March 30, 2022

Delivering Advice Differently #5 – Transcript

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Delivering Advice Differently

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Fraser Jack
Hello, and welcome back to this topic series on delivering advice differently. My name is Fraser Jack. And in this the final episode, rounding up the series, we take on creating a client centric advice process rather than a compliant directed advice process where we discuss clients memorable moments and the pub or barbecue test, as well as not applying technology efficiencies to speed up a bad client experience. So if the client experience is a big focus in your business, then this episode is for you. Ben Marshan, thank you for joining us again, in this final episode of our five part series.

Ben Marshan
No worries Fraser, I’ve been counting the minutes until I was back here again having this conversation with you. So thank you for having me.

Fraser Jack
Excellent. Thank you for being involved. Now we’re talking about client centric process. Obviously, we touched on this a little bit with the first episode when we talked about how a lot of this was designed around the cops act around the legislation and around the you know, the businesses, they’re involved in the compliance side of things. And now we’re sort of seeing things turn around and becoming more around the client.

Ben Marshan
So as financial planners being authorized by licensees having to provide our files for file reviews, having those all checked, basically our whole process is designed, it tends to be designed about an outcome that is useful for our our compliance team. And that’s been designed by lawyers and licensee is in compliance experts to tick all the boxes in the law. And in the regulations. What’s missing in all of that is the client, it doesn’t help the client understand their goals, it doesn’t help the client understand their financial position, it doesn’t help the client understand their the financial plan we’re putting in place and the products we’re recommending. Because what we’re trying to do is just boxes, we’re not considering the outcome, which is ultimately client understanding and client engagement and clients taking ownership of their own financial plan and running with over the long term. And so I think we’re missing a big opportunity to educate the client and demonstrate that education were missing the opportunity to empower the client to take ownership of their advice and their statement and their financial plan and implemented over time. So basically, we’ve got it all around the wrong way as professional service providers. Because what we are doing at the moment is just ticking compliance boxes, not providing a professional service.

Fraser Jack
Yeah, and a lot of a lot of what I hear from time to time, but there the reason for that is because a lot of people put the onus back on the regulator’s EBA the regulators on year but our second year, but we need these rules, EBIT, these rules have to be followed, etc, etc. If you spend a lot of time with the regulators with their SEC, tell me about the fact that are they after rules to be followed, or are they after clients to be protected and looked after?

Ben Marshan
I like the way you use the bat phrase, because we hear that a lot. So I do spend a lot of time with regulators. And I think what what a lot of licensees or a lot of lawyers have been missing is that when we shifted to FOFA and we shifted to this framework that took the individual financial planner and empowered them to provide advice that’s in the best interests of the client. The regulator’s got on that journey as well. And so ultimately what the regulators are expecting to see is advice that is in the best interest of the client and the best interest of the client It is advice that the client can understand. And advice that the client can engage in and the advice that the client takes ownership of and advice that the client has had a role in building and developing themselves. And that often doesn’t come across in the way we maintain files. Because again, what we’re doing in maintaining the file, which is ultimately the only thing a regulator has to look back on, is the fact find and the file notes and the statement of advice, because that’s the way the compliance process has been built, so that we can tick those boxes to demonstrate it. What the regulator’s was much prefer to see, and I’ve had this conversation with them, and they repeat it constantly is they are looking at everything. So they’re happy to look at videos, and they’re happy to look at recordings, and they’re happy to look at client testimonials. And they’re happy to look at everything that can demonstrate the client actually understood the advice that was providing the client actually agreed with the advice that was providing, being provided that the client agreed to go ahead with it, and consented to it. Because that helps them be able to see and understand that advice has been provided in the clients best interest. And this shift happened in FOFA. So you know, we’re talking 2013, which by my calculations is roughly nine years ago. But the focus of of the advice processes often is everything in the FARC. Take off, take off, take off, take off, take off, there’s a lot of taking off.

Fraser Jack
I really liked the way that you mentioned that the regulars look at the full file review. And and you also mentioned that the regulators that the process of a final review is demonstration of understanding exactly the same way is your client demonstration of understanding that we covered in the in the final and the sorry, in the last episode. And so the regulator’s have taken this client centric, they’ve always said clear and concise, but you know, they’ve taken this client centric view as to did the client understand. Can we understand that the clients understood? And that’s where, you know, I think, you know, when it comes to client centric and and what you’re talking about with recording meetings and being able to demonstrate that actually is better for the regulator’s

Ben Marshan
Yeah, absolutely, if the regulator is relying on a piece of paper that says, I explained this to the client and the client understood, but then the regulator suddenly is looking at a complaint that’s come through a client or asker is looking at a complaint that’s come from a client, they’re gonna turn around and go, did they really understand? Did they really agree to do it? Or is that just what you’ve written in your, in your file, and therefore, the benefit of the doubt goes to the client, which is the client didn’t actually understand the client didn’t actually consent. And you have used your power of influence and the fact that you understand a lot more to the client to convince them or sell to them that this is the right thing that they should do. Now, at the time, you know, the client understood and you knew, you know that it was the best advice and the best outcome for the client. But as you lose that demonstration, by not having a recording of it, you lose that power to go back and actually demonstrate to the regulator or demonstrate Africa that that the client did understand.

