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#9 Derek Notman – Transcript

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SUMMARY KEYWORDS

advisors, work, clients, people, derek, business, south africa, started, important, cape town, financial services, mindset, digital assets, connector, advice, cfp, virtual, filing cabinets, pay, industry

SPEAKERS

Derek Notman, Louis van der Merwe

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Welcome to yet another episode of financial planners, South Africa. Today, I’m super excited to have Derrick, not man with me. If you are ever on LinkedIn of your financial advisor, I’m sure you would have seen Derek’s comments pop up somewhere. He is a man that speaks his heart. And he’s been in the industry for more than a decade, 15 years running intrepid wealth partners, training advisors for their next stage, you know, becoming a virtual advisor. Derek, thank you so much for being here today. It’s a pleasure, Louis. Thank you. And how’s it to all my friends in South Africa? Before this call, you mentioned that you just got off the call with your team in Cape Town. Tell us what that connection is. Because you’re not based in Cape Town. You’re based in Minnesota, right?

 

Derek Notman 

Well, no. So I grew up in Minnesota. I’m from Ireland. My mom is from Cape Town. Okay. So very global. Right now home is Madison, Wisconsin, but I’m in Southern California. So we’re all over the place. So yeah, I do have a team in South Africa, multiple people doing multiple things for both businesses, actually, for all of my digital marketing, social media strategy on intrepid wealth partners as an advisor, my team down there helps with all of that. And then also on my FinTech company connector. They helped me with a ton of stuff there from marketing to strategy to, you know, development, all of that. So, yeah, like the majority of the people on my team are actually in Cape Town.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

How did you go about doing that? Was it just, you know, these are the right people? And they just happen to be in Cape Town? Or was it? I’m strategically going to look at another timezone and another currency.

 

Derek Notman 

Yeah. So this, this stems in this. So this is part of my story. So I think this actually works well, as an advisor, I made the transition to virtual to hybrid to work in the 21st century back in 2013. And part of that transition was questioning my whole staffing model, because up until that point, I had always had in house staff physically located in my brick and mortar office. And apologies if you hear my dog in the background there. So what what happened is, I really I questioned that model. And I wanted to be able to do things better and more efficiently. I’m like, Well, why can’t I have a virtual team? So I did, and I, for client facing client interaction type of stuff. I have a virtual team here based in the US just because of timezone and language and all of that type of stuff. But for anything that’s not directly communicating with the client. I was like, Well, why don’t I have a team outside? And, you know, you hear of outsourcing to like India, or the Philippines, you know, all variety of other places for virtual staff. And like, Well, you know, what, I love South Africa. And I truly do, South Africa is one of my, it’s is so near and dear to my heart. And so I literally googled virtual assistants, South Africa. And then I went through the interview process with a couple of firms and I ended up using two different firms, one of them ended up being a total mess. And then the other one is the one I’m still with today. And it’s been like, oh, man, for five years, I’ve been using the same team now, and I absolutely loved them.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

That’s brilliant. And it’s so nice to you know, that we can compete in Cape Town on a global level, through the skills that we bring to the table. Not yet in giving advice. You know, hopefully we can one day get to that point where your team of advisors may be set in different jurisdictions as well. 100% Yeah, there’s

 

Derek Notman 

Michael kitsis, who I’m sure you know, where you’ve heard of, I’m sure a lot of your listeners have, has a great, great quote out there, and I’m going to butcher it. But he basically says that, in the future, clients will find the best advisor, you know, not in their local area, but the best advisor for them, regardless of location. And the same can be held true for when you’re trying to build a team to build your business to do whatever to do all the things that you need to do. And I ended up with some amazing people that I work with now that have become friends. And I just I said we just I just met with them. And they said that there Derek, we feel like, this isn’t your company. This is our company. This is how much we love doing all of this with you. So location doesn’t matter. It’s finding the right people. This is what matters. And

 

Louis van der Merwe 

that’s brilliant. And I think we’ll circle back to the people in your business. Give us a little bit of a backstory, you know, did you did you start off your career in finance and financial planning? No.

 

Derek Notman 

My undergraduate degree is in archaeology and anthropology. I have really loved the Indiana Jones movies and thought that it would be fun to be Indiana Jones.

 

 

Turns out, that’s

 

Derek Notman 

not real life. So unfortunately, that didn’t happen. So right actually, before I even graduated with those degrees, the real world was fast approaching, I’m like, Okay, I need a job. So I ended up becoming a counselor, working with at risk youth at a residential treatment center, I was working with teenage boys who lived at this facility that came from very bad backgrounds, murderers, drug dealers, rapists, you name it, and working with them to try to help rehabilitate them. I did that for a number of years. And then eventually, that led me into financial services, oddly enough, because I’ve always had this fascination with money as well. And I learned by working with these kids that I really loved helping people. And my wife and I moved across the country, and right after we had been married, and I’m like, okay, now’s the opportunity to combine these two passions into one one career,

 

Louis van der Merwe 

I love that you started out in the counseling side, you know, and so much of what we do, is using those counseling skills and looking back at that now, like, what are the things that stand out for you that you’re still using in your client interactions today that you learn from dealing with this group of at risk youth?

