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Russell Ho

XY ADVISER

Podcast

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

clients, year, people, industry, learning, advisor, work, point, russell, podcast, financial planner, linkedin, advice, thinking, finance, person, experience, financial, servicing, big

SPEAKERS

Russell Ho, Louis van der Merwe

Louis van der Merwe 

Welcome to the financial planners South Africa podcast, a show dedicated to driving the positive evolution of financial advice, specifically in South Africa, to join a global community of financial advisors, sharing and learning with one another to drive the positive evolution of financial advice. Head to x y advisor.com. portfolio matrix is thrilled to bring you this podcast in support of our common passion for people and the evolution of wealth management, or global business links precision investment management, expert financial advice, partnerships and technology. Visual, interactive, meaningful, productive for values underpinning acid map, a financial planning platform loved by advisors and their clients. This episode is proudly brought to you by Alan gray. They say it’s important to live for today. Although that might be true. We can’t forget to plan for tomorrow. There’s a lot of left of all, Alan gray is an authorized financial services provider, visit www dot Alan gray.co today to learn how we build long term wealth for clients. Off the dude and Russell Whoa, thank you so much for coming on to the podcast today.

Russell Ho 

Awesome. Thanks, Louis. Thanks for having me. And it’s a it’s a pleasure to be on your podcast. So be one of your early guests on your South African podcast.

Louis van der Merwe 

You also what we’re trying to do with this podcast is definitely to promote the positive evolution of advice. And one of the first people that came to mind is Russell and you know, just by looking at waste spends his time in terms of building his graph for financial planning. I think this conversation would be brilliant just sharing, you know, your history and financial planning, what you’re busy doing at the moment, and where we see the industry, industry heading. So let’s maybe touch on what you’re doing at the moment, tell us a little bit the practice that you’re worth and the type of clients that you serve.

Russell Ho 

Awesome. Thanks, Louis. And you’re like I said earlier again, once again, thank you so much for this opportunity. And I’m hoping what I shared today that, you know, can add some value to everyone that’s listening. So currently Now, just to give you guys a bit of a background on me, I’ve been seven years in the industry, I still think that’s a youngster in terms of industry does. But yeah, I’ve been seven years in the industry. I’m a fully independent financial or Certified Financial Planner, and I work currently under succession financial planners. And it’s been an exciting journey, both ups and downs. Going through the years, I would say I’ve learned a hell of a lot, which I’m sure most of you have, especially if you’ve worked in our industry. And in addition to that, where I’m now within the last three years, which we are actually launching now within the next month or so, both a team of other professionals, accountants, attorneys trust specialists as well just kind of to board that coaching philosophy for like all my clients. And when it comes to my clientele, I would say, I basically don’t discriminate against any specific client. And I focus a lot on helping, I would say, young, established professionals, and a lot of I would say, middle to high income families, you know, that are just trying to make sense of where their money’s going isn’t being used with intent and purpose for the lifestyle that they want to Bode brilliant, you

Louis van der Merwe 

touched on some very interesting ideas they know servicing your clients as a team. And then also, what I heard you say was, you know, young professionals really resonate with the service that you offer? Can you maybe unpack a little bit, you know, what this team looks like? And how you servicing those young professionals? Okay, so

Russell Ho 

I’m actually gonna go right into kind of where the idea came from. So my second year of beanie industry, which was like six years ago, it all started with that and also reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad, that was probably my first book that I got into and Lou, you know, I’m kind of a book nerd in my off time. And I will kid you not like the first time I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad, like many of us, I just thought, Well, basically, he’s telling me to buy a property. And yeah, my early 20s I can’t even afford to buy my own new car or on properties. I don’t know if that’s going to work for me. And I read it the second time. And just so happens that coincidental with like, Oh, you know, it connected with an experience I had with a client, which was that I started realizing finally that clients had a lot of problems outside the financial advisory space in other fields of their life, that needed assistance, or they needed help or needed some form of coach and in addition to that, as well. I found that if I could just put the right team almost sort of sort of like bowl my own Avengers, I guess you could call it right. But I could add extreme amounts and extensive amounts of value to my clients in more than one way or another. And it just so happens coming back to the rich dad poor dad book. I read it for the second time. And I actually learned something properly the sound, which was that one of the gems he mentioned was that he spent three months job shadowing his rich dad. And in the beginning, he couldn’t understand why his rich dad was paying so many fees or, you know, paying for services of an accountant and advisor, or property manager, banker, lawyer, and so forth. And he thought it was a waste of time. But by the end of the three months, because he got to sit in on those meetings, he realized that his rich dad wasn’t paying them for their services, or technically advice, or for them sending anything, it was just to have that board of coaches in, I would say, in his corner, so that whatever decision he makes with regarding to his life, you know, and his business and the empire that he was planning to board, he could ask each and every one of them, you know, I want to do this or make this decision, like, what do you guys think? Is it good or bad? And don’t tell me in your, your technical field jargon, tell me in Simple English, is it a good decision? What do I need to be aware of? And those two concepts kind of are those two ideas connected for me that second, and I was like, You know what, for the next couple years, I don’t know when it’s going to happen. But I’m going to start boating, networking and looking for the right people to pull this team. And I was in the last three years, I’ve been fortunate enough to find those right and correct individuals that not only share the same work ethic, the mentality and the coaching philosophy, but care about the client just as much as I do, you know, and we’re actually releasing now, we’re launching within the next month. And it’s made up of, you know, we’ve got a chartered accountant, there’s two tax practitioners, including myself or South African tax, and the third one’s an offshore tax specialists and trust, we’ve got an attorney, Anna conveyancing, the team, we’ve got a real estate agent or property specialist as well. And then we’ve got a medical aid specialist. So it’s basically offering this whole collective group of coaches that you have access to, you know, when you work with us,

Louis van der Merwe 

that’s great. I love that idea of the Avengers team that’s got you back. That’s kind of distilling what you need at the right time that you need it. For a lot of advisors, you know, they struggle picturing the actual value that you bring to the relationship, right be and through the fees that we earn, or the products that we have in front of clients. How do you see that value that you bring to the relationship, given the fact that you’re part of this bigger team?

