June 2, 2022

#314 Rob McGregor – Transcript

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Jess Brady
This week’s chat is with Rob McGregor, the co founder of McGregor wealth management and GPS wealth. Now they’ve been long known in the industry for best of breed client engagement. So I wanted to understand how did this come from? How did you build it. And what actually transpired was learning more about how we built space to build it, how he prototypes, how he’s failed? And what knowledge he wanted to impart to young advisors, and those of us who are looking to always have best of breed engagement. Enjoy. Hi, Rob.

Rob McGregor
Hey, Jess, are you doing?

Jess Brady
I’m good. I’m very excited to speak with you today.

Rob McGregor
No, likewise, I’m looking forward to it.

Jess Brady
Now, we have lots to get through. In fact, I think getting through all the things is going to be our most difficult challenge. You’ve built something that I think is desperately needed, and really rare in our profession. But before we get stuck into all of that, and all of the buzzing questions that are racing through my brain, for the people that do not know you, I’d love for you to go back and give us a bit more of a history of your story.

Rob McGregor
Yeah, absolutely. So I’m currently a practicing financial advisor own practice. I’ve been Noosa on the sunny coast. But I actually started out in the accounting domain in Melbourne a long time ago, what’s the how many you can probably work it out. But as an accountant in the investment industry, stockbrokers, investment banks, fund managers, that type of thing. 14 years on common street, till a life event sort of at a brain explosion led me to say I don’t want to be accountant anymore. I don’t live in Melbourne anymore, and picked up a young family and moved to the Sunshine Coast. And with the goal of being a self employed financial advisor, so I found an opportunity join someone there, their training was there’s a desk, you get your own laptop, get your own car, she’ll type up your plans. And I’ll give you a 40% of whatever you find. That was there was my training. And while I knew a lot about tax about investing and everything else, I knew nothing about engaging with people what to say what to do. So that started a lifelong journey in how do I do this. And the first two years, I was pretty ordinary in terms of financial results, etc. I think I made $17,000 In my first year. And I was thinking I have to get this right. I didn’t want to go back to Melbourne love Melbourne but did not want to didn’t want to take a backward step and slowly but surely built the current engagement process to be used with clients. And eventually a few of our colleagues started to say, what are you doing? You guys are doing? Well, you know, we’re getting all sorts of different awards industry and delivery and other stuff. And as we showed people and say, can we use this? So we started to commercialize it, but none of it was ever built to commercialize which is which is interesting thing. So it was all built to us live with clients. And we continued to polish it continue to polish it to this day. And about 11 years ago, we had a bunch of people start so why don’t you guys get your own license your dog patrol and deliberate together. So that was GPS wealth. We formed that license in February two 2012. And we’re just going over 10 years and got a great bunch of advisors, great team, doing really, really good things. And I still consult to that business kind of one day a week. But these these days, on four days a week back in my practice, seeing clients, mentoring other advisors within the practice, and enjoying enjoying that interaction with clients in particular,

Jess Brady
you and I were talking before this conversation, and I loved the story around how you had to go and present to some people, I think it was something to do with a Property Group. And you basically sat down and thought about how you wanted people to engage with their money and engage with finance. And that led you from what I believe to be almost like the blueprint for the very successful client engagement product or process. I’m not quite sure what you call it that you’ve built today. Is that right?

Rob McGregor
Yeah, absolutely. No, we we were flying in business at that stage, at a certain way of dealing with clients, but it’s still involved a lot of whiteboard. It was still evolving. And one of my mortgage brokers asked me if I want to speak at a seminar or seminar series, there’s going to be three of them. By first Kurtz FKP, who were selling project springs here on the coast. At that stage, I thought, I’d like presenting, I want to get up and present but I don’t want to just help them flog property, I want to show people on having property can fit into a good plan. Now coming from Melbourne property is a key part of everyone’s finances down there. And I’d found in our industry, people didn’t want to talk about property love planners were trained by their dealer groups and installers to to somehow not talk about property. But it’s every client needs to know about it. So I stepped down the weekend before the presentation and start to write a case study. And it was destroyed called pathway to wealth back then that’s still the name of the process. And it was designed for accumulators. So that is young people in their 30s and 40s, who often are neglected by industry because they didn’t have fun. But they had cash flow, they potentially had some equity. And that was a true through how they could do some property, do some shares, do some debt recycling, to illustrate their super. And as I’ve built the presentation, and the case study, I started to set up some spreadsheets, one for Super, one for share portfolio, one for property, one for one for the mortgage, and all of a sudden, they’re all linked. And we had really good feedback from the seminar, we had people wanting to come and see us. And then I use those spreadsheets, live with them in the meetings that follow and kept polishing. And that became the pathway to wealth, client engagement software. So we would take people through the goals and then build live with them their solutions, drafts, draft solutions, of course, and then say, yeah, how does that look? Does that look like a plan that could work for you? And the fact that they could see it in that first meeting? got them excited enough to say, Yeah, let’s do it. And that means they could commit to an advice process, pay us a deposit upfront. So we weren’t selling in the traditional sense, where you go away, do a strategy paper come back. Yeah. And some people do two or three meetings before they actually get paid. And when you’re doing that, kind of you’re chasing the client, if you’re kind of selling, as opposed to flipping it around where the client says this is their plan. How do I get this done?

Jess Brady
And is that what you refer to as real planning? Or that What’s the concept of real planning for you?

