December 6, 2022

#366 Matt Hale – 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 Matty Hale. Matty is the managing director at rising tide financial down in the great state of Victoria. Matt. Good to have you, man.

Matt Hale
Thanks for having me Ben

Ben Nash
It’s good to be chatting. And it’s definitely been way too long. But I know that you guys have been on a journey like your your business has gone through a lot of sort of growth and evolution team, you know, structure transition. So I’m keen to to unpack that and pull out some of the lessons for anyone that hasn’t. Deal that isn’t familiar with that journey. Can you? Maybe just talk us through, you know, how you ended up where you are today?

Matt Hale
Yeah, absolutely. Look, I’m about to take over 17 years in the industry and all at rising tide. I was the first employee back, back when it all started under my former mentor and business partner, Chris Brown. And the business really started off in that old school, super insurance, we, you know, we charge 1.1%, we do a lot of insurance. And that’s where we came from. And that was really close to my heart. Because I came from a family where insurance wasn’t there when when it was probably needed the most. And my mom underwent a lot of medical stuff, which just put a lot of pressure on the family. So insurance was always something that I’m really lent into. Over the years, you know, the industry changed, we became a bit more conscious in what we wanted to do. And that led us to working a lot with Gen X and Gen Y’s as we called them back in the day, very much accumulators. Now to the point where 91% of our fee paying clients between the age of 31 and 54, we transition from, as I said, super insurance to a lot more holistic advice. And very driven. People, you know, our team and our clients, debt plays a really big part as well. So, over the past 10 years, we’ve built a lending team, you know, heavily driven by by one of my classmates and our business partner, Sam. And that’s sort of you know, that’s the back of the alibi back in the envelope sort of, yeah, rising tide history.

Ben Nash
I so I got hooked up with brownie when he was involved in the AFA, as I know, you were as well, back in the day. And I think that the the evolution and transition around the business, like obviously, he’s there from the start, big driving force, ended up, you know, had changed direction and some stuff that he needed to do family things and moved out of advice and new sort of transition to take over the driving into business. And since that time, you’ve grown the business further and brought a few more people in the mix. Can you just talk us through how that all played out?

Matt Hale
Yeah, certainly, a lot of it wasn’t by design initially. And that’s been my biggest learning throughout the journey is that you really need to make sure that you’re clear on what you want to achieve. And our business was growing just on she hard work. And then, you know, faux fur came along, and the Royal Commission, and it was at that about that point in time where Chris had to leave the business to look after his family, two kids with, you know, that are on the spectrum. So that that really forced his hand at the age of 40. And I think at that point in time talking about succession planning at the age of 40, was not even on the radar. You know, we’ve even seen recently that it’s become more of an issue with all the Facio changes and everything that’s going on at the moment. So Chris was forced to do some succession planning. And that led me to, I suppose, always wanting to face my work in mortality. You know, we work so hard to build a career and build an asset, and, you know, work so hard for our clients that want to make sure that it perpetuates me, and it’s an enduring business, but also that my family can get out of rising tide. If and when we need to.

Ben Nash
Yeah, it’s an interesting one. and I were just chatting a bit before we fired up the recording and something I hadn’t thought about too much, although, like I have, we’ve got key people in the business and we’re looking at how, you know what the future looks like, but I hadn’t thought about it from that, you know, things can happen and change quite quickly. How did you like it, especially given how sort of like, sort of abrupt that was, like, how did you tackle things and and figure out, you know, what you were going to do, how it was all going to work and then looking forward from there. What what would come next?

