Reine Clemow: [00:00] You know, I’ve had coaches in the past, and I think if people struggle with that, that’s the best service a coach can provide, is that accountability and discipline. If you’re finding that you don’t have it yourself, outsource it. Because the cost of that person is multiplied by your efficiency. If you can put that time aside, the gains are much greater than what you pay in the cost for that person to hold your hand and make you accountable for it.
Fraser Jack: [00:32] Welcome to the goals based advice podcast, where we have conversation with pioneers of the new world on financial advice. I’m your host, Fraser Jack, and I’d like to thank you for tuning in today. I’d also like to thank our supporting partner, Advice Intelligence, for powering this podcast.
Fraser Jack: [00:48] In this episode we hear from Reine Clemow, who is a goals based advisor, who focuses on ethical and conflict-free advice. He believes deliver certain need to his clients. This interview is slightly longer than we have done in the past, but we certainly got carried away with the conversation, because Reine was just so giving of the way that he runs his business.
Fraser Jack: [01:08] During this episode the internet lagged a couple of times, so I do apologize for the sound not being perfect all the way through. There’s some really good take aways from this. We covered things like business frameworks, we talked about decision making and time blocking, we explored money mind-sets from both the advisor’s point of view and the client’s point of view. We talked about having a coach and a mentor and how that’s helped him along his way, and also how he actually unpacks the conversation for his clients, and what he says to them and how he runs his meetings.
Fraser Jack: [01:35] Reine’s also mentioned that, afterwards, that he was happy to continue the conversation for anyone that wants to reach out to him via LinkedIn afterwards. Just search for Reine Clemow. Without further ado, let’s kick off the chat now.
Fraser Jack: [01:51] Thanks for coming on the show, Reine.
Reine Clemow: [01:52] Thanks for having me, Fraser.
Fraser Jack: [01:55] Right, you’re very welcome, Mate. I thought I’d get you to quickly give us a quick overview of where you are now and what you’re doing.
Reine Clemow: [02:01] Yeah, absolutely. So, I run a practice here on the Gold Coast. We are a small team at the moment. We’ve been in business four years for ourselves, having previously come from a employed background. We are a customer-focused business really driving, I guess you’d call it holistic advice, but ultimately we’re looking to engage people across a number of different areas in the financial planning world, and we’ve moved away from a product-based business to much more of an advice-based business.
Fraser Jack: [02:30] What sort of clients are you seeing?
Reine Clemow: [02:33] A range of clients, but ideally I sort of focus on accumulated clients between that 45 to 68 bracket. I’m tending to find myself working mostly with SME business owners, or people with reasonably high incomes. And only that’s a feature that because I find that I can add more value into the overall outcome for them. They’re usually busy, they’ve got a lot of stuff going on in their life, they’ve got a lot of things that they haven’t given attention to. So we can really get into doing some good work for them.
Fraser Jack: [03:03] Excellent. And you mentioned it’s a small team. Tell us about your team.
Reine Clemow: [03:05] So I have a office manager, she worked with me previously in my employed world. So she’s come along and we’re really the engine room of the business, we previously had another support person, tried some outsourcing overseas as well, but we’ve got another new person joining us today, graduate. We’re going to take them through a mentoring process, through the [inaudible 00:03:25] compliance and then into an advisory role over the next 12 months.
Fraser Jack: [03:28] Nice. We might go back in time a bit now and sort of work our way back towards where you are now. How did you get started?
Reine Clemow: [03:35] I suppose it goes back to, really 1996. I had done a business degree here on the Gold Coast, in hospitality management. I was overseas traveling, working in restaurants and I remember one night the restaurant manager came to work and he was dropping his kids off in a car and it was Sunday night, he’d been there for lunch, and I thought to myself, I don’t really want to be in this career as I get older and have a family. So I ended up booking a flight back to Australia and thought, “What can I do differently, how can I prepare myself?” Because I wasn’t quite ready to come home, I was only 26. And I started looking through a whole bunch of university courses that I could, I guess I schooled myself to find a new career.
Reine Clemow: [04:14] And about that time my parents’ financial planner called me and we got chatting as to why I was home and he said, “Well, have you thought about financial planning?” I hadn’t really given it a thought, didn’t even know it was a thing. And he said, “Oh, I’ve got this DFP1 folder I’ve just finished, that I’ll drop around for you can have a read.” So he brought it round and literally, I got halfway through and I was, “This is it!” It provided that level of expertise that I was wanting. Professionalism, working with clients still, I didn’t really want to get into a corporate boardroom type scenario, and it just felt the right thing to do. It was also by correspondence, which was perfect. So I enrolled in it, went back to Scotland and completed a couple of units, and then did the next couple and thought it’s time to come home and try and get a job back in Australia because the legislation tax law didn’t really apply to me over there.
Fraser Jack: [05:00] So I can completely relate to the idea of moving from hospitality into financial advice. Feels like a natural progression to me. That was good then. Was that a bit of a set up from your parents that they went, “Right, make him a financial advisor, we’ll get our financial advisor to talk to him?
