeah. And tell us about the the university stuff in the future. You want to do your PhD? Yes. Yeah. And then continue to do both?

Whitley Bejah
Oh, yeah. Continue to do both. Yeah, I think that’d be great. I mean, I’ve I think I mentioned earlier on, like, it was, you know, depends on what what’s happening with my my family’s business. Right? And as to whether or not they would like me to buy them out at that point? I don’t know is the answer I’m not gonna get into do I didn’t say

depends? Yes. Depends the answer.

Via definitely, I think, I think it’s really important for me to do both roles. Because I’m actually or since I’ve been working at Griffith, I’ve actually become a better advisor. I’m more up to date with all of the requirements of the legislation, how to actually implement things which has been useful for our practice, because I’ve been able to look at the processes that we have and say, Hey, why don’t we look at doing it this way. But it’s also meant that I’m a better teacher as well, or better lecturer, because my students are able to learn from somebody who’s actually a practitioner. And for me, when I was doing my studies, particularly in my undergraduate degree, I just remember getting really frustrated, thinking, you’ve never worked in the industry, how the hell can you teach me anything? I shouldn’t say it like that. But that was that was my thoughts. Yeah. And you know, quite a mindset. Just recently, I just finished teaching a six week course of postgraduate students. And one of them said to me, you know, Whitley, I’ve been advising for 30 years. And when I first came into this course, I thought to myself, Why the hell do I have to do this? Because it was it was called case studies in financial planning, right? So all the advisors who are coming in and thinking, you know, I do this every day. But the difference was, at the end of that six week course, every single one of the advisors said, Thank you, I learned so much. Yeah. And it wasn’t a case of just learning from me, it was about learning from each other. And I guess that’s one of the not not to push University, that’s one of the biggest things about higher education is actually does get you to start thinking about the world differently. And I have a big focus on collaboration as well. Because, you know, when you’ve got, even if it’s a small class of 10 people, for example, if they’re all existing advisors, you’ve got so much experience in there. And you know, they’ll have more experience than me. Yeah. So it’s really important that they learn from each other as well as for me, because I don’t know everything. Yeah, I

Fraser Jack
think it’s just about introducing those IQ levels of, of how deep you want to go into the conversation and how you know, like, we can all see examples. That’s probably the easy part. But it’s how do you then think critically, looking at other points of view and trying to take your own point of view and say, that was my point of view? But what if it wasn’t? Yeah, like those sorts of critical thinking things. Amazing. Talk to me about you, obviously, seeing a lot of people coming through the university, we’re talking about professional year type people, but also people that are bringing the education levels up. How do you see this, you know, with regards to you know, there’s a lot of people that aren’t going to become an advisor straightaway, and then there’s some of that already. Yeah. What do you what do you see with the future of all these new people coming through? Yet advising?

Whitley Bejah
Sorry, I am actually really optimistic about, you know, where financial advice is going to be in the next 10 years? The caliber of students that I’m getting through for financial advice They, they’re excellent. Particularly the post grad students that are coming through, right. And I know a lot of them are existing advisors, right, but they are wanting to learn and to upskill, which I think is really, really beneficial. The post graduates, I suppose it was the undergraduates I feel. They great, I just feel like they don’t know what they’re in for yet with respect to the amount of compliance and paperwork that comes along with financial advice. And I try and, you know, at the end of my courses, I teach the Capstone undergraduate course, I try and make it a bit more realistic, I say, look, you’re in a position where you are actually going to help people and you’re going to make a huge difference in their lives. But just bear in mind that that does come with a lot of compliance and a lot of regulation, a lot of paperwork, so just just brace yourself for that. And the first few years of your career, you’re going to have to slog it a little bit. I do talk about work life balance as well about, you know, don’t let your employer’s flog you to the point that you can’t get up on the way, you know, on a Monday,

Fraser Jack
you lose your motivation to turn up. Yeah. So.

Whitley Bejah
And that’s a really it’s really interesting. So I’ve had a few students that have graduated and have secured roles, and they’re doing their professional year. And, you know, one of them’s his one easy thing is 26. And he he just works all the time, like 12 hour days, you know, work on the weekends, and he’s exhausted. And I just think, but he’s doing that, because he wants to put in all the effort for his employer. So he’d move up the ranks. But I’m just like, it’s not, it’s not worth it. It’s not sustainable. Like, I put my foot down probably far, maybe three years ago. And I just said, I’m no longer going to work on the weekends. Because you can be just as productive. If you use your time wisely, you know, Monday to Friday or Monday to Thursday, whatever it is. I find more productive now in the time that I spend in the office than I was when I was working on the weekends. Yeah,

Fraser Jack
absolutely. Now, a few years ago, we were all worried about the robo advisor coming in and taking on the roles. Do you think that the education standards lifting the work we’re doing you’re doing in mindset and psychology adds so much more complexity to the advisor role compared to an algorithm?

Whitley Bejah
Yeah, look, I think there is a place for Robo advice, in my opinion, for very simple things, right? Very, very, very simple things. You’re never going to replace face to face advice, or at least, you know, person to person advice. But yeah, there are so many different layers of complexity with giving advice, both both now and where I see financial advice in the future. And I think anyone who knows me knows that I’m a big believer in not necessarily coaching per se, but I feel like the coaching element should actually be integrated in the financial advice process, or at least the way in which advisors in Australia give advice.

