November 10, 2022

#359 Charlie Fraser – Transcript

Share :

LinkedIn
Twitter

Jess Brady
What are the markers or the hallmarks of success? For us in our world? Is it that you run your own business, that you have lots of referrals and lots of client opportunities? Is it that you’re innovating and doing something that no one else is really doing? Well? Is it that you’re winning awards? Big awards? What if you do all of those things? And it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t gonna work? It isn’t sustainable. Have you failed? And what is it to fail? I’m talking to Charlie Fraser this week. Now, we talk a lot about all of the things that I’ve just mentioned, the fact that we put all of these external markers of success at the forefront of our mind. And we tell ourselves stories that often are really untrue. We’re going to cover a pretty raw and real chat today about Charlie’s journey through a large institution to jump out into his own business and realizing, actually, this isn’t going to work. What did that feel like? Did he in fact, fail? And where is he at now? Enjoy. Hi, Charlie.

Charlie Fraser
Hey, Jess.

Jess Brady
Are you ready for today’s chat?

Charlie Fraser
I’m ready.

Jess Brady
I think we’re going to have a chat that is quite unusual, actually. Because you’ve done I would say your story is really unique, which we’re gonna get into, and you’ve done, what is the opposite to what most people do. So rather than me keep being cryptic, why don’t I hand over to you for further context? Charlie, let’s talk a little bit about your story. And then I’ve got many, many questions that flow from that. But for people who don’t know you, let’s rock and roll who aren’t you, Charlie? And what’s your story?

Charlie Fraser
It’s profoundly disinteresting. But I hope I can make it mildly interesting for you. So I guess we’ll pick up the story. You know, I fell into financial advice, as most people did, working for a bank wanted to do more for people found it really interesting, ended up doing financial advice within one of the big banks for, I don’t know, five or so years, which I enjoyed, but then started to look for a little bit more. And then ended up at one of the private wealth divisions of a trustee company, which I was there for a few years, and then ended up just really just through serendipity as much as anything else working with for the trustee company working with people that didn’t have capacity to look after their own financial affairs, and did that for quite a few years. And we built we built a big practice in that which was, which was quite rewarding. And I and I loved it. But circa 2015, I think I’d been there for about 11 years, and it was just now it’s just probably just time for a change for me. And also, what I felt was in my work, I felt that sometimes we were solving for the wrong problems. In that I had a financial background, the worked with a big team, and they a lot of them had a legal background and a trust background. Whereas for our clients who were dealing with people with catastrophic injuries, and were dealing with the families, they needed help with day to day life, they needed help with well being and added support. And I just so often felt that I had a lot of empathy for the people that I was dealing with, but I just didn’t have the tools to help them. And ultimately, in 2015, I just just decided, look, I think it’s probably time for me to make a change, and left that role really not with any strong sense of what it was that I wanted to do other than, I think we might be able to do this a little bit differently. And so quite, if I’m being frank probably quite naively ended up in my own business. And really, the reason for that was, I came up with a business model, which was ultimately combining wellbeing services with financial services, and then taking a step away from the system focusing on their compensation work, but taking a step away from the trustee company, and then working alongside a trustee company as a separate financial advisor. And the idea then would be, we have a what we what we call at the time, a role, which was a well being advocate, who would be the friendly face for the client had a disability or health advocacy background and could actually get into the trenches with them, and help them with their lives on a day by day basis, that then translates into financial needs, and then we can provide the advice from there and, and so the reason I ultimately went out on my own was, because all the firms that I spoke to, when I left my previous firm, they were really interested in us from a new business point of view, because I had a pretty good track record of, of new client acquisition, and are very interested in that. But when it came to the support we needed, and when it came to the model, this well being model that we’re putting together, the the interest was, was dulled, because it just didn’t really fit into anybody’s model. And so, it really just got to a point where I thought, well, if we’re going to do this, I’ll have to have to do it by myself. And, and so then really just hurtled down the road of self employment, licensing, all the things of which I really had no, not to say no idea about, but was quite grinning. And six months later, we had had a business set up, we opened the doors. And, and look, we were remarkably successful, we went from a standing start with zero clients to an operating profit in nine months, I think, which was, which was wonderful. But we did become a bit of a victim of our own success to a point in that we grew much faster than my processes could grow with it. And, and also, I’d just from a personal point of view, just being self employed just didn’t, didn’t sit well with me, you got very used to, and I’m sure anyone who’s self employed will understand he just got very used to not sleeping, got very used to worrying about everything all of the time. And so there was a bit of a confluence, where when he alluded to earlier, where I’ve done things a little bit differently to a lot of people. It was a confluence, where, from a personal point of view, it probably wasn’t working for me, from a business point of view, it was going well, but I wasn’t getting paid yet. And because I hadn’t intended to really set up my own business, I just I didn’t have a really big war chest. And I hadn’t been to be frank, very sensible in the way that I’d manage my cash flow either because almost didn’t want to, didn’t want to acknowledge that. And then I had some had some structural issues with my business as well. And so all of those things came together and I thought, okay, as much as I love this, and I love the brand, and I love what we’ve built and people have really bought into this business was called Lyndhurst, I built, bought into that Lyndhurst family, as we call it, it just wasn’t right. And so then, you know, that decision was made where we had to had to make a change.

