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Scale Up Series #6 – Michael Lawes – Transcript

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Michael Lawes

XY ADVISER

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SUMMARY KEYWORDS

client, advisors, business, service, meeting, fraser, executor, financial advisor, important, firms, offer, bit, thinking, advice, process, absolutely, ongoing, financial planner, run, financial

SPEAKERS

Michael Lawes, Fraser Jack

 

Fraser Jack 

Welcome to the x y advisor podcast. A global community of financial advisors sharing and learning with one another to drive the positive evolution of financial advice. To get involved, go to x y advisor.com. Or simply download the XY advisor.

 

 

portfolio construction of risk management tasks that take you away from where you need to be building relationships with your clients. Aberdeen standard investments can support you by creating bespoke investment solutions, outsourcing portfolio and risk management creates efficiencies enabling you to focus on fulfilling the ambitions of both your clients and your business. This podcast has been prepared with tears based on sources believed to be reliable and opions Express honestly held at the applicable day however, it is general information only and we accept no liability for any errors or omissions. Just be prepared without taking into account the particular objectives financial situation or needs of any investment investing involves risk including the risk of losing capital. It’s important that before acting investors should consider their current circumstances objectives and financial situation the information is appropriate and is to them and consult financial and tax advisers investors should consider PDS valuable evidence standard.com before making an investment decision products issued by Aberdeen standard investments Australia limited ABN five nine double 0212336 for episode number 204263.

 

Fraser Jack 

Welcome back to the x y advisor podcast. My name is Fraser Jack, I’m your host for today. And I’m here today with the National manager of business coaching from afinia. Welcome, Michael.

 

Michael Lawes 

Thanks very much, Fraser, pleasure to speak with you. Thanks, fantastic,

 

Fraser Jack 

happy now, before we get started, we’re gonna get into some conversations around scaling businesses. And you obviously see a stack of businesses around the country that are doing very well and understanding what they’re doing and really getting into the the in depth into the process and all these types of things that actually make make their business scalable. But before we do that, I do want to give us a bit of an overview of just you, you you your position and what you do on a day to day basis.

 

Michael Lawes 

Yeah, sure thing. So look, I’ve been with affinia for around about six years now. And I run a business coaching team. So we have a team of four business coaches that support our advisors. We are a national licensee, so we have advisors in most states around the country. And the support that we provide really focuses around business planning and helping our advice businesses become more successful. And success means different things to every separate business. And we have firms that range from having nearly 20 advisors through to single advisor firm. So every one of those business, also, depending on where they are in their business journey has a vastly different set of business goals. So we work very closely with our advisors to help identify what those goals are, and then hopefully help them achieve them. And we do that through a whole range of things. I mean, across the licensee, we do offer a high level of support, through obviously, business coaching, service, got advice, coaching, technical support, and training and that sort of stuff. But in terms of what we do, most of it is focused around the business planning space, which we’re doing right now, we’ve got a digital business planning tool that we’re running, hold our advisors through And out of that always come to a large number of business objectives that we can help them achieve over the course of the year and progress that through into longer term planning as well.

 

Fraser Jack 

Well, sounds like you got your work cut out for you. Now you and I always geek out on the conversation around client experience or client user journey or whatever we whatever the terms, you want to call it the time, we tend to talk a lot about how in and I suppose this is what you’re working with your advisors on a lot as well around the actual micro moments that take place in or throughout their clients, you know, journey or experience with that advisor. And you sort of break it into separate separate, you know, sections and we talk about you know, the before the client gets advice all the way through to becoming a loyal, ongoing relationship client. I thought it might break down those sections. section one just gives an overview of what what that looks like. And then we’ll go into each one individually. Yeah, absolutely.

 

Michael Lawes 

And, yeah, we’ve had plenty of conversations around this. And I think my focus if I just take a step back just slightly on the client experience in this whole client journey. My focus really ramped up a few years ago when I was incredibly fortunate to jump on a study tour over to New York, with a bunch of great advisors. That was run by net wealth, and we were able to sit through sessions through that were held by some of America’s leading financial advisors. asset managers and so on. And there was one guy in particular, a gentleman by the name of Joe Duran, who ran a very, very large financial planning firm. And his main focus was around the client experience. His quote was that 100% of your future profitability is going to come down to your client experience as you’re speaking to the advisors in the room. And he went a bit further, he said, essentially, pretty much all of your clients can attain the services and products that you’re recommending, or selling online, either at little or next to no cost, or for free, essentially. So if you’re not focusing 100%, on that client experience process is less and less reason for clients to see you, as a financial adviser, pay your fee when they can go online, and get the same same products, essentially, for free. Now, when God speaks, I mean, his business was called the night capital, I think we all need to listen because he sold his business in the last couple of years, and he sold it for $750 million. So the man does know what he’s talking about. And he’s one of the most engaging speakers that you’ll ever come across. So if you ever do get the opportunity to listen to Joe, I would certainly recommend that you take it. And for any of the listeners out there that obviously you’re all podcast fans, you’ve probably heard of Michael kitsis, as well. Michael Peters interview Jota ran on episode 100 of his podcast. And Joe really articulates his whole proposition very well during that podcast. So I would definitely recommend everyone jumps on and has a good listen at that one.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, that’s a very good episode. That wasn’t it. It was a long episode, one of Michael’s longer episodes.

 

Michael Lawes 

And I think they’re all long episodes out now.

 

Fraser Jack 

But it’s, um, it’s really interesting when it goes, Joe is very, you know, very much taps into the emotional part of the conversation. And Michaels, Michaels very technical type of persons that was very interesting to see them to talk to talk about things. And often, you know, they’ve sort of coming at things from a very different angle. So good episode.