Reine Clemow: [05:14] No, I don’t think so. Mum and Dad had bought a share trading, like an investing Benjamin Graham sort of style value-based investing, I don’t know, mail order thing I suppose, and I’d come home and they had all these 12 units wrapped in cellophane, sitting on the floor with a binder, not even read. So I started to pull open that and I was reading that around the same time and it just sort of converged that I was really interested. I look back at what I did at school, I was pretty good with numbers and maths and accounting, but I wasn’t really great at technical, algebra and that high level of maths that go into stats. Because at one point I thought, client manager, that’s a great job, make lots of money, because Edinburgh is a pretty big hub for those sort of things. I had to give myself a reality check that that wasn’t really going to happen.
Fraser Jack: [05:57] Fair enough. And so when you did the study, then how did you get started working?
Reine Clemow: [06:03] I came back, this is pre-internet, right? So I went through the yellow pages and wrote a letter to every financial planning business on the Gold Coast with my CV. Standard principle, I think I got three replies, they were all no’s. And then again out of luck my parents’ financial planner rang me and said, “Hey, did you notice the [Curi 00:06:20] Mail is advertising for financial planners with a degree without experience in the industry?” I was like, “No,” put my CV forward and ended up being interviewed by the NAB. They were opening a new financial planning division, they were trying to bring through sort of a more skills-based group. And that was back in 2001.
Fraser Jack: [06:37] Firstly, full credit to your parents’ financial advisor for taking the effort to go and help somebody start their career, so hats off to them. So you had an opportunity with a bank, and how did that pan out?
Reine Clemow: [06:52] Oh look, that was a great grounding for me. I suppose like anything I look back through hospitality, my first work was in five star resorts and you sort of get a really good understanding of all the things that go into what you require, the training level’s very high, it’s very systemated and regimented effectively. Which when you’re young and new it’s good to have those boundaries and frameworks. I suppose looking back that’s one of the things that’s given me great propulsion to this business, because I’ve got so much in the way of framework. But I mean I gradually worked my through from I guess a junior advisor.
Reine Clemow: [07:27] I was actually thinking the other day, I remember I was promoted as one of the youngest senior advisors at the time. I was only just over 30. I ended up starting to hone my craft and working with more of the high-end network clients. The bank would segment your referrals, so it gave me an opportunity to train staff, mentor staff, train referral partners. I worked with a good group of clients over time as well. So for me I think it was a great grounding, but at some point I outgrew it too, so that was my next step.
Fraser Jack: [07:59] Yeah. I just want to have a think about when you started, like when you first started. Obviously you had been through some training, but then at some point you had to have your first client or talk to your first client. Tell me about that moment.
Reine Clemow: [08:15] Yeah, I was nervous. I remember it actually because we had a mentoring process where you’d go out with one of the other advisors who you were sort of assigned to. And I remember I’d been working with this guy Stewart for a couple of days and he said, “Right, well tomorrow is your turn.” I could feel my voice was scratchy, I was even nervous for like holding the pen, writing stuff in the back line, but I murdered it. It was a terrible appointment, but I think it’s like anything, once your first is out of the way, from there on it just became better. My first client, actually I just saw him last week, I’ve still got him as a client today, he’s 84. I went round at his house having a chat about 18 years ago when we sat down here and how things have gone since then.
Fraser Jack: [09:04] Amazing. You know it’s funny isn’t it? Because I think a lot of young advisors are technically brilliant, you know they know their stuff, they know the product, they know the strategies and just, it’s a confident, and you know that boost of knowing how to say something, or... having that confidence, it’s a learning curve isn’t it?
Reine Clemow: [09:24] Yeah, I think one of my mentors taught me really early on that you’ve got to remember you probably know a lot more than what you think you know, and particularly more than even the client sometimes. Because here’s me, pretty young-looking person at the time, talking to people who were in their 40s, 50s and 60s, who to me were well established, much more successful than me. How could I actually help these people> But a lot of times you forget that that’s not what they do. They might be good at their career, but they may not necessarily understand all the legislation and the rules, and how they can take advantage of it.
Reine Clemow: [09:56] So it was just good to have that reminder all the time, that you do know quite a lot. And I think also that hospitality background did give me some benefits. I was used to talking to people and engaging people, so I didn’t have to have, my strategy value was just about having a good conversation with them and over time it came together. And your confidence builds as you do more of those appointments and you learn along the way, I think, or I hope. And you just get better at what you do.
Fraser Jack: [10:25] Yeah, you’re absolutely right. Having a good conversational background in hospitality would have helped. And also, I think some of the advice that I got at that point too, was the idea that, I think I said something to somebody once about, “Oh, how can I possibly help this person, that surely they know more than me.” And the advice I got was that was in my head. It certainly wasn’t in the client’s head and it’s an interesting time to go through.
Reine Clemow: [10:50] Yeah, absolutely.
Fraser Jack: [10:51] So how long were you at the bank altogether?
Reine Clemow: [10:54] Close to 13 years. I’d always considered myself a little bit more entrepreneurial in the way I thought about my business and I’d done a number of personal growth programs over time, both in money mind-set and also business as well. And there was a period around that 2009, 2010 period where I really wanted to break away, I wanted to do my own thing, but I just couldn’t work out the way to do it. I couldn’t, you know, my son was just about to be born, it’s a whole bunch of external factors that were influencing me. I guess I just put my head back down and said, “You know what, just focus on being the best advisor you can and just wait for the timing to change.”
