2 months

#45 Sidney Divine – Transcript

Share :

Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on twitter
Twitter

Louis van der Merwe
Welcome to another episode of Financial Planners, South Africa. Today I’m honored to have as my guest, Mr. Sidney Divine. Sidney is based in Atlanta, Georgia, and is not only a Certified Financial Planner, a registered life planner, and a string of other designations, Sidney, thank you so much for joining me.

Sidney Divine
Thanks for having me, Louis. Happy to be here.

Louis van der Merwe
Sidney, we had a wonderful conversation kind of preparing for this. And your journey is so fascinating. Can you share with us a little bit? You know, how did you end up in the US? And how did you end up in financial planning?

Sidney Divine
Yes, I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. So I ended up in the US. I’m a Liberian citizen still. And ended up in the US because Liberia had been torn with a lot of civil unrest. And our parents felt like, Hey, let’s go to the United States, at least until things kind of settled down. And we ended up moving to Virginia, originally, and then moved back to Liberia. And then there was more civil unrest. And that’s how I got to Georgia. It’s funny, as I look back on how I got into financial planning or financial services, because my dad was actually a banker in Liberia, and it’s an interesting story, but I used to as a kid work in his bank, and the summer, just the equivalent of summer school would be out. And I was the kid who would literally deliver messages and memos like between the tellers and like the folks in offices. And each time, I would require payment for delivering these messages. So that was my fee for service. And all these years later. I am a fee only financial planner. And I like to think that it has something to do with that, you know, so yeah.

Louis van der Merwe
Well, what a wonderful way to start off. I’m curious, the sacrifices that your parents have made, you know, that impact that must have been a massive impact on you. And so as you’re dealing with clients with children, does that often come up? You know, the sacrifices that we make for the future generations? Yeah,

Sidney Divine
definitely. So I think the way that I’ve always approached financial planning, so a week after I graduated from college, my dad was diagnosed with ALS, right? He was given six months to live. Thankfully, he lasted a whole lot longer. We lost him last August. And one of the things that was somewhat disheartening to me is that I had all the skills I was acquiring the skills to be in a position to help my parents with their financial planning, but I was almost too late, right? It’s like I was just a week removed from college, hadn’t even gotten my licenses. So my approach to financial planning kind of stems from that. It’s like everybody that I sit across from, it’s an opportunity even if they don’t become a client, it’s an opportunity for me to leave them better off than when I found them. And I looked at it as if it was an older couple. I get to do financial planning for my parents if it was a younger couple. Oh, I get to do financial planning for like my siblings, right? So I kind of, you know, I joke with my clients because I feel like they’re not clients, their family, I’ve got kids of clients who refer to me as uncle Sidney, I’ve got a lot of nieces and nephews like, you know, from my immediate family and my extended family, like my client family. So I think it’s been my approach to plan for folks as if they were my family, because I didn’t get an opportunity to plan for my dad. So that’s how I look at it. And now with me having a 20 month old as of Monday, I definitely understand the dynamic of kids and how they impact your financial life, right? Like, there’s a whole lot of behavioral stuff out there that says, if you are faced with a financial decision, and just by looking at a picture of your kid, you’re more likely to make the right financial decision, right. And it’s almost like seeing yourself in future year. So I think it just gives me more to relate to a young couple with a kid now because it’s like, oh, yeah, I’ve got a 20 month old. And you know, like, there’s there there are more stories that we could share back and forth about, you know, how they’re growing and all that other fun stuff. Same thing with webinars. So yeah,

Louis van der Merwe
yeah, as life unfolds, you seem to have different connection points with your clients. And I’ve got a 15 month at home. So I can really resonate and relate with what you’re saying that, you know, your focus changes and your conversations with your clients change? How was that different? When you just started out? When you didn’t have any experience? You know, what did your conversations look like, with your clients in the early days, kind of just post your studies?

Sidney Divine
In the early days, my value proposition was, you won’t find anyone who works harder than me, right? And I would literally tell clients, I am in the office at 530. And most nights, I’m here until like 830, you will always hear from me, like I don’t know who you’re working with now, but down markets up markets on here, right? I may not know a lot now. But you will never find someone who works harder than me. And some clients love that. And I guess they saw the potential, they took a chance. And as I continue to just add these letters after my name, I told them, it’s like, Hey, you took a chance on me when I had no letters after my name. And you know, it’s more of me getting better for you. Right? You took a chance on me, all I had to offer you was hard work. And now I bring a little bit more to the table, I’d like to think, than just hard work, right? So in the earlier stages, it was I will be here, like, six, seven days a week, if you need me to. I will, you know, I will answer all your calls. If I don’t know the answer, I will find the answer. And for the older clients that I got, it was hey, you know, you have this guy who’s your age who’s working with you, at some point, you’re going to retire at some point, he’s going to retire. And you’ll probably get sent to some junior who knows less than what I know right now. But at least with me, you know, I promise I won’t retire around the same time that you’re retiring. And clients got a kick out of that, because it’s true. You know, I was a young professional, I’m still a young professional that was a younger, professional 11 years ago than what I am now. So they saw the you know, the fire, and I delivered on their promise, there wasn’t anyone who outwork me. So and I think that’s how I survived most of those early years,

Louis van der Merwe
suddenly, you seem to really hone in on, you know that that piece that close to someone’s heart now saying, I’ll be here for you, I’ll support you, I’ll communicate with you. How did you cultivate that skill?