 

Michael Lawes 

They weren’t they were. And so Joe, as you touched on, in your question, he articulated that the client experience really starts from the moment that your client is thinking that they need your product or service. And this is for any purchase, it could be if you’re, if you’re wanting to purchase a coffee, or a T shirt, for example. But obviously, we talked about prior to planning through to them being a loyal, ongoing fee paying clients so that that journey can stretch out for quite a while. And hopefully, you’re almost over the lifetime of the client, once you’ve got a client on board, he becomes a loyal client through your ongoing service. And there’s a great framework, I mean, I love the framework, I think it makes it so much easier to design a process when you do have a framework to work through. And there is a framework that a lot of the bigger marketing firms and marketing teams will use when they’re looking to market and develop products and services. And that is called the client journey, or the buyers journey framework. And that really goes through five stages. And that being awareness, consideration, purchase, service and loyalty. So it’s a it’s a multi step process. And I suppose we can go through those in a bit of detail, if you’d like. And,

 

Fraser Jack 

yeah, absolutely. I mean, there’s, we can definitely go through each of these individually. And even to the point where I sort of look at these, you know, five steps, and you can almost break them down even further into, you know, it’s these steps that get you through and to to and before and during and after the first meeting. And then you can either use it again before, during and after the subsequent meetings all the way through your existing process or if you’re refining it.

 

Michael Lawes 

Absolutely, yeah. So I think the first date really is that awareness piece where the client becomes aware that they’ve got a problem that needs solving. And, and normally, when it comes to financial planning, it’s because that client has had some sort of trigger event. Now, it might be a health event that made them think about Insurance Solutions. For example, they’ve had a family member that’s had a health event that may have had a successful claim and payout and now that they’re aware that, that maybe their financial position is a little vulnerable, because they don’t have any insurance. It might be that they’ve had a child or they want to save for a home or retirements approaching and I’ve never seen a financial advisor. So this is that awareness stage where they know that they need to say an advisor, but they’re not quite sure where to go when and where to walk. And this is really where you can create an advantage for your firm through marketing strategies, such as content marketing, and utilizing the effectiveness and the power of blogs, social media, advertising of live events. I know a lot of firms do very, very well. And a lot of their success is based around educational seminars, educating the broader public and then bringing clients into their business who are now made aware of the services that they offer, and that the needs that they they have that they may or may not have known that they had before.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, this is a really interesting one. I’ve heard people say before they, you know, the client needs to know they’re sick and know that you’re the doctor for two definite things to become aware that they can then contact you. But there’s a whole lot of little micro decisions that happen in a client’s head, that then on their journey towards actually reaching out towards a financial planner. And that, you know, that could be, you know, thinking they might need something, but then, you know, having voices in the head that say, I haven’t got enough money, or, you know, they need to overcome a whole lot of small hurdles on the way. It’s not just, I mean, you’re right, it could be a trigger event, that could just be a health issue or something that is a major trigger. But generally speaking is also there was a whole lot of small triggers a little bit of branding a little bit of what you do a little bit of your philosophy, getting to know who you are as a as an advisor before they even make that decision to pick up the phone or to send you an email. Yeah,

 

Michael Lawes 

absolutely. And I think that’s, that’s really the power of blogging, and might even be podcasting, for example, which is a brilliant tool, as you will know this, to get your message out there to the broader public. And when you talk about all those micro decisions, this is really where having your client value proposition, and being able to clearly articulate the value that you provide to your ideal type of client comes into play. Because you might have, let’s say, you deal with younger accumulators that may have started a family. So these, this demographic is going to have a particular set of needs, that they need serviced by a financial adviser, it might be how to save up for education, how to manage cash flow better, because with the answer one wage, and we’ve got a massive mortgage that we’re paying off and need to get through the maternity leave phase, and those sorts of things might be thinking more longer term around structuring your superannuation, so that you can maximize compound returns over the next 30 years and retire the right way. So whatever the pressing needs are, for those particular clients, that should really form the basis or the or the crux of what you’re projecting out for your business in terms of your content marketing strategy, with your blogs, and with your advertising, and your events. And blogs can be video, blogs, written folks and all the rest of it. Because when these clients are aware that they’ve got these problems, what are they going to be doing, they’re gonna be jumping online, they’re gonna be asking family and friends, where they can get the service that they need to cover up on these needs. If you’re projecting out there that you service these types of clients, then they’re more likely to be attracted to your firm, and then you’re dealing with the right type of client and your ideal client more frequently,

 

Fraser Jack 

it seems to be like a lot of the successful businesses I see these days are doing this very, very well, they letting the their target market know exactly how they help other people like them. Rather than just sitting back on the sort of more of the old or traditional school, the old school ways of just, you know, hoping your your referral sources will offer you, the calgon whatever.

 

Michael Lawes 

Yeah, and good point, you might get around referral sources. So I think a good thing that most advisors can do in this space as well, is actually educate their referral sources more deeply around the type of services and the value that they provide their clients. A really good way that I’ve heard it numerous times in the past, I don’t know how frequently it’s actually done. But if you, for example, have an accountant, that’s a great referral partner, or you want them to be a great referral partner, because most referral partners, partnerships probably don’t quite produces fruitfully as what most advisors would like. I mean, why why wouldn’t you consider offering your services to that accountant and their client facing staff, basically, for free or at costs, so that these client facing staff and the accountant can actually walk through your process, they become very confident in your process, they understand the value that you can provide. And then they’ll be far more likely to refer their clients to you because they’ve got so much more comfort around it. And I think Further to that, try and control the messaging a little bit. If your referral partners, don’t leave it up to the referral partner to refer you in the words that they think are most appropriate. They might refer you as the insurance guy or whatever it might be. But perhaps you want to keep them some wording that more appropriately represents your brand and the value that you can provide and talk up your services a little bit. For example, why don’t you go and say, Fraser, I’ve got all my insurances with him. He’s looked after my superannuation really comfortable with what he’s done. Most of my great clients go and see Fraser as a financial advisor, and I know that he can help you with your cash flow problems that you’re suffering at the moment. I mean, that that is a much more powerful referral sort of technique that can go and say the insurance guy crazy.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, couldn’t agree more, except for the fact that you can refer to Fraser because he’s not not currently licensed financial planners. So don’t get this commentary at the moment. I’ve got to who isn’t? Who isn’t on the far but they must

 

 

put on the razor.