Matt Hale
Yeah, the thing that I learned was that the rapport and the relationships that I built across the journey was so important. And it’s a little bit like with clients where people you know, go into early for the kill for want of a better word, and Chris and I were great mates, but I’d seen a lot of people that were in business together that were great mates, Fallout. And so that was actually the most important part for me, and it’s routinely been the most important part that I want people and made to reflect on my relationships, you know, in a business sense, but also in a life sense that there’s no bridges burned. And so when Chris came to me, and it was literally, you know, not one word of a lie, you know, a one page letter saying, unfortunately made, I feel I need to get out. And this is the number. And we had some pretty robust discussions, but we managed to get a data and then after we shaken hands, we formalized it and, and all the key people at rising tide, particularly Sam, Glenda, who, you know, ran our lending business at the time, and is now my sort of co pilot, we just did everything we could to try to get it out of it, whatever, when needed. The question about the transition, we actually saw that as ground zero. And, you know, for a lot of people, they’re starting a business from scratch, we felt like we were starting a business with a business that was consistently profitable, we had the real guts of a good culture. But it wasn’t exactly where we wanted it to be. And I think at one point in time, we sort of reflected on the fact that the advice team was all gods. And, you know, particularly Sam, myself, and Chris, previously, we’d all had incredible female role models in our life. And we wanted to bring that to our clients world, and also the proximity to rise into AI to really ramp that up. And so we became more conscious, I think, you know, we looked at what we wanted our vision to be, we looked at where our skill sets were, we bought on some people to help us in areas that Chris probably had left a bit of a gap. You know, at this point in time, I think, you know, we’re all sort of under the age of 30 Wipe. So it was all happening pretty quick. And, you know, I had to go in and start negotiating with banks and licensees. And, you know, everyone gets a little bit scared when the, you know, one of the key revenue generators and key equity holders pulls the ripcord pretty quickly. So learn a fair bit in the art of diplomacy and negotiation and

Ben Nash
no doubt, no doubt. I think like looking at your business as well, that the the actual what you guys do has has gone through some changes because you were involved in accounting in the early days. Now you’ve got a heavy focus on mortgage broking like how did you figure out what what was working or where your time was best spent focusing on and building that because I think like, even for my business, I’ve thought about like debt as a as a thing. It seems like natural we work closely with a number of mortgage brokers and debt is such an integral part of the strategy for accumulators. There’s an argument that taxes as well, and I sort of oscillate between, you know, trying to find good people to help with that, and thinking that we should do it ourselves. What, what were the lessons learned for you guys there?

Matt Hale
Yeah, the lessons are and if I sort of go to the mortgage broking side of things, we’re really clear on two things. We wanted to have a diversified income stream, and we were sort of sitting there looking at our own advice to people talking about well diversified portfolios, and we had financial planning, which at that point in time was heavily geared around insurance. So we, we knew we needed to upskill to improve our, our financial planning, diversity, our upfront and our ongoing fees and engagements. And then, you know, from a mortgage broking point of view. And we’re also really clear on who we wanted to work with, you know, the part that is really hard to nail and I think we’ve been able to deal with, he’s getting the right people. But, you know, we will probably, you know, got some dumb luck there. But we’re also really clear what we wanted to achieve. And I think the other learning isn’t, it goes back to, to accounting. And, you know, we were working with someone that you know, that was a good friend, and that it all looked like it should work. But then when we really sort of separated ourselves four or five years later, we looked at what the rising tide financial planning and lending side of things what the, our absolute ideal bread and butter client was. And that’s not just a that’s demographic psychographic. You know everything about them their journey, how they talk, how they walk, and it was effectively it was a you know, it was in complete contrast to what the accounting business needed. So that made that decision put all people and you know, and feelings aside, I made that decision in the end really easy to do. You know, the process of consciously uncoupling, for want of a better word is not easy. But I think when you’ve got a really clear driver and what you’re trying to achieve, be it personally or in the business, it makes those sacrifices and those conversations a lot easier.

Ben Nash
Yeah, I think it’s a tricky one with accounting because for like, we do a lot of work with accumulators as well. And in that space, it’s like people want, you know, X Y, Zed. They want someone to coach them around what they can deduct and be smart with their tax strategy. And there’s a lot of crossover with what we do on the financial planning side, but then they need a solution to do their tax return and it’s any good accountants or most good accountants, they, unless they’re really tech lead, they don’t want to play in that space either. So it does does make it a bit difficult that we would use a premium solution that charge what you consider a premium price, but it’s still probably not charging enough to deliver what people want. And then you’re sort of, you know, pushing it uphill a bit when it comes to getting there. So I don’t know what the what the future holds for that, because people still do need their their tax returns done. But I suppose with something like that it is does draw a lot of focus from what you’re doing as a business as well. And I think, you know, applying that to mortgage broking, that’s, that’s probably been the barrier for us that I’m nervous and concerned that in the past, I’ve fallen into the trap of splitting our focus too far. And then you end up having to sacrifice in, you know, core elements of the business. How for you guys, how have you managed that in a way to ensure that you can deliver a good solution around mortgage broking continue to deliver a great solution around advice. And for it not to be a distraction?