Rob McGregor
Yeah, it was a concept that evolved in a different sort of timeframe. We did. We specialized in working with accountants. And I found that accountants didn’t really know what we, as financial planners did. Most of them thought were the investment people or the insurance people. So it was very much product focus. And they would set up someone’s Superfund and say, Are you going to manage this itself? Or do you want some help with the investments, and so they’d send people off and there was no real plan. So we evolved a couple of client engagement pieces around that one was a concept called the game of money, which I will talk through shortly, but the other one was real planning, and meal planning. If you think about any sort of planning, whether it’s business planning a holiday plan, is start off with a crystal clear picture of exactly where you want. So if it’s a holiday plan, it’s alright I’m sitting here in Noosa. As we speak, I want to go to Barcelona so and you start to map out a plan and for financial planning that is alright, here’s what I’ve got an assets liabilities income, here’s my tax position. Here’s my structures. Here’s my estate planning or not, here’s my insurances or not. So absolute crystal a clearer picture of a starting point. And then some goals. So before we talk about any tactics, any strategies, we’ve got the goals. And we’ve we’ve developed, prompts to have goal conversations with clients about all sorts of things. So once we’ve got the goals, we can then turn those goals into financial goals, evaluate the strategy. So the five elements of what I’d call real painting is a crystal clear picture of the starting point, meaningful goals that are based on people’s lives. So questions that that ask them and get deeper about what’s important to them. And what that means financially. Then we’ve got the book ends. And then step three is to evaluate the current strategies, and do some projections to see if they’re on track. And then to introduce some alternative strategies, and show them live within that first meeting, how they can get to those goals. And then we’ve got all that comes together to plan which is step four. And step five is to execute, to have the mindset to get things done, and to review, rinse, repeat, avoid the big mistakes, make smart decisions, so that five steps are real planning. And it’s funny, then, when you think about it, that applies to business planning something, what’s my starting point in my business? What’s my ideal? What are the strategies using the moment what’s working, what’s not working? All right, let’s revise, create a plan. And let’s execute same for a holiday plan, same for any plan. So that’s why I use inverted commas real planning. And it’s not to disrespect anyone else and what they do, but I think for a lot of our industry, they’ve come through an institutional background, has taught them what to do. They gave them the train tracks from the institutional point of view. So here were the products you could talk about, it was the, it was the things you can’t talk about. And there’s a lot of great advisors in our industry that have worked out their own version of real planning. But I dare say there’s still a lot of people that focus 90% on the strategies and the tactics without necessarily the goals and the starting point. We I mean, most people come to us just with kind of technical questions, people come and say, I’m thinking of starting a self managed Superfund, is that a good idea? Or thinking of buying some bhp shares? Is that a good idea? And then tactics that we prefer to reframe, in those situations. So look, we believe that best financial decisions are best might as part of a group plan, have you got plan in place? And most people go, No. And then we’ll introduce the concept of what it is and take it from there. And for the people that get that it’s liberating because they get away from thinking they get to buy a property or some bhp shares or get a self managed Superfund, because that’s starting with the tactics. We used to use a concept for ongoing holidays. Yeah, I’m not going to start by saying when someone says we’re going if I entered, I want to get cuantas. Yeah, that’s I’ve jumped straight to a tactic before I’ve worked yet. Yeah, my strategy is, even more importantly, what my destination is. So that’s kind of in a hopefully not too long winded way. The key sort of concepts.

Jess Brady
No, I think it’s, I think it’s not long winded. I think it’s an it’s an interesting process that you built, almost like a replicable program that could be from what I understand, picked up and you really heavily have made sure that tech supports advisor conversations, and enables light bulb moments for the people that are coming and working with the advisors. So no doubt that’s iterated a lot from the spreadsheet version. That was, however many years ago, what does tech look like in this process now,

Rob McGregor
so the text varies, and the the original spreadsheet, which was about six tabs grew to about 20 tabs over time, so stayed spreadsheet based right through the start of the dealer group, we would train people and that was before we started GPS wealth. We had a coaching program for advisors pathway to wealth, we had about 20 advisors that were using the programs, and still do to this day quite successfully. We evolved, we’ve had three attempts as a dealer group to develop that tech in the online stuff. The first we burned a lot of time and money didn’t work. But it was because we tried to link the front end to the back end, we had this dream that we could finish a meeting and almost press a few buttons and produce compliant advice documents. That when failed. So we went back and we’ve developed the online version of pathway to wealth. That doesn’t doesn’t attempt to do that. It’ll still be another time for another day. But as you’re aware that compliance for our industry is so complicated, that we didn’t want to ruin good client engagement by sticking the compliance bit too far in advance. So we’ve got that the the tech producers supporting Doctor mitzvot statements, advice, etc. But there’s all sorts of the basic tech is simple. And I could sit next to someone on a plane and with a bit of paper could do most of the engagement. And then it’s just the tech to do the calculation. So as well as, as well as the tech, someone told me not saying up longer than a fool with the tool is still a fool. And we see this in all sorts of industries. You look online, now we can all diagnose ourselves online, we all become public contracts. So the tech isn’t the only thing the actual, the process itself. Yeah. I’m a believer that the number one skill of a great advisor is brilliant question and listening skills. So knowing how to ask the right questions, knowing a lot, listen, knowing how to pivot into deeper questions or to, to understand people and what’s really important to so that goes hand in hand with the tech, the text, the text, enabler, it’s not the main event. So very important, because it allows the adviser to show people what they can achieve. But it’s not, it’s not the main thing. And I hope I explained this in a way that makes sense. So it’s critical of the people skills, plus the no by the tip. So that takes pretty basic, you know, I’m sitting here in my, in my typical meeting room, I’d meet with a client, there’s a big screen on the wall, clients would sit across me, we’d both be looking at the screen. And we’d initially both be long at each other, we’d be engaging in our pre planning, chat, getting to know them. And then when once once we get down into that, building that picture of their world, and then building the goals. We’re building that on the screen. So it’s live with them. And as we start to then do the strategies, and the projections that go with that. Yeah, they become engaged. And it’s like a story. Because what happens to math bill would say, yeah, we’ll ask them questions about their goals when that’s retirement goals, semi retirement goals, financial independence goals. And so we put up a target of someone retiring with $100,000 a year.