 

Fraser Jack 

So that’s pretty much all of the awareness stuff that goes on. And the next step is sort of consideration. What How does this work?

 

Michael Lawes 

Well, the consideration phase is, after the client has been made aware, now what they’re doing is looking for two or three providers that might be able to service their needs. So essentially, this is where they’re doing their research. Now, where are you going to do your research, obviously, most people these days will jump online. And when they jump online, they’re probably doing it on their mobile phone or on their tablet. So what this really speaks to is having some very good up to date content on your website, and getting a lot of the basics in terms of your website content, right. So making sure that it’s structured correctly, that it’s mobile friendly, it’s really important that you’ve got up to date images, ideally, of yourself and your team on your website, so that your clients can actually start to go down that process of knowing, liking and trusting you as the advisor, and someone that they would be happy to engage with. The website plays a really big part is because we know that the majority of people when they’re doing their research, even when they get referred by a trusted referrer will jump onto your website to do their to do further research and to take you out.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, so this is a really, as far as your value proposition is concerned as well. Right? So knowing exactly who you’re serving, how you’re serving them, well then explaining what your process is, because I think Joe mentioned in it in his podcast that the very first thing to do is really just to triage what was that person coming in for Is there like a gaping injury that they have that needs to be fixed? Before really going into the you know, this is our processes, how we roll this is, you know, we look at client’s value values and goals and dreams and aspirations. And this is blah, blah, blah, and then really presenting yourself or your businesses, this is the way we help our clients. Would you like to be involved in that?

 

Michael Lawes 

Absolutely. And the best way to do that is through I think video explainers and video content on your website, main video these days is so easy to produce. Essentially, you can produce a very high quality video that you can put on your website just on your mobile phone. And I suppose we all know that these days, we’ve been to 1000 pd days and conferences where the power of video has been explained. But I think in this stage of the client journey, when a client is considering whether or not they’re going to make that next step and engage with you, this is where it really comes into play and becomes a really powerful tool. Whether it’s visual, whether it’s, you know, podcasts, things like that, that you can put on your website and educational content, so that your clients can trust you much quicker than they otherwise would. And this is where it comes into play.

 

Fraser Jack 

This is where into the conversation. Because if you’re just you know, only seeing one person explaining what you do and how you do it, then obviously that’s going to take a lot of time. If you’ve got those videos on your website, then people are watching them, you really want the the client or the new potential client to walk into the office almost have made the decision that you know, I resonate with everything you say, You’re the one I want to choose all those sorts of things before we even meet them.

 

Michael Lawes 

Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, developing that content doesn’t necessarily have to take a lot of time and effort and be that harder task either. You can often do it when you’re communicating with your existing clients. And that can be utilized for attracting new clients as well. One of the things that we often recommend to our advisors is that when you’re receiving queries from your clients, and if you receive the same query more than once, the best thing that you can do is publish that response in the form of either a blog article or video library. And then you start building up this large library of content that can be used for the dual purpose of educating your existing client base, potentially attracting new clients that are of the same ilk as your existing client base. And that helps with your, your management of your onboarding process, because you’re getting similar clients coming through so that you can really hand on heart tell these clients that you’re an expert at delivering advice for someone within their particular demographic. But the other thing with the website, is you’ve actually got to make it really easy for clients to be able to contact you. There’s a lot of talk around removing friction in the advice process. And we know that the advice process is extremely lengthy. I mean, the FBI put out some great data quite recently, that shows that it’s basically a 21 hour journey, in the amount of work that’s involved for an advisory firm, from meeting clients through to having all the products launched and and having the client as an ongoing client over that first 12 month period, which is a crazy amount of time. So anything that we can do to reduce the number of steps that you and your client needs to make throughout their process are really important. And this is where Technology can come into play around offering online calendar booking systems and things like that, for example. So it’s just one less thing that a client needs to do. Because if the client on their phone, when they’re watching Netflix at night at eight o’clock, can book in a meeting or a 15 minute introductory chat with an advisor over the next couple of days, well, that’s one less thing they have to do tomorrow in terms of picking up and calling the receptionist and bouncing back and forth with potential times to meet if you can reduce two or three steps in that process. And again, it’s just a small thing. But all of these incremental improvements do add up over a long period of time to maximize your chance of attracting more of the right type of client and then ultimately maximizing your chance of success.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, I think a big part of that client experiences is just that, you know, make it easy. Make it easy, make it simple, make it quick, take some of the pain away from it.

 

Michael Lawes 

Yeah, absolutely. And it’s, it’s about delivering advice and, and adapting your process to how clients want to be communicated to as well. So some clients will want to meet you face to face, some will want to do it online, some maybe over the phone for a large part of the process. And I think that we need to be flexible and adaptable enough in today’s day and age. Recognizing that technology adoption is just increasing at a rapid rate of knots, that we need to offer that flexibility to our clients.

 

Fraser Jack 

Now I’m thinking phase is really around the concept of the first meeting or the discovery meeting or the meeting where you really get to know them. And they really get to know you having a process around that meeting having an agenda and a structure and a clear format, so that you’re not meeting it’s just not going off on a tangent. What are your thoughts on that?