Fraser Jack: [11:33] Which is totally not a bad thing. You know, it’s not a race, it’s all good learning and all good experience, and all good grounding.
Reine Clemow: [11:41] Yeah, Yeah. No, as I said, it was the best training ground I could’ve had. In hindsight, I probably did stay there beyond my time, but you know everything happens for the right reason at the right time, I think. It’s part of my philosophy, so it helps me get through life.
Fraser Jack: [11:55] Yeah. Now tell me about the money mind-set stuff that you were doing. What were you doing and why, what was that about?
Reine Clemow: [12:01] I guess I felt that part of it was, in order to be the best advisor I had to have the most tools, both financial tools but also mind-set. Because I understand that mind-set is by far the biggest determining factor as to your limitations. And so I’d read a few books on this and I’d done some stuff. Tony Robbins, like one of the first books I read, was Tony Robbins’ Awaken the Giant Within. And it just led me to understand that there’s a whole bunch of stuff that happens in your head that determines your outcomes.
Reine Clemow: [12:33] And so I started to search out successful people on that area to do trainings with. I did some trainings in the States, a guy called [Harbekker 00:12:41]. Did some trainings in America with a lady by the name of [Laura Langmeyer 00:12:45] just on business and entrepreneurship. And my wife and I sort of decided as a little side thing to set up a financial literacy business to help kids understand the importance of time and value and money. So it was just, it was an interest, it was a hobby. I did it for my own personal reasons as well as to help my clients I guess get through some of their unconscious hang-ups, things that hold them back. The more I could help understand myself, the better I was at helping other people as well.
Fraser Jack: [13:15] Yeah, I was going to tease that out a little bit, because it starts with you, the money mind-set stuff, but then I guess it also, you find yourself in conversations with your clients so it was really helping them as well.
Reine Clemow: [13:23] Yeah, absolutely. I mean it was literally a two-pronged process, I wanted to do it for me, but then you absolutely recognized the same limitations, thought patters, things that came out the client’s mouth, that’s things that you would be thinking. And helping myself overcome them was a good opportunity to help my clients overcome those too.
Fraser Jack: [13:43] Yeah. Did you see any like patterns changing or habits change over that time?
Reine Clemow: [13:48] Look, what I saw was results change, I suppose. And whether I could put my finger on patterns or habits to change, I think they must have, because I think the results are, if you’re looking to see what’s working in your life, you look at results. Now. If you don’t like them, well obviously there’s things that you’re not doing right, so if you’re getting a change in your results, I think you must be getting a change in other things.
Fraser Jack: [14:11] Yep, for sure. Now, tell me about the time when you were thinking about starting your own business and getting into your own business and all the processes and things you had to go through at that time.
Reine Clemow: [14:23] I was doing some coaching. I’ve always had coaches or mentor help me along the way and I’d been doing coaching for a while and, you know one of our questions are, “Well, what’s next for you, where are you going, where is this journey taking you?” And ultimately it was that I wanted to add more value outside of what I was doing. I felt sort of, I guess small and limited. And so one of the ways I thought to do that was to have my own business where I could influence more people and access a broader range of clients.
Reine Clemow: [14:49] But again I sort of got stuck along the way, and it wasn’t really until maybe 2013. There was a fair bit of change at corporate level within the bank. I didn’t necessarily agree with the direction they were going. It sort of felt like my ethics were being compromised as the way they wanted to do their business, and so it got to a point where, I guess I was having an ethical conflict myself, where it became less about the money and more about my integrity as to I couldn’t stay, even though it was going to be uncomfortable. It was more uncomfortable internally for me to stay.
Reine Clemow: [15:24] It was a long process to first admit that and then to start thinking about what does that look like and how are we going to set up a business and what do we want to do. So there was lots of steps, from thinking about logo, name, you know, all the simple stuff of setting up a business. But then thinking about staffing and location, and it took a long time.
Fraser Jack: [15:47] I completely agree that’s one of those decisions in your life where, once you’ve made the decision you, you know like right off made the decision, this is what I’m going to do, it’s sort of like a big load off or burden off, and then all of a sudden everything becomes accelerated down and head towards where I want to be.
Reine Clemow: [16:03] Yeah, the decision’s the pivot point, so as soon as that decision’s made, everything changes. And then, yeah a whole bunch of other things open up, because they were never there before, because the decision was never made. So they weren’t sort of even in your field of thought. And there is the thing I talk about with my clients. You know, a decision’s a very definite thought process. It’s nothing else can happen now that I’ve made this decision to move into this direction, and a lot of people don’t really make decisions, they have wishes and, “I’ll try this or I’ll do this,” but they never really commit to that decision. I think that’s one of the things I help clients understand, that a decision’s a commitment and I think there’s some power that comes with that. Emotional power and things that come behind it as well, to help propel you in that direction as well.
Fraser Jack: [16:50] Yeah, I 100% agree. Tell me, when that decision was made in your own mind to opening the doors, how long was that?
Reine Clemow: [16:58] It was October ‘13 and then it was June ‘14. Seven or eight months, and much of that was just around finding a licencee and getting set up, there’s a whole bunch of stuff that had to happen on that respect. But I think the ending happened much more quickly. And once the momentum was rolling, it was pretty easy to, I could’ve got one sooner, I was just waiting for the financial year sort of time.