Russell Ho 

So I think the value when you look at all you think about value bringing to your client or your customers, and it doesn’t have to only be for advisors, I think within any industry, right? What I’ve learned since day one been in this game, or in this field is that always put yourselves in the shoes of your client. So think, you know, whether it’s the advice you give how you position yourself, how you approach clientele, always think like, if I was a client, how would I see this? Because nine times out of 10. And I’m sure, Louis, you can agree. And you’ve also seen that as well. Most of us make the mistake of thinking, Oh, I like this approach, or I like this product, or I like this, the way we do things in business this way, because I like it, you know, but technically, do your clients forever? Or Lego does it appeal to them. So that’s always the first step. And then when it comes to value, you know, especially with technology today, and you know, especially in our industry, your values got to be more than just the product or service you offered. Because what technology nowadays, you can buy almost everything online. So especially in our field, and we’ve seen that a lot happen within this last year to two years, our value is being more scrutinized now than ever. We were actually asking, you know, I’m paying you a fee, your advisor fee, you know, what am I getting in return? And what I realized, which I’m not sure a lot of you are aware of is that the value that or the advantage that we have is think about it, people have a bad perception about the financial advice industry, you know, they think, oh, we all policy sells when you sell insurance and all that. And yes, you can see that from a negative point of view. No suppressing is bad did hear that. But you can also see it from an optimistic point of view. That’s actually pretty good. Because that means for most of customers, or most of my clients, the expectation when they before they meet me is Yeah. So if I can give them a completely new experience, and delivering a value proposition that’s up here, just imagine how that’s going to, you know, shock them and also in turn, you know, generate more business because they will tell all their friends or colleagues of like, you know, I went to Russell or Louis, I thought he was just going to sell me life insurance. And instead, we never talked about product whatsoever. And it’s completely different to any advice. I’m doubtful if you’ve got to go see them. And they might be thinking on my advisor, or the person I’m dealing with, all they do is sell insurance to me, you know, I have an experience, what sciences experience, maybe I should see if I can go and see their advisor. So coming back to the value thing, it’s more about without the product or to what actual human value are you adding to your clients, you know, if something goes wrong, or if there’s any big lifestyle decisions, they’re making their life, you want to make sure that they can talk to you, I always have it with my clients that, yes, I can sell you insurance or investment products. But that’s kind of the byproduct of my whole advice, philosophy. You buy more into me as a person, because when things go bad, whether it’s the markets or something, your life, or you or it could be a good thing, you transition into a new job, or you want to go work overseas, nine times out of 10 Yes, you have, you can Google that. But the biggest problem is like sifting through Google and saying like, okay, which is fake news, which is nonsense, what is the legit information? And most of the time, a lot of that information is very generic. So then it comes down to the next issue is like, Okay, I know what they saying, Yeah, but a I don’t understand it, because it’s in jargon, in financial jargon, and be so how does this exactly apply to my scenario, my situation, and that’s where we add value in as advisors is looking as a client as them individually, not as a number and saying, Okay, are you making these big decisions now going forward in your life, these are the things that are going to apply to you. And these are the questions you need to be asking yourself, and this is what can happen in terms of the outcome. And I’m here to make sure that we get the best outcome for you.

Louis van der Merwe 

That’s great. I mean, you’ve said to me before, we need to raise the bar in this industry, and what comes to mind is just the fact that the bar at the moment is still quite, quite low. And hopefully, you know, over time, we can, we can increase that bar. And you know, the pan, that you’re also a weight lifter comes to mind. So there’s, there’s a lot of bars included in this and I know you that you’re training for, for an upcoming event, what role does fitness played in your life as a financial advisor?

