PP 042: ADVISER PROFILE – Remembering Lawrence Shamrakov

 Lawrence Shamrakov

Lawrence Shamrakov

On 20 January 2016, Lawrence Shamrakov, a young financial adviser, lost his life in an accident while cycling to work on a busy road just outside of Melbourne. He was just 25 and left behind his wife, his future first daughter, family, friends, and his business partner at Adapt Wealth ManagementReuben Zelwer.

Reuben contacted me, and asked if he could share some thoughts about Lawrence in a podcast episode.

In this episode, Reuben reflects on what it was like working with Lawrence, shares how they came to work together, and what we can learn from a young adviser with an attitude to work and life that earned him a great deal of respect from his peers.

Listen and learn

In this episode, we talk about:

  • Lawrence’s path in financial planning – how he got to where he was, what he was like and what he contributed
  • How Lawrence and Reuben met, and how they came to start working together
  • How Lawrence become a partner at such a young age (24) 
  • What areas Lawrence really excelled in
  • What Reuben learned from Lawrence
  • How Reuben is managing the change in their business, and who is providing help and support
  • What the path forward looks like for Adapt Wealth

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 Reuben Zelwer

Reuben Zelwer

PP 041: START-UP SERIES – Verse Wealth – First year review: looking back + looking forward

James O’Reilly and Corey Wastle started a Melbourne-based financial planning business called Verse Wealth in January 2015.

This is the ninth and final episode in a monthly series with James and Corey, to follow their first year in business.

This week they're reflecting on the first twelve months - their achievements, their disappointments, and their plans for the future.

Listen and learn

In this episode, we chat about:

WHERE THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU?

  • How the first Verse Wealth employee is going, and how they found her
  • How their Facebook lead generation campaign is performing
  • Why they may be buying a chicken suit in the near future
  • Why one of the biggest family law firms in Melbourne wrote a rap for them #word

DEEP DIVE

  • How Verse Wealth have performed in their first year of business, including client numbers and revenue
  • What the most rewarding part of the year was
  • What the biggest disappointment was and what they would have done differently
  • What James and Corey are most excited about for 2016 and beyond

SMARTER NOT HARDER

  • Why Verse Wealth decided to update their values and change "smarter not harder" to "be effective"

LISTENER QUESTIONS

  • "What’s your one big tip for advisers thinking about taking the leap and starting their own practice in 2016?"

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PP 040: Baz Gardner – Social business for financial advisers

Baz Gardner, from the Social Adviser, is an ex-financial adviser, who now teaches advisers about social business – beyond just simply how to use social media.

He talks a lot about passion and purpose, and says there are just a few things you need to know to get started with social selling:

  1. Who you are
  2. What you care about
  3. What you believe in
  4. Why you do what you do
  5. What your purpose is

Note: This episode was recorded in May 2014.

Listen and learn

In this episode, we chat about:

  • Baz’s experience as an adviser, and how he used an old school online bulletin board for the Queensland Lotus and Ferrari club, to attract clients that had similar interests to him. 
  • The difference between pitching and building relationships based on giving value.
  • An example of how to automate contacting a client when they turn 55, to talk about transition to retirement.

PP 039: START-UP SERIES – Verse Wealth – Pricing advice with values and value at the core

James O’Reilly and Corey Wastle started a Melbourne-based financial planning business called Verse Wealth in January 2015.

This is the eighth episode in a monthly series with James and Corey, to follow their first year in business.

This week we’re talking pricing.

Listen and learn

In this episode, we chat about:

WHERE THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU?

  • Why Corey and James have opened a second office in Sydney
  • How the recruitment process for their first staff member is progressing
  • Corey shares he's a finalist in the AFA Rising Star Award, with the winner to be announced in late October

DEEP DIVE

  • How Verse Wealth price their financial planning services and why (hint: values and value play a big part)
  • What variables go into calculating fees for clients, and what tool they use to help them
  • We walk through a pricing example for a full service client
  • Why Verse don't put fees on their website

SMARTER NOT HARDER

  • James tells us about an online scheduling tool called Calendly they are using to book client appointments quickly and easily. James says it's "bone easy".
  • James also shares a tool they are using to send SMS surveys following client appointments

LISTENER QUESTIONS

  • "It feels like there’s a heap of events happening at the moment (e.g. FPA conference, AFA conference, etc). They are often a big investment in time and money to attend. What does a dream event for you look like?"

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PP 038: PRICING SERIES – Adriano Donato – Pricing for high and low complexity clients in an independent, 100% fee for advice financial planning practice

Adriano Donato is from Roskow Independent Advisory, which is a self-licensed, independent advice practice with offices in Melbourne and Brisbane.