Fraser Jack: [17:21] All right, so you kind of put a date on it, in advance, and said, “Oh, I want to do it in new financial year, start fresh in the new financial year,” and that’s how you chose?
Reine Clemow: [17:29] Yeah, that was my sort of line in the sand.
Fraser Jack: [17:32] Okay, that was quite good, it would’ve given you a deadline to work to, and made sure you get everything done.
Reine Clemow: [17:36] Yeah, deadlines are important, right? Yeah.
Fraser Jack: [17:41] Good, so how did you go about choosing a name and coming up with a logo and doing all that stuff?
Reine Clemow: [17:46] I’ve done some internet marketing. It’s one of my ideas about how I could get out of being full time employed. I had a couple of friends who were doing some internet marketing. They were making some reasonable money just by doing some affiliate marketing and some website stuff. I did some training in that area and we actually were running a little sort of side business at the time, but there was a number of changes in Google Ad which just made it continually harder.
Reine Clemow: [18:11] Anyway, I’d understood that there’s a whole bunch of stuff out on the internet that you can access. I went to a website called Brand Bucket, where they had a whole bunch of branded names and logos and ideas that they basically owned the domain and they had... You know, so I searched business and searched finance and it brought up a whole, two pages of names and logos and I literally just went through it and found something that resonated. I think it was like $10000 to buy it from them. So I [inaudible 00:18:39] if the dot com dot AU was available for 26 bucks, and I went, “Business done!” That’s about as complex as it was.
Reine Clemow: [18:46] I wanted a name that was brandable, I didn’t want it to be Clemow and Partners or Clemow Financial Planning, I wanted it to be something that could be everlasting. I thought about the name [inaudible 00:18:57], you know any name that you think about that’s a brand, it’s just this brand of name, it doesn’t mean anything until it has power behind it. So it didn’t really bother me on that respect. I wanted to be my word, I wanted it obviously to have a domain name, so I could acquire that easily. So they were really the main, key steps I looked up.
Reine Clemow: [19:14] Then I say, I went onto a website called [Fiverr 00:19:17], which is an outsourcing website. I think I paid 50 bucks, got 10 different logo designs, narrowed them down, you know a really cheap way to get some basic good things done to set up.
Fraser Jack: [19:30] You mentioned the website and being searchable. Did you then put a lot of effort into that side of it, having search engine optimization on the website and trying to gain traction that way?
Reine Clemow: [19:42] I did and I didn’t, because the business we were running at the time was a SEO business. So we were providing SEO services to other businesses. And we had a good team who were able to manipulate Google if you want to call it that, their algorithm. Google made some pretty significant changes around that time which made it very difficult to actually manipulate the search algorithm any longer. So my thought was I’m not going to spend a whole bunch of time and money on trying to make this optimized just yet. I’m going to build it so that it is ready to be optimized, but at a budget perspective, I knew the type of money that was going to have to be put into it and the competitors I was sort of trying to compete against. So it was a conscious decision not to do it at that stage.
Fraser Jack: [20:26] So you’ve grown the business organically throughout that time, did you buy anything, or...
Reine Clemow: [20:31] No, mainly organically. Over time I’ve had some previous clients come back to me and just by establishing a good referral networks over time. My licencee initially introduced me to an accountant as part of the introduction process of working with them, so that helped. But existing client referrals increased significantly compared to when I was employed. Strangely, I didn’t understand the difference, it was still me, but maybe moving away from the brand meant that people didn’t have the fear to refer me clients who weren’t banking clients, if that makes sense. Yeah, just good referral networks at the time.
Fraser Jack: [21:09] Have you spoken to any clients about the idea of the brand, or anything like that, or around the idea of, if somebody attached to you, your personal brand, or your business brand or a big brand?
Reine Clemow: [21:22] No, I haven’t.
Fraser Jack: [21:24] So, when you’re starting a business, let’s go back there. Where, tell about your staffing and your, all the just decisions you made around those?
Reine Clemow: [21:32] Staffing was always going to be important, because I appreciated the importance of having support. So I guess covertly or overtly, depending on when you talk to Donna about it, for a long time I was sort of trying to understand if she was happy in her role and what she was doing, and whether it might be an opportunity for me to ask if she wanted to come and set up with me. We had a good relationship, but my wife has also a background in financial planning as well as running a bookkeeping business, so my backup was if I can’t have someone join with me Day 1, Nicole and I will start together, and then we’ll find the right support staff as we grow.
Reine Clemow: [22:12] Premises was another decision. I didn’t want to work from home. I’m not a good home worker. I need the structure and I guess that’s because of having worked in the office before, so I wanted to find a location that I could have an office in, that I would have clients come to see me versus me going out all over the place. So it just happened that the accountants that I was starting to refer and work with had some office space available. They said, “Look, you can have a sublet version of the floor space that you want.” And that’s worked out really well, and that’s where we’ve been ever since. I think we’re probably another year or two down the track from getting our own space, which I’d like to do, just for my own personal expression of how I would like my office to be set up, how the experience of it, I’d like my clients to experience. But for now it’s this cost versus benefit ratio, you know?
Fraser Jack: [23:07] Of course.
Reine Clemow: [23:07] Yeah, and when you’re starting and you’ve got a new business, costs are really important to minimize.
