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#5 Michelle Hoskin – Transcript

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SUMMARY KEYWORDS

business, financial planners, clients, planners, people, firms, advisors, skills, run, life, sector, day, abuse, certification, training, profession, years, approach, phone, learning

SPEAKERS

Michelle Hoskin, 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. Good afternoon to another episode of financial planners South Africa podcast. And today with me I have the pleasure to introduce Michelle hoskin who might be a household name for a lot of us. But for those of us that haven’t heard of Michelle, over to Michelle to give us a brief intro of who she is and what she’s up to.

 

Michelle Hoskin 

Hi, Lily, thank you for inviting me. It’s a absolute pleasure to be here. Yeah, so I’m Michele hoskin also known as Little Miss while I have pleasantly kept hold of that title for about 15 or so years, being quite new to the profession when I was only 20. So I’m nearly 25 years into this magical profession that we call home, and always been a coach and a supporter of financial planners and their firms. And fundamentally the way the thing that I suppose been, that has been driving me every day since coming into this profession is this, you know, innate desire to turn What are effectively financial planners, who find themselves running practices into businessmen, business, women, business, people that are, are actually running sustainable, repeatable, successful firms that are not killing them off in the process. And this total strive for professional excellence, and has kept me out of trouble for quite a few years.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

And there’s actually so much in what you just said, you know, from the point of like, carrying on without killing yourself. And then also, you know, moving to a profession and the service of excellence. I wanted to comment and so there’s there’s nothing little about you in terms of presence that you have and the contributions that you make, so I’m not sure why Little Miss Wow.

 

Michelle Hoskin 

Yeah, I’m only like, 5.2. I’m like a little pocket rocket. In the Netherlands. They call they don’t call me a little miss. Well, they call me the pocket rocket hockey rocket.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Pocket rocket. Yeah. Brilliant. Brilliant. Can you share with us a little bit about standards International, you know, the services that you offer? And I’d love to just unpack maybe parts of that, and what would be beneficial to the South African audience as well?

 

Michelle Hoskin 

Yeah. So obviously, you know, we’re a UK based business, but we have and have had the privilege of working with financial planning firms and planners all over the world. So I think, you know, when I, when I’ve gone along the journey of developing this business, and there’s now 11 of us in this in this team, you know, we are very much focused on when planners and advisors say they want to achieve a certain thing in their practice, or they want to, you know, restructure their business or achieve excellence in their operations or, you know, the standards international is the body that globally has set specific benchmarks in different sectors of our sector. And I’ll talk about those in a minute. But ultimately, if you’re going to if you’re going to do something, do it properly. And these are the standards by which they should be done against like these benchmarks. So standards international is a training certification and consultancy organization, founded by me, what seems like a lifetime ago, actually, that we’ve only got a business that operates in financial services. So we’ve never been planners, any of us as a team. So definitely gives us a unique outlook as a collective over the sector. So we don’t think like financial planners and a lot of coaches and consultants that exist in this sector or x phase. And that’s, I think, not helpful at all because it’s the same stuff circulating actually, a different perspective is what’s needed so, so really, we help firms and planners who know what they want to achieve. In business, but they actually have no idea how to get it, how to get there, how to achieve it, how to structure their businesses. So, you know, we’ve got all of our work is benchmarked against these British and international standards. And then we effectively support train and assess firms, planners, power planners, and compliance departments in line with these standards to make sure that they’re meeting them. Obviously, the subject of our topic today is this piece around financial abuse. And more recently, we introduced a certification training program for planners and advisors who want to increase their skills and knowledge in the area of spotting and supporting clients who are experiencing or maybe experiencing economic abuse and financial abuse, and other areas like coercive control. And because it’s a huge skills gap in the sector globally. And, you know, the stats prove that financial planners and advisors have no idea how to spot or even support clients who should or may have fell fallen victim to this horrific type of abuse.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Yeah, and it sounds like you’re kind of lifting up these advisors and giving them the skills, but also, you know, creating a global body to benchmark your practice. What are the typical size of a business that would come to you? And you know, or like, what is the process that you would take them through? Do you kick the tires and say, Hey, this is broken, or you just say, use your framework, and let’s start building towards that?