Fraser Jack
Yep. Now, one of the things I wanted to cover up with you quickly, too, is the the technology piece, because obviously, you know, client centric advice and all these sort of things can be enhanced by the use of technology, as we mentioned before efficiencies and effectiveness. But if you’ve already got a bad process, and you just use it, you know efficiencies to speed up their pad process. That’s an A or a non client centric process and you’ve used some technology to speed that up, you haven’t actually enhanced the client experience at

Ben Marshan
all. No, that’s right. So five, six years ago, the FPA put out a report on using FinTech in the advice process. And what we found is a lot of members went out and bought the shiny piece of technology they could find and it either created significant inefficiencies in their business or wasted a lot of time and money or didn’t actually help the client understand the advice process in any way. So the important thing if you are looking at using technology and are looking to advice, provide advice in a way that uses technology to enable understanding and consent from clients is to actually properly design out your advice process and properly design out your tech stack. And and properly integrate that because if you do that, then you will save a lot of time and you’ll save a lot of money and you will create efficiencies and you will create an engaging advice process for your clients. But if you just try and buy the shiny, highest new object that’s out there, you’ll waste a lot of time Time and money and doing it.

Fraser Jack
Yeah. So a lot of this sort of starts with the mindset of how are we going to provide a client centric client directive advice process, you know, something that’s different or doesn’t even have to be too different to maybe what you’re doing already, but just in a way that’s more client all around the client or around those memorable moments that they can take away. And then introduce technology. It’s a we do we have, like, you sort of mention before, we sort of have a lot of the technology we need. So far, it’s not like we’re waiting on anything from a technology point of view.

Ben Marshan
No, I mean, when you think about collecting information from the client, you are recording it into your CRM. When you talk about developing strategies for the client, you’re using modeling software. When you’re talking about recommending products, you’re probably using comparison software and, and those kinds of tools to provide disclosure, when you talk about recording client meetings, you’re already using zoom or you’re using Microsoft Teams, you’ve already got microphones and webcams and things like that you are saving files somewhere, you can generally share those files with people if you need to, including clients. And so the pieces are kind of already there is just thinking about the output in a different way thinking about it rather than producing paper. Think about it producing engaging files and, and advice that’s live and advice that that helps the client track their progress and helps the client remember and helps the client understand. It’s a better much better outcome for the advice process.

Fraser Jack
Yep. So this advice process you’re talking about? With regards to the so called videos, advice, but it’s not really a video, isn’t it sort of just it’s a recording of the conversation?

Ben Marshan
Yeah, so a statement of advice is me saying Fraser because you want to save your time, and I recommend you salary sacrifice $200 a fortnight into your superannuation fund. And that should be in a Balanced Fund, because you want to access it in the next five to 10 years. That’s my statement of advice. And the recording of that statement can be me documenting the statement that that I gave to you. And it’s a much better, much better format, then then then paper, because the next thing you turn around and say is what salary sacrifice?

Fraser Jack
Yeah, yeah. So it’s the demonstration. And then of course, using screen sheets and share screens and those sorts of things. You can show the graphs and show the numbers and show the outcomes and show the inputs and show the comparator along the way, but this is a this is a mindset shift, isn’t it? This is a mindset shift of here is something we prepared earlier versus here’s something we’re preparing together. Yeah, absolutely.

Ben Marshan
And I think one of the things we’ve for those who are watching along later, when they see the video SOA, release that the FPA puts out, there are examples of you going through a number of different scenarios with between the planner and a client and the client saying, Actually, I’ll do this one, because I don’t trust myself to have that money in my bank account. I trust it to go into the Superfund, because I can’t trust myself. What it allows you to do is demonstrate that you’ve built the advice with the client. But also if the client turns around and says actually, I want to do something different. That may not have been what you as a professional would have otherwise recommended to the client. Again, that’s documented. If the client turns around and says, Actually, I’m might want to have sorry, going back if if you recommend that the client salary sacrifices $500 a month into super, and the client turns around, he goes, Well, actually, I don’t want to give up access to that money. I might only do $200 a month and you go back and forth. And you talk about the pros and cons. But the client ultimately says, No, Island only do 200 I’m not going to do 500 that’s documented. And you can document the client and play back to the client if they make a complaint later, or if somebody is reviewing the file and says But 500 was definitely the right amount to achieve the goals and objectives that the client actually directed you to do. 200 or the client directed you to invest in something that you knew was a bad company or the client directed you invest in something that was way more risky than what their risk tolerance would otherwise suggest. Being able to document that in the video and have that as as the proof of the advice you provided is far more powerful than writing it into writing it into 150 page document and hoping somebody picks Apply? No. Yeah, exactly.

Fraser Jack
And I think when you do something in a long form document, and then you ask for a one decision at the end, and I guess the disclosure principles are all around the idea around, you know, we need to provide you with the correct amount of information to make an informed decision whether you want to proceed or not. And that’s kind of the big decision at the end. But the there was a whole lot of micro decisions that take place along the way, like he just said, you know, being able to make some small changes here or there. And clients are sort of making decisions around what the goals are going to be decision around, whether they know, they’re happy with the strategy decisions around, you know, product, you know, preferences or benefits and features in a particular product that suit them. There’s heaps of micro decisions along the way. And if you’re actually capturing all those micro decisions, that not just the big decision of yes, we want to proceed or no, we don’t.

Ben Marshan
That’s right. And, you know, getting one signature at the end of 100 page document is not really a demonstration that the client has considered all of all of the information that you’ve provided and, and agreed to it. But if you can play back to the client, how they made the decisions and why they made the decisions, that’s that’s far more powerful for them to understand. And for you as a defensive if they turn around later and say they didn’t understand.