In this episode, we chat about how Roskow price their financial advice, using a 100% fee model. And how they do that successfully for both high and low complexity clients. 

Adriano will be part of a panel talking about pricing in an independent financial advice practice, at the IFAAA Symposium on 30 October in Melbourne. It’s an opportunity to pick his and others' brains about all things indie advice.
If you’re interested in learning more about the IFAAA Symposium, head on over to IFAAA.com.au and check it out. 

Listen and learn

In this episode, we talk about:

  • How and why Roskow price their advice, using a 100% fee model (and we get into the nitty gritty numbers)
  • How Roskow make a pure fee for advice model work for both high and low complexity clients
  • What mistakes Roskow made with their pricing along the way

Oh, and Adriano sings and talks soccer...

PP 037: ADVISER PROFILE – Neil Salkow – Partnering, attracting clients and getting your own licence in an independent financial planning business

Neil Salkow is from Roskow Independent Advisory, which is a self-licensed, independent advice practice with offices in Melbourne and Brisbane.

Neil trained as an accountant but quickly moved into financial planning. And after not long working for someone else, decided to go out on his own. 

He bought a book of clients and after about a year, handed it back. He then joined up with Matt Ross to build Roskow Independent Advisory - one of the few independent advice practices in Australia.

Neil will be part of a panel talking about starting up as an independent financial adviser, at the IFAAA Symposium on 30 October in Melbourne. It’s a super opportunity to get face to face with advisers that have already trodden the path, so you can learn what worked and what didn’t. 
If you’re interested in learning more about the event, head on over to IFAAA.com.au and check it out. You don’t have to be a member to attend.

Listen and learn

In this episode, we talk about:

  • Why Neil started an independent financial planning business after initially buying a small book of clients and subsequently handing it back
  • Why he decided to partner up with another adviser, and the benefits of working with someone that shares the same values and goals for the business
  • How Neil attracted those all important first clients
  • What challenges and mistakes he made along the way
  • The process for getting your own financial services license (and it's probably not as hard as you think)

PP 036: PRICING SERIES – Rick Horvat – Pricing for sustainability and longevity in a pure fee for advice, independent financial planning practice

In this episode we’re joined by Rick Horvat from Horvat Financial Advisors

Horvats is a family-based, self-licensed, independent financial planning business in Melbourne, about 10 years old.

It's small - with 5 staff and just over 100 clients - and wants to stay small. The business decisions their team have made around size, have influenced not only how they run their business, but the types of clients they look after and how they price their services.

Rick will be part of a panel talking about pricing as an independent adviser, at the IFAAA Symposium on 30 October in Melbourne. The panel will be diving into some pricing examples and sharing their experiences with fee structures and decisions, so you can learn from their mistakes and successes. 
If you’re interested in learning more about the event, head on over to IFAAA.com.au and check it out. You don’t have to be a member to attend.

Listen and learn

In this episode, we talk about:

  • What big business decisions have been made at Horvats that have influenced how Rick and the team have priced their services, so their business remains sustainable and enjoyable over the long term
  • What pricing mistakes they made (including not having clients sign Terms of Engagement near the start of the process)
  • Why Horvats don’t put their fees (even just a range) on their website
  • What it’s like working with family

PP 035: ADVISER PROFILE – Ben Smythe – Starting up and attracting clients to an independent financial planning business

Today we’re joined by Ben Smythe from Smythe Financial Management, which is a two year old, independent financial planning practice with offices on the northern beaches and in the Sydney CBD.

Ben works mainly with two types of clients: (i) accumulators – people that are 35–55 and building wealth, and (ii) SMSF trustees that want a sounding board and a bit of guidance.

Ben will be part of a panel talking about starting up as an independent adviser, at the IFAAA Symposium on 30 October 2015 in Melbourne. It will be a small group of advisers which means you are not going to get lost in a sea of people or wooed by over-enthusiastic BDMs with company credit cards.
If you’re interested in learning more about the event, head on over to IFAAA.com.au and check it out. You don’t have to be a member to attend.

Listen and learn

In this episode, we talk about:

  • Why Ben decided to become a true independent adviser, rather than being aligned with an institution, or charging in any way other than pure fee for advice
  • What strategies Ben used to attract 60 clients in just two years, from scratch
  • How he dealt with taking on non-ideal clients, while he was in start-up phase
  • The hardest things about starting up and what his challenges are now
Ben Smythe quote

PP 034: ADVISER PROFILE – Michael Rees-Evans – Starting an independent financial planning practice

Michael Rees-Evans.jpg

In this episode, we’re joined by Michael Rees-Evans from Libertas Wealth, which is a small financial planning practice in Sydney, that’s independent in the true legal sense of the word.