Fraser Jack: [23:13] So when you opened the doors, it was just you then?
Reine Clemow: [23:15] I started with myself and Donna.
Fraser Jack: [23:17] It was yourself and Donna. So, you opened the business with the idea that you’ve got a couple of wages you need to support and create, and obviously setting some goals and targets around what you wanted to achieve in the first year or year and a half. How did you go with that?
Reine Clemow: [23:32] Yeah, we actually exceeded our goals and our targets. So our first year we were really happy with I guess the numbers that we brought through the business. And we were very lean, we were very focused on dollars going out, to minimize those, so literally it was rent and wages and that was it. It’s just the way it had to be, otherwise we might not have been here in 12 months’ time.
Fraser Jack: [23:57] Obviously it’s some sort of a nerve wracking time when you’d opened the doors on the first day and went, “Right, now we’ve got to do this thing.”
Reine Clemow: [24:03] Yeah, I don’t know if anyone knows Bob Proctor, but he’s a coastal development guy I’ve done a lot of work with and he talks about it being a butt clenching moment. You’ve just got to do it. And it might feel uncomfortable, but again, a lot of times, with that focus and decision comes support that helps you. I don’t know. Agan, it’s part of my belief structure that when you make a decision, other things conspire to help you that possibly weren’t in the framework before.
Fraser Jack: [24:36] Yeah, I agree. Congratulations on that too, by the way. Now how long has it been now since you opened the doors?
Reine Clemow: [24:41] It’ll be nearly four and a half years this December.
Fraser Jack: [24:43] Wow, Congratulations! And how has that gone in the four and a half. Has there been any changes you made along the way, or has it just been...
Reine Clemow: [24:50] Yeah, we’ve had ups and downs, I suppose. What I realized was that being an advisor is not the same as running an advice business. There is that element of running a business, and it’s hard when you’re on the tools, being the advisor, to give the time to focus on running the business. So we go through these periods where it’s like, “be advisor, be advisor, be advisor, be advisor,” you know, make money, get clients, look after people, and then it’s like, “Oh. I’ve got to step back, which direction are we heading, is this the direction we want to be heading in?” And it’s time to take a breath and then say, “Right,” we sort of looked at the way we were about maybe two years ago and thought, “Well if we keep doing the business in this direction, we’re just going to be really busy, and then we’ll probably end up putting more staff on, but we’re not going to be having a better quality of life, we’re not going to have a better business profitability wise, we’re just going to have more clients, more staff, more busy.
Reine Clemow: [25:43] I think that’s a distinction between, you know, when you’re employed it doesn’t matter you just keep bringing the clients in, as to when you’re running the practice, you have to think about it a little bit differently.
Fraser Jack: [25:53] Yeah, I said it’s wearing two different hats, completely different hats. And sometimes you wear more than two hats, you wear several of them. But how do you go with structuring that from a time point of view, because I know that, from small business in the past, sometimes it’s difficult and if you try to do both things at once, wear both hats at the same time, it just, you don’t end up succeeding at either of them.
Reine Clemow: [26:15] Yeah, I take one of my lessons from that, and I used to call it time blocking. I’d literally just block particular parts of your diary out and then commit to not doing any work on the business during those times. So every quarter, have a day, every week I have four hours on a Monday. So, Monday Morning 9:00 till 12:00 or 8:00 till 12:00, that sort of time frame, that’s my focus for the week, but it ties back to where I want to be for the quarter. And then once a quarter, it’s just sort of like a mini check-in business day.
Reine Clemow: [26:45] I guess you can look at it like 20 rocks, your big rocks that you try to work upon, and once you will do a business planning day, and will sit down and say, “Okay, where do we want to be in three years, how’s that changed from where we thought where we were going to be, but what do we need to do over the next 12 months to move us closer to that direction.” And then those quarterly meetings are just a breakdown of that one year goal as to what are the activities and the actions we need to take to move us forwards. The most difficult part is the commitment to time. Because it’s so easy to come in, have a phone call or an email or something that apparently is important, that needs to be dealt with. That can derail you, but I’ve learned that being focused on that time is probably the most valuable time that I can have for my business.
Fraser Jack: [27:32] Yeah, that’s a really good learning, isn’t it? Structuring that time and being disciplined about it.
Reine Clemow: [27:36] Yep. I’ve had coaches in the past, and I think if people struggle with that, that’s the best service a coach can provide, is that accountability discipline. If you’re finding that you don’t have it yourself, outsource it. Because the cost of that person is multiplied by your efficiency. Because if you can put that time aside, the gains are much greater than what you pay in that cost for the person to hold your hand and make you accountable for it.
Fraser Jack: [28:02] Great. Now, just thinking about your clients, you spend a fair amount of time with them, working on their goals and their objectives and the things that they’re going to remember out of the conversation. Is that something you’ve done from the beginning, or is that something that you’ve introduced?
Reine Clemow: [28:16] Oh, I think it’s an evolution. I think the NAB had the idea that financial planning needed to be done differently than other banks at the time. They used a lot of study tours, I guess the NCL brand allowed them to do that as well. So they’d filter those learnings back into the align channel, and I guess we did goals planning quite an early stage. And what we did focus on goals, and that’s suited me because again it aligned to some of the personal development work I did, some of the personal stuff I did for myself around the understanding of goals, writing things down, doing visualization, those sorts of things. So for me it was a natural way to talk to people about the things they wanted to achieve.
