August 16, 2022

#334 Gianna Thomson – Transcript

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Ben Nash
Hey guys, Ben Nash from the XY advisor team and today I’m pumped to be here with Gianna Thomson Gianna has an advisor base down in the lovely Australian Capital Territory at under Fitzpatrick’s private wealth. Thankfully for us Gianna is joining us from the depths of her maternity leave with with tiny little six week Bub at home. So, Gianna, really thanks for joining us and appreciate you taking the time. No worries,

Gianna Thomson
Ben, it’s thanks for having me on the show.

Ben Nash
Look, I know through my wife that you can go a little stir crazy just talking to babies all day so hopefully we can give you an outlet for someone had talking. I thought it may be a good place to start with. Could you just talk us through your your advice journey and how you ended up where you are today?

Gianna Thomson
Yeah, sure. So started off in financial services. a&p back in 2001. Then I moved to superannuation, 2003. And then I had a bit of a took a br suppose about 10 or so years ago, and my dad’s financial planner through a&p saw my resume, I already had the diploma, financial services and all that kind of stuff and he kind of handed my resume around and that’s how I landed in my first financial planning role with an a&p firm. And kind of will actually start off as a paraplanner for a few months and then they put me through Australian Financial Planning role and then took off from there and now I run my own business been doing so for about three years and Fitzpatrick’s private work so yeah, it’s happy but busy during

Ben Nash
starting a business coinciding with starting a family as well. What was the what was the catalyst to to sort of, you know, take that leap and start your own gig

Gianna Thomson
I think well my whole family of business owners you know my you know, I grew up my dad is a business owner and an investor My whole family is and I kind of knew that you know to create the lifestyle that I want and you know, stuff I’m a bit of running a business was probably the way to go. They also were very big in helping people work out their ideal life and their goals or so forth and I was when I was in a straight line of superfans was very product driven based and that’s where you really want to stake a stake take a step back and focus on your goals based on finance and especially money money mindset and money cash flow management stuff as well. Yes, I thought you know what, instead of people telling me what to do I’m also just start my business and do the way things do things that I want to do. Yeah, I love it. It’s it’s it’s had no idea how crazy it would be if I knew that I probably wouldn’t have started to be honest

Ben Nash
Yeah, it’s funny that you go yell start a business and you know, give myself freedom and I know I do the same thing I can just travel the world and you know, I’ll take 10 weeks holiday year and that’s gonna be awesome. Then you get in and a few extra things that you maybe haven’t quite considered that needs to get done and with nobody else around you’re the one to do them. How you So you mentioned you’re a bit over three years you also told me just offline when we were chatting that you your eldest Bub is is around three as well how that balance and starting in business you know with having little one and now you with her, you know with a six week old as well, your business. Just the background for people listening in you’re, you’re the sole financial advisor, you’ve got to see you’re so focused on efficiency and you know, wanting to have good relationships, but with smaller numbers of clients, but yeah, how have you made that work for you?

Gianna Thomson
Yeah, well, my firstborn was born less than a year after I started my business and yeah, looking back I worked like crazy I took work to the hospital I didn’t take a break. But you know, I had to do it. You know, I didn’t have the cash flow and I still can’t build out my client base second time around. I’ve been you know, I’ve been a bit more proactive and bringing forward annual reviews and plan to take some time off to be be more focused and present with family which ones are very important. So whether planning, you know, outsourcing delegation, you know, Madeline been amazing stuff in the mandolin. She’s, yeah.

All my clients know her. So that’s been a breather, as well. But yeah, hard work. I’ve had a right from day dot Hello, money coach, so

a business coach as well. So Terry Reid, you know, having my own coach as well through this whole process has really helped me stay focused and build the lifestyle and the business that I want to create from not just myself, but my clients, my family as well.

Ben Nash
Yeah, nice. Yeah, it’s one of those things that I found for me that it forces you to delegate and you know, get a few things nailed. So you can create that freedom. So in some ways, it’s good. Other, you know, you might otherwise be just keep the stuff on your list for for longer, and you realize that it is possible, often surprising, that gives you a bit of motivation to keep going down that path. How do you manage it though, just generally, with you got two kids, essentially, like three and under. And then finding it finding a balance, not like outside of the monthly piece that you’re doing at the moment, but I slept, how do you make sure clients looked after businesses looked after families looked after? How does that work? Yeah.