Shan Chung
Yep. Fantastic. Ben, thank you so much for joining us on the series really appreciated your time and insights. If somebody wants to continue the conversation with you, what’s the best way for them to get hold of you?

Ben Marshan
Thank you, Fraser. It’s been phenomenal being part of this series as well. And I’ve enjoyed every minute of the conversation we’ve had, if people want to get in touch with me, they can find me, I’m at the Financial Planning Association. So you can find me in our community there or you can find me in virtually all the emails that come out. But otherwise, if you want to connect with me personally, you’ll often find me on LinkedIn sharing information about changes that are happening from government or regulators or, or, or best practice around technology and best practice around advice provision, and also a little bit of Lego. Because I love my Lego,

Fraser Jack
you can do the little Legos. Thank you so much. And if somebody wants to chat about it or find a bit more about the video SLA process is just the APA website, the place at the

Ben Marshan
moment. If you’re listening to this before sort of May June and you’re FPA member, you’ll be able to find more about the video SOA or soap box as we’ve called it in community. But we’ll be launching it out to the whole profession in May, June. So everybody can have a look. And that

Fraser Jack
that’ll be part of the roadshow that will be part of the FDA Richards That’s right. Great. Thank you, Ben. Really appreciate it.

Ben Marshan
Thanks, Fraser. Have a great day everyone.

Fraser Jack
Welcome back to this the final episode in our five part series and we are going deep into the conversations around designing an advice process that’s extremely client centric, starting with the client’s hopes, dreams, goals, aspirations, all of their problems and solving those problems at the beginning, versus setting up a process, you know, as a compliant process that you know, finally some financial advice clients will get something out of. Prashant Welcome back. And Michelle, welcome back. Thank you for joining us, Prashant, we’ve been opening up a little bit about your business about the concept that you run a membership and that the you have ease or six to 12 month process in place that, you know helps clients get their financial life in order then hopes that sets them on a on a journey towards their hopes, dreams, goals and aspirations. But you don’t essentially try to solve the issue in the first month you you allow the process to take place, which then brings clients along on the journey allowing them to accept be a part of CO create the information with their you know, with you or with the business partner. And then you know having that that lifelong journey in front of them but you know, transitioning the turning the Titanic around you know, quickly type thing versus your that they say ships ships turn slowly. Tell tell us a little bit more about this process and, and how many months it goes over. And if we break it into sort of the you know, what are the main areas of your process,

Phrashant Nagarajan
I guess the main, the first and the art we think one of the most important ones that ease the tribe before you buy element, which is the starting stage. Because a lot of the young younger market when I say younger are mean 30 To 4030 to 50 year old sort of bandwidth. Most of them have never spoken to a financial advisor our feedback surveys and stuff that they don’t know what a financial advisor does. Most people think the accountant is the financial advisor you know there’s there’s all of that so the there is an element of I need help but I don’t know what you do element you know, I think I know what you do, but I don’t know exactly kind of thing. So you find that so the trial meeting basically sets that out. So we have a three three week trial process. So first ones just getting them to ease off and ease a bit Get comfortable. So it’s all about them, the spotlights on them second meetings all about spotlights on the wallet, in the money and everything like that. And the third one is basically the diagnosis element to sort of, you know, with pictures and colors and saying what’s good and what’s bad in other sort of things that they can’t not say no to. So finances to show that tangibly. And then so once we know what their problem is, and we know what they’re good at, and bad, then we sort of say, okay, they usually come with one, we call a chief complaint, they come with one specific thing. And then around that there’s a satellite of other little things that needs to be fixed. But to them, it’s that main thing. So I come in with a headache, what we find is, when they come in with a headache, don’t don’t touch that don’t look at the hand or the like, just talk about the headache, you know, the problems in the hip, but don’t go straight there yet. So it’s almost like so there’s always one primary objective. So we make sure our development delivery is centered around that one thing, and then all the other nice to have the sorted in that journey. It’s almost like, we make sure the nice to haves are laid out in a way that it solves the primary objective. So so the the 12 months then gets split out in the third meeting, we say, first month, we’re going to do this first two months is financial modeling. Second month is eye tracking your, you know, setting the targets, you know, and then then we say investments. So if that’s if there’s a lending solution and stuff like that, that needs to be done, we sort of lay it out from you know, it’s a series of design bill, you know, design and build, design and build at each stage. So the, the, the blueprint is done. And then we say in the six months, we’re going to design and build your super bit. Whilst we’re doing that, in the sixth and seventh month, we will design and build your insurance bit because it’s quite correlated. Hey, you know what, whilst we’re touching your super thing, we don’t just say we’re going to touch on your super, we’ll say, we’ll sort out your investments, because that’s what excites the younger market in our domain suit, they know they need to get on top of it. So it’s almost like, when we educate the process, it’s like, oh, by the way, this is how the world of investment works, yada, yada, yada, hey, you’re super does exactly what I just said, you know, so why don’t we just finish it all in one hit between the seven to eight month, we’ll design all the three and build all the three, because it’s heavily correlated, we’ll come to that later, you know, but now, this is your pain point, your pain point is not having that $500 a month to put into that thing that we just spoke about, you know, let’s solve that in the first three months, let’s find that money, rather than building it first, you know, so that’s why we sort of space it out and use behavioral validations. Before we actually insert the product and

Michelle Bannister
Prashant I love in your approach, how it’s a real you listen to the customer, and it’s from that listening place that you then develop a very focused and intentional approach.