Jess Brady
It’s so interesting, because I, you know, I resonate deeply having come from the big end of town, and, you know, sometimes it can feel really constrictive, to not be able to build something that you see is so glaringly obviously needed. And then you take that leap of faith and you start a business and your, the sheer level of overwhelm is really hard to describe if you’ve never been there. I think it might be like having a baby, like, you can read all about it all you like, but until you actually have one, it’s complete. I say this without a baby. But I’d imagine it’s quite similar. Charlie, let’s talk about that conflict. Because externally, you’re doing really well, the business is doing really well from you know, all of the measures that people can see, you’re innovating and bringing something into advice that is really like market leading, you’re winning awards, which I want to talk about in a little bit. But you’re not sleeping, you’re really stressed. And you’re not taking an income. At what point in this journey, because that’s a huge conflict, where everything looks great, and things are stressful at the same time. At what point or was there something that happened where you went? Nah, this is not going to be how we survive the next 510 15 You like, how did it get to the point where you were like, I need an alternate option.

Charlie Fraser
Yeah, and I think, though it was like it was a confluence of events. It was firstly it was up from a business point of view, we had something which it happened, which which structurally affected our practice. And I’ll talk to you about that briefly. And what it was was, so a lot of the work that I got that and still get where you, you receive a referral for a client, for a potential client from a personal injury lawyer for someone who has received typically a large sum of money, and quite commonly, they don’t have capacity to manage their money, so they need a trustee. And the business model that we’d set up was this list that I would refer that work to me. And then I would, I had a couple of different trustee companies that I had relationships with, and I would then go and talk to the trustee companies, and then we would find the most appropriate one for the client. And then ultimately, the trustee company would appoint me as the advisor. But the way we’d set up our model was we had the primary relationship with the client, because we had the well being services. And so we thought that was a pretty good model. And I had an issue where a barrister, and we had a family down the Gold Coast, lovely family, little girl, I think she might have been five, had cerebral palsy had received a lot of money. And from a solicitor I’d known for a really long time, fantastic relationship with the family, everything was going really well. And then the solicitor rang me and she said, Look, we have a problem. So because the barrister has said that he doesn’t feel comfortable getting up in front of a judge and getting this what they call sanction. So getting the court to stamp the appointment. And what she explained to me was that she said, the issue that the barrister had was has with this is even though it’s the trustee company that’s being appointed by the court, that’s not who the clients are appointing in their mind, the clients are in their mind or appointing you. And there’s two issues or the main issue with that is is does this child need somebody to support them for potentially 80 years? And yes, there’s a trustee company there. But ultimately, they’re putting all of their faith in you, and you being able to deliver that is is reliant upon you being able to get out of bed every day. And so we consequently, didn’t win that client. And, and that was a bit of a fork in the road for me from a business point of view, because from a personal point of view, as I said before, it probably wasn’t working. And when I went home, and I had a chat with my wife about what had happened. And she had some interesting contact because part of the reason for setting up their businesses her she had a twin, her twin brother had severe cerebral palsy, which is where the sort of the idea for the business came from. And she just said, Well, what what would we do? She said, if that was our child, what would we do? Would we put our faith in a one man band? She said the answer’s no, she said, it doesn’t matter how good your practice is. You can’t get over that. That’s that’s a glare. And now and her point, which was the right one, she said, now, now that you know it, you can’t get over it either. And so I rang a mentor of mine, who was a lovely fella. And he just said, look, you’ve got a great business. And he’s pretty frank, so I won’t use the exact words he used. But he said, you’ve got a great business, but you’re structurally challenged, let’s say said that. I

Jess Brady
endorse squaring that shop. And so I mean, when you were telling me what the barrister said, if you really step back, it makes a lot of sense. Yeah, it does. And whilst we’re talking about this as a niche, what you do is quite niche for the majority of people who are listening, particularly those who who run really tiny businesses, it’s probably a really interesting point for advised clients more broadly, because the age of a financial advisor is not young. And I think that this concept probably rolls through the the mind of many people who want to get advice, like, are you going to be there for me? Or who’s going to be there for me, where what happens to your clients? And the level of productivity in that conversation is probably quite low, because for the majority of one man bands that I know, they don’t have succession sorted. And so that creates enormous challenges when something does happen. So yes, I appreciate that. This is quite a niche component as to why that barrister said no, but I think it speaks volumes to challenges that many other advisors would face just in a different sort of way.

