February 21, 2022

The complexities of Expat financial advice and why this should be your niche with Joel Kerin – Transcript

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Gwen Lazarito
Hey guys, welcome to another episode of the financial center, South East Asia podcast. Grant here and today I am with another financial advisor. He is Joel Caron and he’s a senior financial adviser for Australians and Australian expats at ally Wealth Management. Thank you so much for being on the show, Joel.

Joel Kerin
Thanks, Gwen, privilege to be on the show with you

Gwen Lazarito
No, the pleasure is all mine. As I mentioned before we started the podcast that when I spoke to Jarrad, whom was the previous episode two that I recorded, I realize that there are a lot of things that I didn’t know about expat advice. I before Jarrad, I only knew one person was was a financial adviser who had a lot of expat clients. So I was very keen to know more about how financial advisors such as yourself, work closely with expats. But before that, I’d like to let our listeners get to know you more. So first of all, how did you get into financial advice?

Joel Kerin
Like, I suppose it all probably started way back, I was working in I suppose a little bit of a, I wouldn’t call it mediocre, but just a plain average admin style role when I was living in Sydney. And then, you know, one day I was talking to my dad, and one of Dad’s very good friends is a financial advisor. And so I suppose the conversation just sort of channeled in on that. And like, I didn’t really think much of it, you know, six to 12 months later. And then, yeah, I was driving home from work once in Sydney, and I just saw, like, forget, like, a billboard was like, I think it was for like, TAFE, New South Wales or something like this, and it was study something, or start the year fresh or something like that. Yeah. And it just, it just, I suppose made me think about, you know, I was like, Oh, what am I doing? Like realistically? So I think, you know, it might be it might be definitely worthwhile to get back into some study, and just really see where that goes. So anyway, so I started, so I went and I basically signed up to a financial advice. I think it was like a, an advanced diploma or financial or something like that. And I was like, you know, what, this is actually really interesting, like the fundamentals of advice. And this is obviously all post 2013 That would have been postponed. So it was all sort of modern financial advice and what really, they wanted the industry to go into. And I think I’d sort of understood from from a little onset, how and how it is transitioning. I don’t know it just got me really quite interested. And then yeah, I was just so lucky that you know, from then onwards, I applied for a job, I was working for a and Zed and I just slotted into a slotted into a, I suppose a financial advice sort of support role. And from there, it just sort of flourished, like, you know, I ended up having to, you know, go into them, you know, boutique mum and dad firms, you know, I’ve done life insurance or worked for a very large life insurance, I suppose. Advice business, and then now expat advice. So it was it’s just sort of been this forever developing a fair really. But it’s, yeah, it’s just been such a good it’s such a good industry, right. And I suppose it’s really, it really disappointed me, you know, some of the things on the back of the finance like the Royal Commission, they like some things were bought up and it’s like oh, well, in a way, because all of my training and study has been post all of these, I suppose. systematic problems. Yeah, I feel like a lot of us, you know, got hit with the same steak. Yeah, so I was just like God, you know what, it’s this is something that I’m now passionate about. I’m so prepared to, I suppose carry on and yeah, and learn new things and financial advice for expats is definitely there. A new Nish?

Gwen Lazarito
Yes. Yes. And as I mentioned, again, we were we started talking even before we, we hit record, like, I don’t know a lot of people who are a lot of financial advisors who took to servicing expats, especially exclusively and, and, and hearing from the passion in your voice really passionate about helping a lot of people and just find your story. Interesting, interesting in a way that your story is like most financial advisors story. So there was one financial advisor who I spoke to said, Nobody, when they were young ever said that they wanted to be a financial advisor, right? Most of us wanted to be doctors or artists, engineers, lawyers, what have you. But nobody really knew anyone who said they wanted to be a financial advisor. But most financial advisors, if not all, has become financial advisors because of a certain calling. And because of the appeal of the financial advice. That seems like it’s such a good way to help people. And it’s such a good advocacy as well to help them because money isn’t only financial, it’s also an emotional part of a human being. And it’s more, yeah, because all of our decisions sometimes in life, especially in the sort of our lives, or in our sort of our 20s revolve around money, and it affects us mentally. So being able to help people with how they can get better at money so that they can also get better than life is such a great achievement now. And especially for expats, because I’ve been reading up a bit on expert advice, and it turns out well, it’s actually a no surprise, but as an expat, their financial position is often more complex. And there are many things to consider. Especially if you’re like, where do you invest? Do you invest in the place that we’re working? do invest in in your country, like in Australia, but I guess, like, because of these complexities? How did you end up, like, wanting to give advice to expats in the first place?