 

Michael Lawes 

I think that’s incredibly important. I’m a massive advocate for an agenda in pretty much every single meeting. And I don’t think the agenda should be a surprise for the client either. So if you’ve got your process bedded down really well, that agenda should be sent out to the client prior to the meeting. And where possible, give the client a call, or have someone from your office, give the client a call, just to quickly run through the agenda and make sure that what you’re covering off in that meeting is actually a covering off what the client wants to cover off as well. And ask them if there’s anything else that you think that you want to discuss, or you want to raise, please let us know. Now we’ll add it to the agenda, because we want this to be the best meeting that you’ve had with a financial planner that you’ve ever had. And we want you obviously to tick all the boxes and get all the information across you that you need. So I think that pre meeting process is really important. You might even use technology and video again, at this point in time just to send the client an explanation of what actually goes on in the first meeting. Depending on how you structure your meetings, I quite like the idea of a quick 15 minute introductory call to the client prior to that first meeting, where you can have a high level articulate your your value your services, how you help clients get a brief understanding around the client needs and how you might be able to help them and you can decide there and then whether or not you might be a good fit for each other before you progress through to a much lengthier discovery meeting. So I think that’s a really important part of the puzzle, because I think a lot of clients are actually pretty anxious when they go to say a financial planner, they’re there talking about money, which is not a comfortable topic to talk about for many people. So if you can put them at ease through explaining the process and making them aware of what’s coming up, and do that well before the meeting, then I think you’re gonna have a much more successful and much more engaged in a much more in depth meeting, when you are doing your discovery meeting, which could take up to a good couple of hours for a good Gulf based type meeting. Yeah, I

 

Fraser Jack 

like the idea of kind of work out someone’s expectations, what they want to get out of the meeting, and then thinking, you know, putting putting, you know, their, their thoughts and ideas and all the things that might be going through their head, especially when it comes to you know, they consider, you know, considering stages, or are they considering working with us and giving him the answers I’ve I’ve sort of ascribed to the idea that if somebody actually has to ask you, it’s too late, they’ve had to ask you, you know, if they say, I’ve been telling you for ages, and you haven’t addressed fees yet, for example, because it’s been going on in their mind, for so you know, for the last 45 minutes. Whereas if you can work out the expectations and say what, you know, we’re gonna we’re gonna talk about this, we’re gonna talk about that we’re gonna talk about fees, we want to let them know, they can see it in the process. So sort of like put that to the back of their mind again, rather than being at the forefront.

 

Michael Lawes 

Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, everyone’s got their own thoughts on fees on why personally would have no issue in disclosing fee ranges up front for a client, if you do have set kind of packages that you do offer your clients, just so again, they’ve got that understanding of what’s involved, and then they’re not going to be thinking, as you say, for the first 45 minutes around, how much is this going to cost me and actually not paying attention to what you’re saying because you’re trying to educate the clients a lot through these first two or three meetings around. Not only your process in the business, but around how financial products work, how markets work, how insurance work and all that really important stuff. You don’t want them thinking about other topics and not digesting what you’re saying one because it’s not good for the client. But secondly, you’re gonna have to repeat yourself at some other point down the track. So yeah, the more disclosure, the more transparency, I think that you can provide up front to provide that level of comfort for a client, I think the better Yeah, I think we also need to make your meetings as digital as possible, obviously, we make with clients, yep, potentially, via zoom and teams, and online meetings, and so on, we’ve got to try and make it as efficient for them as possible, utilizing digital signatures and things like that as well. The guys at United capital, Joe Duran, he, I simply didn’t want his clients picking up a pen the entire the entire way through the financial planning process, that everything was done via video, everything was done by digital signatures, in which all the calls were recorded, the videos were recorded everything which can then obviously help at the back end with your phone it in process and, and things like that, I think recording your video, recording your meetings, and having them on video is a really powerful tool for your back office staff. Because your power plan is and your client service managers, if you have them within your firm, can then watch the video of the meeting that you’ve had with a client if they’re not participating in them themselves, and really get a thorough understanding of what the client’s needs are, because they can understand the tone of the conversation by actually watching the video.

 

Fraser Jack 

I’m a big fan of the concept of recording meetings. And you know, it’s just so many other reasons not you know, your staff can pick up on it, you can always use that if you need to, you know, have a conversation somebody ever says to you didn’t talk about some things or you know, here we did it, here’s a copy of recording the meeting.

 

Michael Lawes 

Yeah, I think another another way. So I just on the on the client experience there. One of them, I think, is the range of services that you offer a client as well. And if you’re a specialist, in a particular area of advice, you might be a risk specialist. That’s great. That’s that’s the value proposition. But if you don’t operate in that niche speciality, then I think having a full range of services that a client may need. Under the one roof is a very powerful tool as well for your business. There was a business we used to have in the network up in Queens, brewing business. And they had a proposition that they called an integrated advisory board, where essentially, the process was that the client would make with a financial advisor, that would have a client manager sitting that meeting as well. And it was a long meeting, it was a two to three hour for in depth discovery meeting. And their proposition to that client was on the back of this, we’re going to have a roundtable discussion with other specialists within the business. So on the financial plan, or look after the wealth side of things, we’ve got a risk specialists, we’ve got an accountancy firm, they originally were an accounting firm, so we’ve got an accountant, we’ve got a lending specialist. And we’ll also facilitate any estate planning requirements. And so we’ll do a bit of a roundtable analysis of your situation. And each one of these specialists, as part of the advisory board will be able to provide a bespoke recommendation to you so that you have the best possible advice in all areas of your financial world. And I thought that was a really powerful tool, because it saves the client having to meet with one advisor for their wealth advice and other one for their risk advice and then get referred on when we know that it probably won’t happen that they won’t go and say three or four specialists, they can capture capture under the one roof.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, exactly. And it’s all about the implementation. After all, we sort of discussed it in the past that sort of advice, it’s about getting this stuff done. So I guess the next part, after we’ve been through the, you know, the client’s journey of getting initial advice, and going through that and implementing things is around the concept of you know, what, what’s the ongoing service can be?