Fraser Jack
Yeah, I love the fact that you are triaging, you know, like, we talked about the medical industries previously, when people come in, as you said, they’ve got a headache, or you triage what the exact wounds are that need to be treated first. But then I also from the business world, and you can sort of comment on this, Michelle, you know, you almost like an agile type of business where you, you know, create a series of sprints that you’re, you know, those design and build design and building. But but understanding that we’re going to tackle that down the track, you know, we recognize that down the track button, but just right now, we’re only focusing on this one thing, we ended design and build this one sprint,

Michelle Bannister
absolutely. And it’s that listening to the customer, you know, prototyping with them the CO design process to involve them in the, you know, in the solution development. And it’s an iterative process, you continue to design and build and get feedback. And yeah,

Fraser Jack
yeah, and, and bringing the client along with the journey also allows them to take ownership, I guess, version, you would say this, they take ownership of their own behaviors.

Phrashant Nagarajan
100% 100%, we find that that’s that the ownership is quite high. And it’s just a way that it’s, you know, going back to that informed consent and making sure they understand what they’re doing and why they’re doing it and showing them things in tangible fashions over the journey, you know, and it’s, I think that that old results in that in the end

Fraser Jack
picture. Yeah, exactly. And you’re, you’re obviously coaching them along the way now, taking ownership in their own behaviors, I think is a huge, you know, a very rewarding part of the process. But does that mean that they’ve been taken less or put less, in effect that things have happened to them, when markets downturn, all those sorts of things that sort of not blaming you as their investment person? For all of their woes, they’re sort of taking responsibility, and then when markers do come down, they see it as opportunity.

Phrashant Nagarajan
100% Definitely, I think the more we, you know, the more Yeah, so the more we focus on that that education is I think, they always understand that things are going to be volatile if we’ve done the education but right I think we’ve We’ve all know that, but I think the focus trying to sort of say that the market can do $5,000 over five, you know, two years for you, or you can say that tomorrow, you know what I mean, there’s more alpha that you can do with the money, you’re, you’re handling right now, not all this stuff around you. So sort of bringing it back to them and making the choice architecture, right, if I was to use that word, and, and rather than, you know, using a platform as the be all and end all for the, you know, the journey, you know,

Fraser Jack
yeah, no push on, you’re obviously had the benefit of creating this business with your business partner, you know, working out what the process was going to be, and then creating this process, and then introducing new clients along the way, which, which is completely admirable, you know, to start up, but it’s obviously not an easy process, starting up a financial advice business, especially when the costume costs are very high to run one, by Michelle, you would also see this from the point of view of, you know, existing businesses, traditional businesses that are set in their ways and having to then bring and make changes to be really client centric, and create an advice process. How are you seeing, you know, advice, practices, change their, their, their advice, process, or change their ways or even, you know, teach existing clients or new process?

Michelle Bannister
Yeah, I mean, a lot of it, I see driven by, you know, market forces, I mean, for all the advisors I speak to the number one complaint I hear is the cost of delivering advice. And, you know, wrapped up in that is the burden of compliance and educational requirements, and, you know, manual processes, all that kind of stuff. But so, that is what is driving people to change their processes and their approach. And with that, there are opportunities there and technology to streamline processes, to put clients in the driver’s seat more and empower them, improve the education, improve their experience, you know, all these things that help improve the quality of advice that’s delivered and the value that’s perceived by customers. But it’s those driving forces in the market that’s putting a lot of pressure on people to explore new ways and new opportunities. And some people are doing that really well and thriving in it. But there’s a lot of pressure there.

Fraser Jack
Yeah, it’s a lot of it, as you mentioned, and as in the attitude of the advisor moving forward, they want you know, whether they’re waiting for market forces to force them or whether they want to be proactive.

Michelle Bannister
Absolutely. And so some of it is just taking hold of, you know, scanning the environment to say, what opportunities out there that can help me in this challenge. Yeah, change creates opportunities.

Fraser Jack
Yes, yeah. And one of the things Prashant I see, you know, coming out is that if you put in clients person, you helping them understand from a compliance point of view them, them, knowing where they’re hitting them, understanding them getting that clarity, and you know, that that heads off a lot of compliance issues, I guess, in the, in the future, whether you know, that because a lot of the compliance is around making sure people understand people do things, but if you’re leading with compliance, it’s a fairly, you know, not exciting process or not engaging process. But if you’re leading with the clients, then you can actually cover off on the on the compliance side as well.

Michelle Bannister
And I think really early on, you have to give them a sense that you are really gonna be able to put them in a better position in the future with your advice, and being able to demonstrate give an indication of your skills and ability in that,

Fraser Jack
for sure. Yeah, the

Phrashant Nagarajan
client centricity is you know, and I understand a lot of advisors, you know, have challenges adapting to what’s going on right now. And what has been in the last decade. I think, I think a lot of things like Daniels really helped me with this in terms of frame of thinking is, you know, that first prints in other first principles thinking, you know, we can we can sit there, we will be bought decide to we can sit there and go compliance is a stopping me from doing what we want. Yes, it’s clunky. I agree. It’s kind of clunky. And, and but then we started saying, effectively, it’s what we said, it’s a check point for us to make sure we, you know, what we do, what we say we do, the way we do and how we do it, and within the time we do it, you know, that’s effectively what this whole thing is. And I’ve done I’ve said that right, in that, but you get the point, you know, so and then we, when we designed everything around that it naturally started integrating with client experience and everything like that. And rather than seeing it, yes, there’s parts of it that can be shorter, but it’s can’t but it’s, you know, trying to see a half glass full. With everything we’ve we’ve thrown out. And I

Michelle Bannister
think, you know, the spirit of the compliance is on the money in my perspective, you know, to be able to leave the client the duty to leave a client in a better position and acting in their best best interest. But what the industry is really struggling with is working out what’s the outworking of that in an efficient and effective way and a lot of that workings look really burdensome and expensive and you know, difficult to operate in and quite bureaucratic, but you know if we can take hold of the spirit of that but find, you know, more effective ways to to administer that, I think is the key Yes.