That means no commissions, no asset-based fees, and no ownership links with product manufacturers. There are very few – less than 100 – of those advisers in Australia.

Michael has a pretty interesting background. He trained as an accountant, and had a career in management consulting before moving into financial services and financial planning.

Michael will be part of a panel at the IFAAA Symposium on 30 October 2015 in Melbourne. It will be a small group of advisers which makes it a pretty awesome opportunity to talk to people that are doing things differently – whether you are independent or not. 
If you’re interested in learning more about it, head on over to IFAAA.com.au and check it out. You don’t have to be a member to attend.

Listen and learn

In this episode, we talk about:

  • How Michael has used a strong connection with an accounting business to help attract clients right from the get-go
  • Why being independent is important to him and his clients (and yes, independence is also a big selling point)
  • What successes Michael's achieved for both his clients and his business
  • What challenges Michael's had around capital, hiring and managing outsourcing providers

PP 033: START-UP SERIES – Verse Wealth – Start-up costs and money decisions

Corey Wastle and James O'Reilly from Verse Wealth

James O’Reilly and Corey Wastle started a Melbourne-based financial planning business called Verse Wealth in January 2015.

This is the seventh episode in a monthly series with James and Corey, to follow their first year in business.

This week we’re talking start-up costs. We get into where exactly they’ve spent their money – particularly on some of the big ticket items – and we also talk about ongoing costs, as well as when and what they've reinvested back into the business.

James and Corey were very generous and open about things, so there’s real numbers discussed here. 

You might be surprised as to what the costs actually are – they were certainly lower than what I anticipated. 

Listen and learn

In this episode, we chat about:

WHERE THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU?

  • Leads coming through consistently from 30+ referral partner relationships (7 leads in the last 2 weeks)
  • Recruiting for the first Verse Wealth employee
  • The results of last month's Periscope experiment
  • The challenge of converting leads into clients
  • James' awarded a LinkedIn Power Profile (and a slightly dodgy trophy)
 James is big in India #notlegit

James is big in India #notlegit

 Source:  Verse Wealth Facebook page  #legit

DEEP DIVE

  • Where the funds came from to start Verse Wealth and how much they set aside
  • How Corey and James researched and planned for the costs of starting their business
  • The prices for some of the big ticket items needed when starting up e.g. licensee fees, PI insurance, legal fees, office space, technology, software etc
  • What they got wrong
  • Why Corey and James decided not to draw a wage for the first 12 months
  • How much it costs to keep the business running – the bare bones, no wages included – each month
  • When they decided to start reinvesting back into the business and why

SMARTER NOT HARDER

  • Nothing new this week. But if anyone's got any printer recommendations...

LISTENER QUESTIONS

  • "What's the best financial decision you've made in your business so far?"

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PP 032: INDUSTRY EXPERTS – Alisdair Barr – Hiring grads and keeping staff engaged and happy

Alisdair Barr

Today we’re joined by Alisdair Barr from GradMentor.

GradMentor is a business that helps place university graduates into paid mentorship programs in financial planning businesses around Australia.

Alisdair goes out to universities around the country, talks to students about financial planning as a career path, and helps match suitable grads with financial planning firms through a process that includes a speed dating style event.

While Alisdair’s business focuses solely on graduates for the financial planning profession, there’s a heap of things in this episode that apply to employees in general. It is well worth a listen.

Listen and learn

In this episode, we talk about:

  • What traits to look for when hiring grads
  • Some of the areas GradMentor skills up students – including presentation skills, behavioural interview training, and CVs
  • What employers can do to keep employees happy, motivated and productive – and ultimately sticking around longer (hint: it's not brain surgery, but so few employers do it)
Quote: Alisdair Barr from GradMentor

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PP 031: START-UP SERIES – Verse Wealth – Client acquisition via content marketing and social media

Verse-Wealth---Corey-and-James-300x300.jpg

James O’Reilly and Corey Wastle started a Melbourne-based financial planning business called Verse Wealth in January 2015.

This is the sixth episode in a monthly series with James and Corey, to follow their first year in business.

You've heard in previous episodes about the work James and Corey are doing building a solid referral network.

But they are also using social media and content marketing as a way to get the Verse Wealth name out into the community, and pull new clients into their business.

So in this episode, we take a look at the how, what and why of the Verse Wealth content marketing and social media client acquisition strategy.