And that’ll pop up a lump sum, let’s call it 1.8 million, that they’re going to need to achieve that. And we go through questions about all that stuff. But then we’ll build a strategies. And when we’re starting, they’ll put up their existing super, and it might be 100,000. Yeah, they put up their existing mortgage, and it looks such a long way away, in terms of ability to achieve that. But as we go through and build each strategy, it gets closer and closer. And we watch them lean forward, like a good movie, and they’re starting to get involved. It’s their future. It’s their plan, and eventually from us, but we can solve that plan, we might have to move the years, we might have to tweak strategies, we might have to make some assumptions about pay rises, and this and that. But all of a sudden, we get to a picture we go is that starting to look like a plan that could work for you guys? And the little bit excited, or they’ll have questions. Tell me more about how this debt recycling strategy works. So tell me more about how this property strategy works. And for lots of clients that don’t have property, but it’s just one of the toolkit in there, including just regular dollar cost averaging the strategies. I’ve done lots of mastermind sessions with advisors that we’re training. And when you come up with wealth creation strategies, you struggle after about six of the leading months, yeah, there really is only so many ways to build wealth, once it takes building businesses or active sort of trading. And speculating. Yeah, and that’s dollar cost averaging, gearing, putting money into super buying investment property, and you start to run out pretty quickly. There’s a lot of ways to do all those things. There’s a lot of nuances around where you do that how you do it. And that’s where the conversations come in. So where my mission is, at the moment is enabling tech at the back end, does produce compliance documents, but also that keeps the clients engaged along the way. We’re still developing a lot of that. I’ve always been a front end person. So the client engagement, the client meetings, the back end is necessary. But it’s not my passion. And I have some amazing people on my team that produce that stuff. But it’s not something I would ever want to do myself. And I’m waiting like many hours for the for the tech gurus to help us solve some of the automation, where we can sit back and say, Hey, Siri, you’ve seen my strategy now. Do me a plan in place, and Siri pops it out. But I haven’t seen anything yet that actually does that. So because we’ve made it so complicated.

Jess Brady
You know, I was just thinking about when you were saying this, I was like we’re planning to put people on other planets at the moment and we can’t Salt like, isn’t it?

Rob McGregor
Absolutely. The mind my hidden? Yes.

Jess Brady
And it sounds like you’ve been through a journey and

Rob McGregor
we’ve burnt money and we’re still with me. It’s not something I’ll ever give up on. Yeah, we have good processes. Don’t get me wrong, that gets stuff done. But that, yeah, we sit there with a client. We do lots of meetings on Zoom, we record meetings these days, we’ve got this engagement tool that does the draft strategies, with machine learning and all this other stuff. Yeah, there’s got to be a point somewhere in the next decade where you’re going, Hey, Siri, paraplanner produced me first draft of the document. Yeah. And yeah, as you say, put a man on the moon, that putting people into space, it can’t be that hard. But yeah, you know what it’s like, for your power planners and stuff. It’s a very piecemeal manual process. That still takes way more time, particularly for full plans, not just product plans, not just risk super type stuff. But for genuinely, I don’t love the word holistic, because I think you’ve got hijacked by product providers. But for what I’m that’s why it is the term real planning. For real plants. They’re complicated. Yeah, there’s lots of factors involved. And at the moment, I’ve got a wonderful team. And we use whiz tech in that process, of course. But none of it is seamlessly integrated. Yet,

Jess Brady
no, my paraplanner less her, she we allowed her to go and leave Rob, I know, I don’t know what we were thinking. And in my haste to get something out, I was like, No, it’s fine. All right, this plan, oh, dear advisors, if you want to do something, for your mental health, go and write a plan, if you haven’t written a plan in a while. Honestly, by the end of the day, I was like, Ah, I could there’s not there’s no way.

Rob McGregor
I could write my own plans. I’ve given up a long, long time ago. And I view it as the advisors job to have the relationship with the client to to own the strategy. But to me, that’s the strategy and the bullet points. Some advisors love modeling, I’m happy to give that to my team to model what we’ve already set up in the client engagement tools. And that then gives them their ammunition, but also gives them training in the modeling around the strategies and get to compare. Very happy for them to develop that way. We’re in the process of having to replace our power plant at the moment. And it’s very, very nerve wracking, trying to find someone will be able to slot in. And they’re much in demand at the moment as well.