Joel Kerin
Oh, I suppose it was, it was definitely on the back of you know, something, you know, I had this drive to continue to learn and understand things a little bit more. So I wanted, I wanted something different, I wanted a new financial advice, story or project per se. And I think over the past, you know, five to six years, particularly in financial advice, what I’ve really noticed is that a lot of in Australia, particularly a lot of education is missing from general people around financial literacy. And what happens is, if that base fundamental of financial literacy isn’t there, then suddenly you go offshore to other other jurisdictions, it just becomes so it does become much more complex, because you need to consider obviously, like tax treatments and investment options of different countries, as well as I suppose, trying to ascertain and manage your financial life back in Australia. That’s, you know, it’s, it’s something that I think people are generally speaking, so the clients that I deal with, they are so receptive of the advice, because, you know, this might be something that they’re, they’re not quite sure on, or, you know, they just constantly reach out, because they want additional clarity on stuff. So it’s, and I suppose my job really, you know, can be summed down to education, right. I like to educate all of my clients to, in a way help them have a better sense of financial literacy and have a better sense of the advice and where they’re actually going from a goals perspective.

Gwen Lazarito
Yes, that’s, that’s very interesting that that’s why you picked on expats as your main or ideal client. That’s so true, right? Like, having to learn how the financial background works in one country is one thing. We’re having to, like learn and like, go back and forth on like, two separate countries, especially like, if if the expat decided to live in an Asia ate in an Asian country where our set of rules and government regulations are far different from what is there in Australia. So I guess, when you started out as a financial planner, and then you decided, like, did you decide that hey, I want to work with expats? Did you decide on that? Or did it just come organically for you?

Joel Kerin
No, no, it’s more or less came organically. Like it’s, you know, I knew that. When I before I started working for ally. I wanted, I wanted something a little bit more. I wanted, I wanted a fresh challenge, something that you know, I can, that’s really going to challenge me. And I suppose I learned very quickly, since I joined Allah that I suppose a lot of a lot of my job initially was, you know, looking at where these clients existed, and then studying up tax agreements, or geo tax agreements between two countries. And I was like, Well, this is a this can either be really exciting to some or it’s boring. But yeah, no, it just happened this way. Just on on this search for something different like I, I went to, I remember I was I was, you know, looking for something else. And then, yeah, it just sort of happened. And so this is this is perfect.

Gwen Lazarito
That’s wonderful. And it’s it’s wonderful that you picked up on that, right. So because I know that there are things that happen in our lives. That might have been something that we could have pursued, but we didn’t pursue it. So for you, you actually, when it happened kind of happened organic, because really for you, you decided that although it might be boring for some people, you just found it really interesting. And when all went went along with it, so now you specialize in. Is that a? Is that a correct term? You specialize expert advice?

Joel Kerin
Probably yeah. And I also moved across across the country. Sydney to Perth, so

Gwen Lazarito
yeah. Oh, that’s one of the interesting thing that I have learned is that you are from Perth. But you serve as expats. So and I know that you started this in like, so you’ve been doing this for like a year now. Right. Is that right? Yes. Yes, that’s right. At the start of the or during the pandemic. So did that move of sort of being an expert in in expat advice started, even while you’re here in, in Australia, did it start because of the rise of being able to do interviews and meetings in Zoo?

Joel Kerin
Nope, I suppose? That’s a good question. Because I don’t actually know, I suppose what it would have looked like, pre COVID. Yeah. I can imagine in some respect, it probably would have been a little bit harder. But you know, Zoom has just, you know, borders or that little bit closer. And this might sound I suppose a little bit odd to some people. But there is, you know, a significant, I suppose. A very large majority of my client base I’ve never actually met face to face. Yeah. So I’ve never shook their hand. But I’ve seen them obviously on Zoom every every couple of months. And we have a good chance. But yeah, no, I’ve never actually. Yeah, shaking their hand had a copy with.