Sidney Divine
So it’s funny, because I didn’t even realize that it was a skill until after right? It’s almost like I, you know, found the pot of gold and didn’t even know that I had it. Because now when I’m having conversations with clients, they’ll say things like, you know, you you give me so much peace of mind. Right? Like, I would have been so worried in this particular moment. But I’m not because of all the conversations that we have, because I know that I’m in good hands. And ultimately, you know, again, didn’t know then that it was a skill value prop. I’m not going to be at work. But now, you know, yes, we deliver financial planning for people. But the life element of it is what people truly want. Right? Like I’ve had clients who have said, you know, we’ve sent like a ton of referrals our way and I’m like, What are you telling these people like, we’ve got like five or six from you? And she’s like, I tell them the truth, right? I tell them there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t thank God for you. Right? And as one of my favorite mentors, like say, you know, we get paid extremely well for what we do. And by the way, the money’s not bad either. So how did I get paid the fact that I have a client who thanks God for me every day, right? And by the way, like, you know, we’re a for profit company, she pays fees, right? You know, I was a kid asking bank tellers to give me money for delivering messages back in Liberia when I don’t even think they have fee fee for service. So I think I might have been the first fee for service plan or Liberia. We’ll we’ll fact check that later. But yeah, so you know, we get paid extremely well, for what we do, we get paid in terms of how we get our clients, that peace of mind how we get them to their goals a whole lot sooner than what they would have otherwise. And ultimately, I’ve got another client who says, I have never met someone just as excited, probably slightly more excited about my goals than me other than you, right? So that’s it, like we tell them, you’re hiring us to get you to that finish line a whole lot sooner than what you would on your own. Whatever that finish line looks like. For some people today, I want to make sure my daughter never has to deal with student loans like we had to, or I want to see if I have a chance at actually retiring in 10 years, oh, my goodness, I’m actually doing it four years sooner. Who would have thought and and I got this from a client who recently retired, he’s like, you’re gonna tell me, I made about the same amount of money retired as I did working? Like, why didn’t I do this sooner? I was like, You’re not trying to tell you, you could do it sooner. But you had to do it when you were ready. So you know, I think that I care about people. And I don’t know that that’s a skill set. I think that’s just me, that’s true to my core. That’s kind of how my parents raised me. My dad ran businesses, and he loved his customers and clients. And I got to see that and I think I got an MBA from my dad, because he’s like, you know, it’s really the people, the people matter. And ultimately, that’s how I’ve lived my life. And that’s how I’ve run my practices. And I think that if you take care of the client, right, they take care of you. And that’s there. They’re a huge reason behind. They’re the primary reason behind the successes that we’ve experienced, right? Because we took care of them. We delivered on our promises, and you know, they’ve delivered introductions, and we grow by 40 50%, just about every year, which is insane. I know, I’ll continue. But you know, I can wish that it continues. But most of our new clients know our existing clients. And that’s a beautiful problem to have. Because it’s, you know, everyone knows everybody, right? Yeah. And I’m gonna over answer questions that that’s just me. But hopefully, this is fine. That’s

Louis van der Merwe
brilliant. It’s wonderful to hear your story and how you think about this, regardless, is on his website, we care more about you and your wealth than anyone that doesn’t share username, and so that I toggle that that kind of it really feels similar at divine wealth strategies, and this concept of kind of painting a picture of someone’s goal, but then helping them reach it in a shorter amount of time than if they did it on their own. Where did that come about?