Matt Hale
Yeah, there’s a lot there to unpack. I think the most simplistic way I think about it is I look at, and I’ve always looked at sporting teams, and if you look at sport at the elite level, you know, let’s use, let’s use soccer, you know, there’ll be a manager of the team. And then there’ll be line coaches. And I think that, you know, we made a conscious decision to make the business big enough that we could have, you know, a good combination of that. So we, you know, we have people in our business that I’d say, are great at helping people around the technical things around the advice around the technology, there’s still a lot of gaps probably around the technology piece. But that seems to be a common occurrence in the industry, but but just getting big enough to be able to not feel like we were always trying to solve today’s problems. And that’s the learning that I sort of had, you know, across the journey, as we bought new equity partners in we’ve extracted others, that it takes bandwidth. And I suppose it’s knows you’re meant to an advisor, where it might get to a point where they need to choose what their role is, and probably at one point, you might be able to do investment insurance, maybe even some lending, you know, retirement, but I think if you’re gonna grow at some point, you need to work out what you want, what is and then find the right people to help you get where, where you think the business needs to go and actually get their buy in to help sort of, you know, get a bit more clarity on what it looks like for everyone, because you really need that buy in.

Ben Nash
And talking a good people, I feel like that’s something that you guys have done really well, you got a great team, I just saw your post pop up that you got three, three of the top 50 Most Influential advisors in your business, just on the advice side, and then you got a significant team on the mortgage side as well. How have you gone about finding great people, you know, onboarding them, well, like integrating them well into the business to make sure that you know, that works, delivers the business outcomes delivers what they want, as well.

Matt Hale
Yeah, and this will talk back to my my days is, you know, completely dealing in client land. And I firmly believe that the key to success in advice is juggling these three balls, it’s finding it, it’s delivering it, and it’s servicing. And I think a lot of the time people will drop one of those balls, you know, they spend a lot of time trying to find it, and their implementation might drop off, and then you know, then they’re not servicing. So that’s the mindset that I always have is that we need to be consistently looking for new talent. Like, here’s an example. I think, you know, Rebecca Preciado joined us close on four years ago, the conversation that I had with her when I was one of the judges in the rising star that she happen to win. I knew she was very happy at a place of employment at the time. But I said, All I ask is that if that changes, can I please be the first person that you have a conversation with? not promising anything, it may lead to anything, it may lead to nothing? And I think been really conscious around that. And then, you know, as we’ve tried to build more, I suppose a deeper culture, there’s some of it’s been really conscious. So it’s been around sort of, you know, the understanding the psychology of people, you know, it’s an example where we’re looking for a couple of py candidates at the moment. Want to work with with Sam Joel, and want to work with Rebecca, and, you know, I think yesterday, we would have just put something on sake, whereas now, we’re a bit more I suppose data and who we’d lead into the 10. But also, we’re a bit clearer and who we want to invite in.

Ben Nash
And how did you get that clarity?

Matt Hale
Part of it is looking around where you’ve got those skills gaps. I think, you know, we use disc profiling or a couple of things in that space, which just helps to understand the language that people are talking, not just when things are going well, but when they’re under pressure And, and then I think we are always open. You know, I think that’s something that we’ve always done really well and I’ve got a bit more time to do it now than I used to is just be open and having conversations and share and give people an understanding of who we are and what we do and not just sort of, you know, the bullshit that pops up on the website, really giving people an understanding as to who we are and vulnerabilities what we’re trying to achieve. What makes us tick. And then I think, I think there’s a certain element of people can feel that authenticity.