Russell Ho 

Yeah, so fitness plays a huge role to me. And for most of you that don’t know me, I do. We are quite close. I’ve shared this with him already. But it’s probably a pivotal part of my life, in the sense that it started also from with a weird work mentality is when I started in the industry, right, as a really young lady back then straight fresh out of varsity. I kid you not a lot of the senior advisors that I met, the first thing they told me is that, you know, no one’s going to trust you with your money, because a you not gray or bowl, be you not old and see you don’t have a book or barely know, so who’s going to trust the money with you. And for the first year, I was like, okay, that kind of makes sense. I’m assuming all those factors, you know, accumulate to some form of wisdom that appeals to the client. But then I eventually started thinking, but then if I have, especially the book, or the beer belly, you know, to me, I was like, what happens if I have a heart attack or I die before my client, you know, and then I can take care of my clients interests and their lives. So I started thinking from the same perspective that I believe Sandro forte mentioned at once on franchise podcast was that, when he started, he had the same problem. And all it had the same experiences. And he started seeing that, you know, my, one of my value offerings to my client is that I’m going to take really good care of myself, because my value to you is longevity, I’m going to try and take care of myself, so I can live longer to take care of you. And that became one of my modalities as well, that in addition to the fact that for most of your listeners, and viewers that are listening now, with always have always been a big thing. So I used to always be a chubby kid through high school, and I used to weigh 100 kgs of pure fat and I was like really overweight, I couldn’t even run a mile or kilometer entire friggin terms. And that’s why health also became so important to me because it was in my early years of working, it was slowing down and prime me of energy that I could be putting towards my clients and their needs. And over time, I started realizing that working out and staying fit was not only just for the sake of working out and you know, keeping the weight off, but more so of a mentality outlet. You know, because we have really stressful jobs. It’s an outlet for stress so that your mind is clear by the time you finish the workout and you can take on whatever obstacles the world throws at you on that day. So that’s what it became to me became more than fitness. It became like free therapy to me in a sense that it’s my stress outlet. Once I get my workout done every day. I’m ready for whatever the day throws at me. So That’s why it’s, it’s more to me than just fitness and lifting weights.

Louis van der Merwe 

You know, and through that, you reinvented yourself, right? So I can see the presence that you bring to these conversations, which is it’s refreshing. I want to talk a little bit about the early days in your career as an advisor, for a lot of people starting out is really tough, especially those first couple of years. You know, maybe we can just jump back seven years to Russell that starting art, no, like, I did that happen. What were you doing? And tell us a little bit about that? Okay, so

Russell Ho 

yeah, sure, more than happy to share. So like many of you, I started out about seven years ago, did my B com and my post grad in financial planning at Nelson Mandela University now it’s called, I believe, I think that’s the new name, and graduated and then I was applying to go work in the industry. And I initially applied to you know, a few of the SMR just like you’re adding reincarnation, they told me not. qualifications are good, got good marks, but you have no food experience. So then, next best option I tried applying was add old mutual and old mutual wealth. And they accepted me off the bat and started working they what shocked me. And that probably was the first shock that a lot of us as planners experienced when you get into the field, especially when you’ve gone the educational route, was that a nonspecific majority? It happens everywhere. But I was shocked to find out I was overqualified for the job. Yeah. And I did not they said you they told me I was overqualified, because I had a be calm and a post grad and financial planning. And I was still pursuing the Certified Financial Planner designation that point. And back then, which I will say the industry has come a hell of a long way. Is that back then the basic criteria for hiring as a financial advisor was metrics, I was experiencing a tribe’s no financial qualification whatsoever. I was just like, this doesn’t make sense to me. So I started working and knowing the beginning as well. I used to take offense to people saying, oh, but your degrees just a piece of paper and doesn’t mean a lot. And over time I learned Yes, I it can go both ways. Yes, it can be just a piece of paper, if you don’t use the knowledge you obtain in varsity, practically. And if you are able to use that knowledge, it’s actually an advantage. And in my early years, that’s also we’re coming back to what I mentioned earlier, I would say as a young planner, I also got demotivated, like many young planners have entered the industry where, you know, you go, you go into this field, and you want to change lives, and you’re going to do big things, you know, and not on money. And then you start as a financial planner, and the first thing you hear people call us like, oh, you’re broke or policies. So I mean, that’s like a huge naki like, I studied so hard and all that. And for me, in the beginning, it was tough, because dealing with that mean, you know, mentally that was kind of demotivating in the store. I only started realizing later that yes, it’s you know, our industry’s got a negative perception. But that also just means how low the boys in if you can deliver something of greater value up, you know, above that, it’s going to set you apart dramatically in the field. And that’s how I was picturing it. So in my early years, when I started there in which I was there for three years of full commission base, so no salary. And my first year was actually I was just interning, so it wasn’t even a permanent contract. They were like, Look, you can come in once a month. That’s the minimum you need to come in. And you do your targets kick in from June. Yeah. So I was there for the first six months, I didn’t have targets. But I guess it’s also because of my family upbringing and a work ethic. I still treated it as if it was like the last job I had, you know, especially from our parents side. So I came in at like seven o’clock in the morning. And then I would leave seven or eight o’clock in the evening, every day. And you know, the guys couldn’t understand why you work inside like you, you’re not even getting paid properly. You fully commissioned by design. And it was more so of the opportunity for me the way I saw it was like, okay, I’ve learned all this book knowledge and velocity. I want to see what people actually do in this field, you know, and know they will obviously the people doing good things, people doing bad things. And I saw the pros and cons of each I was like, Okay, I’m going to take the good things out of each source. And also learn that what’s not working, and try and take a different approach. So a good example, which most of us experience is that, you know, a lot of us aren’t, you know, people savvy or people skill savvy, including myself, I was introverted. I kid you not for many of the listeners and viewers out there. I was shy back in varsity. I didn’t like doing public speaking events or talking to people. I was the guy in the corner of the room, waiting for someone to come talk to me not the person going forward and, and networking or meeting people. So definitely push me out of my comfort zone in the sense that I was thinking, Okay, a lot of these guys are cold calling clients and again, thinking On the mindset of a customer, I get a cold call and someone says, Hi, I like to I’m so and so I like to meet with you and talk to you about your finances. Like, you just called me from a random number. I don’t know you from a ball. So you want to look into my finances that I don’t even tell my brother, my siblings, my parents about what you want to come and look at my finances, what makes you think I’m going to trust you? So that was the first thing I noted. And secondly, I was like thinking, I need to get in front of these people that I’m going to try and get as clients. So that was also the the biggest challenge that a lot of us as advisors had is finding clients or finding prospects. So I started thinking, you know what, right? There’s a lot of these expos and events that are happening in the city. bridal expos home expose kids expos, you name attract, but there’s no financial Expo finance Expo. Right? What happens if I and I did it at my own class, so company wasn’t paying me. It’s like, what if I go and set up a store that has nothing to do with finance maybe has some of our mutual branding, but has nothing to do with finance. Like there’s literally there’s a chocolate fountain and some lucky Jaws, and all at all on my class. But the opportunity I would get out of that is two benefits. A, it’s going to force me to develop people skills, because I’m an introvert. So I’m going to be forced to talk to people and be when I talk to people, it’s just an opportunity to make conversation with them and sort of maybe bring in something they’ve seen the newspaper back in those days, like in the herald of like, the budget speech or something that’s all about the economy, I’ll bring it up along the conversation. And the third benefit that I also got out of it, when they enter the draw, and I bought this report, and I found them the next day, my accountant, my icebreaker and my, my trump card was phoning them and saying that I was especially at a product’s high, I was the Chinese guy in the tax, by the way, that you were talking about your wedding plans. And I’m just firing up because you said like, you know, we had a nice chat. And you mentioned you’re you’re struggling with your taxes or your retirement planning. And I was just hoping we could have a follow up session or meeting where you know, we can have a proper discussion, and I can really try and help you with that. And I kid you not. For those that don’t know, there’s not really many or any Chinese people within our industry. It was my icebreaker. Because the moment I said that they will be like, yes, of course, like How can I forget you? Like I remember you and you were talking so much? Yes, sure. Let’s have a meeting. And just by having that not only that I bought people skills. But in addition to that, I didn’t have to do any cold calling. I kid you know, I tried it for the first week, when I started, I hated it, I was like, this is not going to work for me. And going that route was just so much more beneficial. Because like people knew who I was they saw me there’s more trust, like, Sure, come let’s have a cup of coffee and supplies. And we could talk finances. And I would say, just going through that process. Yes, it cost me money. But the return I got was higher. I had a higher, I would say hit rate when it comes to bringing clients. Like I’d say about 95% of those contacts are made of those experts became clients in the end. So yeah, that that was my early journey, you know,