Fraser Jack
risk profiling is obviously a patient of yours. Yeah. Talk to me about how what you think that should be evolved to and obviously, how quickly it should have been evolved to open

Whitley Bejah
its will I think it’s at the moment, I’m sort of limited to what my licensee requires. So I’m not going to go into too much detail. Yeah.

Fraser Jack
I mean by that it’s funny though the licensee standards created and it’s like, oh, it’s about No, your client, and then you see from your academic studies is that this is a whole

Whitley Bejah
it’s a lot more complicated than a 12 answer. short survey.

Unknown Speaker
Yes. Yes.

Whitley Bejah
eloquently,

Fraser Jack
yes, I’m hoping technology can play a big part. And then allow advisors to be able to really profile and model and understand if they can instantly spot it, what that might mean for consumers and how they can help them. Yep. Wonderful. What does the future hold for you at the moment? Oh,

Whitley Bejah
goodness, I’m taking one day at a time at the moment to be honest. So finishing my research project is number one priority for the next sort of six to 12 months. Then enrolling in the PhD hello is a PhD takes Well, in theory I want to get it done in two and a half years if I can because the honors is forming part of yes a PhD. But let’s say in the next three years I’ll be finished with my studies for now. So we talked about I woman project a while earlier on and you know, for me, the future holds another program similar to that. I’ve actually had the business name registered for about five years now and I haven’t done anything with it but it’s actually it’s called Mind Body wallets. Okay? And it’s basically going to be an online education platform to encourage people to I guess upskill in their financial knowledge and capabilities so in financial education, but also again linking back in the mindset things with that is as well so helping them shift from you know, fixed mindset to a growth mindset as well as building up their their practical skills, but the the overall objective for that is to actually get people to seek advice at the end of it. You So it’s not just hey, this is going to be a 12 week program that’s going to replace the need for advice, it’s actually going to be like, hey, in these 12 weeks, you’re going to learn so much about your situation, you’re going to see a vast improvement from day one, to the end of week 12. And at the end of week, 12, when you figured out, you know, all the cash flow and budgeting, things like that, you build up a cash buffer, go and seek advice from a qualified professional who’s actually going to help you invest that and make that $10,000 or whatever it is a lot more.

Fraser Jack
Yep. Brilliant. And this is for the, if I think of the bell curve, the, you know, the people in the middle of the bell curve and hitting towards advice in trying to push more than just the 10%. Yeah. Which the stats show can happens in every industry, there’s 10% of any industry ends up with prestige. And

Whitley Bejah
oh, and that’s it. And that’s sort of like my practice in Tasmania, we actually deal with I say, quote, unquote, mums, mums and dads, right, we deal with the mums and dads, obviously, in being in regional Tasmania, that that’s our target market. But I love those types of clients, because I can really see like, from from when they first see me to where they are sort of now like they’ve had huge improvements. I’ve had so many people pay off their home loans, which has been such a it’s such an exciting thing to help somebody become debt free. Especially I think my I shouldn’t say she’s my biggest success story. But I have a quite a few young people who came to me fresh out of university. So they had decided they knew the first roll, they wanted to open up a superannuation account. And you know, these people are now one of them from from 20 to 25, we paid off a home loan, right, which is awesome. She’s now 27. And I’m helping her buy another investment property. And so she couldn’t LVR 50%, right, that’s, I’m not going to I’m sorry, I just get so happy when I see young people making really good decisions. And you know, there’s quite a few of them, especially the young ones, where they are, if they if you get onto it early, and you help shape their behavior from the beginning, when they start managing the money, these people, their trajectory is going to be more than that ever imagined.

Fraser Jack
Yep. The real key to this is advice, affordability.

Whitley Bejah
100%. Yeah.

Fraser Jack
Any any ideas on how we do that?

Whitley Bejah
I don’t have any massacres right now. But we should we should totally reduce some of the red tape. Not all of it, because it’s there for a reason. It’s really, really important. But it pains me how much work goes into a single statement of advice. And I, you know, if you’re dealing with somebody in their early 20s, right, and you’ve got to charge them five or $6,000. It’s just so unaffordable. And

Fraser Jack
well, it’s taking them all that time to say those 10,000 You say great, this five and a half $1,000 in the SOA,

Whitley Bejah
that’s it. So I think yeah, looking at affordable advice. It’s, oh, goodness, it’s something that I know one of my colleagues is looking into, from a research point of view. But yeah, there’s so much work that needs to be done in that space. But when you’ve got so much compliance that comes along with it, it’s it’s really hard because you want to help these people, but you also need a charity, and you need to have a profitable business in order to keep the doors open. So there’s a fine line and I don’t have a solution.

I would love to have a solution because I just show it sharing it with everybody.

Fraser Jack
Yes, it’s as Willie, thanks so much for coming on the podcast today. If somebody wanted to continue the conversation, what’s the best way they can get holy? Google me?

Whitley Bejah
No, but honestly, just have a look outside on the Griffith website. Or just shooting me through an email. Yep.

Fraser Jack
Wonderful. Thank you so much. I wish you all the best for the future.

Whitley Bejah
Thank you. Thanks for having me.

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

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

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