Sidney Divine
Um, so I think it’s more of like coaching, right, like, so I played sports growing up. And I feel as though one of the best moments in my sports career came from me working out with a coach. So yeah, I was the kid who, the year that we won state, I was barely playing. I’m like, How do I get floor time? And again, I’ve always been a worker, right? Because I’ve always had to work for stuff and that I you appreciate it more when you work for it, as opposed to when it’s handed to you, I think. But then again, I haven’t had anything handed to me. So yeah, free to listen to those arguments. But yeah, like, I remember a summer where I’m like, You know what I have to get on the floor. And I worked out with the assistant coach at my high school like that whole summer, like, I mean, we were in the gym, the whole summer. And if he wasn’t in the gym, I was in the gym working on the things that he told me to work on. And my junior year, I was not only starting, I was one of the best players on our team. And you know, like, I started getting college recruiting letters, and it’s like, okay, you can go further with the help of someone than by yourself. So that that’s just, you know, I think that’s the reality of it, especially if there’s someone who knows what they’re what they’re doing, right. So same thing with financial planning. In fact, I would say the other reason that I think I’ve had some successes, I pick the brain of so many people who have come before me, I’m like, hey, you know, when I when I first started, I had an office like it was a cubicle, so no office or an office with no door. And I literally read everyone’s name who had an office with the door and I sent them an email like, you know, can I pick your brain for 510 minutes? And the question was, you know, you’ve been doing this for however long you’ve been doing it. You have an office with the door. I will On an office with the door, how do I get an office with a door? But more importantly, how did you survive? How did you manage all those years, you can learn more from people who have gone through something, right? You can learn from their mistakes, and not make the mistakes that you would have otherwise made. I have an uncle and Uncle Fred in Boston, who says, you know, a smart guy can learn from his own mistakes, but a real wise guy can learn from the mistakes of others. So that’s financial planning, and you know, the next life planning, we can help you get to your goals a whole lot sooner, because this is what we do every single day, we have probably seen a case similar to yours. And if we haven’t, we still have the tools and resources to get you to that finish line sooner than what you would have. And then there’s the accountability piece, right? Most people come to us, they’ve, they’ve done pretty well, they know what to do. They know like, hey, if I live below my means, save a ton of money, I will get there. And the truth is you will, right. However, knowing what to do, and actually doing it actually following through. That’s the big difference. And I like to tell people that, hey, we’re going to show you how to accomplish everything that you want out of life financially, right. And we’re going to hold you accountable to do the things that you need to do to get you to where you said you wanted to go. Right. And it will be in record time because I’m really big on accountability. So that’s how we do it.

Louis van der Merwe
It’s It seems simple, yet, it’s not easy to implement.

Sidney Divine
Simplicity, there’s beauty and simplicity, right. And it’s not easy to implement. But it’s all about how you manage I guess the clients expectations like look, I’m on your side, I want to now share the stories of this client didn’t think that they would be able to retire until 2024. They did it in 2019. This client didn’t think that they would ever be debt free. They did it this client didn’t think that she would purchase this particular company until five years out this client didn’t think that she would actually be saving for retirement until 2024. She did it in 2018. Right, so I will share those stories because it’s happened, right? And I’ll let them know you know, your your you’ll get a reaction match naturally out of people like oh my goodness, they did that. That’s what I want to do. Like everybody wants, you know that that end result. And I’ll let them know, you don’t even know any of these people that I’ve just mentioned. And you were excited that they reach their goals. Imagine your excitement when you write selfishly we cheer up you What’s your feeling for them. It’s like amplified because it’s now your own result. And I’m going to help you like I helped up right there will be times where you may hate me like man, Sydney’s following up too much. But ultimately, you will hate me on the other side of your goal than being where you are. Right. And you can yell at me for getting to your goal sooner, you can yell at me for having more money than what you thought you should have had. We’ll take those calls every day, like yell at us because you got to your goals sooner than what you wanted to write or thought you could. But ultimately, that’s how we do it. It’s just accountability. And we’re on the same page. And it’s you know, it’s what you put in is what we’re what you’re gonna get out. We’re coming in St. Mentor love him. It’s a high standards environment, right? We’re committed to this high standards environment, we’re going to be the financial planners, financial life planners that you’re hiring at a high level, and we’re going to need you to be a high level client, we bring those together, there’s no stopping us,

Louis van der Merwe
Sydney, you’ve set the bar really high. And so for a lot of other planners, they just want to get just want to be a little bit better than, you know, their competitors, but you’re approaching it from like, Hey, this is this is what we do this life’s life changing stuff that we’re busy with

Sidney Divine
is is and I mean, so my mom, I guess I get my, you know, set the bar high kind of attitude from her. If you’re going to do something, you’re going to do it well, right? If you’re going to step out of his house, you’re representing us, right? Like you’re representing the divine name. And that’s something that I don’t know, like, it’s like, it’s, it’s our name. And she she instilled that into us very early. So you can’t go out and do subpar work, right? Like, if you’re going to do anything, you’re going to be great at it. And that’s kind of something that I embody, like, I mean, why be sucky at something right? Like, come on, and I don’t think people are looking for like the sucky financial planners, right? Like, it’s just like, I want somebody good. In fact, if I can get someone great, like, Oh, my goodness. So yeah, I want to be great. I want to be one of the greats, I want to be remembered for the impact that I made in people’s lives. And I’m not going to be sucky at it. Right? And it doesn’t matter. Like, you know how far the reach goes, right? Like I could probably only work with 150 200 clients in my lifetime, right? But I’m impacting their life. And if they have kids, I’m impacting their kids lives. So it’s like a multiplier effect. And I’m like, there. There are too many people who rely on us to be sucky, right, right. And I’m saying sucky, because I imagine this is a P Gee 13 podcast so sucky. You can use your imagination. That’s what I’m thinking. But lucky.