 

Michelle Hoskin 

Well, it’s, uh, you know, in terms of, so we, you know, we call it internally a sales process, but actually, it’s just a journey. So, you know, this morning, you know, I’ve had a guy on the phone, who runs a tiny little estate planning business with his brother, you know, and really, he just needs a bit of a, I, you know, I the word I use as a straightener. Like, you know, typically a planner will come to us or a business owner will come to us and say, you know, it’s just No, it’s not working, like stuffs not happening the way it should, or, you know, the team aren’t happy, and especially with COVID. More recently, Louis, obviously, we’ve had, you know, firms who have had to deploy stuff all over the country all over the world. You know, I had a firm who had his practice manager in Dubai, stuck in Dubai on holiday and couldn’t get back into the UK like this kind of thing. So, you know, what’s, what the pandemic has actually done. And this is why we’re super busy at the moment, particularly is because firms and business owners and planners have realized that their businesses are not set up correctly. So you know, often it’s, it’s literally like, I know, this is not right, but I don’t know what to do about it, because they’re trying to run these businesses. So we have the first part part of our process is we have a wow workshop. And this is just a open event, we’ve got one coming up on the seventh of July, open event, we do our cost, there’s no no charge to the advisor, because I want them to all come. And I want them to send their teams as well. And it’s a real whistlestop tour through, you know, what does best look like, if you’re going to do something, if you’re going to run a practice, these are my top concepts that I want to share with you. And I run those workshops. And then you know, many, and this is a wonderful thing, many are able to then, you know, dive in with their own support teams and, and crack on and make some of these fundamental changes. And I’m super happy with that. Like, it’s, you know, we give this away as a gift for a reason. It’s because if we want the region we’ve had, you know, we’ve had advisors from South Africa from Australia, joy, and, in fact, we’ve got probably the majority of the bookings for the July workshop are Australians, which is quite ironic, given the fact that it’s like the middle of the night for them anyway. And then we would do a what we call an eight principles review, where we go into their businesses, and we literally pick it apart, we literally find out every go into every nook and cranny to see what’s happening, why things aren’t working with a simple objective of you know, most firms will experience in will experience lots of symptoms, issues, dramas problems, what we aim to do is once we’ve understood what those symptoms and problems are, we then look to roll those uphill to find the root cause of them. So our advice and all then our solutions that when we apply our to fix the root cause of the problem so the symptoms don’t ever happen in the first place, right, which is just logical if you think about it, but a logical concept which is missed by many. And then we move on to we’ve got a while program where it’s a two year business transformation program for planners that are really serious about transitioning their business from O to wow, you know, to really get them kind of kicking off on the right foot, whether they be looking to exit and then we’ve got our certification services where we literally train and assess firms against these sector and international and British Standards. And it’s gone crazy busy because of mainly COVID and they’ve realized that there’s more to life than being chained to your desk just seeing clients every day and they want a sustainable business and they realize they don’t know how to do it on their own. And that’s when they come to us.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Yeah, what a wake up call this pandemic has been just let’s figure out how to balance this. I’m wondering like, do you see the same theme repeating in terms of maybe the owners mindset or, you know, people sabotaging their own business? Or what are the common things that are that are repeating that business should be on the lookout for?

 

Michelle Hoskin 

Yeah. And actually there are and these eight principles this review that we do. It was it was several years ago now. But I am I’ll tell you the kind of backstory to answer that question. And then I’ll give you the the number one killer, killer reason this is a problem. Several years ago, I went into a firm and I sat in the sat in the reception. And this is when I was doing one to one coaching specifically now I just do the workshop stuff. And the site in this reception, and there was a cabinet to my left, which was full of awards. I’m not joking. It was like blink city, like they were gold ones in their glass, one silver ones, shiny ones, black men, it was full. And I sat in this reception thinking, you know, what on earth am I actually doing here? And I had like a bit of a crisis of confidence that I was having a girl day, or I don’t know, but I was having a bit of a crisis of confidence. You know, I honestly, like I was just sitting there looking at these awards to my left going, what am I doing here, there must have this stitched up, right. And I went into the boardroom and sat down with the business owners. And as I do in my way, you know, my opening is, so how’s it going? I always open a may 1 meeting with how’s it going. And these guys had brought me in to have two days with them and all their teams, and I swear to you, for the first hour and a half. It was like they just picked up on me like they gave me every issue. Like they just kept comment, honestly, I was I sat down, I never said a word, I’m just writing stuff down. And what I effectively realized was that there was some root cause problems. And every single issue they told me they had, I linked it back to one or more of these eight principle areas that they needed to tackle. But the fundamental problem of all of that, which is the always the calories, and as planners who run businesses need to get out of their own way. And that’s because as a job, if you think about what they do, they, they they charge into the lives of their clients, making dreams come true, you know, making all these dreams and aspirations a reality and getting these clients to retire early, and all these wonderful things. And that same kind of night and nitrus in shining armor approach. They think they can apply to their own business, but they have no idea what they’re doing. So what makes an A wonderful financial planner doesn’t make a good business owner. And they miss that a lot. So, you know, when I talk about, you know, how do we turn an industry into a profession, we turn a profession into a business, that’s how we’re going to do it, we turn an industry into a profession, then into a business, and then you know, we’ll crack it, but it’s them getting out of their own way and stop feeling. You know, that they can fix all their own problems, because they don’t know how to run businesses, but then I had to be amazing financial planners, and it’s a lifetime’s worth of work, that this is what this is what we do every single day, all day day in day out.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

It’s so interesting, is that lack of training? Was there a lack of repeat too close to your subject or kind of fire?