Charlie Fraser
I think that you’re Precisely right. I think it’s it’s for the if I can put if I can say this the normal financial advice market, it’s it’s wouldn’t be something that’s articulated in that way, and that most people aren’t making 50 year decisions when they appoint an advisor. They possibly are, but then maybe not thinking about it that way. But yeah, it’s it’s it is a key issue. And it was one that I had to face pretty starkly. And also then, as I said, it would have been a confluence of events. It was at that point where my wife also sat me down and she said, Look, my support for you going into this practice was contingent upon two things. One was that you don’t that we see you that you don’t work 80 hours a week. And yeah, One is that you don’t risk our house. And she said, the business is tracking along pretty well. But if this is the structural issue that you’re coming up against, then that means your new business acquisition could possibly be affected because the barrister involved was one of the most influential barristers in Queensland. So I knew that I had a problem. And she said, and also, and her words were, she said, this business needs 80 hours a week. And she said, and you don’t have it in you, because it’s just not that important to you. She said, you know, your family and your life. And your kids are too important to you to give the time to the business that it needs. And she said, so you just, we just need to say that just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should. And so that was really that was the day and it was the next day that I started the process of okay, well, how do I where to? What do I do now?

Jess Brady
Was this at the time when you were also advisor of the year,

Charlie Fraser
it was at the time I was going through the process of being considered for? Because you won that yesterday?

Jess Brady
Congrats, obviously, congrats at the extraordinarily robust and thorough process. So to win that. It is. I say this, not because I’ve done it, but because I was part of the judging process it was involved in and so I did a huge amount of deep diving into all of the businesses. So I feel like I know a little bit about what that looks like. So you’ve got this interesting situation where externally, you’re, you’re killing it. Let’s just say that your partner is saying this is not viable, your largest, a huge referral opportunity has noted that something is is really wrong. And you are then convinced that you have to make a change. was being advisor of the year or being on a pedestal did that influence? What impact did that have? It may have had no impact at all. But did it? Did it make you feel like you have to do a certain thing, or behave a certain way? I don’t know if I’m making it making sense at all.

Charlie Fraser
No, you aren’t making sense, I think it create obviously created a conflict in my mind. Because by the time I won the award, I had moved to the firm that I’m now with. And so there was an element of okay, well, I’ve won this award based on a based on a business now that I no longer operate, the service hadn’t changed. So I didn’t feel any issue in relation to that. But the thing though, that it did do was because we hadn’t been operating the business that long really when I won that award. So that’s the thing that I positive I took from it was that what it was was it was proof of concept for me, which is to go you know what, I’d be right to keep this business going, I’d be right to prove it out, I’d be right to build all these clients and push on and kill myself doing it and build a great, a great business, which would be a wonderful representation of my ego. But you can be right or you can be successful and happy quite often you can’t be both. And so what it did do for me was to say, it’s enough. It’s, it’s like, that’s an amazing recognition, really, for something that was just inside my head. And yeah, and so you just have to satisfy yourself and you gotta look, it’s not perfect, but it’s enough,

Jess Brady
the level of vulnerability required to acknowledge that pushing through is based on ego is huge. And we all have an ego, we should have an ego. But how big we let that ego inflate, obviously is our choice and obviously has really large consequences. And I think that that point that you just made around whether you are right, or successful and happy. So really, it’s a really important point for many of us to ponder. But I also want to throw something in the mix because this didn’t feel good. All right. Let’s talk about that. You say to me, that when you made this decision for a really long time, you felt in some ways like you’d failed. Yep.

Charlie Fraser
Yeah. Why? Well, I think by it depends on the lens with which, with which you look at it, by any conventional measure. If you don’t understand the context, then you look at it and you go, Okay, well, this goes left to begin. So he’s gone out on his own, the business has folded within however long and now he’s back to begin stone. So by most objective measures, that’s failure, isn’t it? The business has failed. Like I’ve still got a beautiful capital loss for my business that I can carry forward. So by every objective measure, it’s a failure. And, and so that’s, that’s, that’s what you take with you. But that’s the that’s the price as well.

Jess Brady
And when you felt like this, did you do anything? That was a bit weird, like, I want to understand from a mental health perspective, like how significantly did this impact you

Charlie Fraser
by That’s so good question. I don’t know I like I’m, I am one of those people whose mind is dying all the time. And it is that, you know, as they say the thing that makes you strong makes you weak. The thing that makes me strong is, is that you constantly question whether you’re working hard enough, a good enough friend good enough dad good enough parents. Sorry, good enough husband, all that stuff like you always question I always push that every single minute. And that makes me successful is probably is an objective term. But it makes me good at certain things. But it also makes you weak because you’re constantly questioning yourself. And it can be, it can be quite difficult to just I admire people who can just make a decision, roll a line under it and move forward. Maybe they don’t exist, maybe they just pretend. But it was in the people I really struggled with. So I lost contact with quite a few people for a while. But they were and they were the people who were in business themselves or people who were partners in accounting firms. So the people who were taking the risk that I’d walked away from, and they were the people I’ve not avoided, I’m gonna avoid it is actually the right word I did avoid.

Jess Brady
I’m like, Yeah, you lost contact, let’s Let’s call a spade a spade, you probably proactively chose to not be around those people. Is that a fair comment? Absolutely. Because they were doing it and you were no longer doing it?

Charlie Fraser
Yeah. Yeah. And so it was that I was making the decision for them as to how they were viewing me. And so it’s that took years, years, did it. Yeah. And it wasn’t until I felt completely comfortable. Where I am now. We shadforth It wasn’t really until I felt comfortable. There were I always knew that moving here always knew logically that it was the right thing to do on every single aspect of, of my life. And in my practice, I know that. But it takes a while to convince yourself emotionally that it was the right thing to do.