Louis van der Merwe
Thank you for that. I mean, it sounds to me like you really spend time figuring out your life plan. And so we had George Kinder on recently, that episode, that’s the father, the grandfather of life planning. And yet I can see you live your values and what excites you. Tell us a little bit about that journey of becoming a registered life planning and how that’s changed the way you deliver financial planning.

Sidney Divine
Yeah, so I’m a huge fan of George. Really big fan of George. So my mentor that I’ve mentioned, it was really interesting. So I, yeah, after kind of interviewing the people in my office, and you know, the ones who have doors, I said, Okay, well, here’s what the top guy is doing. But then I would get all these emails about these top financial planners within the company, like nationwide. And there weren’t any of the folks in our office on that list, per se. So I’m like, Okay, well, let’s go to the next level. And I basically emailed every one of like, the top 50 planners in the nation within the company that I worked for. And I got some, like, I actually got a response that said, Hey, you’re too early in this, like, reach back out in a couple of years, if you if you’re still even around, right. And I actually love that response. For all the wrong and right reasons, I guess. But one of the guys on there happened to have been a life planner. And I remember really like him standing out more than anything. And the reason that he stood out, I mean, we work for an insurance based company. So insurance is essentially King, like you’re doing financial planning. But you know, insurance is king. And I remember him saying that, it doesn’t matter if someone has $3 million. If someone’s about to purchase all the life insurance or whatever he would recommend. He did not engage with anyone, if they did not want to engage in the life planning process for a fee. So I’m like, Look, if someone comes out with 3 million simple 1%, you are turning that down. And he’s like, yeah, and he says this to me, right. And I, and I feel like I struck gold without knowing it. He says morally and ethically, I can’t recommend something to anyone, if I don’t truly know them. The life planning process allows me to get to know them, like, truly get to know them. And I walked away from that call. I’m like, Man, that’s interesting. The the funny part about it, though, is like after I did that he had reached out sometime later, and he’s like, Hey, I’m in an interesting place in my career. And I think he was living out his life plan, as well. And he’s like, I’m in an interesting point in my career, I will mentor you, right? Like, and these are like, the, this is the high standard environment. And in my head, I’m like, man, there’s nothing I can really like, truly learn from this guy. He turns out $30,000. And because he wants to take people through their feelings and stuff, and I’m like, Oh, I don’t really get it. Like, I don’t get it. But I’m like, but he has been successful year in and year out, right. And he’s the only one of all the people that I chatted with, who had that much of a hard line in the sand. Right? And I’m like, there’s probably something that I can learn from it, because I went along with it. And as we progressed, you know, journaling, and kind of going back and forth, like week to week, I started telling him like, you know, I’m asking these questions, these three life planning questions. And I feel like, you know, like, it’s just deeper. Like, it’s a deeper financial planning, like, I’m getting answers that I’ve never heard before. And I don’t know what to do with it. Right. Like I asked the questions, I get the feedback from them. And I’m like, that’s an that’s a great stuff. Okay, let’s move on to like financial planning, right? Like, it’s like, like, I don’t think that that’s how it’s supposed to work. And he’s like, Yeah, you’re right. So he encouraged me to do the two days. And I went in, like, just skeptical. I’m like, This is what we’re about to talk about feelings, like, like, what is this, like, this is this, isn’t it? And I paid for the two day. And I went, and I’m like, I don’t know if I’m gonna go beyond the two day but I’m looking for what happens after these three questions. And after the first day, I basically committed to George again, coming in like skeptical, and I’m like, Dude, I’m gonna do the five day and that same year, I did the five day. And if so, I did the two day in Massachusetts did the five day in Hawaii. And it was really incredible. And I think what I got from it because it did change my outlook on financial planning and life. More importantly, is it truly did show me what matters like because for me it was I want to attain a level of success. I’m going to work, work, work, work work. And I hadn’t really taken a step back to figure out like, what is it that you actually want to do? Like, do you even want to have any type of fun in your life? Or is it all work, right? And that really helped me so much like the whole. Now I can speak from a parenting perspective, when I meet with someone who is a parent, right? I felt like I could speak more to the life goals and the things that truly matter to you. Because I went through it right. And again, the same mentor, man like he’s, he’s popular. He said that you can only take a client as far as you’ve gone yourself, right? And back then, I didn’t understand what it meant. But it’s true, right? So I went through the life planning process, and I can take my clients through the life planning process, my clients feel energized, looking at me living my life plan, right. And they want that, right, because everybody wants to live out their lifeline. So that’s kind of how it started. That’s how it’s changed me. And, yeah, that’s kind of how I’ve been practicing, I guess, since 2017.