Ben Nash
Hmm, absolutely. Yeah, I think it’s funny like is when we’ve been hiring, you know, a number of people over the last little while couple of years in particular. And it’s blows me away that you do these interviews with people. And obviously, they’re looking for a job. That’s why you’re sitting in an interview, and you say, Well, what’s Why have you left, you obviously want to understand the motivations like what’s what’s driving their, their need for change, and it blows me away how many people say, Oh, that wasn’t really what I was expecting. And it’s like, Hold on a sec, like, I get the when you go in for an interview, you generally want to, you know, give yourself the opportunity of getting a job, but I feel like it’s, it’s sort of like, you want to make sure that you understand what’s going to be expected of you how it’s going to work. And I know that you can only get so much from an interview, but like some of the things that are just so clear that you go like, didn’t you ask more questions? Or didn’t they tell you more about how things were going to work because for us, when we interview someone, we as much as we want to, we don’t want them to do it in an arrogant way. We want them to be interviewing us to make sure that they understand the role, the expectations, the business, the team, how it’s all going to flow so that they can get comfortable. And it’s our job to make sure that we think that they can deliver, but it’s their job to make sure that they they want to deliver what we want them to deliver as well. Does that make sense?

Matt Hale
Yeah, I reckon I can nail it in three words, you know, confidence, competence, and curiosity. And I think if one of those three are lacking, you know, whether it be confidence, and we’ve all sat there in those interviews and made, I’d be, you know, if I’m sitting there in an interview with you, you’re accomplished, you know, you know, what you want to achieve, I probably my confidence might, might be lacking at times. And so that’s the really hard part about trying to find out how you get the best out of most people. But then equally on the flip side, you’re sort of looking at it from a business point of view, and go, we actually need, we need the herd heading in the right direction. I think for rising tide, and for me, in particular, you know, if there’s one overarching learning, it is those things that need bandwidth that are so often neglected, that can have an indirect impact. And then that could be really thinking about, you know, who you love spending time with be from, and this could be client value proposition, employee value proposition, just who you want in your corner. And then also overlaying that with the type of business you want to run. Like, you know, for us, when we sit down, we don’t have a bricks and mortar office, we go into a co working space one day a week. And there’s 25 of us working predominantly from home, that’s a very different, I suppose, client or employee value, proposition, and then maybe someone who is used to go on 101 Collins Street in Melbourne, and, you know, putting on a suit and tie. So I think it helps for the people coming into the role, you know, having clarity and what they want. We also talk about like a reverse bucket list. And sometimes we stopped that it’s like, we don’t know exactly what we want. But equally, we just know what we don’t want. And I would love it if people come in. And, you know, they sort of see me sitting across the table and the way I talk and the way I act, and they just go hey, look, don’t take it personally. But this is not rising tides, not the place for me. That I mean, that’s sexy to me, for people to have that sort of confidence.

Ben Nash
Absolutely, yeah. And I think the interview has to go both ways, because otherwise someone’s potentially setting themselves up for failure. But picking up on one of the things that you mentioned there. You said, I forget exactly how you framed it, but like you got to attract good talent, then you got to deliver for them. What do you what would you say, you know, because I think you guys have done a great job of building a great culture in your business. What have been the top one or two things that you think when you think about delivering for your team to get the most out of them, but also make sure that they’re super happy and pumped to you know, fire up the laptop every day? What are the what are the top couple of things that you guys do that you feel impacts the most that

Matt Hale
I’ve reflected on? There’s a lot Nashi over the years and and one thing I’ve learned is that I think when you ask employers and employees they’re probably not matching answers. But what I come back when I come back to a rising tide is we’ve consistently run a business that I think feels like home for most people. Most of the time, we’ve provided opportunities for people to grow, I think our culture has got a lot better at helping people that are, that come from all walks of life to feel like they’re heard. And then it comes back to little things like we’ve just had a lot of consistency, you know, how leadership’s been reasonably consistent apart from a couple of things we’ve spoken about, you know, I think we lean into people, you know, when they need it, I think we’re pretty good at you know, I always say, like, you when everyone else is given someone a clip, that’s probably when they need a hug, and when everyone else is given someone a high five, or that’s probably when they need a clip and, and consistent around that, and then also just trying to get better. You know, I think we’ve made conscious decisions along the journey, we’ve been profitable. So people know they’ve got a job, people are clear that we’re not here, you know, we’re not here to sell Tony Instow. Tomorrow, you know, this is a lifestyle business, but also it’s, you know, it’s a business that’s going to be enduring.