 

Michelle Hoskin 

No, it’s it’s having to bigger ego, Louis, ah, see, go like, you know, we’re a met were a very male dominated sector. And unfortunately, ego rules, you know, ego is the enemy in our sector, and you only have to, you know, hang a conference to see it, right. But you know, ego is a bit of a problem. And, you know, I, you know, planners mainly, and actually, female planners are often equally as bad because, you know, they often feel like they’re the alpha female, and they have to do as well as the boys. You know, and what they do is, you know, they’re not very good at asking for help. They’re, they’re so used to being asked for help you having all the answers you coming up with all the solutions that when their team members go to them and say, What do we do here? They try and cobble together some strategy or solution to transition their business or, you know, change the way that things are working in operations or HR, they haven’t got a clue what they’re doing. So yeah, it is a lack of skill. But it starts with this position of, well, I’m a planner, I can do anything. I’ve been told I’m amazing. You know, I’ve got the qualifications to prove that, but I have no idea how to run a business. You know, so without being really brutally honest, you know, I mean, that is quite honest. But you know, that that’s what that’s what we’re dealing with,

 

Louis van der Merwe 

you’re actually saying, you know, what are you? What are your strengths? What are your skills? Where can you make the biggest impact with your time because I guess that’s like you said, the skill set that a financial planner has versus a CEO of business. Yeah, very different skill sets.

 

Michelle Hoskin 

It couldn’t be any more different to Yeah, absolutely love it. I mean, it honestly couldn’t be Any more different if it tried, you know, one’s one’s relationship driven, and one needs to be commercially driven, totally different. Like, it’s like this. It’s like an ident, like an identity crisis. But yeah, it’s it’s a it’s a huge problem. I mean, there was one time, I sat on a panel, and I think I was having a bad day, actually, when I got asked this question, but this, this, this, the chair of this panel said to me, You know, when, Michelle, when are we actually going to see some real change in this sector. And I literally pointed to the audience and said, when this lot die off, I think I was having a bad day. But But the point is still valid, like, unless this new generation really kicks in with, you know, some real innovation and this willingness to gain help and seek help. We’re going to just keep going around in circles. Yeah. And

 

Louis van der Merwe 

are you seeing that? Are you seeing a new generation people approaching things with a more commercial hat on? Or is it really get out of the way and hire someone to actually do that job and do

 

Michelle Hoskin 

it, it’s a mixture. I think what you’ve got, honestly, if I, if I break it down, so let’s imagine you’ve got the children of financial planners taking over businesses. So let’s look at that sector. Most of the planning practices that they’re taking over have been run by a man or you know, a male planner, and therefore, there’s a little bit of, I’m gonna prove to dad that I can do it like he did. Okay, there’s a lot of that going on, there’s a lot of work that put the hours in, so I’m going to show him, it’s almost like the child that’s proving something to dad, there’s a lot of that going on. And it breaks me when I see it. Because the decade or the generation that dad lived in and dad developed a financial planning practice is totally different to the one that’s being done now. Often, in that scenario, you know, we as a team get brought in by that, for example, because dads go in, I clearly didn’t do it, right. So I want to help the children get it right. So we’ve got a lot of clients who are family run businesses, and we’ve been brought in by dad, and we help them work alongside the next generation, the children who are taken over the planning practice to do it right first time. So they don’t have to try and fall away their way through for 25 years to try and get to where dad got to right. They’re doing it right first time. But then there’s the kind of the ego has been passed down to the next generation of, well, I’m dead smart, and I can use tech. So text, my answer, tech isn’t the answer to running a financial planning practice. There’s a whole heap of other skills and abilities needed outside of tech. But you know, this next generation is thinking, well, I’ll just, I’ll just throw a load of technology at it and digitalize everything, that’s a recipe for disaster as well, because that’s not going to work either. But then you’ve got the the the the youth that are saying, actually, that model that’s just been for the last 25 years is totally broken. I’m going to redesign the whole flipping law. And I’m going to do it based on my authentic way. And those are the ones that work, they need help. They are the most authentically run financial planning practices that I’ve seen in this generation. And I love them. I absolutely love working with them. Because they’re so open and receptive to it. There’s no ego, no ego at all. It’s like, I want to do this, I can see it, I have no idea how to do it, can you help us? And they’re the best ones, because we nail it, that we nail it together to collaboration.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Oh, that sounds so interesting, like these, these firms that, you know, you mentioned the authenticity and shining through. I’m thinking that, you know, the approach to building a business, and actually then taking it from an existing business and scaling that is two very different skill sets that you also require. Yeah,

 