 

Derek Notman 

Well, I think listening my listening skills, like we had to listen. And sometimes we had to help people, I had to help the kids, I do this with my clients, because we have to help them articulate what they don’t know how to say, they’re feeling something. But they don’t know how to put it into words, necessarily, because they’ve never really been asked this before, if they’ve never really worked with their proper advisor. And so helping them come to this realization of what’s truly important to them, what they’re trying to fix what’s keeping them up at night. So I learned a lot of that working with these kids. And I’ve used those same skills. So I’m just slowing down a little bit. It’s, it’s not about me, it’s about them. If I do the right thing, if I listen, if I help guide them, then they’re going to want to do business with me, which means I will get paid at some point. Yeah, and

 

Louis van der Merwe 

these are not easy things to get trained in. yet. You know, not a lot of financial planners start off in the sales side. And they don’t necessarily learn these skills and these like, you know, 1015 years into the industry if they get that for. But you approach it the other way, saying, Oh, actually, I’ve built up all these skills. And that’s transferable to this new industry. I’m moving into

 

Derek Notman 

it, is it what’s funny is that I didn’t come into financial services with that mindset, like, I mean, I guess I did, but I didn’t. But I was young, I was 25. And I didn’t know what I didn’t know is that for the previous three and a half years as a counselor, listening and problem solving, were pounded into me, I was working 6070 hours a week. And it just became part of my DNA. So when I came over to financial services, there was a learning curve, like learning about financial products and sales and all of this stuff. But I came at it from this with this background of trying to connect with people understand people and solve problems. And it just naturally happened. I got lucky, right, I literally got lucky because it was not intentional how this all kind of came together. I became a counselor because I needed a job. And I wish there was a more altruistic reason for that. But that was what it was. And I, I ended up loving it. And I learned a lot about myself and about helping people. But it definitely has propelled me in the work I do in financial services with my clients to be able to connect with others on that human level and truly listen and help.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Absolutely. So here we have Indiana Jones, that have both these counseling skills, getting into financial planning how those early years like what you were talking about now, and kind of orders things like

 

Derek Notman 

that. Yeah, so I came in to financial services in 2006. March, is when I actually officially like entered the industry at that time, and arguably still today, unfortunately, we’ll get to this, but at that time, there’s this allure of being a financial adviser, that you can make a ton of money and you can and that you can have a lot of freedom. And this is true, you can. So when you’re being recruited, and you’re kind of getting into it, you know, you’re in this honeymoon stage where all of this is really exciting. And then you actually get in and you’re working 60 hours a week, you’re working nights and weekends. You’re cold calling, you’re dealing with rejection, you’re going to networking events, you’re having to put yourself out there a lot more than you were ever used to doing. And there is no guaranteed paycheck. You know, there were there was a there was a one point early on in my career where things were so tough that I literally went home after a really long week. I was stressed I was tired and I started looking through my baseball card collection to see what I could sell. So I could pay to keep the heat on in my house in the winter. Right? It was that tough. And these are the things you don’t hear about when you’re being recruited into the industry. And there’s a reason over 95% of people fail in the first three years or so or, you know, wash out, it’s a really tough gig. Part of that, I think, is because of how we’re taught, you know, it’s it’s a sales first mentality. And I’m not saying sales is bad, but we can’t forget the human element here, either. That’s extremely important. So things were antiquated. They still are, arguably, digital marketing is only just starting to kind of get some real traction in our industry, unfortunately, even though it’s been around forever. I mean, you know, who knows this whole, you know, online internet thing might actually work? Right? You know, we’ll see. I mean, maybe the jury’s still out on that. But it’s, we’re evolving, we’re just not evolving as fast as we probably should be. Yeah,

 

Louis van der Merwe 

yeah. And you know, South Africa is in a very similar boat, to the US, I think, in some instances, we might be a little bit ahead in terms of the marketing component and embracing online advice. But the sales first approach is still the norm for most advisors starting out in this industry, you know, you have to build up a wealth of knowledge, you have to find potential clients. You have to, you know, feed your family. And like you said, it’s a really tough gig. And that’s why we have this massive drop off.

 

Derek Notman 

Yeah, no question about it. But, but we can be successful. And there are better ways to do things. I think the advisor needs to know that, like, they’re not on an island. They’re, they’re there we are a team. And let’s face it, whether it’s South Africa, Australia, the States, Canada, UK, it doesn’t matter. There’s more than enough business more than enough clients, for us all to be successful. So don’t get in a situation where you’re kind of hoarding clients, and everyone else is your competition, reach out and talk to other advisors and help each other because you’re always going to be able to learn something and get better. You know, the office that I started in, it did really feel like that there was this competitive competition that bad I don’t think there was a competitive nature, but when it gets to the point of like, cutthroat stuff, because there’s not enough business for everybody. I mean, that’s just nonsense. It’s it doesn’t have to be that way.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Yeah, that kind of abundance mindset, saying 100% of you approach this, that there’s more than enough clients, you know, you figure out a way to serve them. I can hear that, you know, you were really frustrated with, with the way advice was being delivered. What was the one of the early things that you tried to do in 2006, starting out with your clients that you said, Hey, I’m not going to do it this way. I’m going to I’m going to go this route.