Ben Nash
Hmm. I like that. It’s I think, sometimes we can get caught up on the sexy stuff, that the little things that are the big things in a lot of cases, and I think that making it a home, something that we sometimes take for granted, but so important for people when you’re looking for long term team relationships. Maddie, what would you say? Obviously, you’ve been at it like you say, 16 years you’ve gone from, you know, admin into advice into running the business, what would be the biggest thing that you didn’t expect to be important, but actually is

Matt Hale
for what is important that I didn’t expect, for me, personally. I was told it’s very early on in my career, and it can be taken a lot of different ways. But for me, the way I took it, that I was told by a fella called David pangloss, who I haven’t spoken for 15 years, he was a sales coach, he said, If you want to get stuff done, just do stuff. And for me, where my brain took that was, I feel like I always have made myself irreplaceable, but not based on stuff that everyone else measures. You know, it is those like little 1% as well, you know, early days in my career was been really good with high level technology when no one else in the business was and, and so I think, you know, the most important thing is just to have really good awareness, be really curious. Don’t take things personally, you know, everyone’s coming in, or just generally coming from the right place, and just be in a try to put yourself in an environment where there’s room to grow. But there’s also really good stability and people that want a mentor. I think that’s, that’s probably actually my take all that back. Having a mentor that wanted to mentor early in my career, I think, you know, there’s probably molded may, you know, incredibly, as opposed to where I might have ended up. Yep.

Ben Nash
Yep, I think it’s a pretty fair comment. And I know through like Foxy, I think he’d mentored brownie like early, early days, and it’s like that, that circle of life sort of continues, but you get switched on operators wanting to, you know, passionate about advice and wanting to actually give back and help shape something that is enduring as you say, it, you know, sort of you got all the ingredients for for success there. What, what do you guys focus on now, what’s what’s coming up for you?

Matt Hale
Right now we’re working on on our sort of four to five year vision. And that’s trying to, you know, one of the key pillars of our business is to try to make it less key person dependent, you know, get more efficient and, and part of that, naturally is driven by, you know, a lot of our team, you know, have really been busting their ass for a long time. And, you know, some of us have young families like you do, and, you know, trying to create something which doesn’t drain everyone, but it also helps them to, you know, achieve what they want to achieve inside and outside of work, but continue to deliver them to more clients without necessarily just burning the candle at both ends. I think that’s what we’re really sort of trying to focus on over the next couple of years.

Ben Nash
Will make when you crack that code, if you could just give me the Cliff Notes, that would that would be amazing. Because, like, that’s the that’s the Grail work smarter, not harder, and, you know, have the impact, but do it in a way without flogging yourself to death. That’s, that’s where it’s at. So I look forward to hearing about that on the next conversation that we have.

Matt Hale
Yeah, I’ll make it obviously on that one if the next day is

Ben Nash
nice. My last question for you if you could, if you could go back to you know, bright eyed bushy tail. itself day one and give yourself one piece of advice what would it be?

Matt Hale
Nothing is as good as it sounds and nothing is as bad as it sounds and just really focused on trying to work out who you are and it’ll work out

Ben Nash
I love it was words there I think we can yeah often build build things up like you say positively or negatively in the wrong way. Probably not that helpful. So I like that one. Matty, thank you so much really appreciate you taking the time great to see you guys smash it and yeah, as I said I look forward to next chat where I can get the gold.

Matt Hale
I mean, Good luck to everyone on their advice journey. Keep keep at it.

Ben Nash
Cheers guys. We’ll catch you next time.

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