Michelle Hoskin 

yeah. I mean, I think, I think one of the things that planners struggle with is being tough. And, you know, they could walk out of an amazing client meeting, you know, regardless of the generation. You know, and if you think about it, you know, we talked about different generations just there, Larry, like if we take, you know, the generation of the now 5060 year olds who are running fans, there’s only one reason that they have got the success that they have got, and that is absolute ball breaking, sheer hard graft, hard work. They have put in, they’ve missed their children’s events, they’ve probably got broken marriages, you know, they’ve missed holidays. They’ve been working on Christmas Day. It’s been sheer hard work. And the generation that’s now emerging, seen that and it’s actually gone. actually want a life. Like I don’t want to do that I want to be there for my kids. I want to go to school events. I want to be there for my wife and my partners and my husbands or whatever it might be. And it so they get to this piece around to having a lifestyle business so they build it, but having a lifestyle business that’s centered around Do you. And you know, ultimately, there’s the leader in that business as the owner, they’re only then making decisions based on the best interests of their lifestyle. Okay, there is quite simple, a simple model. But then they go, Oh, God, I need another advisor, and I needed to hire a power planner, and I need to this, but then they The problem is, is that they then still try and run it like a lifestyle business. And you can’t, there’s a there’s a turret, there’s a key that needs to be turned at a certain point. And this is where we help our clients like to turn that key and say, now we need a different structure, because it needs a different approach, a different mindset, a different methodology, because that methodology of a lifestyle business will not survive or help in the new business model, mentality approach and so on. So it’s a it’s a mental shift, but it’s also a physical and operational shift as well. And this is, you know, we know that through all the work we’ve done over the last 20 odd years. And that’s our How are all of our services are positioned to help fans through that transition? Because it’s hard on their own? It’s like when they help clients with their financial planning, right? You know, clients that tried to do it on their own make a right mess of it, but when they’ve got a plan of helping them, it works, and then retire early,

 

Louis van der Merwe 

that clarity between deciding what is it that that is most important to me? And how do I build something around that? Or do I bought, you know, bigger legacy through business that lives through?

 

Michelle Hoskin 

And also live? I mean, I’m, you know, you’ve interviewed lots of amazing people. And, you know, you’ll hear it a lot, you know, I don’t want to be corporate business, or why not? Well, I don’t want I don’t want to have to deal with all that people nonsense, that recruitment and, and HR and legal stuff. Well, if you run your business, well, you won’t need to deal with issues. It’s like root cause symptom. So many are preventing themselves from benefiting from their successes and their abilities to be amazing as planners, because they don’t want to become a corporate. And if I had a pound for every time I’d I don’t want to be a big business. It’s rubbish. You know, because there’s so fearfulness. It’s crazy. Like, you know, I’m scared of I’m not a people manager, I don’t want to be doing all this HR and people issues. Well, that’s fear motivated. They’re there’s they’re capping their own potential based on a fear. That isn’t real, because they’ve not been there. It’s only what they’ve been hurt what they’ve heard all the stories that they’ve been told, or it’s craziness, so lifetime’s worth of work, Louis. Honestly,

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Michelle, you’ve been talking a lot about, you know, giving yourself the permission to be able to think of a bigger life, like to dream past what you actually think is possible. Can you share with us in a way that came from and kind of what that tipping point was, we decided, hey, this is this is something I want for my life.

 

Michelle Hoskin 

Yeah, one of the I mean, I’ve had a wonderful life, you know, I’ve been, I’ve been so lucky. You know, I’ve got a great family, I live away from them. I moved to London, from the north of England, when I was just 19. So I was a very independent young lady. And I was brought up that way, my dad and my mom would always encourage me if I wanted a job to phone up and get it if I wanted a paper round, never wanted babysitting jobs, go and get them. So. So I’ve had, I’ve been brought up to be very independent. And I think that’s the key and first magic ingredient to living a life that you really want. Because, you know, I was always taught, and I teach this that, you know, if you want something, you have to go and get it. And I think people who have an expectancy of well, you know, it’s that person’s fault, or that person is going to help me, particularly in firms, where there’s business partners, and they have this huge expectation of the other. It’s like, well, he’s gonna do that, well, why should he? You want it, you get it, you go for it. So you know, I was, you know, and I have a huge amount of confidence. So I think this has, you know, this has gave me the, the best position to kind of go for my dreams would talk about like the second a bit more, but one of the turning points in my life was I was actually watching Coach Carter movie with Samuel L. Jackson in it. And there was this quote in there in the movie and I actually thought it was a Nelson Mandela quote originally, and it was when Timo cruise in the movie says, Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are more powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. And it was like I’d been hit by a boss right there. My Honestly, I remember and I remember being in my living room in my old house, and I was like, that’s it. That is what I am meant to be doing in this profession. Because planners and advisors spend all if not most of their waking day, changing the lives of clients, encouraging them to live bigger lives, more exciting lives, retire early do the cruise, that actually they themselves have become the poor relation and their lives, their relationships, their dreams and aspirations have taken second place in place of those of the clients. So it’s become, you know, everything that that I’ve designed in terms of our programs and our work has been, is the enabler for them to encourage them to not only achieve those goals and aspirations, but smash them out of the park, so that you know that they literally scare them to death, the things that they’re setting in their mind to do, or is so scary and so on. Can you know could just cannot comprehend how to achieve it and I just come swooning in with the team going? Well, this is how you’re going to do that. hazing could take you two years. And it’s these eight modules. That’s it job done. And then I take