 

Derek Notman 

Yeah, I mean, I have a lot of success early on, I think part of that’s because of my problem solving listening skills we talked about from my counseling days. I was not a CFP, professional until, man, I don’t know, six, seven years in something like that, you know, I didn’t get it right away. But I always had the mindset of a CFP. And like my friend, and you know, this guy, Adam Holt, brilliant guy, he has a nice turn that he’s going to leading with advice. And that’s how I always I always had that mindset. And I knew that there was, you know, there was a good chance I would sell something to implement a plan, right to implement a solution. And there’s, I’m not saying the products are bad or sales are bad, but leading with advice to come up with those solutions, I think is a better methodology, a better process. And that’s what I did. Even though I wasn’t a CFP, I acted like one. And I think that’s what really helped. And very early on, I had a lot of success because of that, because at the end of the day, people want to buy they don’t want to be sold to so help them by help them by leading with advice.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

That makes so much sense. And, you know, what we see is that, at some point, people just assume that you have all the knowledge and you have all the accreditations. So it is still very valuable to go down that route. You know, but it’s not the be all end all. I think we can often use the designation as Oh, I only need that and then I can, you know, be successful. And then it’s it’s a nice excuse.

 

Derek Notman 

It is Yeah, don’t start right now. Just start with that mentality. That attitude, don’t misrepresent yourself in any way. There’s a massive trust and transparency issue in our industry, but the mindset and if you’re genuinely trying to help people and lead with advice, and you are very open about that, people will respond. People will appreciate that and good things will happen.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Derek reminds me a little bit of the kind of coaching approach saying hey, let’s work together to figure out this problem, whatever that might be. No, maybe you need a product but We need to come up with some element of a plan and some element, you know, leading with advice, like you said that Adam, Adam coined that term. I always chuckle when he says he’s a recovering Certified Financial Planner. So that is to say,

 

Derek Notman 

so true. It’s been a, it’s a great dude. I was actually just speaking with him a little while ago. So you’ve been mindset?

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Yeah, you’ve been giving advice? And if you’re dealing with his clients leading with advice, do you then at some point break away? or How did you come about setting up intrepid wealth partners?

 

Derek Notman 

Well, I wanted to create something that was bigger than just myself, I want to do in creating a brand is extremely difficult and takes a very long time. But I didn’t want it to be just about me. So I didn’t want it to call it like, you know, Derek notman. Financial, right, you know, because now it’s all about me. And like, I was never the guy. You know, while maybe it really early on, it was until I figured out it was not the right idea. But I was never the guy, I didn’t want to be the guy that had all of my awards and designations and everything on the wall in my office. So if a client came in, they just see like, oh, wow, Derek must be important. I was just never that guy. I don’t think clients want that. It was always about having pictures of my family and things, I love to do passions, and all of that kind of stuff. And that that’s what I think really resonates with clients, the most intrepid is a reflection of, of me, but it’s a reflection of the type of people I want to work with the reflection of the type of mentality that we have and our ideals. And it’s to really attract a certain type of clients. You know, you know, attract your tribe with your vibe, so to speak. And that that’s how it really had to be set up like that. And so I wanted to do something like that something that people could could really connect with. And if something happened to Derek, like, there’s still this brand, right and have other people eventually come in and help continue that on. Hopefully, that would be the plan. And about the same time, I also was like, Okay, I gotta kick this whole brick and mortar thing. It’s, it’s taken its pound of flesh here, there’s got to be a better way to run a practice, because what the things that I learned in 2006, when I started, were the same things that were taught to new advisors back in 1985. And those advisors were taught the same things that were taught in 1955. Right, it’s virtually unchanged. And I was just like, I’m not one to really just go along with the status quo. I like to challenge things. And sometimes that gets a little difficult, but that’s just the way I roll. And I that’s why I bought the santai This is 2013 ish, I was like, okay, there’s got to be a better way to market there’s got to be a better way to conduct meetings, etc, etc, etc. And that’s what took me down the path to where I am today.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

I hope that at least at some point, they updated the life expectancy tables, you know, within the course, curriculum, but other than that, the way advice is delivered yet, the world continues to move forward and the way we consume information and the way we interact, changed. So you know, this is 15 years ago, if I if I’ve got it right, then you then set up intrepid wealth partners. And you’re saying that was a virtual first firm when you started out?