 

Michael Lawes 

Yeah, absolutely. And, look, we know that when you’re when you’re building a business, it’s far more difficult to attract a client than necessarily to retain a client. So this is really where that client retention piece comes in. And, and being able to offer that enduring value to acquiring and in order to do so that comes on to your ongoing advice process. And I guess the level of service that you can provide your client throughout that period, which may be hopefully for, you know, 10 2030 years because we do want to have long term ongoing relationships with our clients. And I think that service pay starts pretty early on in the equation. After the clients met with you, they’ve decided to engage implemented all the Product Solutions if there are products, solutions and strategies that are involved. What we don’t want is the client to have any unanswered questions or potentially any buyer’s remorse. So I’m a massive advocate of jumping in and after about 90 days, it could be 60 days, but having that 90 day checking call with the client just to cover off any questions that they may have after the purchase process, just to make sure that they’re comfortable and they don’t have any any ongoing and lingering worries that It might affect that ongoing relationship.

 

Fraser Jack 

This is a really interesting, I find this a lot of different ways that this can go, obviously, there was a lot of conversation in topical around the idea of 12 months service agreements, from both the legislation point of view and in what you’re going to provide for that client and getting the clients are sort of renew their their interest every 12 months sort of thing. But just in that sort of service, I also find interesting that services quite a is a thing that often we as consumers expect. So we’ll have an expectation and a level of service. And some of that service will include financial advice, but there are other layers to that relationship. And then a lot of times there’s an emotional layer to that relationship. Like, for example, just knowing I’ve got somebody there that’s got my back could be a value to that client.

 

Michael Lawes 

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, what we talked about before in that awareness and consideration piece, so much effort, can go into talking about your client value proposition and the services that you offer. Now, it’s actually time to probably reinforce that message a little bit, and just continually explain to the client, that you are always there, the phone’s always going to be answered emails always going to be responded to in a timely manner, when you do have any ongoing concerns. Because we know that essentially, the value in a financial plan is not necessarily just in constructing the plan. But it’s amending the plan as well to life changing circumstances, because literally the moment that a client walks out the door, and they’ve complained, you’ve got your soI all signed off. We know that markets aren’t going to do what they think they that we think they’re going to do. I mean, if anyone that had a plan at this time last year, it went completely out the window. And as soon as the markets capitulated and then bounced back to to COVID, you might have been impacted with your job or your industry might have gone under like many heads with COVID, over the last 12 months, in which case, again, the plan has gone completely out the window. So really, this is the part about reassuring the client, that you are there for the long term, and that you are there to provide that enduring value to them. And when life circumstances do change, that we can change the structure and the nature of the plan and be adaptable. So I think the initial plan is really looking at that long term, strategic sort of level of outcomes, what retirement should look like for you? How do we get there over the long term, but along the way, we need to make some tactical changes, because markets are either going to go better or worse than what we forecast in the plan. So each year, let’s start thinking about tweaking the plan, whether it’s levels of contributions, whether it’s the level of insurance that you have, obviously, year in year out, incomes change. So our cash flow and budgeting strategy, and now the automation of savings, those sorts of levels all need to change. So let’s keep adaptable. And let’s keep pivoting so that we can keep you on track for your long term financial plan. Yeah.

 

Fraser Jack 

Are there any Are there any practical tips that you see out in the in the field that are working? Well, with regards to this? You know, there’s ongoing service of clients, and there’s some sort of yearly renewal? Yeah,

 

Michael Lawes 

absolutely. I think, again, technology can can play a role here. And there are some great tools, some great cash flow and budgeting tools, such as my prosperity and money soft, and there are a few others that can really assist in this stage of the client relationship. And essentially, I think those tools are invaluable for a client to have, essentially, you know, what’s essentially like a white labeled app for your business in their pocket at all times, that they can instantaneously check their complete financial position, they feel connected to your business, and you can communicate and engage by that platform on a regular basis, as well, I think tools like that, very, very important to maintain this level of service, and retain your clients. But as well as that there’s that ongoing education piece. This is where I think communication to your client base plays a huge role. Business Health, over the years have put through put out a number of reports a lot of work that those guys do. And some of the statistics that they put out around the increased profitability of firms that communicate 10 times or more per year with their clients. Some of the figures are quite staggering. They’re in the order of 250% more profitable firms that communicate 10 times or more than than those that don’t. So, here’s where your ongoing communication strategy to clients really comes into play. So I think that’s, that’s as important as ever. And again, reflecting on I guess, the last 12 months we’ve covered and you know, that the oscillating markets just went absolutely crazy. What what a better time to communicate to clients around the value of advice and the value of long term thinking and of sticking to the plan so that your client doesn’t get nervy and then dive out of the markets at the worst possible time. It’s times like those and that’s what your clients really paying you for in terms of your ongoing fees is that reassurance and to provide that safe And minded that sound thinking so that they stick to their plan and don’t make any rash decisions. So I think it’s better. Now Richard has a really good picture, the US Embassy, the pizza guy, the sketch guy around you’re the advisor sits between the client and stupid. So it’s really about making stupid decisions. So before you make a stupid decision, I think this is where the adviser really needs to step in, and be that sounding board and prevent your client from making a potentially stupid decision in getting out of the market at the wrong time.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, I don’t think if we look back over the last 12 months, I’m pretty sure we can all find lots of examples of people who decided to, you know, freak out and jump to cash at the worst possible moment, we’ve obviously, we probably all know, people that have pulled money out of their super over that time frame. And some of them may have needed to do that. But also feel they probably a lot of them did that didn’t need to.