 

Louis van der Merwe 

him away all the excuses. Yeah, yeah.

 

Michelle Hoskin 

So yeah, and I, you know, I have this, you know, when I do my little presentations, and my speaking gigs, although it’s been from my dining table in the last so many months, but, you know, people will say, like, I feel like I can achieve anything after I’ve listened to you. And that’s the lit on this wild magic. That’s, that’s the thing I do. And my girlfriends, and my mom friends and my family, they feel the same. So you’ve just got a go for it go, we’ve got we’ve got 100 years, if we’re lucky. If we’re lucky on this planet, you’ve got to just you know, live and achieve every little dream you want. big, small, ginormous.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

So this was part of you growing up, you know, your parents giving you that permission, saying that you can actually achieve this. And I’m guessing through experiencing, I actually, if I apply my mind, and I can do this. No wonder there’s two sides of that. Like, what about the times that it actually, you know, maybe doesn’t go your way? From the outside? It looks like you exude confidence, but I’m sure there’s been times

 

Michelle Hoskin 

Oh, God, I mean, you know, I’ve had, I’ve had my own battles. I mean, that, you know, I’ve reasonably come through it unscathed. You know, and I’m a very bouncy, feisty, you know, crack on with live kind of girl. But I’ve, you know, I’ve been talking today, like, you know, and I have publicly spoken about it, like, there’s been days during the last two years, you know, COVID, as well, where I’ve literally really had to scrape out the barrel, like, I’ve really had to pull all the stops out to just think, you know, come on, let’s just put a bet lipstick on, let’s just go for it, you know, because it’s been hard. So, I mean, this is where this is where I’ve been getting involved in training towards mental health certifications and such, like, which I’m sure we’re going to talk about. But you know, I think, you know, I, I think over the years without opening another kind of can of worms, because this is a whole other interview. Right. But, you know, I’ve, I’ve gone through phases in my life where, you know, I’ve believed that I’ve been too much for people, like I’ve had a few relationships failed, you know, just tricky times. And I’ve always put it down to a limiting belief that I’m just too much for people like, and I know, I know who I am. I know, I’m a lot. You know, I’m a pocket rocker and a lot to kind of handle. And, but then I realized a little while ago that actually, I’m nowhere near enough and even for those that are might be too much for I am people need more of what I’ve got to share in their lives there. You know, I mean, I, I went to have my hair cut this morning, and my hairdresser. He said to me, he said, he said, Do you know Katie? I said, Jamie, I know Katie, I said we weren’t met for coffee, this local artist near where I live, and we’d messaged on Instagram, and she came down to my flat for a coffee and a croissant. And he said, he said she phoned me after she had been to your house. And she literally said, Oh my god, Felix, I feel like I can do anything. Bailey Michelle. She was only at my house an hour, right? She was literally at my house. And our she’s like I said, I can do anything. And he said, No, I was I Oh, my God did shake? And he said yes. Because that’s because you’re, you’re a power pill. And given the last few months that we’ve had, people need a power pill. And so I think I’ve realized that, you know, to be authentically me is my superpower. But that’s not always been the case. But I think you know, I’ve had I’ve had firms on the phone to me and business owners, practice managers paraplanners, you know, if they’re going through tricky times, and you know, I for a while through COVID. We did these were webinars on a Wednesday morning for our clients, families, and we really included everybody, because my goodness, they need that. So I am confident and I am independent, and I am on a mission to change the world one advisor at a time and I will not be stopped. And it’s likely that you know what the work that we’re doing today, you know, the true fruits of our labor as a team won’t actually be realized until way past my lifetime. So what I know what we’re doing now is where you know, where we’re planting the seeds for a profession that doesn’t yet exist. And we’re starting that movement and that we’re, you know, people who join us as clients are joining that movement to become businesses which will really sustain our profession in the next 2030 years, which is why, you know, just having a decent client journey and a few planning proposition is not going to change the sector into profession. It’s just not it. You know, it hasn’t, it hasn’t worked. And it’s not going to be the thing that does that. So

 

Louis van der Merwe 

yeah, I think it’s about this community that keeps everyone accountable and pushes them forward. And with you rod on the with a lot of other people that share the same vision, I want to jump into the mental health stuff. It’s something that’s quite close to home and that I have an interest in as well. And, you know, seeing the impact of mental health and just how difficult it is to spot. Talk to us a little bit about the training that you’re going through where that fits in what you’re busy with. And I guess what, like what you’ve learned from that as well.