Gwen Lazarito
Yeah, so.

Joel Kerin
Yeah, so I think I think generally technology now it’s just probably made this whole expat advice, particularly. That’s that little bit easier. And if you look at I suppose the silver lining of COVID that sort of really helped the project. He says,

Gwen Lazarito
Oh, that’s so true. Because, as you mentioned before, it might have been very challenging for financial advisors who would like to service expats. But they’re not in the country that were the expert expat is currently located. Right. So you have to be like Jared Brown, who is actually in that country in Singapore, or here in the Philippines or whatever. But now, because of the power of technology, because of zoom, because we’re forced in this situation, by the by the pandemic, it has brought us a new kind of the way we serve clients. And I guess, how do you because you haven’t have never met your clients? Like, how do you provide value for them as a financial planner, especially in the initial parts of the relationship?

Joel Kerin
Yeah. And I suppose there’s a lot more, there’s probably a lot more work that goes in the front end, from our perspective. So it’s, there’s probably a lot more time that I spend with the clients in developing strategy around developing, you know, objectives. And that’s both in a way, setting some expectations, right? And how, how we sort of see it playing out well, I suppose, you know, because, realistically, the people that the clients that I’m servicing Rather, they are Australians, but they’re just not in Australia. So in based on what, you know, what Jared was saying, in his podcast, it was, he was speaking about a very large majority of Australians come back to Australia, and in a way that is, so that is so true. Lots of clients that I deal with that, uh, you know, all over the world. You know, they they still see Australia as home. Yeah, they, they are still so receptive, you know, to, I don’t know, whether it’s, you know, me, but they’re very receptive to just hearing a familiar voice hearing, hearing another Australian accent and so that’s it, yeah, based on based on that, right. It’s your demonstrate your value that way that says, you know, what I don’t, I don’t really care where you live, I’m happy to support you and to help strategize with you to lead to the sort of, I suppose your desired outcome.

Gwen Lazarito
Right, that’s, um, and I guess that’s true in a way, like, I’m sure that however far Australians are or other people from other countries, like if they’re not in their homeland, they still tend to be homesick, and they try to look for familiar faces. And I know this for a fact because I know that the Filipinos around the world are have a tight knit community of fellow fellow Filipinos as well. And, and I also know that like a friend of mine, who is an expert at expat advice for Filipinos, who know how close this community is. And because there are, like, let’s say, an Australian Expat comes to you, and he, and you give, of course, great advice to him, you have a good relationship. Duh, like, does that automatically or that that client automatically send out a lot of referrals to you? Is that how your look how?

Joel Kerin
Yeah, it’s sort of it’s in a way a lot of this has happened via sort of osmosis referrals. And generally people just looking for that, looking for that sort of speciality. Because they need to have someone that sort of understands the situation let’s just say right, if you had a client that was in the Philippines or Singapore, wherever, right reaching out to a local financial planner there might result in them not being able to understand the I suppose the the treatments of investments or any assets they’ve got in their home country. Yeah. So yeah, like it’s, it’s just really it and it’s really rewarding. I will say that, to have, you know, people that will openly come and say, You know what this is, this is so valuable, and thanks so much, Joel. And even so much that you know, previously, we’ve had clients that are offshore, recommend their family and friends that actually does live here in Australia. So all of my clients are expat, some of the main some of them are here. So it just sort of just sort of happens organically and it’s really it’s quite, it’s quite refreshing as an advisor to have to have that.

Gwen Lazarito
Yeah, definitely. Because I think I read it in like a, an email, like, quote, that I received from a financial advisor, that referral is the greatest form of flattery. So that’s, that’s really nice that even the the clients that you have, that are currently expats are also referring friends and family who are already based in or he’ll still in Australia, that means that you have really gained their trust, and that you are doing a great job with how you deal with their finances. And that’s why they’re happy to refer you to family and friends. So and I, I guess, when you started out in financial advice, how were you able to acquire clients? Did you have to go through like, all the marketing stuff posting to social media getting your name out there? Or did you already have clients that you just brought across?