Gianna Thomson
Yeah, well, first of all, you know, I do have an amazing husband who do work as a team. You know, he, he works from home a lot too. So we kind of communicate quite well. I worked for us to work full time when I’m not met live, but I see clients three days a week and then the other two days are working, you know, all the multiple file notes and stuff like that. Yeah, I’m picky with clients I bring on now I don’t bring on anyone and everyone. So do focus on more the more high paying clients provide them more personalized service is a very, you know, low cost product stuff. Kind of steered away from that now. Yeah, it’s and again, just you know, outsourcing, you know, outsource to paraplanning I don’t write my own SOPs anymore. Yeah, it’s, it’s, um, took a while to get here. And I’m still working on it. But like, you know, I managed to take I’m taking three months off at the moment, and I can actually breathe and know that everything’s financially well organized, because it’s fun to watch, you know, financial organized, our clients know exactly what’s going on. They’re all happy. Yeah, it’s pretty, pretty sweet spot. It’s very hard for us business owners to take time out. And I’m not completely switched off. I am tinkers tinkering and keeping things afloat. Nothing, no crazy, you know, 10 meeting a week, you know, stuffs going on. So

Ben Nash
that’s great. Well done. How you mentioned outsourcing for power planning. And obviously there’s a lot of different ways to do that. Let’s talk some people, offshoring outsourcing, insourcing. What sort of led you down that path? And what have been some of the learnings on the on the journey?

Gianna Thomson
Yeah, so I mean, I used to be a power planner. And when I first started, I did write my own SOPs and realize it’s a lot of, you know, that’s taking time away from me going out and meeting new clients, so forth. So Fitz used to have an internal propane team, which I did use religiously, and then they close it down, beginning of the year. And so I found a power planner, in Brisbane, Steve, he’s, he’s awesome. And I’ve just signed up with DBA as well to outsource to them. So yeah, I think it’s easier than hiring people within the business. A lot of cost to do that. And I hate managing staff, to be honest, I’ve got one staff member that’s in half. So outsourcing to me, is pretty sweet. And I’m just about to open up a very professional family home office as well. So I’m moving away from my corporate office in Kingston here, the home office not only got limited capacity, and we started to have you so that was another reason for doing it as well.

Ben Nash
Nice. And what would you say for anyone that’s that’s going down or in the outsource power planning path? What’s the most important thing that you think they should focus on to get that right?

Gianna Thomson
Um, I don’t think it’s so it’s having them good question. That I’m very big on compliance. So be prepared players being aware of that early licensee compliance. stuff. So then being open to understand what those compliance requirements are, and if possible, there’s a communication between the compliance team so DBA do have a communication line open because fits have established that with with with Steve, you know, he was supposed to be a personality type. He’s very open to learning and feedback and stuff as well. So it did take us a while to get to the point where I was happy with the roles and adjusting is always the same auctioned. And yeah, so bid patients, you know, Stevie’s easing is is in Australia. But I was doing a post like on my own I don’t feel comfortable going overseas but you know DBO bit of overseas in Australia. So

Ben Nash
it’s it sounds like it’s a lot of the same qualities that you look for in someone that you’d have in your own team doing it as well, that openness to learning or feedback communication. So I think I know and I’ve done it before, we used to outsource all of our power planning those guys were good. I’ve tried a couple of times and failed with other providers as well and just not having it’s not like this silver bullet that you can just go Okay, great. I made this plan. And there it is. Just expect people to know sort of get out with what you what you put in, or at least that was my experience, need to be patient and understand, just takes time for it to all work out. Let’s face it. Gianna, one of the things that you mentioned there was talking to people about life goals and money mindset and those sorts of things. How do you introduce that into your relationship with clients and planning process?