Reine Clemow: [28:58] But certainly over the last couple of years as I’ve mentioned, we wanted to go in a different direction of how we were engaging our clients. More so than just goals, because I found sometimes when you say to someone, “What’s your goals?” They’re very wishy-washy and sometimes they’ve not even broken down and most people haven’t thought about them. So the engagement piece we spend now with clients, we probably spend a good hour in the initial meeting with them, and it’s a combination of partly fact finding, but mostly it’s about understanding where they are now, and what’s working for them. But more importantly, what’s missing in their life right now, and not just goals, but I guess you’d call it their personal aspirations, the things that are meaningful to them.
Reine Clemow: [29:40] And starting to dig into those questions and peel layers back to really find what’s the significance behind that missing piece in their life, and how valuable is it for them to have that. And many times clients have commented to me, “We just have never thought about this and we’ve certainly never had a conversation like this before.” And when we get through it... one of my clients said, “Oh, it’s almost cathartic, it’s just so great to be able to get that out.”
Reine Clemow: [30:11] And partners overlapping with each other. We actually force them to do it individually and we find that that often gives the person in a relationship who doesn’t get that space to speak, a voice. And that’s really interesting, because you find that stuff comes out for them that they hadn’t even thought about, but also their partner gets to hear things that they didn’t realize was important in their other partner’s life. And I’ve had husbands and wives sit there and say, “I didn’t know that was important to you, and we’ve been married 20 years.” So I found that that time spent with clients really anchors the type of work that we do and what we’re going to do with them going forwards.
Fraser Jack: [30:52] I love this. Now you mentioned you do it individually, is that with the other person there, or do you actually have a separate meeting?
Reine Clemow: [30:58] Yeah, and we just pre frame up and to say that the reason we’d like to do this individually, is to give you each a voice and some space. And then there is some control that you need to overlay because obviously the more dominant partner tends to want to weigh in and finish the other person’s sentence when they’re thinking, and politely you just have to let them know that you’ll get your turn, and give that person that space to talk.
Reine Clemow: [31:23] But you know, it’s a different dynamic because I’ve often found when you’d asked somebody what their goals were, it would always be the dominant person would volunteer those goals and often one person would literally just sit there for most of the appointment and not talk. Where now, both of our clients are really engaged, talking, and we often have a second person at our meeting taking notes and also, for the purpose of engaging with both clients. Because sometimes if you’re asking questions and writing and thinking, you might miss little subtle cues that the other person can pick up, and that’s good, to have that other person in the office then be able to maybe ask another layer of a question that you wouldn’t have thought to ask because you didn’t see the role of the eyes, or something else that you would’ve missed.
Fraser Jack: [32:05] Yeah, I can see that being really valuable. How do you frame this meeting up with them, is there any preparation they have to do beforehand, or is it just-
Reine Clemow: [32:12] Yeah, I don’t really want to, I want people to come open rather than give them a whole bunch of stuff. You know, people have said to me, “Well if you could’ve sent these questions through for me in advance, I could’ve prepared.” Well that wasn’t the point. I didn’t wasn’t you to prepare, I wanted to have a conversation and ask questions along the way, make it dynamic rather than having it be pre-thought and scripted.
Reine Clemow: [32:36] A lot of times that’s why I don’t even do for our clients in advance, because there’s so many more questions that come out of filling in the numbers, that you don’t ask if you just get a page completed back. So there is a little bit of preparation. Effectively we just say to client, “We’re probably going to a little bit different to what you might think. We’re going to spend a to of time asking questions with you.” That’s really all we pre-frame them with.
Fraser Jack: [33:00] So after that meeting I’m imagining that your clients are reasonably, a lot of emotion, probably drained and relieved and great to have that conversation out and all those sorts of things. Is that where you leave that meeting and come back with the next one?
Reine Clemow: [33:14] Yeah, so our next process is to come back them with a range of documents that, I basically take the notes from the meeting and give them a visual documents to work with, like a mind map and timeline of the things that they talked about. And just at a really high level, have the next layer of discussion by saying, “If these are the things that are important to you and these are the ways that we can potentially address these and over these timeframes how we could work with you, is that what you’re looking for in a business that can advise you?” So, the next appointment is just I guess a high level approach at what we can help them with. And we always ask them after that appointment to take at least 48 to 72 hours just to digest what we talked about. Go home, talk to each other about it and then we can just touch base afterwards to see if they want to go further.
Fraser Jack: [34:02] So are they clients of yours at this point, or are you-
Reine Clemow: [34:05] They’re not, no they’re not. Not until they’ve signed the engagement letter. And until they’ve done that we’re not doing data collection, we’re not doing information release, we’re not doing any strategy work with them. We’re just really kind of understand what’s important to them and why, and if we can somehow help them achieve those outcomes. And that’s again where we’ve evolved our business more away from, it’s not about [inaudible 00:34:29] allocation or, sometimes not even about strategies. It’s actually about how can we help them with their property portfolio restructuring, and bringing a mortgage broker in to look at all of the different ways they might have to consider cashflow.