Jess Brady
So you’ve built this story, that I have failed, that this is shameful, that I can’t be around those people who are doing the thing that I couldn’t do or didn’t do or wouldn’t stick around to do. And that’s keeping you or you know, surrounding your thoughts over and over again, because you sound like an over thinker, I am not an over thinker. So I’d love to learn from you. And you can probably learn from me, that’s a really big spiral when you’re trying to lift processes into a new place when you’re trying to move people to somewhere new, and tell them everything’s gonna be okay. And that it’s the same thing. You know, I find it fascinating that we put an enormous amount of pressure on ourselves more than we would ever expect other people to shoulder, we are hypercritical of things that don’t work out well, because we tell ourselves that failure is ultimate, and that it’s the cliff and that you can never come back rather than a learning and that we’re all failing. And frankly, if you’re not failing, you’re not trying enough, and that you’re not brave enough. But you’ve actually also cut community which can help you during those periods. Because of all the reasons that you’ve already said, when you finally reconnected with that community. Did you find that the stories that you told yourself were completely false? Or what they thought of you? Thank you. Thank you didn’t care in the slightest. But we’re fascinating, aren’t we silly?

Charlie Fraser
And I remember, and we’re talking about people that I’d been friends with, since high school to like we’re talking people I was really close to and I remember talking to one of them. And this isn’t that long ago, to be truthful. He’s I make, yes, I don’t care. He has whatever works for you works for me. Because if it doesn’t, if that’s the best thing for you to do is that that’s what I thought at the time. That’s the best thing for you to do. Well, that’s the best thing for you to do. He goes, he goes, you go to what you do. You look after your clients, your good friend, what happened? And so and so obviously, you don’t learn things. We get wiser in retrospect, don’t we? Not at the time. So but it was really good. You know, it’s that it was a really good lesson for me of that ultimately, it’s it’s not way work. It’s not who you work for. It’s not whether you’re self employed, it’s not what car you drive, it’s just Well, are you decent person? Do you? Do you do a good job? Can you look yourself in the mirror every morning and go? Yeah, I’m gonna I think I’m doing okay. And that’s ultimately what it gets back to.

Jess Brady
We wrap so much worth around things that frankly, are silly, so silly and it’s so interesting. And I guess why I’m really like, drilling down on this is because Charlie you and I know that we’re not alone in this when we’re talking about ego and shame and stories that we’ve made for ourselves like this. People who are listening have probably generated stories that are also untrue, that they probably also need to overcome and unpack and think well, is that my ego? Or is that the is that the truth? And is that my worth and who I am as a human? Or am I much more than that? Because we do put all these markers of success is completely X Journal validations of who we are, yeah. And you build a business now inside of larger business, which is going really well, which we’re going to come to and huge congrats. But it has longevity, which was the structural problems. So you’ve actually succeeded because you’ve fixed the thing that was holding you back.

Charlie Fraser
Oh, that’s right. And it’s and we haven’t just fixed it, in that we’ve been able to use the scale that working for a large organization brings and expand the services out. So, you know, yes, we still do the personal injury work. And yes, it’s still significant part of my practice, but in terms of our total practice, now, it’s, you know, it’s probably only a quarter of of the new client work we do. And yet, the work that we have expanded out into, so we really we broken our practice down into two is that we do a lot of work with people whose wealth is going to outlive them. That’s the way that we look at it. And the other part of it is we work with families who have experienced some adverse life event. And they’ve got big financial decisions they have to make, but they need to be in the right headspace to make them. And so we’ve been able to expand that practice out to well beyond personal injury. So now we’re working with people who’ve had cancer diagnosis, sudden bereavements family, people who’ve come out of bad marriages, like so many areas in which people have been left damaged isn’t the right word, but who are traumatized from something that’s happened to them. And we’ve been able to put a whole practice around it. So what we realized for was, what we’re solving for is not people who’ve had really catastrophic injury, like that’s the Super pointy end, we’ve built a practice where you go, actually put people in front of people who are empathy first. And then problem solving second, Tee, that’s almost everybody. And that’s what surprise. That’s what surprised us more than anything is, is like when we work with business owners like I’ve got a few clients who are almost like I’ve got a couple of clients with like ASX listed CEOs. And the conversations are almost exactly the same different as as for my families who have a severely disabled child like they, obviously they’re completely different. But at the at the nub of it, they’re exactly the same. What do you

Jess Brady
think advisors can learn about how to bring this concept of true well being? Assistance into advice?

Charlie Fraser
Yeah, it’s it’s difficult. I sort of feel like, if I can say this, I feel like the term Well, being has probably been a little bit co opted. Everything has to be well being driven now.

Jess Brady
Okay, do you got a better word?