Joel Kerin
So when I, when I first started financial life, I remember, you know, new getting or gaining new clients was, I don’t know, it just seemed so much harder than then what it is now in, I suppose in the Accept sort of space. You know, originally, when I started, it was just more or less, as a review advisor per se, of an existing book of clients. And, you know, occasionally, you know, you would you would do, I suppose, bring on new clients just add to that book, and then it just sort of grows organically. But this this one is actually like, I suppose the role that I’m in now that it’s very much more, yeah, we get so much more inquiries, we get so many more referrals, it’s just by just by means of, I suppose complexity more than anything, that someone’s got it, someone’s got a query that needs solving someone’s got an issue that needs fixing. And obviously, they just, you could get this email with a, with a with a mind dump of 10, you know, 1020 questions, you know, okay. Let me just spend, you know, an hour thinking about this.

Gwen Lazarito
Yeah. Yeah. And, but that’s very interesting, in a way that do you think that there is a relation to how it’s much easier now to acquire new client clients, especially, as you mentioned, expats, because of the start of the pandemic?

Joel Kerin
Yeah, probably, I think, in a way the pandemic really pushed people to think about their life. So, you know, if I think about, you know, even myself included, right, we all had a, we all were essentially living, quite a normal average, probably, free van life, right. And then suddenly, the pandemic happens, we’re all being locked in our homes, you know, for months on end here. And, you know, and it just sort of highlighted to probably, to me, as well, and probably to a lot of other people, was, what happened in all of my money just stopped, right, because of this. And I think because of that, that rational thought, people are saying, well, I really should pay more attention to my finances, I should pay more attention to my wealth. Because this is not something that is essentially guaranteed. And you know, at some point, we need to take some some onus on ourselves and and the lifestyle that we like to live. And what do we do about that? So I think the conversation around exploring finances is a lot more easier, like people are, I think a little bit less reserved them where they were, say, a four or five years ago like to talk about money to someone yet five, five to seven years ago, even particularly, but that was, some people were, I would say, a little bit more guarded.

Gwen Lazarito
Yeah, I would agree. But today, it’s

Joel Kerin
sort of just opened that up because they’re like, well, we’ve all I’ve, we’ve seen or known someone that have had a really hard time in the pandemic. And I suppose we need to, we need to explore this, we need to hash it out.

Gwen Lazarito
Yeah, yeah, that’s great. And although a lot of, like unfortunate things have happened, because of the pandemic, I really feel like it has brought up some good things as well, like, first what we discussed about like being able to service clients via zoom, because the pandemic has forced us to use it as a way to communicate on a regular basis. And it now has also forced us to really get to know ourselves. And one of those things is our financial selves. And the possibilities, the the future, and all that stuff, which is important. But again, what you mentioned, we didn’t really talk about it before. So yeah, and so it’s a good opportunity for financial advisors to get in this bandwagon to start really thinking about if they want to help expats as well, because you are a really great testament to that, right? Like you, you service. Australians who aren’t in the same country as you, and yet you still communicate with them, you still provide great value, and you know this because they provide referrals to you now,

Joel Kerin
but obviously, we don’t we don’t want too many advisors to take. Because

Gwen Lazarito
yes, that’s true. But I guess I feel like I brought you in to the to the show, because although that you guys are already doing this in Australia, I just feel like there’s not much here in Southeast Asia. Like, I only know one person who caters to Filipino expats. But I know that I should know more. Do you know my what I mean? Like, there’s just really few people who does this type of services are really few financial advisors who does this kind of service. But it’s important because like, if you’re if we’re not going to help our like, fellow expats or like a Filipino expat, who are they going to turn to and as you mentioned earlier, like, it’s really easier to talk to someone from the same country as you, because you already know, or at least they already know, like, the regulations of their country and even like how, and your mindsets, right, like you have like this intrinsic.

Joel Kerin
You can just sort of relate you can just say, your cultural Yeah, cultural knowledge is sort of relatively or the same. Yeah,

Gwen Lazarito
that’s true. Yeah. Yeah. That’s, that’s what I mean. Thank you. So when speaking about that, as well, how often do you meet with your clients throughout the year, by the way, because you you guys are from I know that like before, pre pandemic, like some of the clients that you have would just say, Hey, I have this question, can I come over to your office? Or can we get a cup of coffee, and then you meet? And then you talk, but because, first it’s because of the pandemic? And second, because your your clients are literally like, like, miles and miles and miles away? How, like, how often do you catch up with them? Still to provide the best quality of advice?