Louis van der Merwe 

brilliant, you know, I can see that how you really break down financial planning into these bite sized, you know, digestible things and make it easy. And, you know, even how you unpacked these challenges and said, Okay, well, let’s look at both angles, you know, what, what are the negatives? And what are the positives? You know, what can I be using in this in this situation? So you’ve been at old mutual for a couple of years. Now, how do you keep yourself motivated in that role to just continue growing?

Russell Ho 

Yeah, so definitely, I think that’s probably one of the biggest challenges A lot of us as advisors face is, you know, how do you stay motivated, because at the end of the day, you know, your own intrapreneur, and business owner, so everything’s depend on you. And most of the stuff or hard work that you do, no one else is going to see except yourself. So how I can motivate it, I will say I was also fortunate enough, is that within my second year, I got I kind of got my first mentor within the industry. And his name was Glenn. And he was a top advisor, a really top advising black number two within old mutual nationally. And why resonated so much more with him is that I went into that mentorship program with him. And it was only supposed to be six months to a year and it turned into a three year kind of relationship. And even now I still keep in contact with him. Where basically, he showed me that yes, Russell there’s a lot of bad advice or bad advice out there. But there’s good guys like us that are doing things right. And he showed me the way of like how he was teaching or handling, you know, high net worth clients. Or the game too much voice advice. And that helped motivated me, in addition to, you know, me thinking from the point of, I’ve always thought this way, it’s like how, how can I always constantly add value to clients? You know, how can I learn? How can I do things better. And it was only after my second year of working on mutual, my mindset kind of shifted to the sense of, you know, whatever experience you have, whether it’s good or bad, try and take something away from it and reinvent yourself for the following year. And that’s what I did, you know, and I would say, that’s what kept me motivated up to this point. It’s just trying to think how to renovate the way we do things. And it is all stemming as well, from the whole kind of point of issue, when you know, when most of us will start is like, most financial planners are seen as a broker or policy salesman. Okay. But Fair enough, and most of the people that say that have experienced bad advice, or they haven’t really gotten proper advice before. So how do we change that? You know, what can we do now? What can you as an individual do to change that perception of that one person, that over time will expand to more and more people because not only will they refer people to you, but they’ll keep telling like the friends and colleagues and family about the different experience or what you doing differently. And yes, you might not see a big impact in the beginning. But do it for a couple of years. And you can also a lot of the really good advisors and successful planners out there, it ends up compounding, just like any other investment.

Louis van der Merwe 

So that’s what motivated me up until this point to stay in the ring, and keep doing what I’m doing. So it’s that incremental growth, you know, how your brand contributed to be able to be approachable to your clients to simplify the way you’re doing things, and then not trying to have the patience and not, you know, lose steam. You’ve been really successful in terms of connecting with clients and other people in the industry through LinkedIn. And that’s something that’s come up a couple of times, can you maybe explore a little bit, you know, what your strategy is they and how that’s impacted your business?