Louis van der Merwe
That’s a wonderful story. And I want to talk a little bit about when it doesn’t work in a now you take a client through this process, they get excited, and it falls off very quickly. Maybe the client doesn’t get back to you. Maybe they just don’t respond to emails, maybe they kind of disengage, how do you handle that as a business? And as a financial planner?

Sidney Divine
I don’t really think it doesn’t work. Right, like so I think you meet clients where they are. So you know, there’s a whole process, right? Like, it’s, you got the whole evoke, right, that exploration, vision, obstacles, knowledge and execution. And I think kind of how I approach life planning now, and this is through trial and error, so to speak. I think for the most part, you want to follow the process, right? Like always, however, you have to meet clients where they are, right. So I think that I personally think that it just doesn’t work. Like I feel like we will always hear from our clients. I think some people are less inclined to go through all those pages of homework. But one of the things that we do is we’re going to ask that question in the very first meeting. So we’ve gotten like the basics of, you know, this is what’s important to you, right? And we’re still going to work, we’re going to bring it out, like even, let’s just say it’s three months down the road where we’ve delivered your plan, and we’re having your first review, hey, you mentioned something when we first started, like, probably three meetings ago, and your finances like everything’s kind of like, you know, pointing in that direction. Just wanted to bring it back up to see if you want to explore into it a little bit further, right. And now because sometimes people combinate truly have like, financial challenges, and they’re like, you know, I don’t want to feel anything other than like me resolving my financial challenges. But once you take care of their, you know, their their concern, it opens them up to say, oh, okay, well, yeah, you know, it’s a relationship. So I feel like the life planning, life planning doesn’t end, right. It starts but it doesn’t end, right. Like, you know, we could say, Okay, well, after the execution phase, we’re done. No, now we’re helping them live out these things. And it just continue. So I don’t think we’ve had one where it’s like, oh, man, that’s a bummer. It didn’t work. Like, yeah, it’s been a continued process. It might

Louis van der Merwe
just not happen at the pace that you expected it. Like you’re saying, you’re meeting the client with that? What do you say to financial planners that, you know, make the comment, I don’t have time to do coaching, I don’t have time to do live planning. I just my clients just want me to focus on the financial products.

Sidney Divine
Yeah, so I was one of those right. And I feel like coming from the insurance space to you, you have that debate with the insurance folks who you try to, you know, bring over to financial planning, financial planning takes too long, right? And it’s just like, it takes too long. But what’s the alternative? Right, you’re gonna sell a couple products and go on your merry way. Or you could build a really deep relationship with your client, right? And implement way more than what you would have implemented otherwise. And your clients will actually see the light. If I call the client, they would look at the phone and they’ll pick up it’s like, oh, my friend, Sydney’s calling, right? There’s a client, this is actually funny. He calls and I’m like, Okay, I’m gonna pick up but I even told him this. I’m like, I don’t really know sometimes if you’re calling because there’s like a work related question, or you just want to talk to me about golf, right? Like, and I’m like, either way, I’m here for it. But your clients actually answer your phone call as opposed to oh, man, Sydney’s trying to sell me something. Again. It’s been like two years since I talked to this guy. And two years ago, he had this new product that he wanted to tell me about, let’s listen to this message. Oh, there’s another new product that he wants to talk to me about. Right. So I feel like the whole time thing, right? It’s it’s on you as the professional to make time. Like it’s not your clients fault that you feel as though you don’t have time. But ultimately, if you’re not doing the feelings questions, if you’re not finding out about someone, if you’re not doing some like variation of life planning, right, you’re potentially leaving your clients at a disservice, right? Because you’re the professional. Like, if I went to my doctor’s office, my doctor isn’t like, oh, man, you know, we this is a new client, we probably should do like X rays and all the questions that we typically ask, but oh, man, that takes too much time. So let’s see what he wants. And let’s just give him whatever it is that he liked. And like, Hey, Doc, can you give me some Adderall? I was like, oh, yeah, there we go. Because sale it happened. But he doesn’t even know what’s going on with me. So I feel like if we took that approach to we are the professionals, we truly get to make a difference in people’s lives and not about time, time taught, like it’s like, everyone has the same amount of time, right. But we have to lead the process. And I think that will help carry the profession even further ahead. Because it is a profession, as opposed to, Hey, can I take your order? Like, no, it’s, it’s a profession, you’re coming in here. And this is my house, as one of my golf coaches likes to say, This is my house, this is my sanctuary, you’re coming in here, and I’m walking through walking you through the process. So I think the time element is you’re doing your clients a disservice. If you truly feel

Louis van der Merwe
that way. Suddenly, you’re taking this serious, which is great to hear, you know, it’s like you’re setting the bar high, saying this is the type of service I want to deliver. This is the energy that I’m bringing all for the benefit of my clients. I’d love to hear that part, we kind of you you moved out of the insurance space and set up divine wealth strategies. How difficult was that transition? And how did it take place?