 

Derek Notman 

No, no, it wasn’t it was fully brick and mortar. When I started I literally bought an office building had multiple in house staff wore a suit and tie it had the conference table, the big desk, the metal filing cabinets, the big copier, you name it, man, I had it all. And after getting it I’m like, Man, this sucks. This is expensive. I’m tied to this location now. And for someone like myself, who loves to travel that just was like crushing my travel soul a little bit. So after going through that for a number of years and having my son, you know, becoming a dad, I think you’re you’re a new dad here, aren’t you? Yeah, your your, your experience in this now, your priorities shift. And I didn’t want to work. I mean, I never really wanted to work 60 hours, 70 hours a week, but I really didn’t want to now that I had another, you know, person to take care of and be a part of their life. So this so I had started I did everything that they taught from 1985. I was all in 100% and I was doing well. I was making good money. But it was I was I was getting unhealthy. Physically. I was stressed. There’s this massive burden I was tied to a physical location and it just all these things are like man, I got to do something different here. This is just wearing on me. I still want to run a great practice, but I don’t want to be doing it like the guy from 1955 has been doing it.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Yeah it’s it’s interesting that you You become a successful financial adviser, and then you become a business owner, which requires very different skill sets. And it’s very different hat that you have to put on. So now you have your business owner hat on and saying, actually, this way everyone else is doing it, you know, this is not working for me, because my values are not the same. And, you know, I want to do things a little bit differently. So like, when did you start to make that change, you just get up and sell your, your office and say, Okay, now we’re forced to do this, or is it kind of more incremental. Now,

 

Derek Notman 

it actually was a perfect storm of events. So I was tired and unhappy. I had a new young born son at home. And then I had been presented with an opportunity to collaborate with another advisor on a national opportunity. And part of that ended up with me really needing to relocate from Vermont, to Madison, Wisconsin. Within a month, there wasn’t even a month of me arriving, this other advisor said, I’m moving to New Jersey, so the whole thing blew up in my face, I had just relocated my family. So though my wife and I had to have a heart to heart, like, do we stay and make a go of it? Or do we go back and it had already been so stressful, we were closer to family now with our young one. And so like, you know what, let’s make a go. And so that was that was the initial like perfect storm that happened. And because of that, I had to figure out better ways to run my business. So this is where all the kinks, you know, the cracks in the original brick and mortar model really started to present themselves because I wasn’t physically in an office anymore. I was, you know, 1200 miles away. Like, okay, well, how do I do this? So it was a transition. This was a transition that took some time, initially, I was on an airplane every three, four weeks, to go meet physically with people that got old really quickly. So is this like, how do I do these virtual meeting things? What is that? Right? Do I have to have a physical staff and another, another part of the country? Do I need that? Do I even need the space? How do I market to my clients? How do I service them? What do I do with incoming mail? All of these things that I had taken for granted as a brick and mortar advisor, I now had to question. And I’m glad I did. I mean, I went through hell at that point, it was a really tough part of my career in life, just because of the way that this other advisor threw us into this mess. Well, a lot of amazing good things came out of it. And my practice is so much better now because of it. And it’s probably stuff I would never have done completely if I didn’t go through that fire initially. But man, am I glad I did, because it is where the future is headed. You know, you mentioned about how the consumer consumes things these days. We’re not looking and while we’re here in the States, we have what’s called the Yellow Pages. It’s like a physical phonebook. That’s what it used to be right? Okay, yeah, you guys get it. So like, we don’t do that anymore. We pick up our phone, we go to our computer, we’re looking at things differently. So as advisors, we better figure out how to be there. Otherwise, we’re going to become obsolete.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Yeah, still being relevant. I completely agree with you. So a lot of firms last year, were forced into adapting these things that you were grappling with 10 years ago, really saying, hey, how do we fix this? How do we do this? I’m wondering what your clients said at that point? No, did they embrace it? Or was there a bit of a push back?

 

Derek Notman 

I was deathly afraid that all my clients would leave me. By making this transition. What ended up happening is was I was afraid for no reason I lost one client. That’s it. Everyone else stayed. It’s been fine. It’s been great. But no issues I’ve brought on new clients and new business. So it was really between my own ears because a lot of the people in our industry have even even when I started to do it, like oh, Derek, that’ll never work. You can’t do that. Now, Nope, sorry. You’re not gonna be successful. Nope, that’s not right. I proved them wrong. And it’s just because I had to change my mindset. We have to realize here, folks, you know, for advisors listening this podcast, please take a second and realize the next thing that I’m going to say here. We consume things differently. Google processes three and a half billion searches a day. We are online as as global society, the way we do things we do we buy our groceries online, we do or we can talk to our doctor online and we date online, we bank online. We have social networks of quote unquote, friends online. Everything we do is online. And it’s been that way for 20 years. Amazon started over 20 years ago, right? This isn’t something that happened just during COVID COVID. I think what it really did is it accelerated a mega trend that had already been underway for some time, and really Again highlighted the cracks in an industry that’s as old as dirt financial services. Alright, and that’s good. That’s what, that’s how evolution that’s how growth happens. But there are growing pains when that happens as well. And as I’ve said before, look at the dinosaurs, right? never in the history of history has not evolving work out. The dinosaurs are not around for a reason they didn’t evolve. Yeah, we had that big old Meteor hit the hit the Earth, right? That didn’t help. But COVID was kind of that same thing, right? And now we have a choice, are we going to evolve and adapt? Or are we just gonna just hold on to whatever we can and fall away? It’s choice. It’s a choice. It’s a big difference is that the dinosaurs didn’t have a choice we do.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Absolutely, Derek. And I think that’s such a great segue into connector and what you’re doing with connected actually teaching advisors these skills.