Charlie Fraser
It’s almost like, I feel like I liked it before. It was cool. I was like, Okay. Look, I don’t, I don’t know the answer to that, to be honest. Because it is, you know, we all it’s a little bit like, you know, a firm which has on their website, we act with honesty and integrity. It’s like, well, what else are you going to put on your website that you don’t. And I think there’s just an element of caring about people’s well being if you’re a good professional, regardless of what what profession you’re in, that should be at the core of what we do. A good doctors are the ones who genuinely care about the person that’s sitting in front of them, they don’t care about what’s on the report that they’re looking at, like, that’s the differentiator between a good professional and just, you know, I’d say stock standard professional. So, because we

Jess Brady
all want to be good at well being or whatever the non call call word word is for it. But like I, you know, I, I see tremendous opportunity for us to do it better. Because, as you rightly point out, irrespective of what’s happened in someone’s life, whether they’ve had a big tea, or a small tea or whatever, you know, most people have got a story. Most people have got trauma, most people have had generational trauma, and they come up and, and that’s impacting how they think about risk or money or whatever. So there’s obviously a financial component to it. But we aren’t equipped to be able to host some of the conversations that people want to have with us. And I’m interested to understand like, do you have an allied health sort of referral program? Or like, how do you specifically bring wellbeing into what you do now?

Charlie Fraser
So we’ve still got so we have, we’ve changed the role slightly. For me what was previously a well being advocate role is now what we call a well being relationship manager. So we’ve changed that role ever so slightly, and, and so the lady that’s working with us now she’s got a background in disability in health care, she’s done work with NDIS. So she’s done everything from being a carer right through to running teams and helping people obtain employment, all of those type of things. And so that’s a service for some of our clients. It’s an every day, but for a lot of our clients, if you look at the other side of our practice, the the families who don’t really have any need for it on a day to day basis, the point being from our, our point of view is is that that’s a service that somebody might only need once, but you also get those times where your client rings and I have that client he runs and he said, Look, my mom’s has been diagnosed As with dementia, what the hell do I do now? And so I just went right, I just talked to Davina the ladies of working with us just talk to dinner, and we’ll just work it out. And her job is not to solve the problem, it’s just to help them unpack it, and then go, Okay, go here, do this, do that, do this, do that. And that person hasn’t needed her since it was probably a one week where he where she helped him. But he has referred so many people afterwards. Because his point being as he said to people, he said, Go and talk to these guys, because they’re really good with your money. And it doesn’t really matter what life throws at you, they’ll help they can help. And, and so that for me is the well being bidders is where you can genuinely say, I don’t necessarily have the answers for you for what’s going on. But we, as I sometimes describe, we run towards the things that that most advisors run away from, which is we’re not we want to know, and we got people that pay us a lot of money. And it’s it’s incumbent upon us to care is probably the way I describe it.

Jess Brady
And I think for people who go through something that is really stressful, particularly if something’s been diagnosed, or there’s been an accident or something occurs if someone dies, the level of overwhelm is huge. And to even have someone tells you things that logically you should know, like, you need to call this person you need to think about this, like our brains aren’t working in a normal way when those things occur, it’s good to have someone on call, or to give you a roadmap and say, right, this might not be exhaustive. But here’s the things that I think you should go and do the level of psychological comfort that there’s someone there who is specifically going to make sure I don’t miss anything. That’s huge. And really rare. Charlie, do you now world?

Charlie Fraser
Yeah, look, I think it is, it is quite rare, sadly. But it is that, as you said, and that next step to go beyond that, which is to go, what can I take off your plate, and I’m not equipped to have I can have those conversations, and I’ve got an enormous amount of empathy. But but that’s not my training. It is the ability to go, Okay, I’ve got empathy with your situation, but how do we turn that into action that’s helpful for you. And you don’t have to be a practice like ours, where you have someone dedicated in house, it’s just about, you know, be the person that knows a person, which is if somebody tells you that something going on just go well, how can I solve that? How can I help them solve that,

Jess Brady
and we’re staring down the barrel of more people aging than sort of ever before. So if you aren’t thinking about this in your practice, and you work with older people, it’s just a matter of time before you get that call, and you just perhaps don’t have the right connections or the right thing to say to that person. And then they realize you’re not the person to call

Charlie Fraser
this thing. Yeah, that’s exactly right. And ultimately, I think, from a financial planning point of view, the financial management of of money is, you know, we can we can all kid ourselves as to how important we are and how much value we can add from a portfolio point of view. But largely, it’s, it’s getting pretty close to being commoditized. And so if we want to, in our practices continue to charge the kind of fees that we did in the past, the, you know, the puppet show of, of moving money around and being super active, and trying to pretend that we can add value that way. It’s been so comprehensively debunked, that, I don’t think that that’s a successful way to be able to practice. And I remember when, long time ago, taking Microsoft, the firm I came from was a super active house. And then when I set up my own practice, you know, we hit upon this in Evidence Based Investing in asset class investing, and all of those kinds of things that come with it. And explaining that to my wife at the time. And she said, Well, that’s great, but what are the clients need you for? And so that’s actually the key, which is what what are you going to do? If you’re not pulling the puppet strings all the time with the investments? How do you add value? And so really, then having to dive in to think okay, well, we’re not when actually solving a problem if we’re if we’re doing portfolio management all the time. So what, what problems are we actually solving for people, and that was really the key. And the reason I ended up with shadforth is because they’re an evidence based investment house, cashflow driven, long term driven. And you know, as our CEO says, we’re in the business of making 50 year promises and keeping them. And that’s why I’m so comfortable, even though it’s in one sense. You could argue you lose freedom by moving into an institute back into an institutional framework from your own practice. But it depends on what your lens is. My lens is, I can I can look these people in the eye and go, there will still be somebody here in 50 years to look after you he won’t be me. But there will still be somebody here but making sure that that informs every single element of the way we run our practice.