Sidney Divine
It actually wasn’t that difficult. And so one of the first clients that I got, is a restaurant owner here in Atlanta for over three decades. And I remember, way back when I was still somewhat of a rookie, I went on a joint call to this restaurant. And the senior guy basically had a bunch of other stuff that he was doing. So he’s like, Hey, you follow up on this case? I’ll put you down for like, 50%. But basically, you’re doing all the work. And I’m like, Okay, well, I will, I’ll see it through. And I remember sitting across from this guy and his mom who was like, 84 at the time, right? And he asked a question, he’s like, if this were your mom, in this exact same situation, would you recommend the thing that you’re recommending now? And I was actually able to say, hell yeah, right. Yeah. Like, I would go ahead like I absolutely would, because again, when I sit across from anyone, even before I got to financial planning, or life planning it was, I get to leave them better off than what I found them, I get to make a difference in their life, because I didn’t get to make a difference in the lives of my parents, right. So I was like, like, no brainer. And when I finally decided to leave the firm, it hadn’t gotten to the point where it was harder for that answer to be that resounding yes. But I saw the future, so to speak, right. And I’m glad that I left because as I after I left, I heard some things. And I’m like, Oh, I love this. This even confirms it. But it wasn’t really hard. I feel as though when what is it when when the student is ready, the teacher appears and everything was seamless, right? I think, for example, I may have started talking to the group that I eventually ended up doing my compliance through, in like June, July, right. And I took my time with it. I didn’t really resign until I think it was September 11 of 2018. And I had my firm up and running by September 28. Right, which almost record time, so it’s like, everything worked out. And I feel as though when you make a decision, and you get those like constant confirmations. In fact, I’ll even take it this far back. I’m meeting with a client it was on a weekend. And this client’s brother had just started working with the firm that I was going through for like my compliance, a firm that I eventually joined. I say firm, we can say XY Planning Network. But yeah, so his brother started working there. And a while back, they were like, oh, there’s there’s this like group that you should join. They’re like young planners, they’re helping like the XY like, and I’m like, why would I ever want to join that? But that was like another confirmation because it was like, I have just gotten an email from this dude’s brother, and I didn’t even pay attention to it. And he’s like, yeah, he just started working there. So you know, I feel like when you’re doing the right things, you’re constantly confirmed that you’re doing the right things, right. I mean, 2018 we had revenue like lit Really when we started our firm, which was I was good, right? Like we can actually work. 2019 was our first full year we took it easy. We brought in new clients, like people were referring 2020 We brought in even more new clients. And 2021 was the same thing. 2022 is the same thing. So it’s like, it’s it’s confirmation, but it wasn’t, it wasn’t hard. And I think for for folks who are considering that jump, that’s the scary thing is like, how am I going to figure this out? My firm is doing all this stuff for me right now. How do I even like, what do I even know? Like, where to begin? Like, who do I go to go to start this, right? There’s so many resources now. Like, I think there were resources when I started, there’s even more resources now, in terms of starting, like, I feel like if I started and I felt like it was easy, it’s easier now. Right? So if that’s what’s scaring you, don’t be afraid. And ultimately, for me, it was, I want to be able to look any client in the face and say, I am recommending the right thing for you. Period. Right? Like we don’t have to, we don’t have to start another sentence or anything. Like I’m recommending the best thing for you period. And I get to do that here. Right. And I went with my own far because I felt like even though it may have been better initially at another firm, I personally believe that those issues right, when you’re in like the corporate hierarchy, those issues come up. And you don’t really get a say sell like, it’s like somebody woke up one day and like his oatmeal was cold and basically decided that you’re now your favorite color is blue, as opposed to red. And now you got to communicate that with your clients and your clients. Like, what is this? Like? Why is this changing? Right? Whereas now, like our clients set the rules, right? Like, it’s like, we literally do what’s right for you, period. That’s it seems simple, like simple.

Louis van der Merwe
You get to craft your own vision, and their own work, your own way of implementing advice. You spend a ton of time and energy working. And I’m wondering how much of it is being motivated versus actual discipline? Like, where do you sit on that spectrum?