 

Michelle Hoskin 

Oh, gosh, I mean, so what so what originally prompted this was, I was and I lose that I lose? Kind of, I lose the grips with timescales. So apologies if anyone’s listened to the story before I’m gonna, I’m sure she said that was 2018 because I forget timescales, right? So a few years ago, I was I got an email from my team to say that this particular advisor had very unusually canceled all of his arrangements with us. Now, he was having training, and he was doing standards with us. And one of the team said, I don’t think he’s okay. That was all she said to me. So I got on the phone straight away. And I said to him, I said, you know, what was going on? I said, How are you? He said, I’m not doing very well at all, at all. And I said, I said, Why? I said, Well, you know, can I can I speak openly with you? And I said, Oh, my God, of course, you can. This might have been applied for, like 11 years. And he said, I plan to take my own life, in April this year. And this was, let’s say, this was the June. Well, the first thing that struck me was, how did we not know? Why were we not in touch with him enough? And oh, my God, thank God, he didn’t. Right. I will explore the conversation further. And basically, it had pressures of the regulator, we’d had RDR. You know, obviously, we’ve we’ve gone through in the lightest at the end of the tunnel for them. We were way past that now. But, you know, he’d gone through a really tricky time. Relationship broken down, you know, he’d been working every hour godsent. For years, didn’t know each kid didn’t have his children. I was a mess, right. And we talked about Ennis. And I said, Why did you and he told me the exact date that he was going to take his own life. And I said to him, do you mind me asking why that day, and he said, because that was the day after the life insurance, the suicide clause was lifted on my life insurance. While I was in bits for days that we like, I just, I was so sad, for lots of reasons that I just thought we need to do something about this. So then there was other stories. And then I got shipped over to Australia, where literally because of the Royal Commission and the changes over there, and financial advisors were literally jumping off bridges, literally taking their own lives, because their Commission’s had been pulled there in all sorts of debt. And they there was like, 40 odd deaths in a space of six months, it was just off the scale. So the IFA brought me over and said, Look, you know, we want you to give them a light at the end of the tunnel to give them some hope and onsite. Fabulous, I’ll do that. I thought, I’m good, but I’m not that good. I’ll see what I can do, right, I’ll do my best. So I went onstage and I said, I said, there’s an elephant in the room. And that’s called suicide. And my job here is to make sure that we don’t lose one more person in our magical family to suicide. And then I went off on my presentation, the room just like that. And I thought, I’ve just got to go for it. I just got to confront this head on Well, since then, I’ve been doing a lot of work. And training myself and the team are also training to be Mental Health First Aiders. I’m currently in the process of doing a Youth Mental Health course, predominantly, because I have a daughter, I have my daughter’s friends. And, you know, I’ve done the adult course and the youth course. And I’m also going to train him to be an instructor so that we can actually train our teams, our clients, teams on mental health provision, spotting signs, and these fundamental conversations. And life has never been more crazy than it is today. We’ve both got a physical life and we’ve got a digital life. So we’ve now got two lots of lives running simultaneously. And there was a the course I’ve done part of the course this morning was around suicide. And the quote is basically, when when life and the pain of life suffer from suicide is not chosen. It happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain. Right now, that’s the ultimate you know, if you take your own life and we’ve had planners take their own lives, is because it’s just too much. Well, every part of mental health is basically a shrunk down version of that. So if you can spot it early, so one of the things that I’ve been encouraging all financial planners to do advisors is to become certified Mental Health First Aiders so that when their clients are having changes in, you know, changes in behavior, or strange words being used, they’re just like, What? Why did they say that they know how to deal with it. And then that work led on to the work we did with this with the certification for financial abuse specialists, because we were recognizing that a lot of planners were when I was talking to them. And I was talking about mental health, they thought they had no idea how to spot it, or what to do about it, or where to signpost, that class. And I’m just like, this is horrendous, why do you not have the skills you know, you know, everything about pensions and investments, but not about people. It just made no sense to me. So then I started talking to planners about, well, you know, what happens when you know, money is a root cause of mental ill health, maybe in financial abuse, or coercive control, or economic abuse, they were oblivious, Louis, they had no idea what I was talking about. So I was just like, we need to do something about this, which is then when we launched their training and certification for planners and advisors to become financially abused specialists. So again, they know how to spot identify and signpost clients, their clients and their families who may be victim or being subjected to some sort of economic or financial abuse. And we’ve got clients all over the world doing that. It’s a wonderful, wonderful thing. But yeah, it started as a passion project, but it started because of a need that, you know, we recognize we didn’t have certain skills that we needed, and it turned into training programs and support for planners and advisors to be able to just be more amazing at their jobs. And possibly, I mean, I’ve had three suicide interventions, since during the adult first aid course, to strangers and one friend, and, you know, I’ve been able to be I was equipped with this, the skills to be able to approach those conversations. And, you know, I may have saved a life I may have saved all three lives, I don’t know. Right? So we met Yeah, so it’s, it’s, it’s a big, there’s a lifetime of work to be done. But planners need to have the skills to, to head these things off, for sure.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