 

Derek Notman 

Yeah, I appreciate that. As I mentioned before, my motivation, inspiration for going virtual and updating my practice for the 21st century was, I could have more of my life back to be present for my family, do all the things that are super important to me. And what ended up happening is, I found a lot of success doing it. I got a lot of arrows in my back, because there was no roadmap as well, it took me took me years to figure out how to do all of this. But what ended up happening is a lot of advisors started to see my success, but they also started to see like, what what do you mean, you’re in South Africa right now? Derek working like I did a life insurance application from the beach in blouberg. Okay, you know, they’re like, they’re What do you mean, you’re in, in Dublin, Ireland working remotely? What do you mean, you’re on the bullet train in Japan working remotely? Like, how are you doing this? Now I my examples a bit extreme, I tend to travel a lot more. And I’m more virtual. Honestly, I think the sweet spot moving forward is probably going to be more of a hybrid model, where we have a lot of robust digital virtual capabilities. But maybe we want to maintain some small brick and mortar space. And that’s cool. Nothing wrong with that. I think that’s where we’ll end up actually. But connector really came to be because other advisors were looking for a solution to update their practice for the 21st century, or none existed. There are a lot of programs out there coaching programs, very siloed programs, maybe for LinkedIn marketing, or whatever. The majority of them are still teaching some rather outdated methods, ones that worked brilliantly, but in the past. So I really wanted to create something of immense value by an advisor for other advisors to help them at the end of the day, it’s to help them live their best life, because if the advisor can live a better life and run a more efficient practice, bring in more clients make more money, but not do it at the expense of missing time with their family and all of these things. Well, if the advisor is happier, emotionally, health wise financially, then they’re going to be that much better for their clients. So if we improve the advisor experience, we improve the client experience. And that’s what connector is all about empowering the financial advisor of today, to thrive today to have an amazing experience. And we show them step by step exactly how to do everything that they need to do to be super successful,

 

Louis van der Merwe 

says that old adage of putting the oxygen mask on yourself first, before you can help other people

 

Derek Notman 

100% You know, I’ve got over a million miles on Delta Airlines alone. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that that statement, but it is 100% true. If you can’t help yourself, how are you going to help the people that you want to help? You can’t? Is that yeah, that I

 

Louis van der Merwe 

think that expands so wide. You know, like you mentioned, you have to be physically healthy, emotionally healthy, financially healthy. You’re not serving anyone by undercharging, or by delivering a subpar service.

 

Derek Notman 

As I say people want to work with people that are successful, that have real motivation, inspiration to live an amazing life. They don’t want to work with someone who’s just pitching a product. I’m sorry.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Absolutely. I can’t agree with you more. And like you mentioned earlier in, in our discussion, that it’s not the expert, it’s not the guy with all the awards. It’s someone that’s, you know, successful and that’s living something true to their values. You know, like you mentioned, traveled is important to you and spending time with your family and you’re living that out which which is actually awesome. You don’t need the permission for someone to say, hey, go out and do this. You just need to take that step and take permission I guess.

 

Derek Notman 

That’s it. And we’re for any advisors listening right now you have permission to go take care of yourself. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be building the most amazing business you could ever build. While having an amazing life. Being with your family, pursuing your passions, that’s what you should be doing. And that’s going to lead to an amazing client experience

 

Louis van der Merwe 

and that you have a direct just gave everyone permission. Thank you for that. Derek. Do you have this Set up a new practice today. Right? Clean Slate, what would you do differently?

 

Derek Notman 

Well, I first got to connector. Sorry, I had to plug that in there. But it’s true. There’s there’s a lot that needs to happen. And I think you actually touched upon this earlier. If we call ourselves just a financial advisor, then it’s really more about the strategies that we help people with uncovering problems finding solutions, and sales, sales is a component here that we cannot ignore. And those are all important. But we also are business owners at the end of the day. And we have to have that mindset as well. And as a business owner, how can I set up my business to succeed and be profitable? What should I do? What are the most cutting edge ideas, strategies, tactics, infrastructure, that I can incorporate into my practice today to thrive? Not what was done 30 years ago, right, what’s being done today? So as an advisor, I would question all of those things. And if I come into an to an institution that’s hiring me whether I’m independent, or I’m semi independent, whatever, and they’re telling me to get a whole bunch of metal filing cabinets and go door knocking, I would take pause at that and say, maybe there’s a better way, because as a consumer, I don’t want someone to go knock on my door, especially during a pandemic, right? You know, it’s just not what I’m not looking for someone to cold call me at seven o’clock at night, right? So you have to question those things. And then if you agree with those concepts, and new strategies and better ideas, you still have to take action, you need to take steps to implement all of these things and know that it’s going to take time, Rome wasn’t built in a day, it takes time to put this infrastructure in place to learn these things. I also think that on a professional level, that financial planning mindsets, extremely important, there’s a reason the CFP designation is gaining so much popularity and traction, people are looking for that Adam, and I’ve had a really good conversation about this just recently about the delivery of advice. And people paying for advice versus paying for products and products actually might become somewhat more commoditized than they already are. And they’re almost might be like what we would call an Amazon Marketplace of products. So if we can go there, the value of our advice now becomes extremely important. But if we aren’t advisors with these professional credentials, that we’re not going to be able to charge for that advice. So I think that’s also something very, very important.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Absolutely. And I want to add on to that, you know, thinking about the value that you’re adding and not saying, you know, how do I dilute this, but how do I charge a premium and still have clients say, Oh, I’m comfortable paying this premium, because this what I’m getting is an awesome experience. It’s, you know, a ton of value for me, and I’m happy to pay and I know what I’m paying. And that’s not that’s not there yet, but we’re moving to it very quickly.