 

Michael Lawes 

Yeah, exactly. And I think there’s a few other things is a tip off or shared, a couple of advisors are looking at in the network. And we’re building a bit of a program around this. One, it helps your clients enormously with their estate planning. But the other I think it’s in terms of your client acquisition strategy, this is a really good, a good process to follow. And that’s around what we call an executive briefing. So once you’ve put in place your full financial plan, the client, whether you’re facilitating it or not, has sorted out their estate plan. And they will obviously as part of that process, they need to nominate an executive. Now, what does the average executor who’s just been nominated know about being an executor, probably absolutely nothing, because they never would have done it before. They may only ever do it once or twice in their entire life. So there’s a lot of uncertainty that goes into being in the role of the executor. However, it’s a very important role that that person plays. And there can be some to be ramifications financially for the executor, if they get it wrong, what we’re looking at is building a process around what we call this executive briefing whereby once the wheels in place, you then have a short meeting with the executor, after half an hour with your clients, and just briefed them on the roles and the responsibility of an executor. And encourage them that obviously, you need their contact details. Because if anything happens to the client, you can reach out, and vice versa, they need your contact details, you can put together a nice little information pack, put a little cheat together spend a little bit of money on a nice folder that it offers works. And that to the executive. And the beauty about that is the executives probably a similar type of person to your client, and probably a relative or very, very close friends. That’s typically how it would be nominated as an executor. So one of our advisors used to do this. And he said that his best run was six out of six of these executive briefings, he walked away with the executor as a client, because it’s most likely that that executor doesn’t have an advisor given only around 30% of Australians who say financial advisor. And I think it would be odds on that if they do have an advisor, their advisor doesn’t go to that length of service in providing that that brought up for a briefing pace to the tech, you know. So I think that’s, that’s a no cost, essentially, process that you can follow to help acquire more of the right type of clients and your existing client love you. And hopefully that executive does as well.

 

Fraser Jack 

Great. Now, the this also brings us to the concept of you know, what’s going on in the client’s mind around that the final step, which is loyalty, you know, that, to me that service is what you’re doing. And then loyalty is from the clients point of view of what they’re they’re bringing to the table or what they’re going to do ongoing for you.

 

Michael Lawes 

Yeah, absolutely. And I think this is the part where clients become advocates of your business. So you’ve been able to deliver on your promise, you’ve been able to provide that high level of service for a number of years. And then your best prefers will be those long term clients that really do see the value that you can provide and have experienced that value as well because they can share their successes and their stories with their friends and family. And anytime they’re asked for who their friend or family member needs to say a financial planner, then who are they going to recommend? Of course, I recommend yourself. But it’s important for clients who have been with you for a number of years to continue to add value and you need to think about that engineering value piece. How do you keep adapting? Are there new services that you may need to bring into your business so that you can continue to add more value to those existing clients? Because there was a lot of error at a conference that a client will leave you when they run out of future maybe if they can’t see a future with you. If they can’t see that you’re going to add any more value to them and their situation. Why would they keep paying you an ongoing fee. They simply wouldn’t that walk away and either look after their affairs themselves, or they may see another advisor that may provide value for what they need. So things that you can think about initial Spicer, a lot of advisors, now we’re getting into private Facebook groups and things like that. So you might have a segment of your existing clients that you want to network with, and have their network with each other on a private Facebook group. So again, it’s that sense of community and keeping them very close to your business. I think that ongoing education piece, maybe having select events, educational seminars, things like that, where you’re getting an external speaker, maybe an economist, or maybe, if you’ve very high profile sports, people will pay for high profile sports based people to attend. And so those types of events that I think you can really put on to your existing clients, that will keep them very close to your business. And it’s really important, I think, with those clients to start getting testimonials, and promoting testimonials by website and, and other communication tools that you use, whether it’s a newsletter, or blog, etc.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, this is a really good point, the testimonials piece as well, because obviously, you know, communities a great idea, I love that and, and, you know, ongoing education massive fan of as well, the testimonials, I almost feel like, um, you know, like the reviews these days where it could go either way, you know, like, as a consumer, I prefer to read every review than a testimonial, because I kind of feel like a testimony is only ever going to take good things. But I really want to hone in on the concept here of the client being able to articulate the value that they get out of their advice relationship. And I know, you know, whether it’s a survey or a business health or whatever might be just just honing in on that specific idea. And just saying, you know, how are you going to find that out from your client, what they what their perceived value is, and then out of the relationship?

 

Michael Lawes 

Yeah, and I think when you’re talking about surveys, you really hit the nail on the head that you do need to survey your clients quite regularly. One of the really important things to do when you survey your clients is not just rely on one medium, if you’re surveying your clients, you know, via a survey monkey and online form, that’s great. But you also need to do face to face and more in depth interviews with your clients to identify the value that they’re receiving. And there’s a couple of reasons for that, if you’re doing solely online surveys, the clients Obviously not. And if they’re anonymous as well, clients can often be a bit harsher with their feedback. So sometimes you want that you want the honest truth. And if you’re only doing face to face style feedback sessions, you know, with your top clients, they’re going to be far more generous in their responses, they’re not going to be anywhere near as critical of your services face to face. So if you’re only doing one or the other, you’re probably not getting a true reflection of the feeling out there and the perception of the clients of your services. So I think it’s really important to do by

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, it’s really interesting. You’re either the medium makes a difference in whether it’s long or short, or the quick answer is a long form that says a weather equation.