Jess Brady
Is it a big misconception that a larger practice, like what were you thinking you were going to walk into when you joined a larger practice? Did you feel like you’re going to lose all your autonomy? Did you feel like your ideas were just going to be put on a shelf for that to do list that doesn’t happen? Like what misconceptions did you have about walking back into a bigger business?

Charlie Fraser
Or look, I think that the answer is not a lot like I went in with my eyes open and you know in credit to to shadforth as a firm is, you know, do they have a very defined investment philosophy? Yes, they do. But it’s an open architecture firm, we have to provide advice to the clients, it’s in their best interest, you know, as we all do. But as that when that comes down to investments, you port forward and platform to use, and all those kinds of things, like we had ultimate freedom, there were really no restrictions in that regard. The way shadforth worked, it was go, Look, this is what we’ve, what we’ve got, we’ve put together, we’ve used our scale to keep the cost down as much as we can, we want to make that as attractive as we can for our advisors to use, but you got to do what’s in the best interest of the client. And so I didn’t have any concerns about that. The only, it wasn’t a misconception, the only concern I had was going into a large organization was how do I keep because my practice was, as you said, a little bit niche? How do I keep that differentiation in the market? Do I lose? Do I lose my branding, which makes me different, and therefore, my offering then to the external market becomes weaker? Because shadforth do a bit of this work. There’s a really good advisor in Sydney who does similar work to me. So we had it, they had a heritage in it, but not probably to the degree that I brought with me and not as targeted as what I was doing. So they were they were my concerns. But honestly, it was the they really weren’t it really to be frank with you. It really I did slot in the practice slot it in so perfectly shadforth was so accommodating to me going you do like you’re in the things you’re doing for your client is super important. You do whatever’s right, we’re not going to question you on what you do, how you do it, what you charge, you know, your practice, you go run it. And so was ultimately flexible that they were, it was me fighting them, to be honest, for the first couple of years purely because it was me still trying to hang on to my independence, more of a better term, and this and the shadows of what was left of what I built. And so it took me a long time to let that go. And so I fought them a bit. But they were magnificent to me and and remains I

Jess Brady
listen. So you’ve been able to build what I would consider wildly successful business within the business. Can we talk a little bit about what that looks like today?

Charlie Fraser
So the practice that we’ve got is, and I think you talk about why do I have? Why am I so happy to be here is two years ago shadforth approached me because we have 100 Odd advisors around around the country. And we all operated individually, really as silos. And they came to me and said, look with we’re thinking of moving to more of a team space partnership model, we want to set one of these up in Queensland, would you be prepared to run one. And one of the benefits of a team’s based model is is is there’s a limit to how many clients you can look after on your own. And but I wasn’t at that point, I wasn’t heating at the seams, we were growing quickly. But I was still operating really well. So I didn’t really need that scale. But what it was was an opportunity to work with some advisors in the office bring us together and to create a a succession plan for all of us, but also just that concept of being able to come to work and be part of a team, which for us as advisors, it’s it can be a pretty lonely business, because you really are still a one man band. And so when we set that up, we had there was a gentleman who has since retired, he came in because he wanted to transition his clients across to us over the next couple of years. Because he liked the concept of of what our practice was about. There was another lady Rhiannon who, interestingly, I was pretty excited about she’s just been announced in the financial standard is that the power 50. So I think she’s just been announced in that, which is great. And she and I won. Yeah, so she and I had been working together, she really liked the concept of what we did. And she’d had an experience with a client who’d been spat out pretty badly in life and loved it. And so there was an opportunity for her to come in and work with us and develop her practice along similar lines and, and another client and another advisor, Michael, and we all came together. And it’s taken us a few years, we’ve got another advisor now, but we’ve really, really hit our straps in the last probably 18 months. And we’ve got a really, we’ve got a really big practice now like we, I think, obviously farms, not the be all and end all but we’re probably managing a tick under about a billion dollars. And it’s a big practice. And, and that’s super gratifying because we take that approach, which is we genuinely, you know, obviously everybody says it, but we genuinely care about our clients. And, and it’s the conversations that we come to work for. It’s not the moving money around and doing the financial modeling. That’s great. But that’s, that’s just what we’ve got to do as pa

Jess Brady
How are you feeling?