Jess Brady
They really are. And I think if we want to get serious about giving affordable advice to more people, then that is an enormous challenge because it is so bloody manual anyway, and says me whinging about having to write one plan. You made an interesting point before about the fall, I sort of giggled, because I think perhaps I am one. But I like the idea that and you know, I think about 10 years ago, people were in a panic that tools lack the tools that you were developing, were going to come up and gobble all of the opportunities for advisors and take over and of course, that that’s never eventuated. In fact, it’s supported the opposite conversation, which is actually we value humans, and we value relationships, and we value interconnectedness of understanding in coaching. But the tool supports those conversations. One thing that I was actually discussing with our business mentor earlier this week, was just around, how do we train? How do we help advisors learn the questions and EQ things that they’ve never learned before in those big installs? How does GPS solve for that? So we

Rob McGregor
do lots of mentoring, lots of training. At the base level, when people come into the group, there’s a there’s a library of training, they go through an induction process, but we have so much sometimes it’s like drinking from a firehose, there’s videos that they can watch. This process has been done, and recognized completely all advisors have their own style and personality that they like to apply to process. So we don’t pretend to say, this is the only way to do it. But we provide the train tracks and the frameworks and the infrastructure for them to use that if it’s valuable. And we have a phrase we call adopt or adapt. So if you haven’t got something that’s working in a place adopt this, but if you’ve got some kind of like then then adapt around it. So at the base level is induction is regular training when we started the group. We deliberately called out our training days six These days, not PD days, and not because I found in past groups, I’ve been a part of the PD days where product club days where they’ve grabbed six providers, lovely people from the institutional sponsors or partners. And they did a session that was often about the product, not about the stuff that mattered to us. I tended not to go to a lot of those, because I found them meaningless. And this is before you could be working around the phone. And I know, when I’m in any training session, I’ll look around the room and judge the content by how many people about the phones under the desk. And truly good content, people have put their phones down, they’re listening. So we like to think we do that. So there’s our success days have focused on their success. So that means practice development conversations with clients, I run for advanced client engagement webinars per year for our groups, as well as to either practice or their life webinars. So it’s a constant quest. And we’re all learning. Yeah, 25 years, and I still learn I love last week, I was down for our GPS, young girls, which are our up and coming awesome advisors in about 30 in Sydney, and I’ve got the notepad out, I’m writing just as many notes because they, they’re more tech engaged. They’re more savvy. And yep, so I find that that stuff’s still massively beneficial. But they’re the EQ stuff, the empathy stuff. We try to teach that we’ve got a broad, broad scripts for first meetings, that we’re teaching people. It’s not really a script. It’s a process. And here’s some, some basic questions. So once you get to ask people about their goals, here’s some questions you can ask. Yeah, and that really simple. But the art form, and the advanced training that we do is about how to go deeper on something. So and I’ll give you an example. If I sit down and say to someone, so if you were retired right now, how much would you need coming in each year to pay for a nice life? So there’s there’s some really structure around that that sense. One is if you’re retired now, so it’s not what will you need in 15 years only needed 20 years? What will you need in five years?

And often people go, you mean, when the kids are grown up and say, assume your kids are grown up? If you’ve got kids, when the mortgage is paid off? Yeah, assume that, but we’re just trying to get them to think and they’ll often go? That’s a good question. We haven’t thought about that. Wow, that’s the first element of your future is how much you’re going to need. And most people have never thought about it. And so and so have it have a go. And they’ll pick a number. And it might be some people are the tourists they know. And some people are tourists Lehigh. But we’ve already got because we’ve got the current position up on the screen. I’ve got their income in that’s calculated the tax so I can see we’ve talked about the mortgage. So I can do a quick check. So if they say, yeah, 100,000 is what we’re going to need. And that’s just question one of about four. But I’ll pause on that one. And I’ll do a quick fact check. So rather than send out a budget, I find 90% of the population, if you send out a budget, they will just procrastinate and not come and see you. It’s like torture for them to have to fill in the budget. So we don’t ask for them. But we’ll do some sanity checking around that number so that they say they’re spending 100,000 right now. And we can look and see what they’re taking home, we can look at their mortgage, we can look at the kids school fees, and any other things or say Well looks like and let’s say that shows up a notional surplus of $24,000. We can then say, Okay, looks like you’re saving about two grand a month. Does that feel right? And where is it? Sometimes they’ll look at each other and go, yeah, we’re definitely not doing that. And then we might have a conversation that what maybe you’re actually spending 120 grand a year and that go on actually, we spent the last two years renovating the house. So you have a real conversation. That’s not about his your budget? Because I would challenge anyone, most people are notoriously bad at doing a budget. Yeah, and it’s just a painful exercise. So yeah, the conversations around that, that there’s one question that triggers that, but there’s a whole series of places to go from that for a skillful advisor to eventually go, Okay, looks like how to grant a good target. Yeah, that’s going to continue your, your, your standard of living this then further questions that would ask them yeah, things like, okay, so that covers a good life. But would that cover all the nice stuff, good holidays, other things you might want to do? When you’re financially free, and the later go? covers up or? Now probably we like to travel, we probably need to allow another 20 or 30,000 for travel. And we’re keen these numbers in then we ask a couple of legacy questions and questions around whether they’re going to need toys or house renovations or funding for kids or helping parents and always things. So we end up building a number and a goal and then we start to build. So yeah, that training then is around what you’re saying key moments? Yeah. When someone says, Well, that looks like a lot, or, or they start to dive in 20 questions on the tactics too early. Yeah, how you sort of deal with that. Or if they occasionally gets a pair, let’s say, I’m gonna need 300,000 are retired and earning 100,000. They’re spending 40,000 A year one way, you got to make 300,000 retire. So you’ve got to have, you got to know when to have a conversation, and not just take at face value. And all these conversations on goals are only after we’ve asked questions, to establish who and what’s important to them in their life. And we might, because it’s only when you get deep, and I won’t go through all the questions. But one of the questions at the end, when we’ve just about got all the goals, we say, is there any other goals that are going to require money for you guys? And that might be something like, we’ve always wondered a sabbatical, we want to take a year and go and live in Europe, or we actually want to have a holiday house or, but that’s when the real stuff comes in. So it might be right at the end of the meeting where we’ve done this thing, and that’s and they’re getting there easy. And as we’re talking about it a good question would be and if I asked you this, Jess, then feel free to either roleplay or, or deliver. But if, if you’re sitting doing your plan, and it showed that you’re getting to financial independence in 10 years, it’s simple question I would ask is, would you actually retire?