Russell Ho 

Yeah, sure. I’m happy to explain my strategy. So first and foremost, no secret, there’s actually actually no strategy. If you guys were expected to have the big, I will say I think I’ll go over what I wish I’d done differently. So what I did in the beginning of LinkedIn, I only started using LinkedIn in my second year when I was at Meijer, so six years ago, properly, is that in the beginning of May, the mistake that most of us make, you start treating it like Facebook, so I treated it like Facebook, I was like, No What, whether we have a mutual benefit connection whatsoever, I’m just gonna connect and friend all of you. And then humans down the line, I realize I have like three or 4000 connections, and there’s no value whatsoever. So it’s just quantity, not really quality, you know, and eventually, I sat down one weekend, and I cleared it all out, I sifted it down. And I had the mindset or mentality of like, you know, Russell, see this LinkedIn platform network, as people that you actually are meeting with on a day to day or regular basis in person. Yes, it’s online, but see it as as your own circle of network and people that you can share with in person. And I sipped it down, my network cleared it out. And I went back down to I think it was one to 200 connections. And that was my first step. So a don’t treat it like Facebook, really look at people that are adding, or, you know, making differences within your industry and also kind of niche it down to like, you know, what type of people do I actually want to connect to, I don’t want to just connect because of your title, that’s a stupid reason to connect with a person, it should be more like I’m connecting with you, because I’ve seen some of the content you put out, it relates to me and I find it really interesting. And I find we can share experiences and thoughts that are mutually beneficial. So coming from that, that’s the first step. The second thing that I started doing, which a just so everyone knows, I also made that mistake in the early stages was when you try to I would say look for mentors or you want to get something out of this you know, person that you just connected with. A lot of us do it completely wrong, we go with the asking and so without even voting some of form of report or relationship or value with that person, we make the mistake of going to ask first, right, and a good example is a lot of young people even I made a mistake is like asking senior people within our industry like Oh, can you mentor me Can a job show you can you share some thoughts right? And this person again, hasn’t bought relation with he doesn’t know you from a boss or just literally accepted your connection invite on LinkedIn. But you asking me for my precious time and me to share my knowledge or wisdom with you with the probability high expectation I’m getting nothing out of this and it’s not beneficial to me. It’s may just benefiting you. And it’s a bit selfish in that sense. So that’s a mistake. A lot of As Megan, what I started doing more often before I would go and ask for something, and I’ve mentioned this, I would say term or concept g before, is, in a sense filling up that goodwill banker, God, you know, doesn’t have to be money, it could be just your time and your thoughts on something. So a good tip I gave in another podcast was about, you know, when you want to connect with someone, and that’s the beauty of LinkedIn, there’s no restrictions you can connect with anyone basically, is that look at the posts or articles that they are commenting on, and share your thoughts or insight on it. You know, if they’ve commented on an article, reply to their comments, that’s a good point, I was seeing it from this point of view, you know, and this could be a value that coupled with other ideas of like sending them, you know, other articles or content related to what they’ve commented on, just to help them is a way of, you know, I’m giving this to you without expecting anything back. And I get you’re not, like you’ve mentioned now have been quite successful, or based on LinkedIn, I still think I’m in the early stages. But I am grateful for the opportunities that come my way and good. And I think there’s still a long way for me to go, or lots of room for improvement. But what I’m experiencing or getting back now has been due to the last six or seven years of me just giving back to people without expecting anything back. And now you know, within the last year, I’ve been blessed and fortunate where people have asked me, including you for podcasts, and interviews and things like that. And I think it’s all coming back to go with a giving hand without experience and back, and it’ll come back to you in the future, you know, and I always try, don’t do it as a wonderful thing. Always try and always give back or follow the good word tank more from my side, so that it’s benefiting the other person more. And that’s how, you know, it’s come back to me or, you know, other opportunities that come my way without me asking for it.

Louis van der Merwe 

That’s so true, hey, this idea of patients just keeps on coming up, you can expect this to be a quick fix, you need to be putting in the time and the effort to build your network. And actually, like you’re saying, deposit into that bank of goodwill, you know, give away without the expectation and at some point, you know, if making sure that your industry long enough, you you’ll that’ll come around and come back to you. Yes, I

Russell Ho 

had sorry, if I may just add one forgot to mention is sincerity and authenticity, matter. 100%. You could say, yeah, it’s online, But people can still see through you whether it’s online or in person. So sincerity and authenticity, matter. 1,000%. So it’s come from that point, on brilliant,

Louis van der Merwe 

brilliant. You mentioned while discussing this, you know that you would tell the younger Russell there, so you would think that you would do differently. What would you tell the younger Russell, you know, seven years ago, and that starting art, where you are now

Russell Ho 

safe, I was talking to my younger self. And it’s ironic, you mentioned that because I was actually picturing this thought or idea originally, like beginning of this year, when I was doing like reflections on my goals for the year, and probably what I would tell my younger self, if I was talking to him back when he just started into the industry, it’s like, it’s gonna be one hell of a ride, it’s gonna be hella hard. But and it’s going to be there’s going to be low points, but you are going to grow so much more from those low points, and you’re gonna learn so much that eventually the end it’s going to be the reward is going to be worth it, you know, and the feeling is going to be worth it. And because you’re not like, you know, like I said earlier as entrepreneur and business owner as well. So from a financial planner, we go through highs and lows, you know, both personally and professionally as well. And we learn so much from it. And I think that’s what also helps us develop a while while we industry. So yeah, I would say that’s what I would tell myself is like, you know, prepare for the highs and lows, but just know that you’re gonna learn a heck of a lot and it’s going to be all worth it. In the end.