Charlie Fraser
Well, interestingly, these are the, as you said, These are the times where you gotta force yourself to take a step back and actually acknowledge and reflect on where I am now. And when I look at what caused me to laid my original firm all of those years ago, was really what I wanted, I probably didn’t articulate it. And I didn’t know. But what I wanted is what I have, which I just want to be able to come to work, I want to have freedom to innovate. But it doesn’t mean I need to own it, there’s a big difference, like you can have ownership without owning it. And, but I want the ability to know that I can go on holidays and not look at my phone, and know that the clients are going to be better off for it. Probably because I’ve got some really capable people in our team that are much smarter than me. And also to to have a plan where I go, I can see what the next 15 or 20 years looks like, and it looks really good.

Jess Brady
And you get to sleep, rather than thinking in the middle of the night. Is that part of the plan?

Charlie Fraser
I have a bit of a solution looking for a problem sometimes and that I always find something to spin my wheels over. But when you actually take a step back, really that’s that’s actually what you’re worried about. It’s, it’s it’s the it’s the law of diminishing returns, isn’t it? Like? Yes, I still beat myself up about things. But in reality, they’re not existential at all. They’re just, they’re all just a little things around the margins, like, how do you get? How do you do this for kids? Or how do I do this, how to do that? What am I going to do here, all those kind of things, but, but they’re just hygiene things really that that I worry about? Now, they’re not big picture things.

Jess Brady
We’ve talked a lot today about, I guess, the concept of what is failing, and what is succeeding. And when you hear your story, Charlie, you’ve succeeded, because well, you’ve succeeded, you’ve built a business that has longevity, you’ve remained able to continue to look after a niche, albeit it might be a smaller percentage, but you haven’t lost your identity or your core about who you want to serve. You’ve created freedom financially for you, I would imagine, you’ve created capacity to still be in a team and innovate. You aren’t having existential crises, conversations with yourself at three o’clock in the morning about your business in the risk. And she weighed of running the thing, which is overwhelming. I don’t know about you. But I think that that is enormously successful, you have more balance, as well, right?

Charlie Fraser
Oh, yeah. Well, I have there is balance. Previously, there wasn’t a balance. And, and also to it is, it depends on how you measure success. And like I come from a family of self employment, my dad and his two brothers ran a really big business. And in a mailman was a five to nine man, and a five in the morning till nine at night, and we just didn’t ever see him. And it’s taken me until my 40s to have a really good relationship with Him. We just that is that is not happening. And if I have to trade away a bit of my ego, or potentially what I might be able to do in my career to have the relationship with my kids at 15 that I’ve got with my dad now at 45. Well, I’ll do that. And but the beautiful thing is, is that, okay, I’ve lost the what might be the outward trappings of being successful, because I think the ultimate measure is of success is you’ve got your own business, and it’s your own brand, and you’re killing it like that’s, that’s probably the highest, the highest level of success. But by the metrics that matter to me, extraordinarily more successful than I would have been if I had stayed in my business.

Jess Brady
I think many people listening today are going to be really sincerely thinking about what they believe is truly successful, not in the eyes of other people, but for themselves, and actually working out whether the story that they’re telling themselves is serving their life. And if they need to park their ego and make some big business decisions that are going to help their clients and help them live better. So I want to say a huge thank you for sharing a very personal story. And for being vulnerable. We’re not very good at doing this stuff, it’s hard, it’s really hard to get up on a platform and say, this didn’t work. And this didn’t feel good. And this is how I reacted. And this was hard. And so I need to say very clearly that I’m grateful to hear your story. And I know many others will be too. So before we round out with some of my rapid fire questions. Thank you again, and people who want to learn more about you, how shall they find you De Chelly.

Charlie Fraser
I’m sure if you Google my name, I’ll come up. But LinkedIn is always the easiest way to find me or I’m sure if you go to the you type in my name, I’ll come up on shadforth website. And you’ll you can find me that way. And, and it is this sounds a little bit wonky, but I had the fortune of doing some study in the States. It was only a short course, but some study in the States quite a few years ago. And one of the things they talked about, and it’s very American, but they took this concept of the social contract, which is if you’re in a privileged position, which you know, let’s face it, I’ve had like that previous firm I work with, they invested in me so heavily and I was so grateful for them for doing that. And so I’ve had so many opportunities that other people haven’t had. And that concept of if you’re in a privileged, even privileged position, and if if you’re in a position to help people, and if somebody asks you, then you’re obliged to do so. And again, and you know, it sounds a little bit wonky, but that’s the way I operate is that I’ll, I’ll try and help people as much as I can. Because I don’t have all the answers, I might have no answers. But I certainly have learned a little bit about what not to do this

Jess Brady
lovely invitation for anyone that might be sitting with some of the problems that you’ve talked about today. So thank you for potentially offering up some of your time and space to hold context that we may not want to have. Are you ready for rapid fire questions? I think so. You’re a bit stressed about these? Let’s see how you go. First question to you is what is one thing that you do to look after your mental health

Charlie Fraser
speak? If I can just elaborate on that. I’m often the last to know what is wrong with me. And it’s not until I actually start speaking, that it finally comes out what’s going on inside my head. So I have a rule when my wife has a rule where it’s pretty obvious if things aren’t going well inside my head. So she just sits me down. And she just says talk, and she just shuts up. And it takes me ages. But eventually it’ll just spill out. And so that’s the key for me is is is is to focus on. Okay, there’s something going on inside here. I don’t know what it is. Just start talking. And yeah, and the thing I do, the little game I play with myself is Why do you have to wait a week before this happens, just just say the first word. So that’s sort of the thing I do is, as soon as I’m like, something’s bothering me, just like, I don’t know what it is I start talking. So that’s I’d like to say I do lots of things like yoga and exercise, but I chase my kids around. So I don’t create time for those things.