Listen and learn

In this episode, we chat about:

WHERE THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU?

  • Ongoing work building referral partner relationships
  • Testing Facebook ads
  • Struggling with capacity to get everything done
  • Corey proposing, with the help of a truckload of roses (and Harvey) - yes, it's a happy ending

DEEP DIVE

  • What strategies Verse Wealth are using to attract new clients
  • How Verse are using social media in their marketing, including what platforms they're using and what activities they're doing on each
  • A look into the strategy Verse are using with their Facebook ads, including their results so far
  • Why Verse are "bullish on Periscope" and the experiment they are running with that platform
  • Where blogging fits in to their strategy, and the process they are using to create content

SMARTER NOT HARDER

  • James shares two useful services:
    • Undullify - a subscription based graphic design service
    • WPCurve - a subscription (or one-off) service that helps you solve all your WordPress headaches (WordPress is a popular platform for building websites, big and small e.g. RiskInfo.com.au and ProfessionalPlanner.com.au are built with WordPress)

LISTENER QUESTIONS

  • "How do you make time for social media and content marketing? And how do you decide where (and what platform) to spend that time?"
We’re trying to surround ourselves with people that believe what we believe

PP 030: ADVISER PROFILE – Phil Thompson – How to get started with video marketing

Phil Thompson

Today we’re joined by Phil Thompson from Thompson Financial Services, which is a small financial planning business in Melbourne, which Phil took over about 3 years ago.

Phil has been doing some really cool things with video marketing, and currently produces a weekly "Phil's Finance Fix" video which he emails to his clients and prospective clients. The videos are high quality, authentic and a great knowledge sharing tool.

Here's an example of one of Phil's videos.

Listen and learn

In this episode, we talk about:

  • How Phil got started in financial planning (and what his previous, seriously awesome former career was)
  • Why he chose to create videos, over other forms of content, for his financial planning business
  • How his videos help him with the sales process (which he considers himself really bad at)
  • The process and tools Phil uses to script, record and produce videos his compliance team give the thumbs up to
  • How he is experimenting with the video streaming app - Periscope - and why he loves it
Quote - Phil Thompson

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 Phil's the one doing the handstand!

Phil's the one doing the handstand!

PP 029: ADVISER PROFILE – Lea Schodel – Niches, yoga and communication

Lea Schodel

Today we’re joined by Lea Schodel from MHP Private Wealth and LeaSchodel.com. Lea is a qualified financial planner who is using her skills to run a wealth coaching business for women in a highly targeted niche.

Niching is something that we don’t see a whole lot of in the financial planning industry in Australia. But Lea has taken her involvement with yoga, and is using that as a foundation and a language for talking about money with younger females that are interested in health and wellness.

Listen and learn

In this episode, we talk about:

  • How Lea got to where she is today (including running a para-planning business while travelling around Australia in a caravan)
  • How Lea communicates with and attracts clients using practical workshops combining yoga with money
  • Why Lea got involved with the US based XY Planning Network and what she is learning from them
I love getting new ideas - Lea Schodel

PP 028: START-UP SERIES – Verse Wealth – Productivity and priorities

Corey Wastle and James O'Reilly - Verse Wealth

James O’Reilly and Corey Wastle started a Melbourne-based financial planning business called Verse Wealth in January 2015.

This is the fifth episode in a monthly series with James and Corey to follow their first year in business.

One of the challenging things about being a start-up, is that there are a lot of new ideas and tasks to get your head around and execute on. There's attracting clients, serving clients, building relationships, marketing and brand building, accounting, creating systems, looking after technology and training yourself. 

So in this episode, we take a look at how Corey and James plan and prioritise in their business so they stay focused on the things that really matter.

Listen and learn

In this episode, we chat about:

WHERE THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU?

DEEP DIVE

  • How do Corey and James structure their day?
  • How do they ensure they focus on the things that are important in their business, including their values?
  • How do Verse Wealth decide what to work on next?

SMARTER NOT HARDER

  • James shares the idea of a "parking space" and how that helps them to focus and alleviate distractions (+ beef up the muscle mass)

LISTENER QUESTIONS

First things first

PP 027: PRICING SERIES – Gary Lucas – Pricing values and outcomes based advice (plus bonus portfolio strategy chat)

Gary Lucas - DMG Financial

Today we're joined by Gary Lucas who is a financial planner and director at DMG Financial in Sale – a regional town in Victoria with about 14,000 people.

DMG Financial is a mature business. It has accounting and audit divisions, and employs around 40 staff.