Jess Brady
No. At this point, most

Rob McGregor
people say, so but but you’ve got it because you don’t just want to make this a retirement plan. But the follow up question is what would you do differently? Yeah, me it gets people thinking, what would you do differently?

Jess Brady
Totally, totally wouldn’t be able to retire my brain. I mean, I would go too much. I’ve always thought about going back to uni later, later, later, and studying something that probably has no commercial value, but quite interesting. So like, ancient history with like, some awesome opportunities to go and travel and see those places, I’d love the opportunity to do more community work. I’m quite a passionate feminist, so helping women around the world and all of that sort of stuff. So I don’t think you know, I work with a lot of younger people as well, I don’t think many people actually aspire to the Gulf on Wednesdays rhetoric anymore.

Rob McGregor
And for someone like you or me that’s used their brains have through their career, retiring, the brain is just a scary concept. And I watch a lot of people when they get to enough money, and they just don’t retire. And you keep saying, what’s the things they like their work, or they’re like most of it. So at that point, all of a sudden, we’re gonna have some conversation around lifestyle design. What would an ideal life look like and even bring some of that right back to the present. So what wait for that? Why not have and we’ve talked about this before things like sabbaticals, or three month mini vacations, or whatever it is, and you’re getting into a really cool at some people have the traditional Yep, I’m gonna work for 20 years. And then I’m going to stop work. And I’ll play golf on Wednesdays, and go fishing on Fridays, and whatever, but most people don’t. It’s, it’s having the questions or the AQ, to dive deep on that. So that that plan you’re building is a genuine, real plan for them that they’re excited about. It’s not your plan is to achieve, you have to have a high growth investment and the goals that and I won’t name any names with big institutions, toward advisors to put these goals in which were either product goals, but covering goals. And they’ve got nothing to do with people’s lives. And when people read those statements of advice the guy it doesn’t feel like my plan. But if someone reads and I hate the term, SOA and statement advice, because I still like to say here’s your financial plan. One day, maybe we have financial plans that are supported by cascading pieces of advice on particular product stuff. I think that’s part of the solution. But yeah, we’ll get there eventually. You want something that’s exciting. Yeah. If people are excited about their future, then they’re willing to commit to certain things to get there. Yeah, totally. And sometimes we see people that they can retire. Yeah, I had someone yesterday, and again, you’ve kind of won the war. You can stop work now. What stops you? And I said, I’m not ready, you know? And so then we got into a good conversation about what are the things that you’re doing now that you don’t really enjoy you then get satisfaction out of what we just stopped doing? Start doing it all. All the questions we’ve heard people ask when you come into this idea life planning. So yeah, we have this concept when we’re coaching advisors. Helping them define their, their their goals around ideal practice either life giving great advice. So what, what for them is an ideal practice. For all of us, it’s different at different stages. For me when my kids were young, it was that I could attend every sporting event that they ever had. So I had the flexibility to duck out of the office and go and watch the football, swimming or the Netball or whatever it was. And it was to have so many holidays. And the question I often ask advisors, how do you know you still own your life? What’s the key activity that you’d love to do? That you set aside time for first? And you don’t let the business interrupt no matter? What,

Jess Brady
how many of them have working plans for that to make sure

Rob McGregor
our advice is correct. Nearly all of them. And often, often those plans, and they’re probably like, a bit? Well, I’ll ask you this question. For a little bit Advisors, a younger than the industry average, we have a better gender balance than the industry average. So because of that nature, some of them are in the midst of young, young families, not all. So for them, it’s just having someone was once said to me, when you’ve got a young family, work life balances, family and work. Almost nothing else except trying to keep a little bit fit, you’re not going to be you’re not going to be able to fit in everything else if you want to achieve that. So yeah, for all of them. We talked about what that good life looks like. But it’s amazing how many of them are ambitious. And right at this stage of their life, they actually want to work really hard. It’s actually just they’re hungry. They want to they want to achieve some goals. So they don’t want to play golf on Wednesday. I mean, when I first had this coaching dumped on me back in 2004, the thing was to just do what I liked on Wednesdays, so I would work from home on Wednesdays I would and that was a day that I coach kids in the afternoon in Surf Lifesaving sort of stuff surfspots So I’d work from home and go out to lunch with my wife that I’d fit in stuff in between that was high value. So that was the creative side. And that was how I knew I and my wife that rest of the week was manic and trying to keep up with the fast growing practice. But Wednesday’s my day, where I could schedule that parent, lot of work from home, a case no compromise and do a phone meeting, have some phone calls. But most of the time, that’s where I did the creative side of business, thought about what the future look like, for me thought about how to help people better and built and polished, a lot of the tools etc. Everything I was talking about to someone in a group the other day that every every tool, every process I’ve ever built for myself, and then for other advisors has been built out of the office, not one thing was built in the office, where it had in the diary, three tool for build client engagement tool. They all came from random events, like where we started. Completely, not one thing was ever built in the office.

Jess Brady
Isn’t that just such an interesting point. Because sometimes we’re forcing, we’re trying to force innovation, when our brain is not in its optimal state to build innovation. And then we berate ourselves for not building the thing in the environment that’s probably not conducive for us to do that. And it’s a good reminder that you know, sometimes those those moments to step away, and give yourself the space is exactly what you need.