Gianna Thomson
Yeah, so a key reason why I joined Fitzpatrick’s as my life and see is because of the lead advisor training. And you know, part of that lead advisor training is a go through this 10 Three now process or legacy sort of thing. So, you know, before I’ve been clients on board, we meet for a 90 minute discovery session. And we use a whiteboard. And we visually map out where the thinking function right now. And we go through this level of learning legacy themes. So we don’t believe in what type of Lysa leaving the love to be doing anything, they would like to learn which case with the key to the new legacy piece. And those no big ticket items will have financial implications. And then we kind of work backwards to what we need to do next 12 months or so to really get the ball rolling. And every single client goes through that initial process before, before we’ve started to engage each other. So initial meeting, you know, don’t talk, you know, about products that don’t, you know, obviously don’t provide financial advice. It’s all about right, well, what would you like to help me? What would you like me to help you achieve? And why I suppose that could be context and peace

Ben Nash
makes a lot of sense. I find that people, sometimes we get really excited talking about our numbers and strategies and those sorts of things that they’re really that’s not the same emotional connection that you have when you do and I’ve seen and gone through that process myself before as well that, you know, what is the legacy and these deeper questions that create a real emotional response in clients help you build a relationship with them, get them pumped up about the things they want to do before you start talking tactics?

Gianna Thomson
Okay, if you can’t, because you wanna retire in three years, what would you like to do? You know, would you like to still live in Canberra? Would you grandkids that you want to, you know, see if it regularly bit more travel, you know, why, you know, what, and why do you want to retire? You know, a stress at work? Is there something else going on in the background?

Yeah, so it’s, it’s very fulfilling as well, you know, understanding their purpose.

Ben Nash
And then it leads to better connection with your clients as well, if you relate to them more in a personal and I think that’s where, like, sort of advice is shifting, so makes a lot of sense. Gianna, what would you say? Well, what’s been the most challenging part of your advice journey?

Gianna Thomson
Yeah, I think it’s the outsource piece. And, you know, I do have a staff member, and it

was very nerve wracking for me. Obviously, it costs, you know, everyone grapples about the cost of rising costs of running a small practice. And I get that as well. Juggling a family. So personal life and business life. Yeah, there’s, I suppose, you know, it’s just one big learning piece, I suppose.

Ben Nash
Yeah. I think you mentioned before, it’s just that constantly ongoing sort of refinement of what you’re doing and like, we work with a business coach like you and that just keeping that focus, like, why are you doing it? What’s that next 1% that you can do? And all those little things that you that you sort of have to

Gianna Thomson
So yeah, leading by example to like if I want to, you know, reach my clients lives and help them live the life and purpose and stuff I did lead by example, you know, I need to, you know, understand how to reach my own life and stuff too. And okay, yeah, it’s gonna bring business or help me build wealth, but what do I want to do with that wealth as well? So it’s, yeah, it’s kind of leading by example, not getting caught up to you know, doing 20 Me He’s awake, which you can easily easily do. You know, they’re just saying, Oh, and, as well, so. And I

Ben Nash
think the clients understand that and appreciate it as well. I know, I was fearful of that personal piece when I was early on in business that I wanted to feel like one of the clients feel like I was always available. But after a while I, I sort of shifted, and people, they know that everyone’s people at the end of the day, and you know, when urgent things are happening, you need some urgent support. But for the most part, you tell people that you’re taking three months mat leave, or that you’re, you know, going on holidays for a couple of weeks or a month that they understand that and as long as you’ve got the right things in place to make sure that they’re getting things that are crucial, then the other things can not be there for that period of time, and the world will not end. And sometimes it’s our mindset that sort of dictates that more than what the clients actually need, or or want as well.

Gianna Thomson
Yeah, and the clients who don’t respect that respect that you’re hearing your time from not the right time.

Ben Nash
Very true. What would you say you so you’ve been sort of almost four years in your business? What have been some of the biggest shifts for you?

Gianna Thomson
What do you mean by biggest shifts?

Ben Nash
What have been some of the biggest changes in in either your business or what you’re doing with clients or how you’re doing what you’re doing?

Gianna Thomson
Yeah, well, when I first started, I want to do a lot of money coaching, as well. As well as providing advice, and I was providing money coaching as a standalone service. I can do that. Because the money coaching was very time consuming and not very profitable, to be honest. So I have kind of incorporated that into my heart, my top tier service to private wealth program, which is like a 20 grand a year service. So I’ve kind of, you know, include the money coaching stuff within that, and sort of standalone. That’s been a big thing. Yeah. Well, so when I first started, I wanted to focus on, you know, women, women, and in finance, and so forth. But I quickly changed to just do you know, more professionals and business owners and senior public servants. So I’m kind of glad I made that shift quite early as well. Yeah, and yeah, focusing on, you know, low client advisor ratio. So you know, less clients hire more high paying clients. So like, you know, give it more personalized service, like I attend the counter meetings and estate planning meetings, you know, it’s not just products of advice you typically.