Fraser Jack
And Michelle, Hassan, are you seeing any particular things in that field when you speak to advisors around the country?

Michelle Bannister
Yeah, I mean, I think for, for me looking at strategy modeling, a lot of it comes back to, you know, just simple things around, putting the strategy first, letting that drive the path forward, looking at products later, using numbers to quantify and show clients that they are in a better position after they take on board your advice, you know, all of those things that demonstrate that you are acting in their best interest and using numbers to back it up the before the after all of those things, but it comes down to having solutions where you can do that quickly, easily and effectively. And it’s not more effort for you to do that.

Phrashant Nagarajan
Yep, for sure. Yeah, I think Michelle’s point is absolutely right. I think that that whole, you know, letting the strategy drive the whole, you know, the decision trees around everything you do for your your client, but then, you know, in the in the in the client centricity side of it, and in that efficiency in the pursuit of efficiency, what I find is, what we’ve always found is, someone’s usually solved your problem, it’s just about finding that person and getting the answer. And I think communities like expert advisor, and in all these communities, they do a very good job at connecting people. And it’s just, and quite often I’m finding that there’s cross pollination across industries as well, like, you know, there’s doctors have done this much better than we can. And sometimes car manufacturers do a better job at doing creating pipes in that conveyor belt kind of a thing, then anyone else. So I think someone’s always already, it’s just about us finding, I guess, the capacity to look for it. And quite often, we find that we do too many things, as most advisors I find are either something like business owners and advisors, there’s a couple of caps in I had said they were, and everyone’s under the pump capacity. And I think the lack of capacity is taking their eye off their clients Intricity a little bit just because, you know, we become more compliant centric than client centric as a result of everything. So but I think finding capacity was the first thing that was that we found, allowed us to look at other places. So we started getting as much as help as possible from everyone, you know, we can, we can ask for,

Michelle Bannister
and a lot of the struggle I see from advisors is they’re so busy with their clients in the churn of the business, that it’s really hard to step outside of the business, and to be working on the business just carving out that time to, you know, to look at the things that would bring improvements to efficiency and save time later. It’s it is a real struggle as a, you know, as a business owner.

Fraser Jack
Yeah. And it’s not just the it’s not the only struggle as a business owner, sometimes the business owner struggles to see things from the clients point of view as well, you know, because if they have come up through a, you know, very compliant regime, or whatever it might be, it’s very much around the idea of building this from a business point of view, not from the clients point of view. What are your tips around that, Michelle, for to, for advisors to then, you know, see things from the client point of view?

Michelle Bannister
Yeah, in the process improvement world, it’s all voice of the customer, you know, everything should be seen from the voice of the customer. Forget what the backend processes look like, look at it from the customer’s perspective, first of what they see what they touch, what they feel, where those interactions are, what they value, and work from that first, and then look at the bits behind the scene that they don’t see.

Shan Chung
Yeah, this is I had a really interesting comment a couple of years ago that if you have a really bad process, and you just create some efficiencies and make it faster for the client to get a really bad process, you’re actually just making you’re turning them off quicker. Yeah. And for sure, from a practical point of view, how have you gone about working out? Is this the actual, is this a customer or a client centric process we’re putting in place? Or is this just something that you know, that we think from a business point of view is better or?

Phrashant Nagarajan
Yeah, I think, just to go back, we, we typically now found out there’s only four key chief complaints that our customers walk in with, it was just very, it doesn’t matter what you where they come from, how they come from, they all come in with one of the four problems that either are a first time buyer, or the next home buyer, okay? Or they are a first time investor, or their financial optimizer, you know, that that’s basically four types of category that they come from, and how we found out is through that, you know, putting the client and then you know, we started logging some patterns or noticing patterns, and we find that there was this bell curve of 80% of them, you know, have pretty much the same things. And now then it was about, you know, trying to sort of find which one’s more important and where do we spend more time because it’s important to you as a process, you know, and then and how do we, you know, spend more time on this thing and less time on the other one and strive to build that process that way. This helped us with business efficiency. Because we’d say, the process now starts becoming standardized. Because it’s a, it’s a because you know, it’s a bell curve kind of thing. And this is where there’s a lot in a lot of people talk about niching, and things like that. It’s not just on the top line revenue, I think it helps with your business efficiency, when you work with a niche, because you, you’re very good at solving a particular style of problem. So that’s what we found, helps.

Michelle Bannister
And I think the other key to improving is feedback from customers, you know, and it’s more than just a ticket book survey. And a ratings thing is actually having some the deep and meaningful conversations with customers of, you know, what were their high points along, you know, along the journey, and what were their low points? And how do they think you can improve and the more feedback, the more regular feedback that you can have from customers, the more you have opportunity to improve. And I think that customer journey mapping and talking to your customer is worth its weight in gold.