Sidney Divine
I don’t believe in motivation. So I’m like all discipline, I think motivation. And I’m actually told this to a couple of people motivation phase, right? Like, I could wake up in the morning be like, Man, I’m motivated to do like 100 situps. And I could very well do 100 Sit ups. And let’s just say I say, okay, Wednesday, I’m going to do another 100 setups, I’m less motivated. I’m not going to do the 100 setups, right. But if it’s discipline, it’s just like, This is literally what is happening. This is what’s going to happen. And I feel like I’ve always been huge on Well, not always. But in college, I got huge on discipline. So I would wake up super early, I would go work out even before practices, then go have breakfast, go to classes that have practice, like it was just a routine. And I’m a creature of habit. I love structure, probably too much. But I love structure, like I mean, I really love structure. So I think that kind of, you know, gets me that gets me going more so than like motivation, like I love. The folks in my office will laugh at this, but I love being able to go like start a month and look a month in advance. And I know what I’m doing like the other day someone asked like, hey, you know, we’re having homecoming, I was oh, what’s the date? Because there’s like a golf tournament. And they gave the date. And I looked at my calendars in like October. And I’m like, I can’t do it. Like, I love that. Like it’s like because their structure and otherwise you’re just flying by the seat of your pants or waiting to get motivated. Right? Yeah, so discipline is my thing, motivation. It works. But it’s not lasting. It’s not like sustainable discipline that’s sustainable.

Louis van der Merwe
I would also imagine that you’re a lot more proactive than reactive in your practice because of that discipline.

Sidney Divine
Definitely. So I mean, we typically will start so we’re heading into May, on May, May 1, I think is a weekend. So the first Monday of every month, we’re setting our meetings for the next month, right. And typically clients know that we’re going to be meeting every three months, but the first day of every month or first Monday of every month, we’re reaching out to set that whole next month. And I like it because if we have like a new potential client, it’s just like, Okay, well are our existing clients already taken care of? They’re already on the calendar. So here’s when we can meet. So yeah, it’s very, very proactive. I don’t think any client and this is like the client, these are the clients who are they’ve been with us for a couple of years. They don’t go more than two months without hearing from us, like at all because if we do a meeting, we have a meeting in three months, two months later, we’re reaching out to schedule that meeting for the next month. And then that’s between emails and questions and dinners and events and things that we do for our clients to appreciate them. So we have a lot of fine touches. And again, it’s easy because I don’t see my clients as clients. They’re their family. Right, like they’re literally family. So I like to spend time with family. And that’s, that’s what we do. So I don’t go six months without talking to my mom. Right. And you know, I talked to her prior to two, but she’s not on any type of schedule. Like, I got to talk to my mom in three months or anything like that, like, that’s more advices for me, so she’s, you know, she, she will be my favorite. But, yeah, that’s, that’s what we do. So it is very proactive. And again, that speaks to the process, right? Your clients are coming in and like, Okay, well, what, what, what do we get out of this? Like, what can we expect? Are you just going to do this financial plan thing that you talked about? And then we don’t talk to you until a year later? When you want to financial planning fee? Again? No, we are going to touch base at the very least every three months. And if you need us prior to that, you can’t bother us enough, like literally reach out as often as you want. And guess what? You’re not going to charge any extra. And the next year, you’re not going to get charged? Absolutely. Oh my goodness, Louis reached out like, like, 100 times and like the first three months? No, we stand by the fact that you can’t bother us enough. So reach out, because at the end of the day, that’s what you’re paying us for. Right? You shouldn’t have to make these decisions by yourself. In fact, we don’t even want you to spend your time thinking about this particular decision. Just send us over the information we know you intimately. And we’ll get you your response.

Louis van der Merwe
Sidney How do you manage the resources from your firm, to be able to do that to be able to handle kind of, let’s say these potential volumes, and you know, at the same time, like, do you bring in segmentation? Because that’s also something I think it’s worthwhile chatting about.