I agree with you more. And I think it’s not necessarily intervening and making changes, but you know, helping someone to do normalize it, number one, start talking about it, but also to reach out for help in South Africa. And I think globally, there’s the lifeline organization that helps financial planners and the general public teach them skills, firstly, about personal growth, and then some of the counseling skills to potentially one day become a counselor to help people through mental health and suicidal ideations. And I think, you know, the impact that you can make, and that you’re seeing, that you’re doing with these financial planners and the conversations that they’re having, I mean, the stories that you must hear must be amazing.

 

Michelle Hoskin 

But they are and I you know, I I’m a very opinionated Young lady, I know I am. And, you know, I, there’s a huge amount of, there’s a, there’s a train hurtling through financial services, which is, you know, we’re all about financial well being, you know, financial planners being taught about financial well being, it’s not that it’s not just that it’s about economic well being, and it’s about helping that person become an understand that whole person, not just understanding their money, and there’s all these planners running around the UK saying that their financial well, being experts, you know, many of them aren’t sadly, because they don’t have the all round skills to be able to understand the well being needs of their clients. And, you know, one of the, you know, I bounce in these Facebook groups when, you know, they’re chatting about, you know, you know, what’s the top skill of a financial planner, and all this, that the author and one of the things that I typed him a few months ago was, you know, seek to understand before you seek to be understood, and so many planners fail at that epically. Like hands down. They’re just rubbish at that. Because they, they’re, they’re almost listening to be ready with a solution. They’re listening only to give them a recommendation. And they’re listening only to sell them something and that that’s a broad generalization, but many don’t have the skills to listen without judgment properly. And I remember that just quickly, I went to a million dollar roundtable meeting in the states a few years ago. And the key opening keynote speaker of the three day conference was I think it was a guy teaching 15,000 financial advisors, the art of listening, and I sat in the audience go in, wow. Like, are we at this level still? Right? Really. We’re still at the level that all these people need teaching how to listen. Not how to sell but how to listen, listen properly, listen, without judgment. Listen, by making eye contact. You know, we’re still there. We think this professions progress. We’re still being taught that think of I mean, if you think put that into context that’s off the scale crazy, right? off the scale crazy.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

There’s a lovely term called exquisite listening, which just kind of encapsulates all of it. And it’s something that you need to learn, right? It’s not just something you wake up one day and like, oh, okay, now I can listen and keep quiet. It’s more than that. It’s listening to what’s not being said. And that’s part of, you know, I guess the journey of talking to people saying, like, where do I start? Like, what are the skills? So if we jump into the financial abuse training that you’re doing, like, all these skills that financial planners need before they start doing that? Or, you know, is it base level enough for people to jump in and say, Okay, yeah, first to start learning about finance. Yeah,

 