Phrashant Nagarajan
Yeah, absolutely. One of the most priceless things we’ve done was to get one of our team members to call reach out to every single client we’ve had, and call them and ask to talk to them for about 15 minutes to 30 minutes in so your customers don’t give you feedback in front of your face. The feedback that they give you on a Survey Monkey is very different. And the most ineffective, sorry, the most inexpensive way is when we got Matt, like a marketing coordinator with an A team to call. And he basically plots everything from what they said and how what they felt and everything around it. And I think everyone here can pretty much try. Try it the next week, it’s inexpensive. If you if you’re a single operator, and you have a partner, get your partner to maybe just reach out to a couple of these clients and ask these questions. And I think it’s there’ll be a lot of gold nuggets of process improvements, you probably not invested you can cut off your process.

Fraser Jack
Yeah, exactly. Right. I think we did touch on each will come back to that. But that client feedback is is an important measure. And also I think the idea that you mentioned there, there’s a Michelle was getting specific on the feedback, you know, like presenting your you’re probably lucky because you’re doing you know, piecemeal type of you know what, today we’re doing this and then you can get some quick feedback on that one thing, versus just an overall how satisfied were you, you know, type type of conversation, which doesn’t actually give you any help and improving and improving a process. Michelle, what are your thoughts on that specific feedback type? Getting really specific with your feedback is

Michelle Bannister
super important. I mean, it’s the key to improvement. Yeah. It’s just people struggle with getting finding the time to do it and integrating that into their process. And that’s super important.

Fraser Jack
And how can people then find the time or make the time to incorporate that

Michelle Bannister
I think it takes a bit of planning, I think you have to be really conscious and intentional about setting aside time and whether that’s something that you do regularly on a weekly or monthly basis or a quarterly review, but you need to carve it out in your diary, it’s really what helps you improve and move forward.

Fraser Jack
Now wanting to talk to us about the the nation conversation, you know, who do you best serve and Prashant, you obviously, you know, went through and worked out who you wanted to serve as a as a as a business. But Michelle, say from a business point of view, how important is niching in the cloud is

Michelle Bannister
really important to know who your client is, and what’s their pain point? What are they willing to pay money for. And I think the better you can understand your client and their needs and align your services to what they want is key. So I think, you know, Prashant is done a really good job of that. And his business, you know, he, he understands his customer really well. And it means you can align your service well to it.

Fraser Jack
Yeah, I also feel like pushing, it allows the clients to self select to where they, you know, with, with the, with the marketing you put out and those sorts of things, for them to self select and go, Well, you sound like, you know, you look after me, and I’m that type of person. Nobody else says that everybody else just sort of says what they do from you know, they do investment or insurance. But for you to be able to turn around and say we help these types of people with these types of problems.

Phrashant Nagarajan
Yes, that’s right. It’s, it helps it makes it so much easier for, for us to sort of go into sort of defining ourselves as, as an as, as a business owner. It makes you won’t, you won’t believe how easy it makes for your clients to refer to, you know, because, you know, it’s it makes it easier for the whole supply chain to know what they’re doing and what they’re good at. It has a lot of unintended plus points, apart from revenue and business efficiency, it actually helps with the identity and the culture of the business as

Michelle Bannister
well. So pushed out, do you find it that means your customers know what other sort of customers to refer to you?

Phrashant Nagarajan
That’s, that’s correct. Exactly. So every time they send some, you know, we get referrals. It’s exactly that niche, you know, it’s not, it doesn’t fall off the the two ends of the bell curve. It’s exactly that because they know, you know what you do and what you don’t do, you know?

Fraser Jack
Yeah, I also feel it’s not just about your existing clients referring, you know, clients to you, but this is also really good conversation around referral networks. And if you’ve got other professionals that refer you they know exactly what you’re doing, how you look how you serve

Phrashant Nagarajan
100%, we’ve actually got a lot of financial advisors referring, you know, and I could see that network actually growing actually. And we do vice versa as well. So if someone walks in with an SMSF related question or anything like that, we point them to the right specialist that we know, it just I think we’re moving away from I want everyone to that, that doctor sort of thing. But this is not my skill set. There’s this person who’s going to do a good job, I’m going to refer you there that that culture is definitely coming. And I think it will, niching was going to help with that.

Michelle Bannister
Talking to our advisors, I’ve heard a lot in terms of referral networks, that accountants tend to be their number one best referral partner.

Fraser Jack
And well, why is that? Why do you think that is? Well, we’ve actually

Michelle Bannister
got some clients who are accountants as well. And it’s interesting, you know, they’ve said, you know, they’ve got a client who, you know, wants to buy a house or improve their financial position or do a number of things. And the accountants often really struggle with a trusted financial advisor who can answer a lot of their scenario, what if questions and things like that. So when they do find an advisor, who they trust, and will do a good job with their client, that goes down really well. And also, the client has already built up a lot of trust with the accountant in the first place. So you kind of trading off that pre established trust, if you then referred on to a financial adviser?

Fraser Jack
Yes. As you say that it makes me think of the demonstration of understanding conversation that we had, and obviously, your demonstration of understanding to the client is one thing, but but having that second conversation around demonstration of understanding for the referral partner or the or whoever’s, you know, the accountant or whoever may have been to say, look, this is this is the position that they were going to be hitting in, and this is the position that they’re now heading in, based on our advice and based on your referral to us has allowed this person to be x better off or as we mentioned before, can avoid losing this much.

Michelle Bannister
Yeah. And connecting to the, you know, the doctor analogy you’ve used? Prashant, it’s a bit like, you know, referring someone to a specialist that, you know, I can see they’ve got this particular need, which is outside of my expertise. Let me refer you on to a neurologist.