Rob McGregor
Like space in the diary and no pressure to have any output and walk on the beach, most mornings, and sometimes that the most random solutions come up when you’re not thinking about it, and you’re walking the dog or whatever, looking at the surf and all of a sudden this stuff pops in your mind. And I’m a great believer there fear sort of, if you know you got a challenge or you know, you want to improve in some area kind of plant the seed in your brain. And in the weirdest. Yeah, for some people, it’s in the shower for some hats. While they’re watching their kids netball at the weekend, all of a sudden, this idea pops in their head. And yeah, I’ve had some of those over the years where I was suddenly just just trying to find a notepad and just write in lessly and scribble on drawer and then test. And yeah, I just believe if you don’t make space for that, or if you’re trying to schedule it, or worse, create a committee to do it. And all sit around the table and designer. You get you get you get stuff which we’ve had over the years, with the best of intention comes down from big institutions and says to us advisors, here’s how you should run a first meeting. Here’s a tool you should use and not one person in that design group has ever sat in front of a client.

Jess Brady
So common, I’m giggling because on my dining table I have like a raft of different post it notes because what I find is I like come back to walking the dog or something and I’m like I’d have to get it out of my brain. And even if it sits on the post it note for a little while, as long as I’m clear in what the hell I was thinking, I then sort of have a couple of different books depending on whether it’s about sort of, you know, different parts of the business, and then I can go back and iterate it. But

Rob McGregor
do you find just that the tangible thing of writing is much better than trying to type when you’re creative. So actually, physically writing, whether it’s a pen or an electric pen, or whatever, is that how your creative brain works,

Jess Brady
my brain is quite wild and creative and not very structured and organized, as those of you who listen regularly might have picked up on um, you know, listening to you, I just have a light bulb moment going, I never am very innovative in front of a screen, actually. And I’m always in front of a screen. So

Rob McGregor
yeah, and I think the screens are useful. There’s, I don’t know if you’ve ever come across an influencer out of Canada called Dean Jackson is brilliant in the online marketing space. She specialized in coaching real estate agents. But he’s, he’s he sets himself up for these sessions where he has specific, he calls it his evil hatchery room. And he goes to this room, it’s got whiteboards, and it’s just a comic thing. But he’s got his post it notes, scribbles, no devices whatsoever. No connections to Internet. And that’s where he does his creative stuff. And, and you leave yourself clues, I love my iPad, I don’t have it connected to the internet, I can connect to the internet. But I like a good mind map. And I also have my pen, or scribble have 1000s of pages on my iPad of ideas. And I’ve sort of come back to some of them. And then every now and then one of them will just go bang, alright, and it might be response to a client was in yesterday. And we’re trying to work something out. And all of a sudden, it adds another dimension to what might be the solution. And the fun of what we what we do and GPS, we can feed that back to the network and keep evolving. And some of that comes from them as well. Yeah, I’ve a belief within our network that all the best ideas should come from practice world, we need people to help us we’ve got compliance skills, etc. But if I’m at the moment, I’m on the search for a lot of good back end tech, to automate office and stuff. And I just want to see a practice that’s got up to working and adopted, I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, I don’t want to be an experiment for someone, show me something that’s working on, plug it in. And after some things I like to create myself, that’s mainly the front end. But on the back end, I just want a solution proven that I can plug in that hopefully, it’s been stripped tested by advisors and practices similar to mine.

Jess Brady
You know, it’s amazing to think, Rob, that you’ve built what is arguably the most successful engagement tools in the profession. I mean, GPS has always been known for what you’ve built. And we could talk all day about sort of what that looks like, and the iterations, etc. But actually, the big epiphany for me is none of this would have happened if you hadn’t been able to give yourself space and time to do it. And so for everyone that’s busy with all of the compliance regulatory member client stuff, I think it would be so interesting to see how much more innovation can come out of our beautiful community. If we all were able to give ourselves more space to just see it with these problems. It’s

Rob McGregor
just essential for your mental health and your work life balance as well. And, yeah, this. There’s been times in my career where I’ve worked ridiculous hours. So part of that journey, and for most people, either when they’re starting their business or a certain stage, and there was a time in 2003 to 2008, where I was probably working 60 to 80 hour weeks, and I’d get up at 330 to 4am. I do some work and then I’d go surfing at 630. And then I’d and was just grinding and part of it was thrilling because we’re building at a crazy pace. That part was unsustainable, but things aren’t kept in, even in that was this Wednesdays at home. And and yeah, at least most of the weekend. Well, Wednesdays at home, all my kids sporting events, and make sure there’s time for the family and plenty of holidays. So because that’s not sustainable, and I make no attempt to work that sort of level these days. Although Yeah, we can be on holidays. My wife would tell you all of a sudden, Oh, whoops. And my iPad will come out and one of the one of the client engagement pieces we have we’re unable beach and I woke up at 330 in the morning with all of a sudden this idea. And I snuck out to the balcony watching this sun slowly come up for four hours scribbled what would become this key piece in our in our client engagement. And it was overlooking the water and Airlie Beach at the dark, and then watching the sun come up for hours of scribbling drawing, getting down all the concepts, then then go on to the screen. So then to what we talked about before, just then you go to the screen to start to turn it into something usable, but not before the blueprint is kind of there. And then I love testing that stuck with clients straightaway. So I, the next person that walks in for a meeting, they’re going to get that, that tested. And, and that that helps refine it. And it’s partly why I still love st clients because I get to continually evolve this stuff in the real world of sitting across the desk from a client.