The chat I had with Gary was recorded back in April 2015, not long after the Trowbridge report was released. 

Listen and learn

In this episode, we talk about:

  • How DMG Financial – which is a mature financial planning business with a lot of legacy clients – is transitioning away from commissions and funds under management, to dollar-based fees
  • The process Gary uses with clients, and where the fee discussion fits within that process
  • How Gary has managed to get the team on board and involved in the transition process
  • What DMG recently changed around how they manage investment portfolios, so they are able to deliver better outcomes for clients
Engage the whole team - Gary Lucas [DMG Financial]

PP 026: PRICING SERIES – Chris Bates – Why I charge flat advice fees for my financial planning services

Chris Bates

Today we’re joined by Chris Bates from Canopy Private, which is a small financial planning practice in Sydney, that’s about a year old.

The chat I had with Chris was recorded back in April, not long after the Trowbridge report was released. 

Around that time Chris also published an article on LinkedIn about his views on commissions, which got a big reaction, including this doozy.

So I contacted Chris and asked him if he was interested in sharing how he charges, so that others can get an insight into why he charges the way he does, and how he makes fee for advice work in his business.

Listen and learn

In this episode, we talk about:

  • How Chris got to where he is today
  • Why Chris charges a fee for advice (no commissions or FUM/AUM), and the impact of this on how his clients see him
  • The exact numbers Chris charges his clients - for full financial planning advice, as well as insurance only advice (including what happens at claims time and if insurance is denied)
  • The mistakes Chris made with his pricing and the impact it has had on his business
It frees you to give advice - Chris Bates [Canopy Private]

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PP 025: START-UP SERIES – Verse Wealth – Creating amazing client experiences

Corey Wastle and James O'Reilly

James O’Reilly and Corey Wastle started a Melbourne-based financial planning business called Verse Wealth in January 2015.

This is the fourth episode in a monthly series with James and Corey to follow their first year in business.

In this episode, we take a closer look at the Verse Wealth client experience.

Listen and learn

In this episode, we chat about:

WHERE THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU?

  • Bringing new clients on board
  • A continued focus on building partnerships with accountants and mortgage brokers
  • Planning the new "Verse TV" series and a webinar in the new financial year

DEEP DIVE

  • What happens in each of the meetings in the Verse Wealth new client process
  • Why they are including imagery in Statement of Advice documents
  • Who and what some of James and Corey's key influences have been in developing the Verse client experience (including a lot of book recommendations)
  • What a "wow" file is, and how they are using it in their business
  • How the client experience relates back to the core Verse Wealth values

SMARTER NOT HARDER

  • James shares how they have gone paperless

LISTENER QUESTIONS

  • "For an adviser who has only worked in a bank, what are some of the differences between working in a banking environment, and working in a small boutique practice?"  - Susie Munro [Sixpence Media]
Be remarkable - Verse Wealth

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PP 024: PRICING SERIES – Darren Johns – How I price my financial planning services

Darren Johns

Today we're joined by Darren Johns from Align Financial on Sydney’s northern beaches, for another episode in our pricing series.

Align Financial is a small practice that is self-licensed, and has been using a flat-fee pricing structure since 2010.

Listen and learn

In this episode, we talk about:

  • How Darren uses a combination of understanding both the inputs (e.g. share purchases) and outputs (e.g. tax savings) of a client engagement, to price his services
  • A pricing example for a 50 year old couple, approaching retirement, as well as a risk only case
  • How using fee-based pricing has helped produce a more stable income stream for Darren's business
Pricing is a lever you can control

PP 023: PRICING SERIES – Melissa and Steve Crawford – How I price my financial planning services (plus bonus value-bombs)

Melissa and Steve Crawford

Today we're joined by Melissa and Steve Crawford, who are husband and wife, and run three businesses in the financial advice space.

Melissa has a background in insurance and has an insurance coaching business called 19Thirty.

Melissa is also the insurance specialist at Experience Wealth, which is Steve’s business. Experience Wealth is a financial planning business focused on serving Gen X and Y young professionals.  

Steve also has a coaching business called Your Spending Coach, which shows advisers how to use Xero to manage their clients' cash flow.

Listen and learn

In this episode, we talk about:

  • How getting crystal clear about who your ideal client is, can help you create a service offering that is exactly what your clients want (and need) 
  • How Melissa and Steve price their financial planning services, including life insurance
  • Why they transitioned from providing commission–based insurance advice, to a fee model
  • How aligning (i) what the client perceives as value, with (ii) the value the business delivers to the client and (iii) the pricing model, can have a huge positive impact on your business
Perception of value