Michelle Hoskin 

its base level, its base level, and we actually scale it up. So the training is about 10 hours, 10 to 12 hours, depending on and it can be a bit more a few a slip, you want to learn slowly, I mean, I did it over two days, because I wanted, I became the second person in the world to be certified to this certification, and I did my own assessment and my own, you know, my own workbook and everything, I didn’t get any help from the people that really kind of worked on the back end design. And I did it over two days, because I really wanted to soak it in but it can be in it’s, it’s very much with very little knowledge, there’s a lot of case studies in there scenarios, quizzes, you know, to submit some of your own processes and approaches. And it’s, it’s a real tear jerker, because some of the stories that we’ve, you know, people that we’ve interviewed for the learning material is quite deep. And I think it’s, I think it’s an eye opener more than it is anything else, because you almost finished going, really, that exists, really, that type of behavior exists. I mean, you know, one of the stories was a lady called Maria and she, she was like, in financial services, she was like a high end broker super successful, you know, she ended up being smashed over the head with a ratchet and locked in a cupboard in her boat. She lost all her money, because she was subject to effectively financial abuse and domestic violence from a partner. And she was like, you would look at her and think, Well, you’ve got your head screwed on? Well, no, you know, this is not a it’s just happens to the poor, you know, housewife, or the vulnerable at home. It’s not. So it’s a real eye opener. And, you know, I had a, I did a little LinkedIn live the other day about it is a planner had contacted me through social media and said, You know, I’ve, I’ve been, I’ve been, I’ve been spoken to by a client, and she’s opened up that she’s being financially abused. And, and she said, and I’ve just spoken to my compliance department, and they just said nothing other than phone, the police, right? And I’m on the phone gone. Are you flipping jokin? Are you for real. And I know that that’s the response that planners are being told, because their compliance departments, their networks, have no idea how to deal with it. So the training helps with that as well. And I said to her, let me just tell you, given the situation that you’ve just told me about, if you’d have phoned the police, she would now be dead. Very simple, and complicated. But she got that advice from her compliance manager. Now, this is this is what we’re dealing with in this sector, they are being confided in about money issues. And it’s rife within post separation. So when husbands and wives are in a relationship, so breaking down, you know, now in the UK, economic abuse, post separation is now a criminal offense, most of the advisors in the UK don’t even know about that. So if there without realizing it, partaking in negotiations, that might not be as ethical as they’d like to consider them being in a separating relationship. That’s now a criminal offense. So it’s a huge piece. And this is why the training or the certification exists. But we as we as planners, ascend through the process of learning more a measure an annual assessment at year one, where they have to submit further evidence of where they’ve helped in cases of financial abuse. And then it’s every two years thereafter, there’s more learning materials going on the portal and the platform for them to increase their knowledge and, you know, CPD, and because it’s an ever changing landscape, but it’s because and COVID has just made it even more commonplace because of issues around money and, you know, locked down and there’s a wonderful quote that was on billboards across the UK, and it says, abusers always work from home. And it didn’t say domestic violence abusers or its abusers. They always work from home. Right. And we were in a we’re in a global pandemic, and we were in lockdown. So yeah, so it’s a huge subject, Louis huge and I’d be very happy to do you know, a specific podcast with you on it if your listeners would be interested so we can really nail in on some of the signs and symptoms of financial abuse and how to spot it and obviously, just court?

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Absolutely, I think in South Africa, it’s still something that’s in its early days. But as we start talking more about it, I think, you know, we can push this industry forward. And other than your medical professional, you know, financial planners probably get more face time with their clients in a more safe environment where people can start having discussions about what’s really important what’s going on in their lives. I mean, we’re really well suited to spot these things. So can you imagine the impact, like once we can actually spot them, and then take people to the resources that they they serve very much need?

 

Michelle Hoskin 

Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, I had a conversation quickly with a planner at the beginning of lockdown. And I said to him, you know, why you phone in your clients to see how they’re doing mentally and their well being? He said, That’s not my job. I said, Well, if it’s not your job, whose job is it? I said, Do you care about your clients? Oh, yeah, of course I do. I’m like, why don’t you find them to see how they will ask them? You know, how’s your well being? How are you feeling? Well, that, you know, that’s that’s a bit touchy feely, Michel, he said, I don’t I don’t have conversations like that the clients, like, well, somebody’s got to, and you’re the one that holds all their money. And they’re more worried about, they’re worried about money. So therefore, you know, so it’s, there’s a lot for us to learn in our sector and training, like the stuff that we we pump out and the the materials, it’s just invaluable to them.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Yeah, yeah, I think even just the specific wording that you use, someone once said, asking someone, how are you doing today is a lot more digestible? You know, for someone suffering from mental health problems of getting through a traumatic event? I can deal with today, I’ve had to deal with the bigger picture. How’s life generally?

 

Michelle Hoskin 

Because generally, we’re okay. You’re right, you know, that it’s, you know, one simple word on the end of a sentence, which, you know, how are you, which we all ask all the time pretty much changes the dynamic of the sentence, and could be the difference between somebody opening up and you being the Savior to their some of the challenges that they’re having? Or them just saying, Yeah, I’m okay. Thanks. Yeah, just one word. But it’s the training, the training, it’s all about knowledge that the sector sadly doesn’t quite have yet. But we’re working to change that.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

It’s brilliant. I mean, it’s so exciting. Like, where can people get hold of you to find out about the training, like what’s the best place to go and scratch and get a good point?

 

Michelle Hoskin 

Well, you can search for me all over social media. So I’m on LinkedIn, Michelle hoskin. I’m on Instagram, and I am on Twitter, and Facebook has little miss while so you’re more than welcome to dive in and find me there. Or the best place to get all of the information and downloads and details of our workshops and our events. And our certifications is at the website, which is standards international code at UK, I’d have a little browse around there. You can also subscribe to our mailers on there. And it would just be a delight to connect with as many of you as possible and see if we can help you in in any way that you you may have identified areas that, you know, you just might feel that you’re just not coming up to scratch. Happy to have a chat.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Thank you so much, Michelle, for the work that you’re doing, promoting a positive evolution of financial advice. And if this wasn’t it, then I don’t know what it is. Until we chat again, bye

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