Louis van der Merwe 

It’s so true. Hey, just know that it’s coming. It’s almost like preparing a client for market correction. We can guarantee that at some point. It’s coming at some point you’ll have, it won’t always be peaks in your career. There’ll be there’ll be lows. Would you be comfortable sharing some of those lows with us? And you know what, what your takeaways from them?

Russell Ho 

Yeah. 100% Yeah, I’m an open book. I’m more than happy to share. They will probably Yeah, they will probably two lows for me in my career. And it was also to do with like personal experiences that are more than happy to share with you and the audience. So I guess you’re not like the first the first load that I experienced in my career. And this was like the early days before I actually discovered my while a passion for why I’m in the industry. It was probably in the year 2017. So I had just left beginning of that year I just left a mutual on the recommendation of a sub Glen, my first mentor to go and explore the independence space and join succession financial planets and become an independent planner. I was just to expand my scope of ways I can advise and help clients. Right. And it was also one of my lows, yes. Because back then even though Yes, I did have the same focus on really helping clients, I didn’t fully develop that, while that fire should I say, and I made the mistake, like many of almost falling into the area of like, I’m going to chase money this year, you know, are going to chase money or monitoring gain. And I’ll be able to earn more, and it’ll be good, right? So that year, I kind of hit a low point because my work life balance went out the window. So I stopped exercise and then go to the gym, I put on 20 cages a weight, I was back up to almost close to 100 cages again. And I was working in and out at the office, I would take occasionally I would take I would take casual clothes, like my jeans and my T shirt to the work. And at the office after five, I’ll go and change the bathrooms. And then I’ll continue to work for another two to three hours. And I’ll do the same on a Saturday and a Sunday. And eventually I got so tired, I guess I could even say like I almost hated my job at that point. Because what made it worse. And this was like kind of when I discovered like, you know, the dark side of like social media. When Mater was was like I was comparing my life at that point to other friends and colleagues that I stayed with. And you know, what you see on social media, it’s all the nice stuff, you see your friends, buying houses, nice cars traveling, and you’re you are struggling your butt off in this office by yourself will give myself no one else to help you. And, you know, I got to such a low point within that 2017 year I was considering a teacher not like quitting. Now quitting the industry. And I remember even the one time I was talking at that point, I was talking to Columbus about it. And he was like, also like, Russell, you need to find your while your your your passion for why in this industry. And that’s going to open your eyes more, you know, and gave it some time, worked a little bit longer. And I came so close to quitting of like almost like you know what, I’m going to go teach English overseas because they mean so much more than me. And again, it’s just going back to the idea of like chasing money. And my mom back then I was talking to her about it. And I said, Look, I’m looking at quitting, I can be earning more as an investment banker, if I go work in Joburg, or even I could go travel the world and teach English and I’ll get paid better than what I’m experiencing now. And while I’m back then say like you might not see it, but you don’t realize like how much value just you knowing how to manage money is helping others and you can see it now. And I don’t want you to regret it later. So if you don’t mind, I would say like, stay in it just for the remaining of the year. And try it out again next year into an in the new year in 2018. Try for one more year, because this was like we were having this talk in November, December of 2017. She was like I know you’re unhappy. But trust me just try for another year. And also just think about it from point as you experience it now in this new upcoming year of like, think about it from this way. Do you want to just be remembered for someone that makes a lot of money? Or do you want to be remembered for someone that actually helps others and makes an impact in the lives of others? And I didn’t fully understand that back then. I said okay, I’ll try for another year. And she also said like, look at the end of 2018 or this upcoming new year. If you still don’t like it, and you want to go teach English to go move to Joburg, I’ll support you, if it’s just for the money, I’ll support you, whatever makes you happy. But just try for another year. So I said okay, cool. I’m going to do it for another year. And that 2018 year was my second or probably one of the toughest moments in my life, I would say personally and professionally as well, is that and it also but in a way the good thing that came out of it is like it led up my why and my passion for why I’m still here today and why I do what I do and why I’m so passionate about really helping others when it comes to like financial advisor money. So to give you an audience kind of like a backstory, and my family never had any illnesses before but give your audience a backstory start off with January end of January 2018. My dad starts getting shortness of breath, you know, literally walking two feet from one table to the other. And he is a two oceans marathon runner. So we were shocked to surprise his doctor came back from leave, checked him out and he said, yo you need to go and see my my colleague immediately now who’s a cardiologist, because you had a mini heart attack, you know, and when done go check the cardiologist cardiologist says you know you actually your heart in bad shape, you need to have a quadruple bypass because 95% of your blood vessels are clogged. And this is for a two oceans marathon runner that runs marathons every year. So that was that was the first blur. And to make matters worse, you know, he didn’t have any medical aid or insurance cover. You know, and thankfully my parents were big savers. So we were trying to get in through referrals of that. Doctors to government hospitals and get it sorted, we knew the risk was that the waiting time would be the biggest risk because it My dad had another auditor key, there’s a good chance he won’t survive. So we took that choice, you know, because we couldn’t afford private health care. Then another two months went by so January, February, March, early to be on march around No way. My uncle, my closest uncle, and also closest brother, on my dad’s side to my dad got diagnosed with brain cancer, he got a brain tumor, also completely healthy, you know, never had any illnesses before. And that was a lot to deal with as well, because now we’ve got families on both sides, both in different cities, you know, trying to attend to each other or comfort each other. And if that wasn’t, if that wasn’t enough, then like beginning of April, I don’t know where my mom got diagnosed with stage four liver cancer, and a tumor in the liver. So dealing with all of that, and my younger brother was still adversity studying. So we had family come down, but all the responsibility of the household and everything else fell on my shoulders, coupled with the fact that I was still working and advising clients on a day to day basis. And like I said, none of my family had any medical aid or hospital plan covered, they just had some form of savings. And we were going through government, hospitals. And also, you know, during, in between CLI meetings I was taking, I was literally taking my mom and dad to like all the, you know, the chemo, and the doctor visits and stuff like that. So, yeah, it was a lot to deal with. And unfortunately, by August that year, you know, my uncle had passed and my mom had passed, so only my dad came out of it alive, survive and fully recovered. But just going through that experience was, I would say a hellish ride. And we we’ve never had any chronic illnesses in our whole family, there was nothing wrong with our genetics or anything like that. And we would always say like, that stuff never happens to us, it happens to other people, but it will never happen to us. And boom, in 2018, that happened to us three times, you know. And I think just going through that experience, and just so happens the previous year, I fixed up my mom and dad stuff, like the financial plans and stuff, but you’re going through that experience may realize I was on the brink of quitting. But thank goodness, like my family and not to be you know, aggravating. But thankfully, I had some basic financial play or know how to sort of finances and get the plans together. And if we didn’t have those plans together, or if I wasn’t there to advise the family and the extended family, you know, we’ve been such a mess right now. And I was just thinking for my clients, you know, that’s actually why I’m therefore, you know, they don’t have access to that advice. So that planning, and imagine if they had to go through something like that, nurses not necessarily always been a good, or sorry, a bad event like that. But, you know, the good events or any big decisions life, imagine they don’t have someone in the corner to help him through that, you know, how would they survive, and that’s what kept me in it. And after that, told me to be more grateful and appreciative of like, the things I have, and I was like, you know, what, I can’t see myself leaving this industry anymore. Because in a way, it’ll be like, I’m abandoning my clients, for all the upcoming events that might happen in their lives. And I want to at least be there so that they know if anything happens, wrestles there for me, you know, and that’s, that’s kind of fueled my passion and that it reignited the fire in me for why I do what I do to this day.