Ben Nash
So the first couple of things that you mentioned there, the money coaching as a standalone service and the focus solely on on female, what’s the obviously those are quite big shifts in in moving away from them? How did you? How did you sort of assess that over time? Is that part of the work with your business coach, or like what? You know, what were you looking at to lead you to make those decisions? How did you because it’s hard, I know, for me that you get you get an idea and you go great, this is like, I’m so excited that we’re going to launch this online course, or, you know, do this thing. And it often isn’t until, for me, I found like, I got so caught up in, like doing an online course and writing poor and trying to do social media advertising. And I got so distracted with doing that, that I just stopped making money. And then I was like, Holy shit, what’s that? What happened to my bank account? Because like, well, pouring like hours and hours into this thing. And it might be a good idea, but it’s not the right idea at this point in time, but I wish that I had a structured approach to figuring that stuff out at that time, because it would have saved me a few bucks on the journey. So what does that mean for you?

Gianna Thomson
Yeah, so with the money coaching staff, it was I quickly realized that it wasn’t profit making and people weren’t really valuing, like, yeah, we want to budget we want to save that kind of stuff, but it’s got like, kind of like, trying to lose weight, right? If

there’s, if you don’t really want to do it, you’re not gonna stick to the plan. I just got frustrated. I’m like, You know what, I don’t really

enjoy this anymore. So that was my shift and incorporating within the private wealth program and giving it to clients who need it and you want it you know that it was just a bit more Yeah, well, that’s just been working much better. I mean, not everyone in the private wealth program wanted or need it, so I’ll just stay away, but there are those who need it and you know, they pay me you know, that large amounts, not some money. There, you know, the value of what I’m doing and being here for a reason, because with the money coaching stuff, I was charging like two grand or less about that. And you know, had like, I think six or eight meetings and it was kind of still home like, this is just ridiculous. With the women’s stuff, just more, I just, you know, I was attracting, you know, couples. And obviously, it was amazing. Our clients were like, You know what this family enjoy, I don’t really want to stare in the female, just like as in females, and plus, you know, this already amazing financial advisors out there who focus on payments and do really well as well. So, so that was just a natural progression for me just so nice.

Ben Nash
Yeah, don’t want to discount those blokes. They’re good. They’re good, you know, from time to time.

Gianna Thomson
Maybe. But yeah, I think it was just Yeah, I think especially because I wanted to focus on, you know, an ideal client base, and I just see a nationally just

Ben Nash
a lot of planning opportunities for couples, I’d say more than for individuals, whether that’s a male or a female, I’d say because there’s a little bit more strategy that comes into it different tax rates, optimize strategic consideration. So gives us a few more things that we can draw on to add value back to the clients as well. I found in my experience, Gianna, what are the things in you mentioned a few things that have changed there? What are the things that haven’t changed for you?

Gianna Thomson
Oh, that haven’t changed to me. From when, from when I was just financial planner, as an employee to now is me.

Ben Nash
Yeah. And your advice, and maybe more so in the business? Like, since you started, what are the things that that have just stayed the same?

Gianna Thomson
From day dot, I’ve always charged for the initial discovery session. Actually, not day dot from probably from about three months in. I was charged for the session. So $195, I mean, which is quite small for the amount of value. And yeah, that’s hasn’t changed. Because I think going the other way around, I think they’re worse off because you’ll be attracting people who don’t know your value or really interested in financial advice. So that hasn’t changed. From day dot, you know, pre COVID have always offered either face to face meetings, all via zoom from data. And because I did that, because I really wanted to create a flexible business, not just for myself, but for my business clients as well. And that hasn’t changed that that was a really big decision. disruption. Yeah, we COVID here, it’s like a business as usual. For me. It used to be really, so yeah, my licensee hasn’t changed. haven’t changed last season, since I started my business. And go through that level I learned next your 10 Three now exercise hasn’t changed as well. So I’ve been doing that from day dot. And in fact, I was doing that before I started the fits as well. So they’re probably