Fraser Jack
Huh. Yeah. And in that scenario, the the the, the neurologist always sends a report back to the doctor down there that this was the outcome.

Michelle Bannister
Yeah, yeah. And then it’s only if the doctor then gets good reports from that neurologist that they will then keep referring other clients.

Fraser Jack
Yep, absolutely. All part of the process. Michelle, and Prashant. Thank you so much for joining us on the series. I really, really appreciate your insights. So Prashant and getting to know your business a little bit better. And Michelle, understanding you know, your well your history of helping businesses out. Prashant if somebody wants to continue this conversation with you, what’s the best way for them to get hold of

Phrashant Nagarajan
you my emails? Or yeah, my email or website? So my email is Prashant pra sh en t at finical Comdata. You or you can visit our website, finical Comdata. You and reach out to me from there.

Fraser Jack
Fantastic. And Michelle, people want to continue the conversation with you what’s the best way for them to reach out,

Michelle Bannister
so you can check out our website at optimo financial.com.au. Or you could find me on LinkedIn, Michelle banister.

Fraser Jack
Wonderful, thank you both very much.

Phrashant Nagarajan
Thanks for Thanks, Fraser.

Fraser Jack
And here we have it, we are at the final episode of our five part series, I’m joined again by Geoff, thank you for joining me,

Geoff Ivanac
appreciate it great to be on your show, Fraser.

Fraser Jack
Now we are chatting about the client centric model about obviously you we’ve we’ve got to know your business really well over the last four episodes. And obviously, it’s very client centric. However, I guess the professional has always been beaten by the compliance stick in a certain way. And a lot of our processes that are inserted into the process, just keep getting chucked in there from the compliance point of view, with no real consideration to you know, the how the clients feel about it, or we we get it in the process. How have you gone over the years with all the different you know, we’re going to need to add this for compliance now that the compliance

Geoff Ivanac
Yeah, so I, I kind of just have to, like all advisors, you’ve just got to roll with the punches a little bit. And yeah, and I do agree with you, it’s sort of just thrown in there. And you know, this is what it is. And so what I’ve tried to do is integrate it. So that actually becomes quite a natural process. So for example, just recently I’ve, it has been there in different forms. The last meeting I really saved is a meeting where I would explore different options with a client. So this is the one of the ethical standards about exploring our best interest or one of those but, you know, so I actually say, Well, this is optional. But this is what you’re currently in, and it looks like this, these are the other options. And so I’m helping them see the differences and understand why they might choose one over the other. And so this. So that’s, so that’s one way. And that is it’s actually really good process. And it’s all visual, and I’m not mentioning products, I’m just talking about how they might be different after analyzing the current one, so that’s certainly will help me tick tick that box. So and then the review processes, I’ll make sure that I use visual tools to, to to make sure they’re happy where they’re at and get value for money as part of my process and our work. I actually taken that as part of the ongoing advice process, or it could be I call it ongoing guidance, because I’m the guide. So and I sort of have different levels of what I do, depending on the agreement they have in place. So and so that’s so that’s helped me flesh that out that compliance overlay there.

Fraser Jack
Do you just quickly do you do 12 months there was agreement. So you do ongoing? Ongoing? Ongoing? Yep. And so then every year, you’re then talking about your ongoing guidance and what you’re offered and what you’ve went through, you know, a recap. And then what you’re looking at doing the next 12 months.

Geoff Ivanac
Yep. But it but also, it’s a bit also on the that there’s also a standard, then there’s different levels of they might they’re at this stage, they might choose to now take this service. Yeah. So sort of trying to break not just a, you know, 1% is the world. Yeah, I don’t do that anyway, but just for example, yeah,

Fraser Jack
yeah. Now your advice has sort of evolved from obviously, as you mentioned earlier, your estate planning and then you’ve evolved into producing advice? Did you get to sit down and design this process from start to finish? Or is it just something that you kept trying to make, you know, clients need this or want this or, and so you just sort of molded it over time?

Geoff Ivanac
Yeah, I have a little bit attracted to the shiny objects. So it has evolved over time. And the but sort of, it’s quite interesting, because starting with estate planning, and accounting, I did a lot of work with a really good lawyer. And he, we had the same issue. So you could do an estate plan. For example, for a client, I did have one client. So that’s fantastic. So I just want to hang around and see how it all pans out. So obviously. So but then you have the other situation where a client has an estate plan, but they can’t decide what they’re going to do next. So that might be a succession plan for a farming client or business owners so so it’s always looking for how do I fill that gap for them? So So that led to doing transition planning, and helping people plan the next phase of their life? And sort of by doing that, then I found other things to incorporate into my process. So it’s just by looking out what’s next, then? How do I incorporate that into what I’m doing? That’s ever evolving?

Fraser Jack
It’s one thing we didn’t quite mention in the previous episodes, but that transition planning is your your leeway into financial planning, isn’t it?

Geoff Ivanac
It is. Yeah. So that’s, that’s about preparing for what’s next. And and so how do you how do you it’s not so good. A good example there is traditional financial planning your retirement 65. So up until that point, you’ve had your life’s been with work and family and the next day, you’ve got nothing. So that so that’s that’s i My dad actually was in that situation. He had a business and he sold it. He’d worked seven days a week for umpteen years, and the next day had absolutely nothing to do nothing. So transition planning is preparing for that next step.