Sidney Divine
Yeah, so we’re, we’re starting to kind of look more into segmentation, but not segmentation from a perspective of okay, well, because you are, I don’t ever want to look at it from a revenue perspective, right? Because they’re their clients who may not pay as much revenue as the highest paying client. But I like spending time with them, like, more or less, right, just in case clients are listening to this, like, wait a minute, you who Who am I like, I’ll never tell. But I feel as though it’s more so segmentation, from the perspective of, you know, I am starting to realize that I can’t work with 100% of our clients and be as effective right? For all of those clients. And I feel like that’s the fiduciary responsibility, like, we have to do what’s in the client’s best interest, I need to be on like I am now like, always, right. And there’s a point in time, there’s like a certain client number. And personally, I don’t feel like we’ve even reached that yet. But there’s, when I see it coming, I see the future, like I look into, I’m paranoid about the future. But I look into the future. And I’m like, it’s going to come right. So segmentation, from the perspective of we’ve got someone else here, who is going to be on all the time for you. And now I can be on all the time for other clients and eventually make me irrelevant. And the company where it’s like I’m having dinners with you, I’m going to like graduations and stuff that you know, you’re inviting me to like Dragon Con, because I have the time because I’m not in the day to day meetings anymore. I’m just here to be family, I’m here to be the face of the organization. And knowing that we’ve segmented from our perspective of there’s not one client who is meeting at a lower frequency, right? There’s not one client who feels less than because they’re not paying as much right, every client goes through this exact same process, right. And I want to make sure that that process, that experience is the exact same, they get a planner who cares about their goals as much as they care or as much as I would care, right. And someone who’s truly committed to being as proactive as I was. So that’s, that’s the process, we’re going to follow it. And it’s segmenting, because I have a 20 month old. I like rolling around with her. Sometimes when I’m leaving, and she’s up and she’s crying. I’m like, you know, it’d be great not to go to work today, but you’re only 20 months, and you’re not paying anything here. So I actually have to go. So forget your tears that you understand someday, you know, but I want to be able to stay. So I feel like segmenting from that perspective, where I’m not losing sight of my life plan, right? I’m still living it out. Because if I’m not living it out, then I can’t help there. I can help my clients effectively live out their life plan. So again, that’s that high standards like that’s the process we’re gonna stick to it but will segment more so because I can’t serve 200 People like that will effectively make me less happy about what I do.

Louis van der Merwe
Sidney, what does the future look like for divine wealth strategies?

Sidney Divine
So my goal is to become irrelevant, right. And that’s hard. That’s a hard like high bar but I want to become irrelevant. So the future I mean, we’re still growing. We are about to celebrate our fourth year in September. We are are bringing on some interns. In the next couple of months, we are looking to bring on another planner in the next quarter. So we’re growing from like a human staff capacity to serve these clients even better than what I have over the last couple of years. But eventually, I want to be the person who’s behind the scenes, running the company, being, you know, being the guy who’s going out and having like the client dinners and checking in, like, oh, how Shawn doing or how How’s Matt doing? Like, you know, like being that source. So still being there, like, I’m not shredding off the responsibilities, I’ll still be checking their work, and making sure that you know, they’re treating you as well as I would have treated you right or better, actually, because it’s a higher bar. But ultimately, I feel like in order for the business to grow, and this is hard for me to say, because, you know, like, it’s words of affirmation is my thing. But in order for the business, to truly hit that next level of growth, I will have to become irrelevant. And I will need to bring people on to train them to be better than me. And you know, that’s the only way that it’s going to grow. And you know, I guess it’s selfless, right. But ultimately, I have to, I have to start taking a step back and seeing the baby that I poured everything into grow up and operate outside of me. So that’s what I envision the future to be is me becoming irrelevant in my own company.

Louis van der Merwe
It sounds like divined is literally your firstborn is. And I feel the same in our business.

Sidney Divine
It is it is

Louis van der Merwe
Sidney, it’s been wonderful to have you here today, you have a passion for what you do. And you know, it shines through in your conversation. I really enjoyed it. And I want to send you away with all the support and wishes for you to flourish.

Sidney Divine
Thank you, Louis, thank you, I’d really appreciate it. clients think sometimes when potential clients are like, do you have energy like this all the time, I was like, you’ll see, like, I just get better and better. Like, it’s like, because I get excited. And I can’t I want to be excited. Like I don’t want to be Okay, so tell me about your goals. Right? Like no, like, like, you just you just accomplished that, like, go for you like, Come on, let’s go like, yeah, like it’s, it has to, has to shine through. So I’m glad that you said that. Others have said it. So that’s more confirmation. And I’m not going to stop. I am who I am. And I feel like this is how I do financial planning. It’s worked for so many people. And if other people are listening to this, it could work for you. But you want to align yourself with a professional who is aligned with your goals. Your goals are the most important thing, not the dollars that you have in your bank or in any type of account. It’s what you are after. That’s truly important. If if someone can get behind that. There are a lot of planners at the Kinder Institute of life planning who will get behind it. And you know, I think there’s a sudden money that we talked about before while I’m actually going to start looking into Yeah, so there are planners who are doing it the right way. It’s a small but growing subset, and I think eventually, this is what the profession will look like. And I’m looking forward to seeing that day come to fruition.

Louis van der Merwe
I can’t wait for that. And it seems like you’re only getting started.

Sidney Divine
Yeah, right. It’s the beginning.

Listen to the podcast on the links below or on your favourite platform

General disclaimer for this podcast and all XY Media podcasts
https://www.xyadviser.com/disclaimer/

DISCLAIMER: The XY Adviser website and all content contained on the website is limited to general information. It does not constitute legal, financial or other professional advice. XY Adviser does not hold an AFS licence and does not provide any financial services. Nothing on this website should be interpreted as financial advice. Before making any investment decision, XY Adviser recommends obtaining financial advice from a qualified financial adviser.