Joel Kerin
Well, mentally as well, we sort of tailor everything to each client, like obviously, we’ve got different types of clients. We’ve got some, you know, really, really large executives, even just to I suppose, regular people. And it’s about sometimes, some people are really time poor, some people are very engaged. And it’s about meeting in that middle. But at least we want to, particularly at ally, we want to maintain a consistent approach to all of our clients. So, you know, we we regularly do updates, you know, every every month or quarter to all of our client base, just sort of just a touch base with them, see how they’re going and, you know, they could get updated reports and stuff like that. And then we try and make a little bit more interactive so we can bring in, like webinars and stuff with that. Without client base as well, just to make sure that they’re getting, or that I suppose touching on topics, or we can touch on topics that they may not necessarily be thinking about. But then it comes to light. But it’s like I suppose even probably getting compared to all of my other roles that I’ve held as a financial advisor. And this one is probably the most engaging this one is from, from a client service perspective, it’s, you know, it’s very, it’s very busy, like my calendar generally looks pretty full around client meetings. And that’s just and that’s, you know, really, that’s really nice to have. Because, you know, when you’ve got a really engaged clients, then, you know, they’re going to read that, obviously, appreciate all of the services and the advice and the information that they’re getting.

Gwen Lazarito
Oh, that’s true. That’s so true, especially what you said that you offer webinars for your clients as well. And, and that’s a great way for them to like realize, hey, that’s true, I haven’t thought about this, we should talk about it, I should talk about this withdrawal. So I really feel like that’s a really great way. And it adds value to your clients as well, like, what would you do is just a one hour seminar like a 30 minute seminar. But it’s going to stay with your clients for such a long time, they’re really going to feel good about it, because you’ve added a different kind of value to them. And I’m sure it’s like, you don’t include this in your in the package, right? Like you don’t say that this, your services includes webinars and all that stuff. But when you offer this to them, like hey, do you have time? Can you join us for a webinar like this? I feel like that’s really going to help them not only with their finances, but how they would like to build a better relationship with you as a financial advisor. That’s

Joel Kerin
right. Oh, it could be this close combat on the back of say, I have one particular client that had a particular issue. And it’s sort of like, oh, well, now that we’ve gone down that road and trying to solve that, or fix it. Do we have any above that our other client base that you know, might be in if it’s a country or domicile issue? Or they’ve in a certain life stage? Right? It could be just like, join us for this webinar where we’re going to hash out x, right. And it just could be it could be 1520 30 minutes. It doesn’t have to be as long and you know, it’s just about me saying, Well, this is what happened, right, for an example. And this is how we fixed it. So is this something that, you know, you might feel that could impact you, then if it does reach out? We can we’ve got we’ve obviously got the tools now to to fix that. And that’s obviously part of this because particularly in expat advice, you know, regulation, and, you know, that changes all the time in Australia. And then you’ve got to, I suppose, keep abreast of the changes that happen in other countries as well, that impact your clients. So, yeah, like, it’s, it’s good. But yeah, it’s a bit like, you’ve got to be prepared to invest the time to keep up with that. Oh, yeah.

Gwen Lazarito
Oh, yeah, definitely. And I think that’s one. It’s like, I really want to ask that, but I feel like that topic needs another like full 3031 hour minute podcast, how you how financial advisors who? Service expats, like tackle, having to learn different types of like, I know that you have to listen to the news and, and study regulations for this and like the investment type for this particular country. So that’s very interesting. Unfortunately, we wouldn’t have the time on this podcast, but hopefully we can discuss it in the future. But yes, that’s very interesting. And I feel like for some people, and I think this is one of the things that you mentioned, that’s part of some people might find it boring, but how you guys are financial advisors like you are able to tackle that. Those types of like servicing your clients that way.