Jess Brady
So you just just I love this. So you just build a prototype, or a version of a prototype, a very, very prototype prototype, and then you just use it and then iterate rather than trying to tinker enormously and then show it to someone. Most of

Rob McGregor
the time. Yeah, I’ve met and yeah, for the ones that have worked, by the way, the ones that are embedded in our process, there’s dozens that didn’t work, or that I tried with clients and get and after three months ago, you know what, it’s not adding any value, I’m gonna ditch that. So there’s, there’s, there’s a trial of stuff that hasn’t worked, but I’ve always been game enough to try it. Yeah, and sometimes it can be a question. You know, I had my original client engagement process, and let me call it a sales process. Because I came at it from an accounting background, I’d had no sales training. And I think we all need sales training, it gets a bad name, because the people that have the best training are often manipulators. And, and but yeah, I say if you want to help real people, you have to be better than the manipulators, and the spruikers, and all the rest of it. So you’ve got to and then really people skills and soft skills applied well, and ethically, that said, the process so yeah, so we’ll test those processes. And a good example was, I was always part of my process very big on building rapport. So the first five to 10 minutes of a meeting, lots of questions where you’re from, how long have you been there? What do you enjoy, I’m trying to find connections with people. And four years ago, I did some sales consulting with a top sales trainer. And I still love getting coached and doing courses myself. Because the world continues to evolve rapidly. And this guy said, that don’t do that. He said, that is so old school, people know that the salesperson is in their report mode when they’re doing it these days. And so they’re just waiting for the men interview, because the old school way said, build rapport, and at a certain point, say, okay, and then you get down to your spirit. And that’s when that person in their head is going, alright, then they’re going to try to sell me something. So instead of that, he said, Look, you recall we built during the meeting by the good questions you ask. So at the start of the meeting, you’re trying to connect them back to why they reached out. So one of the first questions is, there’s a tiny bit of connecting them back. So you say something like, so I see you booked a meeting online at midnight, last Thursday, with with when you booked the meeting, burning the midnight oil, and they’ll laugh and immediately go back to that point. And at that point, you’d say what prompted you to reach out right now? So that question, all of a sudden, they’re reaching out to us, we’re not trying to sell them anything. Yeah. So they get back to their problem. So that little framing and and it’s it’s only been a minor change in my overall process. But one meeting times dropped. Because we’re not spending this. And if you get a talkative person up front, you can spend 25 minutes chatting before you get down to the planning, which can be nice that we, we try and advise them personality profiling as well. So you should be able to tell which people like that which people don’t, etc, as well. But yeah, the prototypes are always changing, and not so much. Sometimes the tech will change, but the conversations around the tech, the subserve, sometimes the tech will stay the same, but the conversations will get better. So we’ll come up with better questions to ask at certain times. One of my favorite questions when we get this plant up on the screen for people, and they go, Wow, this looks really good is just the size. So What stopped you from having this all in place right now? And that takes them back to why they came in once again. Well, we are too busy. I don’t actually know how to do this. So all of a sudden, yeah. And then you can ask simple questions. Would you like some help with putting all this together? Which is very basic and and we’re not trying to want to try to close we’re trying to sell people we’re just trying to help them get to their goals, which we really want fought out.

Jess Brady
Amazing and I am so I wish a bloody wish we had this conversation five years ago because I was trying to build things in a professor’s look, I’ve got a lot of years ahead of me, I hope in this world. But I am so guilty, Rob, we in our little business have been so guilty of building building things in a petri dish, trying to perfect things because our profession demands perfection in a lot of areas. And so that can bleed through. And so you waste so much bloody time trying to build something and get it to what you think is perfect for you.

Rob McGregor
There’s bits of our businesses that we have to get around our compliance. I’ve got I’ve got an audit next week. So we want to pass with flying colors. Yeah, but it was a little stressful time for the team. And that stuff’s got to be perfect. Or it’s got to be very good. But yeah, when when a people business, so a lot of what we’re not talking about client engagement, it’s about that soft skills of questioning and listening and diving deeper, and helping people to motivate themselves. Someone, one of my coaches once said, The difference between motivation and manipulation is, is what it’s used for. So if someone has a genuine goal that they desperately want to achieve, but they’re having trouble, because they’re too busy, they don’t know how to do certain things. And you use good people skills and listening skills and questioning skills to help them get what they want. That’s motivation, it’s not manipulation. Someone can use those same skills to get people to do what they don’t want. That’s not good for them. That’s manipulation. If we’re doing if we do if we think we do good things for people, then we should be our best when it comes to personal skills, of being able to talk to people and help them get what they need. And if that means saying, I don’t think we’re right for you, if that means saying, I’m not sure I’m the right person to help you right now. So that’s a common conversation that we would have if someone’s not a good fit right now, like in our business, I don’t do any transactional work, I have other people if someone says, I want some income protection insurance, or I need that or, or that consolidated my Supers, we just don’t do it. Now. That’s not to say others shouldn’t. But that’s just 25 years in the business. That’s what evolved to. I’ve got some wonderful people that I can refer that to. And sometimes I’ll point them back to their one of their existing Supers. They wanted to talk to your industry. So we found out consolidating, and then they come and see us when we show them some of the strategy stuff. And when you’re ready to start building out some strategy and a plan. That’s, that’s, that’s going to be the time to see us.

Jess Brady
Yeah. And what I’ve loved hearing from today’s conversation is youth tinkered. You’ve developed, you’ve prototyped, you failed. You’ve made mistakes. You’ve iterated and you’ve built and you’ve moved on. And that client engagement has been at the core of everything that you’ve developed to make sure that people are understanding what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and how it connects to their goals.