Louis van der Merwe 

Thank you for sharing that with us, Russell. Now, you can really see how you’ve taken yet again, a difficult challenge, a serious life transition for you and your family. And actually turn that into your purpose, you know, that’s now fueling the drive moving forward. And it really shines through in everything you do. thinking a little bit into the future. Where do we see this industry heading? Like, what is Russell? up to? Like, what is the practice of the future look like? I know you spend a lot of time thinking of the future and sharing that knowledge I’d like I’d like us to maybe discuss some of that as well.

Russell Ho 

Awesome. Yeah, so I think there’s a lot of big changes coming up for our industry going forward into the future. I think it’s probably like what we’ve mentioned before it’s going to be less focus on the products that a financial institution offers and rather like okay, if I’m going to an advisor for advice you know, first and foremost is that person legit and credible? You know, not just from what I hear but I want to know on a social media base you know, all the good things about it. You know, I always mentioned to people within the industry or job colleagues and friends that you might not believe it but people are googling you now and it’s happened to me numerous times from new clients that approached me even though they will refer to me by existing clients they good me first the same way we guru restaurants when we want to go try out a new restaurant we try and Google first. See what are the reviews is the full Good one. Is the prices, things like that. So I think the first thing is realizing that we are going to be Google more into the future and might even get to the point of, especially overseas where everything is now the biggest trend is like voice. So imagine, another big trend is like to board up your social brand status, because the next trend that might come actually his voice on the basis of, you know, if someone or customer says to, Alexis, you know, Alexis, find me a financial planner, in South Africa, or find me a financial planning character, no pointers with Kobe. Yeah, you want to make sure that your profile comes up, basically, you know, so I think being searchable and Google online is a really big thing that’s going to come in the future. And secondly, when clients See you, right, and they meet you, they coming back to it again, they’re not coming to you for product, they want to know, okay, if I buy into Louis, or Russell or any other advisor, what are what am I getting to get in front of you, as a person and as a human being that I’m not going to get through a DIY investment app or a robo advisor to know what am I actually getting for you? And also, is it not a one time thing? Is that a lifetime thing? Because I would like to have a long term mutually beneficial relationship with you, I don’t want it to be a quick fix, you know, the advice that we gave, I think it’s becoming more important to have like, it’s not just to help you now. I’m here to help you. Now, the next six months in the next year, next five years, next 10 years, till you basically die or your your legacy passes on. And I think that’s what a lot advisors need to be focusing more is like, what is the value proposition and always keep reinventing it. But what is the value that I’m adding to my clients, not just today, but for the future? And am I making enough time to work on it and improve it so that I’m always relevant, and I will always be there to add more value. So that 10 years from now, I’ll still be in the mind. And I think, coming back to that as well. That’s one of the biggest benefits I’ve learned from this journey as a financial planner is that it teaches us to be problem solvers for our clients. Yeah. And that’s what clients are coming to us for, they’re not coming to you just to buy a life insurance policy, or retirement product or an investment product, they’re coming to you because they have a certain money problem, and nine times out of 10, that my problem is linked to a problem that’s affecting their livelihoods. So I’m coming to you as a client, so that you can give me peace of mind. So I don’t have to worry about that stuff. So I think that’s where the advice industry is going more towards that. You know, we’ve seen that a lot. I think it’s specifically also going with the whole coaching mentality of being the, you know, I want to be coached. Yeah. And that’s the way I see that the advice is going, and going back to like what me and my team are doing and my practice, that’s where we are growing towards as well, we do more of that. And marcinko, incorporating more technology, and I would say, social media platforms as a way to get our message out there.