Reine Clemow: [34:45] I’ve had a client working with a business coach because their business is [inaudible 00:34:48] at the moment. Working through changing accountants with clients at the time. You know, that’s not working for them. Some of our advice documents have literally been SOA advice with no product in them. But again the client finds the advice component valuable, and not that product recommendation. And it takes us away from having to worry about, you know if there super fund is great and it’s working for them and it’s cost wise and it’s efficient, why do I need to move it? If I’m not being measured on funds under advice or if I’m not being paid on funds under advice, if I’m charging a client the fee directly, transparently for the work, then it moves away from bringing a product discussion at all.
Fraser Jack: [35:29] Absolutely. And after you’ve been through all their values and goals and aspirations, and helped them, prioritize them I guess and work out what they want to focus on, how often do you work with them then, is it do you have ongoing relationships where you see them regularly, or what’s your sort of strategy on that?
Reine Clemow: [35:48] We often ask clients how often they think they would like to see us. And then we will generally come back to them with what we think is the time we need to see them. And like anything, pro’s I think you do tend to spend more time with people initially because there is more heavy lifting at the start, depending on what it is that you’re doing. So we might schedule it, we might see them quarterly for the first year, and then we might drop it back to six monthly, depending on how they feel at the end of each twelve months. So we really engage with clients the same way as we do in our first appointment, in 12 months’ time.
Reine Clemow: [36:16] We don’t have a recurring business model that says, “Well you paid an upfront and now you paying us an ongoing and next year the ongoing will be the same.” What work are we doing next year to justify the fee we’re going to charge them? And if we’ve done significant work for them, then you’d expect that next year’s work is going to be less, therefore the fee needs to change. But again, it might be that there’s new aspirations or new areas that have come up in that next discovery meeting that you talked to them about, that weren’t there 12 months ago, and now all of a sudden that’s really important to them, so you’ve got to take a new direction, on top of what you’re already doing as well.
Fraser Jack: [36:52] Yeah, I completely agree. There’s the one-year contract if you like, a one-year opt in, isn’t it? I suppose you’re covering off on that?
Reine Clemow: [36:59] Yeah, it’s even more than that. I mean we do all, we previously got existing clients where we need to do our one-year opt in and fee disclosure and all of those sorts of things. But it’s taking it to that next level where we’re saying, “Well, last year the things you told me really aren’t relevant for this year. Just because you had a blood test last year doesn’t mean we’re going to use the same results this year. Let’s talk about what this year looks like.”
Fraser Jack: [37:19] And I think the clients probably feel like they’re in control, that conversation decision around how they engage you and how they, if you like, they’ve got some ownership in it?
Reine Clemow: [37:27] Look, I hope so. We think that the customer is the most important component in this, and ultimately we want to be able to give them the choice of how they engage us and what is best for them, rather than saying prescriptively, “This is how we need to do it, this is how it works, and you have to fit into us.” We much more like to give the client all the tools and options and say “”Well, how would you like us to engage with you?”
Fraser Jack: [37:51] And do you get a lot of client referrals after this process?
Reine Clemow: [37:54] Yeah, I do. And really good testimonials.
Fraser Jack: [37:58] Yeah, fantastic. So tell me about the, go back to the business now, what sort of, do you have online meetings with them, or is it mostly in the office, you and them?
Reine Clemow: [38:07] I’ve got clients in other states, so you know, like we’re doing now, Zoom is a fantastic tool. Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, Facebook. So again, rather than say to a client, “We use Zoom,” we say, “We use online meetings, which one are you most comfortable with?” And if they say [inaudible 00:38:25] then I’ll make a suggestion, but they might like Facebook better. So, whatever is easier for them, makes it easier for us as well.
Reine Clemow: [38:34] Most of my clients who are locally though, I would either see face to face or see over the phone, sorry, talk over the phone.
Fraser Jack: [38:43] Great. And can you see your business evolving over the next 12 months or two years? Is there anything you’re working on now trying to [inaudible 00:38:48] in the business that sort of pushing towards maybe the future or how your business might look in the future?
Reine Clemow: [38:53] If you’re not growing, you’re dying, so I think we have to keep evolving and the industry I guess is putting requirements on us, so we’ve always said we’d rather leave the pack than be in the pack. We’re looking at new technology as an enabler and how that’s really going to help us become more efficient. We think that, we’re not really worried about the robo advice side of things, it’s not really our type of market asa much, although I think there’s a place for that absolutely. If that can help younger people get advice and into the right things early and they become better clients longer term, that’s great.
Reine Clemow: [39:27] But I think there’s a lot of other technology that’s going to evolve, that’s going to make our job a lot better and a lot easier. It’s not going to take as long to produce an SOA. There’s going to be compliance things that are going to be... so, all of those things that can happen behind the scene doesn’t necessarily take away from our ability to be valuable to a client. It should take two days, or more than one day to do an SOA, so you have to charge X amount. It’s not about the time, it’s about the outcome. So we can get really efficient.
Reine Clemow: [39:55] So we’re looking at our appointment setting process, for example. So we’ve started using Calendly. We find that more than half of our clients now would respond to a link through an email to book an appointment. So you know, we’d spend time going back and forth with the husband and the wife and my diary and you need to say here’s three times that I’m available, and by the time they came back those were busy. Where now they have a direct access to the diary. They book an appointment, I get notified, it’s perfect.