 

Derek Notman 

We are we have to become subject matter experts. That’s what we pay for. You know, there’s a reason that doctors specialize in a certain area, you know, heart surgeons or whatever brain surgeons, actually, I think the first heart transplant was done in Cape Town, wasn’t it? Yeah. It there’s a reason that they make so much money because they are subject matter experts, and people are willing to pay for that. Same thing goes with what we do. The work we do as advisors is extremely important. I consider us a fabric a part of the fabric of people’s lives, you know, we help them with their money, which means so much more. But we better be darn good at what we do. We better be experts, we better be able to actually provide that value that they’re looking for, and not just a product because as soon as we’re just a product person, we’ve just commoditized ourself as an individual. And we’re there’s nothing special about us anymore.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Yeah, yeah. And and I see, you know, how your personal branding and your business branding actually is promoting that, you know, saying the subject matter expert, and there’s a ton of value here for you to get. Often what we hear is that kind of a bit of pushback saying, Well, if I focus only on this, and I think in America, they call it a niche way in South Africa, it’s in a niche, kind of a smaller group. And I’m excluding all these other potential clients that I could be working with. How do you how do you talk someone through that mindset?

 

Derek Notman 

We actually spent a lot of time and connector talking about this because it is extremely important. I started off working with anybody that would flog them your I didn’t even know how to spell the word niche. Okay, I didn’t know what that was. And what ends up happening is you become a slave to your business because of that you are now Working with anybody that will do anything with you. And then you wake up years later with this massive, crazy book of businesses, all ends of the spectrum, it’s very hard to manage. It’s also difficult from a marketing perspective to attract new people. Because now if you don’t work with, you know, if I can one of my, one of my friends and colleagues Dave Bruno, great, dude, he, he joke He’s like, Yeah, but most advisors just say that they work with guys with jobs, right? Like, what is that? Right? Like, I mean, it’s, it’s so true. And I’m not faulting the advisor so much, although there’s some, there’s some onus on them to make this, this leap here. But when we work with anybody, we work with nobody, because people are looking for specialists, they’re not looking for a generalist, okay? So, but you don’t want to get so hyper niche that you don’t have a business. So there’s, there’s a sweet spot here as well. So I think it’s really important to do identify a type of clientele that you think you can serve best and ideal client niche, but then go vet that market before you build a business around it. You know, if there’s only four people that fit your ideal client profile in South Africa, you don’t have a business. So don’t do that, right. That’s too niche. You know, you need what we have what we call and connected, we call critical mass, you have to have enough people that you can market to and convert a small percentage of them over to clients to have a successful, thriving practice. I do believe in general, though, that having a niche is extremely important. It’s what the consumers looking for, they want an expert to do the different things that they need. I mean, look at all the massive brands in the world. They’re all niche specialists, they all have a specialty in what they do. And people go to them for that reason. So if if you are this, this advisor, who does everything for everybody, people are going to be looking at you like, Well, what does this person do? Do they help people like me, that’s the internal dialogue that a potential client might have. And if they have that, before they ever even reach out to you, they’re never going to be a customer. But if you tell them, Hey, this is who I am, this is who I help. This is what I do for them. Now, all of a sudden, like, oh, cool, well, so and so works with people like me, they helped me do this type of stuff. I like this, this feels right. Okay, now of a potential client.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Yeah, the world just opened up to you, you know, no longer have Do you have to work with a client that lives down the street, this time consider anywhere in the world. And we’ve seen that in our business as well. When people immigrate, you know, they can remain clients, yes, the service might be different, and might be more of a kind of holistic planning and less product. And that’s actually forced us to revisit this and say, if we’re going to have a bunch of clients, leaving South Africa, you know, how do you still add value to to their lives?