Louis van der Merwe 

Wow, that’s there’s a lot in what you just said, you know, want to touch on the thing that you mentioned the mutually beneficial relationship, it’s something that I definitely also believe it can just be a one way street when it comes to client servicing the advisor, and the client should benefit from this relationship, just like you mentioned, you know, you grow through a coaching conversation, but the coach learns as much as the coachee. Now, what are the things that you’re doing to try and hone in on those type of skills? You know, you mentioned the problem solving and the coaching type of things. When you start developing those skills, like, where do you start? Okay, so

Russell Ho 

the first thing I would recommend to anyone is like, never stop learning, you know, wheat, me and you I know, we’re big fans of like learning. And I wish I adopted this mindset earlier on in, you know, not only pick it up in my second year of work in the field, but like, never stop learning. And it doesn’t always have to be just the, you know, the financial advisory industry. So it could be either fields or, you know, other areas that could add value or could, you know, influence what you’re talking about. So, what I do is like, I read a lot of books, self development books, and a lot of biographies. Because that’s, you know, biographies of successful people is really helpful because they basically outline the mistakes and lessons they learned that you could perhaps you use in your field or your practice, should I say, and secondly, now, you know, don’t, you know, don’t forget about podcasts, you know, we’re doing one now, but there’s so many good podcasts and content out there. You know, same thing goes for like YouTube, and a lot of like, social media content out there. There’s a lot of good content out there. But nine times out of 10 most of us go and search for the entertainment stuff, and not the actual good value stuff that we can take lessons away from it. And that’s the beauty of technology today is that with technology, we have access to all of this but At nine times a day, most of us aren’t even tapping into it, you know, that resource of educational content that is available to us. So I would say you’re going back to don’t stop learning. And then with the whole coaching thing, you know, aside from all the books, the podcasts and YouTube content, I would say, always be, you know, open to connecting with others and sharing ideas with other people within your industry or your field. So, like, Louis, what me and you do a lot, I know, we sit on LinkedIn, we connect with a lot of professionals in our field, not only just in South Africa, but overseas globally, US, UK, Australia, Europe, Asia. And the benefit of that is, it’s also another way of learning is that you can learn from others, what they are doing in their country that might be applicable to you. And that will also help, you know, improve your advice process, but also your way of thinking when it comes to coaching and advising clients. And then the other option is that, and I think you mentioned it on the next game, plan on podcast, but like, also, always gonna say, look up, you know, good courses and things like that, that might be to your benefit, that can always improve your skills. You know, the last thing I would say, when it comes to like learning and always being open to learning is always adopt the mindset of a student. And being open to that, I think a lot of us, I made that mistake in my early years, said, it’s so easy to get arrogant, you know, in a sense of like, I know everything, I’m not going to be open to learning. And you find that it narrows your thinking, which will in turn affect the advice you give to your clients and the way you grow your business. And the more you remove that, that human element of pride and ego aside, and you open yourself to learning, it just opens so many more doors, and you start laying off like oh, I, I see things from this point of view. But so and so she’s this point where I’ve learned this from this point about because that’s a different way of seeing things that can actually generate a better outcome for not only my business, but for my clients as well. So always be open to learning. I think that’s, that’s a big step forward,

Louis van der Merwe 

you’re on your website says it so nicely, you know, you’re addicted to learning. And it shows through, you know, even the patients, that you have bolding these skills, you know, that relentless kind of every day, chipping away at it, James clear talks about the power of aggression, and that kind of 1% better every day compounds over time, just like you said, Russell, you know, it’s like an investment, you have to be putting in the work. And the fact that people are listening to this podcast means that they’re really absorbing a little bit of that, that information. If people want to reach out to you or connect to you, what’s the best way for them to do that?

Russell Ho 

Yeah, so if no one wants to reach out to me, probably the most active platform that I’m on right now on a professional point of view is probably my LinkedIn. So you can probably connect with me on LinkedIn. Pretty straightforward, Russell, oh, you can’t I don’t think there’s another Russell out there. But yeah, I’m probably the one your with the smiley face or the smiling picture and then say, you know, 10 in financial Jeopardy, so helping you hack financial journeys into finance savvy, so you know, you can easily find my profile. And then that’s got all my contact details on there as well. I agree my profile me badge and everything as well. Other than that, I am quite active on Facebook and LinkedIn, you might find my page, you know, bite size finance, or you might find me on Instagram, as Russell underscore o 90, some easily find, find the ball on all social media platforms. And then there is some exciting new launches we’re doing on our social media scale. But no, just be a lookout for that on my LinkedIn.

Louis van der Merwe 

Like you said you should be. People should be able to Google you and find you easily. If you do, you’ll find me basically. Brilliant, thank you so much for coming on the show today. Russell, I think your experience, the positives, and the negatives really shines through in everything you do. And this love of learning, and really appreciate the time that you’ve you’ve put aside for us to have this discussion. Awesome. No, fantastic. Thanks

Russell Ho 

for having me doing and also for having me and listening to me to all your viewers. And yeah, I hope you guys can take something away from this as well. Absolutely. Thanks rush right away.

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