Joel Kerin
I think when this you know, really comes back to having, you know, clients that that value financial advice and you have good relationships with like, for example, if if you were my client in the Philippines and something changed in in there, where they could have potentially said, I know that they’re going to be a new tax on Australian investments or something, right? Obviously, naturally an Australian will go, is that going to impact me? Like, if even if they just saw it right? You can guarantee it’s going to be it’s going to be hot in my inbox with them within a hot minute. So the clients themselves such a good feeder of that of that information. But of course, there is so much other research that has to go in, and particularly when we’re doing like reviews with our clients, we need to, you know, see her and all of the changes that have come in, particularly in Australia, you know, really addresses, we’ve got to address the broader impacts of our of our advice. So it’s just been ensured that at the time that you as you’re going down this review path, that the advice that you’re giving is still appropriate.

Gwen Lazarito
Oh, that Yeah.

Joel Kerin
Really? What it really what it comes down to? And yes, that can be time consuming. Yes, it can be painful with lots of reading. But at the end of the day, it is I find it, I find it rewarding because the client really appreciates that.

Gwen Lazarito
Ah, yes, definitely, I would think so. Just the thought of having to read a bunch of different types of regulations. And I know that, like, your clients will really appreciate you for it. Because it’s, it’s not an easy thing to tackle on. So I’d really like to pick your brain on that a little bit further. And unfortunately, we don’t have the time for this particular podcast. But hopefully we can do it in the future. For now, though. Yeah, that would be awesome. But for now, like what would you give for an upcoming financial advisor? Who might be joining your team? Who might want to service expats as well? What’s the best advice that you can provide to them? If they’re still starting out?

Joel Kerin
If they’re just adding, I suppose my my one, I suppose bit of advice would be what you what you think, you know, is about to be turned on its head, it’s, it’s, you know, it’s very much more challenging. And I suppose that’s probably why, historically, no, existing financial advisors have turned away from giving expert advice. Just because it adds this whole extra layer of complexity, which, you know, they could essentially avoid, but at the end of the day for someone that’s just starting out, you know, it’s, it’s very, it’s very rewarding, it’s very engaging with, particularly with your client. And you know, when done right, you’ve, you know, you potentially have made a client. Yeah. Is that is that in itself is is from a financial advisor perspective. It’s very humbling.

Gwen Lazarito
Ah, definitely. And thank you so much for that advice, Ryan, for being in the show. But before we formally ended, Where would people if they want to get to know you more, if they want to chat with you, where can they reach you? Oh, they can,

Joel Kerin
you know, reach me on the LinkedIn, you know, send me an email, you know, Ally wealth website, you know, I’m not that hard. I’m not that hard to track down. And yeah, like, you know, and I just, generally speaking, I just love speaking and meeting new people, because, you know, everyone, everyone comes from a different walk of life, you know, you might have walked down the same street one, you know, every every person that you meet, right there is there is definitely a learning curve. There’s definitely something new to

Gwen Lazarito
definitely if you

Joel Kerin
if you take that opportunity, then you know, you’re going to be better off for it.

Gwen Lazarito
That is like one of the best things that I’ve found in when I started the podcast is I get to meet people because I started this podcast last year during the pandemic as well. And I found that it’s such a great comfort to hear other people’s lives. It makes you feel like a whole once this pandemic is over. I’m ready to have a coffee with this guy. It just feels like the world is interesting. And that’s why there are a lot of podcasts that are out there as well, I think is because there are really a lot of interesting stories like yours, like Jarrods, and many others that are just waiting to be captured. So yes, thank you so much.

Joel Kerin
As I said, the pandemic’s helps that because it’s allowed us to express new mediums. Yes. Know what a podcast was.

Gwen Lazarito
That’s so true. That’s so true. I think the podcast industry boom because of the pandemic. And particularly podcasts that pertains to like having conversations such as, like the ones that we’re doing right now. People like to hear other people, other people’s stories. So I think it’s very important that you share ours. Yeah, of course. Wonderful. So again, thank you so much for being on the show. Joel. It was so good. Speaking with you, and I hope that we can I can have you on the show again, but for now. Have a wonderful day or evening. Yeah.

Joel Kerin
Thanks so much, Gwen. We’ll talk to you soon. Yes,

Gwen Lazarito
No problem, buh bye

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