 

Derek Notman 

Exactly. That why are you even in San Diego here, I think it’s one of the largest populations of South Africans outside of South Africa. And I suspect that there are a lot of them that have advisors back in South Africa still, right? Just because they can’t, if those advisors did the thing that they were supposed to do, and you know, make sure that they’re there to help them because the best way, this goes back to my point on my virtual team, right? They’re based in Cape Town, the best people to help me do what I needed to do ended up being in a different continent on the other side of the world. Right? So your best clients? Or is you being an advisor for clients, you may not be located down the street from each other. Maybe you’re in Joburg and Cape Town, you know, who knows Durban in the Free State, whatever, you know, it could be anywhere or even outside of the country. So I think that’s extremely important. But if you don’t have the infrastructure, the marketing the niche, identified all of that stuff, then it won’t happen.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Yeah, yeah. So just to go back to what you said, you know, starting off with a clean slate, you’d spend more time on the strategy and saying, you know, how are we supposed to run a business today? And then say, Oh, actually, this just happens to be financial planning plugged into that. It’s like Tony Shea from Zappos, the service business, hey, we

 

Derek Notman 

just, we just happen to sell shoes. 100%, right. That’s it. Any advisor can learn how to sell a product, how our product works, you know, how to do a cash flow analysis, etc, etc. That’s, that’s the product or part of the product process, be the business first, know who you are, what you’re trying to do, how you’re going to do it, get all the infrastructure in place, and then then you can deploy or deliver your solutions via that mechanism.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

So Derek, looking forward 10 or 15 years from now, what do you think the relationship a client, or what would the relationship look like that a client would have with a financial planner 15 years from now?

 

Derek Notman 

Well, I’ll preface this by saying my crystal ball has never worked. Okay, I think the value of advice is going to become more and more important, I think products will become even more commoditized, I think there’s going to be more fee compression products are always going to have their place. They’re extremely important when it comes to implementation, no question about it. But the way that we arrive at those products is going to be more and more and more advice driven. I also don’t think that the human advisors going away. People want customized experts human advice, but the way that advice is delivered, is changing, the medium is not going to be just a kitchen table or conference table anymore, it’s going to be what we’re doing here right now. That’s where I think things are gonna go. And I think that the advisors are, quote, unquote, advisors that are just focused on product, I think they’re probably going to become like dinosaurs and eventually just be gone. Or we’re going to move to more of this digital marketplace of products that are a byproduct of amazing planning from subject matter experts. That’s where I see it going. Who knows if I’m right, that’s just the way I’m feeling about it, where it looks like, you know, happening today,

 

Louis van der Merwe 

yeah, we definitely won’t hold you to this 1515 years from now. So I’m wondering, what are you spending your time on in terms of crafting your skills? And like, what are the resources that are top of the list for Derek that, you know,

 

Derek Notman 

you won’t miss out on being nimble embrace technology. So digital marketing is, I think, in our industry, at least coming into its own. Finally, as advisors slash business owners, we have to own our digital assets on those digital assets. Even if you’re just starting out, you know, maybe you’re still in university, and you’re pursuing your CFP and you’re not even there yet. Get out on social media, get a website, start growing an audience that you can curate and nurture to use down the road. This is the long game. So we have to have these digital assets in place no question about. So focus on that focus on subject matter expertise, getting your qualifications, but also running a really awesome practice, question everything? Do you need to have a massive brick and mortar office that’s costing you a ton of money every month? I thought I did. Turns out I didn’t. And I’m really happy. I got rid of it, you know. So I think those are the things that I would think about, you know, coming in at this stage, or even maybe you’ve been around for 2030 years. You know what, if you want to sell your practice, at some point, a younger advisor isn’t going to want to buy your filing cabinets, right? They’re not going to want to do the things that you did. So maybe it’s time to do some upskilling. Is it going to hurt? Are there going to be growing pains? Yes, there will be But that also means growth happens. And that’s good stuff.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Derek, I’ve got a funny story on that we went through the process of selling our filing cabinets at the office, and we almost had to pay someone to come and collect it. I love it. Because no one wants it.

 

Derek Notman 

No one wants it. It’s just it’s it’s the way of the past. And I have nothing bad to say of the past, we wouldn’t be where we are today without it. Right? You know, we’re all a product of all the other amazing people that have been come before us and things we’ve learned from, but we shouldn’t need to take that as our foundation and build upon it. Right. We don’t want to you know, we don’t want to regress to what was done in the past. We want to learn from it in in progress instead.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Yeah, I love this kind of innovative view saying, you know, look at things and say, does this still serve me today? And does this serve my clients? And does this serve me where the business needs to go? Can we touch a little bit on the digital assets? You know, for some people they might think kryptos? And are you talking around kind of marketing assets that you would use to promote your brand and the service that you deliver?