Rob McGregor
Absolutely. And to me, that’s the most important bit. And when I started this journey, 25 years ago, it was the bit I did not know how to do I knew about tax. As an accountant, I’d been in the investment industry for 14 years. I knew how to analyze shares, I knew how to do all this stuff. But it was all useless without the skills of being able to have decent conversations with clients and show them what we do another. I forget who this came from. But this kind of Summit summit tournaments, there’s three ways for people to know how good you are. One is you can tell them, and that’s not so good. Feet jam club happy. Most people will know that means that people that are members of the fig jam club, otherwise someone else can tell them. That’s pretty good. If your clients are an accountant tells them that I believe the best way is when you show them when they come into your office and you show them what you do. There’s they absolutely know what financial planning is they don’t have to read a document that says this is what we do, because you’ve shown them what you’re doing that first meeting.

Jess Brady
Rob, we have the problem that I thought we were going to have. I have all of the questions. But I have loved having a chat. Can we just do a couple of round out pieces. And then absolutely, unfortunately, I need to let you go. But you know, we could chat all day. If people want to learn more about you and the great work that you do and GPS, how and where should people find you my dear

Rob McGregor
GPS website? Predominantly. I have a lot of advisors that stalk us on our own website, McGregor wealth management, just to see how we present on some of those things. Were quite active in the digital marketing space and stuff like that. And demoed that so generally through through G Pls and the wonderful team there. Yeah, reach out to any any of the people there. Or hit me up on LinkedIn. I’m notoriously bad chipper on that. But occasionally I do. And we’re very small industry. So that’s, I’ve learned over the years, your only two degrees of separation from everyone in this industry. So I dare say there’s someone that I would know that know someone. And my main focus these days is my practice and mentoring within our group. So I used to be involved in onboarding advisors. But I’ve got a wonderful team that does that. We have a wonderful team at JPS. That does that. So if anyone’s looking at some of that, and yeah, reach out to them. And you get me through that.

Jess Brady
Amazing. Are you ready for some rapid fire questions? Far away? Look nervous? Don’t be nervous. You’ve sort of talked about this a little bit, but let’s just get it definitively what is one thing that you do that looks after your mental health?

Rob McGregor
I’m a surfer, and I live across the road from the beach. So I walk on the beach every day. And then I work out whether I’m just walking, whether I’m swimming, surfing, paddling, or what I’m doing. And that’s, that’s a key part of my mental health. I’m not thinking about work, and trying to keep fit as well, but have that whitespace time. I don’t think about working the surf, occasionally random ideas will pop up. But yeah, I’m not thinking about it.

Jess Brady
What’s a piece of advice that you would give to your younger self?

Rob McGregor
It’s funny, we’re just about to do a series for we’ve got 16 People in our groups that are on a professional and we’re just designing a webinar and what yesterday we came up with a name 10 messages, I would send us stuff when I was starting out in the industry. Learn the soft skills quicker. So the message would be yet forget about mastering the latest tech strategies or etc. You’ll know people who can do that and have those slow burn. But Master conversational skills master listening and develop your genuine empathy towards clients. So you can’t fake these things. I mean, in our industry, I mean people people do but most people are kind of, they can sense it. So my message to myself a bit learn the soft skills quicker.

Jess Brady
Okay. What’s one big thing on your bucket list that you haven’t ticked off yet?

Rob McGregor
This this so many of us are frozen by COVID. When we got locked in, I was just about to jump on a plane with my son. I guess surfing in the Matera was in Sumatra. So we booked to do that in March so there’ll be ticked off. I think my wife and I are going to Europe in October. I bungee jumped last year and I’m scared of heights because one of our kids said if I did it, he’d do it. Sometimes, I can’t think of one.

Jess Brady
Well, that’s a big ones. Yeah, well, they must be

Rob McGregor
done. But yeah, surfing next year back surfing with my son and the remote islands of Sumatra will be the one for now. Actually getting there and be fit enough to get there. Not enough to get there fit enough to handle the waves which are pretty good there.

Jess Brady
Yeah, I’d be sipping a pina colada at the shoreline under some sort of cabana. Last question for you. Do you have a book that I should read as part of my fake book club?

Rob McGregor
I have a library of about 300 books that across audible. I’m trying to think if there’s one that’s drew me a lot lately. The obvious one that helped me with soft skills and things was, yep, Stephen Covey, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, but it’s an oldie. It’s probably on everyone’s book list.

Jess Brady
That’s right. That doesn’t mean everyone’s read it.

Rob McGregor
Yeah. And the one the first one I gave to my, to my son when he started. He’s a qualified planner. But he did mortgage broking when he was younger, to get to just have that authority more readily than than full on financial advice. But it was the the oldie but a goodie How to Win Friends and Influence. There’s more modern versions of how to have conversation but in any book by people around how to build rapport, how to generate, not to do it to manipulate but how to actually get better at dealing with people because when you as we’ve talked about when you get deep with people, and we’ve talked about this last week, people tell us things that don’t tell anyone else that tell us when they’re about to have babies when they’re about to divorce. We get to know first if we have a real relationship, and that real relationship only comes from listening and being trustworthy.

Jess Brady
Totally. And you know, we were Talking about the fact that I haven’t had to have a really difficult conversation around someone telling me that they have become quite sick and I feel very grateful for that. But you’re right like we are have found out this last week. Yeah, last week. I’m the first to now have a new baby in the world. I’m the very first to know beyond the doctor’s visit.

Rob McGregor
Yeah, so nice it before they tell their parents. No one else

Jess Brady
knows. I feel very. I feel very privileged. So Rob, you’re amazing. You’re so generous with your time you are building things that we desperately need to incorporate to build long standing client relationships. I want to say an enormous thank you for your time today and I feel like this might not be the last conversation that we have.

Rob McGregor
Pleasure. Happy to do a part two.

Jess Brady
Thanks, Rob.

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