Fraser Jack
Yeah, that’s an interesting point, isn’t it? They my, my dad did the same thing, when from full time work, to selling it to retiring to realizing that he tried to convince me that retirement was a full time job. There was no days off. He had to do it every day. So but he I think he plays golf most days. But but it certainly, you know, you’re exactly right, having the continuation where things don’t seem to be huge leaps and bounds or steps or or the people around, you know, what’s going on as well. More so, you know, then just you knowing like, it’s not your clients aren’t just the clients, they’re the families as well. Yes, exactly.

Geoff Ivanac
There’s, and it is true quite often the it’s obviously changing now with both partners working full time, but traditionally the the better half your wife would already have a good life. You know, she’s got a full network of friends and lots of activities whereas the husband has limited very it gets smaller and smaller as you get on

Fraser Jack
And do you find that with your client centric approach that you’re bringing the next generation through as well? Or is that something that you’ve, you’ve struggled with?

Geoff Ivanac
Yes. So I’ll tell you, I do offer that service. Because that’s an easy one, from an estate planning point of view is when I have young children, is when I’m doing that projection out there, the unknown unknowns, what happened if your son had an accident? Or was unwell? Who would you be paying their mortgage? You know, who’s going to help them out? And that, that’s how I bridge that gap?

Fraser Jack
Yeah. And you, as you mentioned earlier, you using technology, even though a lot of your clients were rural? Let’s go with farming clients, or people that are working the land in some way? And how have they gone with the the the concept of using Zoom? Because I’m traditionally, you know, shaking hands was a very big part of that.

Geoff Ivanac
Yeah. So. So I just just had a virtual meeting with a client, you know, 100 kilometers out of aspirants. And, you know, husband and wife both sitting in the room with the big laptop in front of them and tuning right in and looking at the screen and chatting quite freely. So that it’s actually they really enjoy it. It would save them two hours of traveling, if I went to aspirants, and they had to meet me in the cities in the town somewhere. So it’s a very efficient, I can log in at night time. You know, after day’s work, it’s been good. On the other hand, it still is nice to actually see them in person. So I’ve also had a trip out there recently, whereas Yeah, I’d like to do mix and match.

Fraser Jack
Yeah, every now and then you you meet in person shake hands and look people in the eye. But it’s it’s a very big trust building thing for a lot of clients. But I think also, if you show up online, you know, five or six times when you said you were going to touch up, and you’re there, and you’re helping them constantly over and over that they tend to grow trust as well from that.

Geoff Ivanac
Yes, yes, that’s right. And especially when you lead, you have a lot of meetings, a lot of little meetings. And you might be bringing in other experts, and it’s much more efficient. They don’t coordinate it from my office here in Scarborough.

Fraser Jack
Yeah, exactly right. If you can bring if you can bring a lawyer in from somewhere else in the client in from somewhere else. And online meetings is definitely a, an attribute to business. Wonderful. Tell us about any referral networks that you’ve you’ve built on and how you present them, what the clients, you know, the the outcomes for clients and what you’re doing for clients and building the building their client story, and how that and how that helps you with your referral networks?

Geoff Ivanac
Yes, so I used to get quite a few referrals from accountants, but I have felt that that’s gone quite lightly, because they tend, they have been doing more of their in house type advice. I still every now and then I’ll get a client, an accountant call me up. And I’ll have an estate planning group of clients that they might want me to see. So I have to say, I’m not super strong on the having this referral network. But I do like to one thing I do enjoy, I actually part of Rotary. So I actually can’t quite, I have a couple of clients via there, but I find that enjoyable that we can I can meet them on a not a purely referral type basis. So they might say, Oh, can you help me with this? Or what is this like a might be a referral for their brother or mom or something like that? That’s probably what I enjoy doing.

Fraser Jack
Yep. Now, well, you mentioned before that, you know, the it’s not the pure analytical type. advice you’re giving you are dig digging deep and understanding the the clients or the human emotion side of advice and the benefit that brings in when we talk about the value of advice, often the value can be monetary value, but also, you know, emotional value as well. What tips would you give to other advisors and planners that were not doing a lot of that and in their business, they were just focusing on the numbers.

Geoff Ivanac
I think a really good starting point is estate planning. I’ve mentioned that several times. So it’s, I think it’s an easy one to start with. You know, there’s lots of good training providers, I could certainly help them refer them to a few to and it’s a great skill to have to be able to connect with the human side of the client. So that would be my and it’s actually really good it gets gets you up and running. And you can have a few wins there because you can see a few gaps and go from there. The second one is I’d explore some, do some reading and then explore some other software providers out there who actually help you with that side by side advice, but you have to have an interest and you have to do some reading and research and take it from there.

Fraser Jack
Wonderful. Thank you, Geoff, so much for being a part of the series has been absolutely amazing to get to know some of the intricacies within your business. Really appreciate you giving so much to us all. Geoff out if people want to continue the conversation, what’s the best way for them to find your get hold of you?

Geoff Ivanac
Yes, I’ve got a I’ve got a no regrets checklist on my website. And that’s a really nice little cutting, it’s a good way to to actually give you a nice broad scope of the all the head and heart issues that you should be discussing. So that’s WW di real life, financial planning.com.au. Forward slash, no regrets checklists. So you can go straight to the website. But also if you want to have a chat, you can book a Zoom meeting. And there’s a link on the website.

Fraser Jack
All wonderful. Thank you so much. We look forward to I look forward to following the journey actually. So hopefully people will reach out and find get hold of that no regrets checklist. I think it’ll be great. It’s a great way for clients obviously.

Geoff Ivanac
Yeah, thank you. It’s been a lot of fun. Fraser thoroughly enjoyed it.

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