 

Derek Notman 

Correct? Yeah, so not cryptos that’s a whole nother conversation, your social media accounts, web pages, digital assets that you own, I own over 100 URLs, okay? ebooks, webinars, YouTube channel, blog, email nurturing, any place that we can publish a digital asset, some content, or an audience can consume that information, we need to own those assets. And when I say all what I mean, like physically own them as much as you can, but also be active there and actually push out content on those platforms, because that’s what people are looking for. You know, there’s the oldest trick in the book. When it comes to marketing in general, digital or not, is go where people already are, and then be present. Well, people are online. So just go there. That’s that’s a source it’s got to be, but also be careful. For example, interesting stories just yesterday. I am extremely active on LinkedIn, I’ve got a strong following there. And at the end of the day, I don’t own that asset. LinkedIn does LinkedIn lets me go there and do my thing. But I don’t own it. And I did a post yesterday, that was just like, hey, LinkedIn, what’s up with your algorithm? Because the algorithm has changed recently. But at least it appears that has, because engagement has changed, views have changed how many followers you’re gaining has changed. Funny enough, they actually commented on it. And they’re going to reach out to me directly to talk about it, which is interesting. So stay tuned on that. But the fact remains is I don’t own my assets on there. So what am I doing with the places that I pseudo owner, I’m just parking there, you know, I’m paying a parking meter to be there for a while. Well, I need to drive that traffic somewhere, drive it to assets that you own. I think that’s what I saw. I said, digital assets. That’s what I mean. And just, it’s a lot of work. It’s going to take time, but all those things, right? Because you never know what’s going to happen. And where you’re going to need some of these these assets to be when when you’re as you’re building your business. So Derek,

 

Louis van der Merwe 

that thing becomes your repeatable, scalable marketing engine to drive clients to your to your practice, is that right?

 

Derek Notman 

Correct. Oh, yeah, 100% referrals would be the other one. Other than that, it’s all digital assets, followers, nurturing the audiences, educating them, attracting my tribe to contact me when they’re comfortable to do something.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Yeah, yeah. And that’s, you know, that’s something we don’t often see in South Africa. Something that you can, you know, push the lever forward and say, Okay, now we need to bring in more clients, let’s ramp up our marketing efforts and bring in clients, it’s kind of a setback. And oh, we wait for some family member or client to refer a new client to us.

 

Derek Notman 

Yeah, that’s reactive. And it’s been done that way forever. But why not be proactive about it and know what’s possible, and, and, and predictable. Like, I know how much it costs me to drive a lead on a Facebook marketing campaign, depending on who I’m marketing to write will say about any type of AIDS ad campaign is a quick sidebar. Don’t waste money on fancy, luxurious, glamorous paid ad campaigns, from any gurus until you have all of your digital foundation in first. It’s like, going from an idea of your dream house in your head all the way to buying the high end fixtures for the master bathroom. But you forgot to hire an architect, you forgot to get a blueprint? Don’t do it. It’ll be a total waste of time and money. You got to do all the other stuff first. But then yes, it’s very, very helpful

 

Louis van der Merwe 

in building those digital assets. Is

 

Derek Notman 

that something you’d recommend people do on their own? Or do they hire professional? What’s the best? It depends? So financial advisors, I’m sure it’s the same in South Africa, we’re nickeled and dimed every single way to Sunday with all the the money that things we have to pay for. So anything we can do for free I’m, I’m a big proponent of. So any assets you can create on your own, go spend the time to do that on your own, you only have most of the time, you only have to do it once, and then it’s done. Now, for example, my website, I was involved in that build, and then that design, but I had someone else do it. That’s not my thing, right? I just, I needed some help to get it done. Right. And that’s what we did. So it’s really gonna be a combination. And I’ll tell you like a little secret here, we talked about this in connector, if you don’t really get clear on who you are, as an individual outside of being an advisor, if you don’t get really clear on who your ideal client is, you will never be able to fully leverage all of your digital assets. it’ll, it’ll it’s like trying to build, you know, a massive building with no foundation, it does doesn’t work. It just won’t work. It’ll crumble,

 

Louis van der Merwe 

you’ll go around in circles and say, oh, now today, I’m serving this group and tomorrow I’m serving, serving another group and not really gain traction. Exactly. Yeah. Eric, this has been extremely valuable. Thank you so much for spending your time with us today. If someone wants to reach out to you, what’s the best best way assuming that LinkedIn algorithm will play along?

 

Derek Notman 

Yeah, LinkedIn is great. Hit me up on there, send me a direct message, you will get me directly. It’s not somebody else. Email is great. So if you want to put my email address in the show notes, that’s fine. I’m just gonna or even my website, that’s fine, too. We’ve got a lot of great assets on there. You can go check out a really cool blog. Like, well, this podcast we will put on our site so people can see it. Yeah, reach out, ask questions, you know, learn. You know, we’re on the same team here.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Thanks for that day. We can thanks for sharing so openly. And, you know, being the kind of light for the future financial adviser. There’s a lot of people that look up to you and rightly so. Well. Thank you, Louis.

 

Derek Notman 

I appreciate i i right back at you. You know, I love what you guys are doing and you know, you and I’ve chatted previously Clear we’re of the same mindset and how we’re doing things. And I appreciate you being able to get the word out there because I think a lot of advisors are feeling somewhat like they’re on an island a little bit and this podcast that you’re doing for folks I think is a nice lifeline to throw them. So thank you for the opportunity. It’s It’s a real honor to be on here. I appreciate it.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Thank you, Derek.

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