 

Michael Lawes 

Absolutely. And I think this is, this is really where you’ve got to put your business hat on and take on board that feedback and identify any weak points and any gaps. And they should form part of your planning as to how you can address that. So are the areas of service that your business are providing your clients that you need to either bring in counsel that you can establish referral arrangements and refer clients to other specialists that can satisfy their need. And if there’s any weak points in your service offering with your ongoing reviews, or, you know, contestability of your staff or yourself and things like that, these are, these are little things that can creep into very big things over a period of time. So you need to address all of the areas of feedback that you receive. And ultimately, that’s going to improve your business. And I think it just comes down to the one percenters. When you start responding to some of these bits of feedback, every single one of these things won’t transform your business. But I think most of running a business is just making a lot of small, incremental improvements to your business over time that no one really sees. But over a long period of time can make a transformational shift in the quality of your business and the quality of your service, which then translates into enhanced client experience. And then I think that we’ll basically just keep spinning, and that’s going to result in more referrals and easier client acquisition. And you can have a much better business as a result.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah. Well, and thanks for bringing us that framework around awareness, consideration, purchase service and loyalty. That’s, that’s very helpful. Thank you. Now just another thing that I wanted to talk to you about was just a random time working on your business purpose versus working in your business and how great that is out there growing the businesses at the moment and really scaling up.

 

Michael Lawes 

Yeah, my definitely. So Time management is a is a huge consideration for everyone really, but I think in the landscape that we’re dealing with at the moment and the conversations we have with advisors is they’ve never really been busier. There are so many things going on keeping up up to date with legislative changes, product changes, client demands. Changing face fractures, all these sorts of things, that it’s very easy to get caught up in the day to day work and not spend the appropriate amount of time on your business. So again, there’s a great framework I like it’s called the McKinsey model. It’s essentially a 70 2010 structure of time management. And you can apply this 70 2010 rule to to a number of different areas. We do it internally with learning, for example, that 30% of your learning is done on the job. 20% is through internal courses and 10% through more formal courses, like degrees, diplomas, that sort of thing. But for a financial advisor, the 20, the 70 2010 model, really is a way of splitting up your time in between the three different roles that you play. Now you play these as a self employed financial advisor. And essentially, the three roles are you are the adviser, you are the CEO of the business. But you’re also wearing entrepreneurial hat, you’re also an entrepreneur. And I think the best way you can really split your time between the three is 70% of your time is doing your day job, in meeting with clients, instructing you constructing essays or reviewing essays, and you’re engaging with clients file, uploading, all that sort of stuff. So that’s, that’s the sort of basics the ins and outs of being a financial adviser. It’s the technical work that we do. I don’t know if you’ve read the E myth by Michael Gerber. Yes. It’s one of those business Bibles, I find, I reckon that’s one of the Better Business Improvement books out there that I read. And he splits up the three roles into the technician, the manager, and the entrepreneur. So the technician, advisor 20% of your time, I think really shouldn’t be spent with that managerial or the CEO hat on. And that is really, when you’re having a look at the broader aspects of your business. And this is where we start to work on the business. And this is really looking at all things like your marketing strategies, your financials, are you meeting your financial hurdles, at staff management, looking at the technology suite that you have within your business? And is your technology meeting your needs and your clients needs? Or do you need to tweak it as looking at compliance issues and things like that. So it’s, it’s the broader running of the business. And really, this is where the business planning side fits in. So we’re doing a lot of business planning at this point of time with our advisors. This is really all the stuff that we are covering now with the business planning, with our corporates, really fits under that CEO space, and 20% of your time, that might sound like a big, it’s roughly a day a week. But if you average that out over a month, it’s roughly sort of four days per month. But I think for those businesses that do continually improve, that do have that long term strategic view, and that will be more successful down the track, you do need to spend some quality time working on your business, not just being caught up in the day to day work that we do as an advisor.

 

Fraser Jack 

This is an interesting model, because it does it’s like three and a half days working with clients directly. When one day a week, you know, 20% of the time working on your business and half a day a week in that transformational entrepreneur, headspace where you’re thinking long term, and how are we going to really scale the business and in that form? So is it that does equal quite a bit of time when you think about the 20% and the 2% of your week? It’d be really interesting to go back and look at, I guess, your diary over the last, you know, you know, a little bit of time and sake, is that what that? Well,

 

Michael Lawes 

my diary reflects? Oh, absolutely. And I hadn’t quite touched on that, that 10%. But thanks for writing that in terms of the entrepreneurial time. And this is really when you can put your thinking hat on and really thinking how do I Teaneck smart business? How do I have the long term make sure I have a viable not just a viable business, but a thriving business? Where is the industry headed? And how can I maybe pivot to make the most of any any changes that’s going on within the industry over this period of time. So one of that period for that time that that thinking is really I think, reading thinking thing on top of industry trends, and then working out how you can pivot your business. And it might even be around bringing in alternative revenue streams. There’s some really good coaching firms. One that I’ve attended a couple of sessions and essentially what they do is each quarter, take their business owner clients away, and each quarter. The aim for this off site is to come up with another revenue stream that’s going to generate $10,000 a month in new revenue. And the end goal of after a few years is that you’ve got 10 different revenue streams of $10,000 a month coming into your business. So I think this is really where that entrepreneurial mindset comes in. And start thinking about other online programs or things like that, that you might be able to start releasing as a business. You And you start educating students through schools and have a service like that, that they can pay for things like that that might be completely ancillary to what you’re doing as part of your day job now, but maybe long term, having diversified revenue coming to your business is going to protect your business because we know that there is a lot of fee pressure at the moment. There is risk, ongoing risk to insurance Commission’s is certainly not going up, they may go down or maybe wiped out completely. Over the next few years, no one really knows I’ll be in touch with that never happens because we know how important life insurance advisors are. But nonetheless, it does remain a small risk. So this entrepreneurial space, I think that’s where we need to start thinking about the broader long term advantages that we might be able to gain as a business, looking at some of these alternative solutions, addressing things and that is called the McKinsey model, making the McKinsey the consulting company, believe they first came up with it. And yet it’s a very useful model for structuring your timing. I think as you touched on, looking back in your diary, it would be very interesting to see what our weeks actually end up looking like. And I know we we always in when I was in distribution essentially looked at having an ideal week, and you’d always have Monday and Friday with the administration and planning days and Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, were full of appointments, never ended up looking like that. But I think ultimately, if you can actually plan and block out some time to do the planning, to do the admin to do your day job. That’s really the best that you can do it. But you do need to be ruthless in protecting that time in your diary that you set aside for that long term planning. Because ultimately, that’s going to make you more successful.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, fantastic. Thanks for bringing us that model. Now. Tell us about you. Tell us about your What is your year look like? What’s one of the main things you’re working on with the planners? In 2021?