Ben Nash
nice. I love the charging at the front end, because I think it sets the tone for your relationship with with clients as well that you only want to be having conversations with people that it’s not about that $195 As you know, like, it’s not like you’re ever gonna get rich from from running that as a business, but just people that value having conversation with you enough to commit their time and a few bucks for it, I think is is a really good one. Plus, if someone’s gonna pay $200 for meeting they’re probably not going to pay $20,000

Gianna Thomson
Yeah, that’s like organizing an event, you know, we’ve got all kinds of answers probably have to and even just charging $10 ahead, you know, you’re getting much better turnout than just offering completely free. So in my in my experience, so it’s amazing. But yeah, the online meetings, you know, when I was at first I super every single meeting at that time had to be in person, even if they were like four hours away. But this is why you know, in my business I need to be flexible for my clients as well as myself and

offering every meeting is offered either via zoom or in person and yeah, 50% is via zoom for 2% a person and that’s the clients choice.

Ben Nash
Yeah, we started offering like we put everything to zoom when COVID spent going on and since then we’ve we’ve been offering people in person if they want to do it, but we found probably still less than 10% of our meetings happen in person even though clients are just around the corner like a lot of people in Sydney CBD when they when they are working out of an office. So it’s funny I think that people have become in Sydney at least like they’ve become addicted to that the the efficiency that you get from being able to fire up the zoom and definitely for couples as well. It means that you can have people in different locations super Yes,

Gianna Thomson
work from home. I mean, I still find in the initial discovery session, a client’s just generally prefer to be in person so they can get a sense of who am I who I am. And I actually prefer that to ongoing clients, you know, you know, existing relationships. Yeah, maybe via zoom.

Ben Nash
Yeah. Yeah, Gianna, if you could go back to your, to your yourself on day one of starting your business and and do do one thing differently, what would it be?

Gianna Thomson
What would it be? Um probably outsource from day dog. And so try and do everything myself. I mean, I understand you know, dogs, I literally started with the big fat 00 clients money. But outsourcing all that stuff, what we call the red stuff allows you to focus on the black I suppose the actual money generating stuff. So that’s what I’ve done differently. Um, yeah, I don’t know. Like, it’s I’m kind of happy will contend with how things have progressed to me. There has been change. I have frustrations. But maybe regrets, to be honest. What I would have done differently.

Ben Nash
I saw I saw Chris Hemsworth getting interviewed off the back of the light the fall movie recently. And like, they said, What would you change? Or what would you what would you piece of advice you’d give? He goes, Well, he goes by change anything, I wouldn’t have ended up here. So you gotta just keep following the path and don’t change any?

Gianna Thomson
Yeah. Yeah, we haven’t completely changed. But um, no, it’s been good. I mean, definitely still growing, I think next steps are to either pursue, while I’m still trying to work, what’s the next steps are to be honest, for the business, I’m still in growth phase, definitely not maturity phase and business line. So whether it be hiring a associate advisor or merging with more of a senior adviser, or just focusing on myself, and you know, just focusing on this more, sorry, the bigger clients as well.

Ben Nash
Yeah, tricky. It says a lot of different ways to be right with that. And obviously, we’re having a bit of a chat before firing it up. You know, running an ultra lean business has a lot of advantages. You get that flexibility. Like I say, not a lot of obligation in terms of the team, having more team gives you a bit more revenue capacity. Bit more time capacity, allegedly. So yeah, a lot of different ways to be right. But you’ve sort of sold on my next question, potentially, which is, I was just going to ask, like, what’s coming up for you what’s on what’s on the radar, other than trying to get sleep and show those two kids?

Gianna Thomson
Yeah, well, that’s an open spoken my new office. So I have a just bought a new house and attached to that house is my new office. So very professional, family. This. That’s happening soon. Yeah, you’re broadening the team through more outsourcing as well. So take a bit more workload off me. So I’m still doing stuff that’s not really, you know, that cannot be outsourced. updating my website. So currently working with Fitz marketing team to update my website, which I’m really excited about as well. Yeah, so

Ben Nash
funny. How funny. Yeah, that’s right. Well, Gianna, thank you so much for sharing your story. Really appreciate it, as I say, particularly given that you’re in the thick of your maternity leave, but really exciting times ahead. So look forward to hearing how it goes in the next one. Yeah, no worries.

Gianna Thomson
Thanks, Ben. Thank you.

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