Jess Brady
There is no right or wrong here. And I think many people would like to or need to actually just be in tune with what’s going on inside their body and be able to articulate it and communicate it in a safe way. I think that that’s extraordinarily powerful. Is there a piece of advice that you would give to young Charlie?

Charlie Fraser
Depends how far back you go. But I think it’s that have a crack is probably not the right word. But I spent a lot of my childhood, just not getting involved in things for fear of drawing attention to yourself, or thinking you’re gonna look stupid, or whatever it might be. And I see that in my son. Now I’ve got one son who’s gorgeous, in the sense that he’ll try anything. And I’ve got my other eldest son who’s very much like me, and you can just see and withdrawal from things like, I just have a guy, diabetic, pick whatever you can, that you’re crap, and go and have a crack at it. Like that would be the advice, talk to people more ask more questions

Jess Brady
in the brave, what is something that is on your bucket list?

Charlie Fraser
Well, I had to think about this. I haven’t afforded myself a bucket list yet. But one of the things I’d love to do is being a redhead. I live in a country that’s trying to kill me and pray. And so I did a DNA test years ago. And before I realized I was giving my DNA away to some company. And one thing I learned that the vast majority of my heritage is from a very small space, very small place in Scotland. And I want to go back there and just to see whether or not I have that feeling. I remember listening to Jonathan Thurston, a footballer who grew up in shurberg. But that’s not what that’s that’s not his country. And he talked about the first time when he went back to his country, and he said, It just had this feeling for him. He’s like, this is this is me. And I just think I think it just would be fascinating for for me to go back to that space and just stand there and just go, do I have that feeling? Like is this? Is this me? Or is it not? Just it probably won’t be. It also helps that that’s where probably 10 of the best golf courses in the world are. So that’s, that’s helpful.

Jess Brady
It’s a good plan B and Plan C is just go to the pub and start talking to people because you’re probably a distant relative to half of the

Charlie Fraser
town. Every chance there’s a castle there with my name on.

Jess Brady
This is when when Charlie, you have to do this you need to do Yep, you now that you’re a bit worried about the bucket list question. I think you did very well. My last question for you is that I have a Facebook club. And I would love to know if you have a recommendation for a book to add to my Facebook club list. I have three oh my gosh, hold on. Yes. Okay, go

Charlie Fraser
for the first one is boy swallows universe by Trent Dalton. Okay. So he’s, he’s Brisbane. He’s a Brisbane based author. He used to write all of the human interest pieces for the Australian magazine. Okay. And I’ve had that I’ve had the sort of the good fortune of just getting to know him a little bit. And that is one of the most fantastic books you could ever possibly read. His writing style is amazing. The other one is The it’s written by Richard Flanagan golden narrow road to the deep North okay it’s brutal but it’s I’m a bit of a history buff so it’s it’s written set in the Second World War large sort of base base partly I believe on His grandfather and then partly on weary Dunlop, so talks a lot of the Japanese POW camps and it fascinating story. And the other one I just read, which is a book that won the Miles Franklin which is bodies of light, which is a story of I can’t remember the author, I’m sorry, is the story of a woman who grows up in pretty difficult circumstances and just follows her life. As is a fascinating read. It’s a great book that highly recommend that book.

Jess Brady
Very good. Okay, the most stressful thing, obviously about doing a weekly podcast where you ask for book recommendations. And when someone puts three book recommendations into one week is the stress of how will I finish all of these books, but I do my damnedest and people, you know what’s interesting traveling people message me and they’re like, thank you so much. I actually read one of the books that blah, blah said, and it was really good. So I feel less responsibility to need to have read all of them in a short space of time, because I know that the community is reading along

Charlie Fraser
with us. And do you want to do you want to wanky self help book as well?

Jess Brady
Oh, God for your life? Let’s do for? Yes.

Charlie Fraser
So the best wanky self help book I’ve ever read was, it’s called How will you measure your life by Clayton Christensen. And, again, when I went to that study in the States, he was one of the professors that was there. And I got talking to him about this whole concept of, there’s got to be more to wealth management than just managing people’s money. And he said, I’ll have a read of this book, it might be interesting. And ultimately, the way that comes down to is, is a measure your life by the success of your career, as opposed to your job, the depth of relationship with your family and friends and the degree to which you will live a life of integrity. And they’re the three things and it it really resonated with me. I loved it. And so I’ve given that book to a lot of people.

Jess Brady
I think that that is a really good summation actually, of everything that we’ve talked about today. So on behalf of the entire XY community, I think we shouldn’t use that as our closing piece and say, Thank you so much for being part of today’s chat.

Charlie Fraser
Thanks, Jess. I really enjoyed it. Thanks for the opportunity.

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.