 

Michael Lawes 

Yeah, so we’re, um, as I mentioned, we doing a heck of a lot of work at the moment with business planning with our advisors. So we developed an online business planning tool. And that’s really, it’s designed to be pretty seamless. It’s looking back over the last 12 months that what were the big issue is that we’re faced and what they need to do over the next 12 months to be successful, and looking at a whole range of areas that we’ve sort of covered off under that CEO space. So the big thing that we’re going to be working on this year is a whole series of quarterly sprints with each of our individual businesses to help them achieve all of their desired objectives, which is really important as a licensee as well. Obviously, there’s a whole raft of changes that are going on within the industry, it’s really important that we have the final few advisors, finished their mastery exam, and having set the first few exam and on the rest of the leadership team. And I think another seven or eight around around the business, have all said it’s a it’s a very nerve wracking exam. And it’s one that’s I think everybody’s very glad to get behind them once they’ve completed it. So that’s a big focus as well for the year, as well as just really focusing I think on it’s that continuous improvement process as well, Fraser it’s, it’s not necessarily one thing that’s going to drive transformational change, it’s really driving that continuous improvement mindset within our advice businesses, of chipping away at the one percenters. And over time that aggregation of marginal gains can can make a significant improvement to all of our businesses.

 

Fraser Jack 

I look at patients on all the exams, by the way, but I really like this 90 day sprint concept, as well, I think it’s very important to just Yes, yes, from an entrepreneurial point of view or a management point of view, there might be 10 things we want to achieve. But let’s just prioritize and focus on one and get that done and get it in implemented before we start the next in the next 90 days.

 

Michael Lawes 

Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s really important to just keep the engine ticking over as well, it’s really nice to have completed one particular goal within that 90 day sprint, and then put the fade out. But you know what, to keep the momentum moving and keep progressing, it’s really important to then get, celebrate the wins, celebrate whatever project we’ve just completed, but then rolling to the next one. And there’s a good again, not a bad little model that that I don’t mind that we talk about from time to time, when we run through a 90 day sprint is a coach in the states called Robin Sharma. And he advocates when you you’re trying to implement whether it’s a new project, or maybe write a book or whatever it might be, because at the 9091 model, where for the next 90 days, for the first 90 minutes of the next 90 days, just focus on one thing. So if it’s a really important project to you or your business, walk out the first 90 minutes of your diary for every day over that quarter and just focus on that one thing. And by doing so, you’re going to give yourself ample time to really successfully deliver on that particular project and that particular goal because far too often again, as we talked about with time management, if it’s not in the diary, it just won’t happen and we all know what we like with projects for university and and all the rest of it. They normally end up happening in the in the last week. But if you can ruthlessly stick to that 9091 type of framework, and you’re gonna deliver some exceptional results over the over the period of time.

 

Fraser Jack 

That’s probably a good habit to get into. Well, we might leave it there. Thank you so much for coming and sharing those business models with us in this Gallup series. Really appreciate it all of your time and your insights. And if somebody else wants to get a hold of you to continue that conversation, what’s the best way for them to ology?

 

Michael Lawes 

Yeah, so thanks very much for the opportunity, Fraser. And if someone wants to reach out, the best place is probably on LinkedIn. Michael was or if you want to send me an email, it’s Michael dot laws and laws is Li w s@afinia.com. w

 

Fraser Jack 

potassic. Thank you, Michael. All right. Thanks, guys. There you have it another episode of The X Y advisor podcast. I’m Fraser Jack, and I’m joined by Emily lunch. Good, Emily. Hey, Fraser. Hey, now’s the good part of the week for us, we get to do a few shout outs and who should we give a shout out to today.

 

 

All right, today, I want to give a big shout out to Nathan fradley, Michael Miller and Andrew laner 3x y advisors who are spearheading an upcoming ethics or x y ethics committee group. So throughout discussions, these guys have noticed that while ethical dilemmas were being discussed in person or posted on the x y platform, there was no viable, universal and easily access point to help practitioners in making ethical decisions. So in to answer this problem, we’re kicking off the committee as a way for advisors to get peer reviewed responses to ethical dilemmas. So we’re launching the group by opening up applications for those or people, advisors providers to join as a committee member. So watch this space, more details to come up very soon. But I just wanted to give a massive shout out to these guys who are just really super driven and looking for ways to raise the standard in advice. So well done, guys. Yeah,

 

Fraser Jack 

this is a really fantastic idea. And if you’re interested in joining the community, then you know as MC, contact, contact us but I am a member more than happy to see if you can put an application to become part of that committee. Or if you have an ethical dilemma and you’re not sure of it. And this is really handy for a lot of advisors that don’t have you know, larger practices or groups behind them. So yeah, this is fantastic. If you’ve got an ethical dilemma, then throw it towards the committee.

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