Reine Clemow: [40:21] The next step to that is then landing them through a page on a website where we can just basically pre-frame them a little bit about what we’re going to do with them in that appointment. But getting that really nice and efficient and removing friction from the process. So we’re looking at, I guess all about engagement processes and where can we take away the friction and the difficulty for them to do business with us, and try to make it as easy as possible. And I think that’s what consumers want.
Fraser Jack: [40:47] Yeah, it’s a brilliant starting point, isn’t it? Removing friction, making it easier for them to do business with you. Tell me about the long term. There’s obviously a lot of changes going on. How do you see the industry, the profession changing over the sort of next five years or so, the long term?
Reine Clemow: [41:01] I think the education requirement, it’s going to be interesting to see whether the number of advisors that they’re talking about leaving the industry actually happens. If that happens, and there’s a restriction of advisors coming in and a whole bunch of advisors exiting, I think that’s a great opportunity for good businesses there at the moment. Because consumers are going to have limited choices.
Reine Clemow: [41:26] And if you just look at simple supply and demand, logistics, you have to be able to capitalize from that. So again, we’re trying to position ourselves to take advantage and be a business of choice for when that happens. I think the profession is going to get better, it has got better. And I think by bringing the degree qualification through, it does elevate it to a profession. There’s no profession in the world that doesn’t have a degree qualification, so I understand that. And there’s going to be a bit of pain in the meantime, for people to go through. I’m going to have to do some extra stuff. But again, you’re always learning in this, and if you’re not always learning, there’s something wrong, you’ve lost your passion or drive.
Fraser Jack: [42:04] Yeah. Most people have to so something, and we’re always going to have to do something, so it’s not going to be a big deal.
Reine Clemow: [42:09] Yeah, whether it’s prescribed by the industry or whether it’s off your own bat, I think you always have to doing something to continually improve yourself.
Fraser Jack: [42:16] Yep. Now, I’m just looking at the time. We’ve been chatting for a while. Wouldn’t mind jumping into our lightning round or our last few questions with regard to some of your top tips and learnings along the way.
Reine Clemow: [42:25] Yep.
Fraser Jack: [42:26] Tell me, is you were chatting to a consumer at a barbecue, or maybe someone that wasn’t inside your demographic, or someone that you may not be able to help straight away, or someone that may be looking to get advice, and not sure if they should, what would you say to them?
Reine Clemow: [42:40] Oh, this is one of my downfalls, because even though they might not be my ideal client, I’d tend to want to help most people anyway. But is they were truly well outside, I might just try and understand a little bit about what it is that is going on for them, to point them into where they should be going. So whether it’s an information resource that they can DIY themselves, or whether it is the fact that they probably do need to see somebody.
Reine Clemow: [43:04] If they need to see somebody I’d probably just point them to the [inaudible 00:43:08] website. The government’s worked out a few things that you need to know before you go and see and advisor. Just brush up on what those are so that you’re an informed person, and so you can understand what you can expect. And I tell all people when I speak publicly, “If you’re looking for an advisor that’s actually going to be in your best interest, just ask how they’re getting paid. And if they can’t answer that with integrity and clearly and it feels right for you, then there’s probably someone else for you to choose. “
Fraser Jack: [43:36] Yeah, I agree. Now, tell me, if you’re chatting to a new advisor looking to get into the industry, what would your thoughts be for them?
Reine Clemow: [43:44] Be aware, it’s a long journey. Like you said before, it’s a long game. DO everything you can to grow yourself, because you can only work with people at a similar level to you, emotionally, spiritually, as an advisor. So grow yourself in as many complimentary areas as possible, and if anything doesn’t ever feel right, don’t do it.
Fraser Jack: [44:10] Yep. Now, if you were chatting to an advisor who was maybe a real traditional style of business, that was a bit worried about what’s coming up, and maybe wanted to transition their business to being a little bit more like yours, and focus on the client’s goals and objectives, what would your thoughts be?
Reine Clemow: [44:25] I’d help them understand that at the end of the day we’re all people, we all have emotions and dreams and if we’re not talking to people in that way, then I think they just have to change. The world’s changed around them. You just don’t want to be a dinosaur. You can continue to some degree for a while, doing something that used to work, but you just have to, I think you just have to look at the world and think it’s a changing place and either I change with it, or I get made redundant.
Reine Clemow: [44:58] If they truly are passionate about helping people, I think they will look for ways to evolve and realize that people care about them not [inaudible 00:45:11] you know, they don’t care about the strategies and the numbers, they care about what it means to them and if you as an advisor care about helping that person by understanding what’s important to them, I think you’ve got a good business model.
Fraser Jack: [45:23] Yeah. Good, good. Now tell me, if you could go back in time, any time, and give yourself some advice, where would you go, with the benefit of hindsight, where would you go and what would you say to yourself?
Reine Clemow: [45:35] A good question, Fraser. I’d probably remind myself that, again, I think things happen for the right reasons, and sometimes not to sweat the small stuff. There’s been plenty of times where I’ve worried along the way about what was happening, and you get caught up sometimes [inaudible 00:45:50] the news. So I’d probably just remind myself that if you have the passion and you believe in what you’re doing, to just stay focused on that and don’t let external noise distract you. Because stuff that happens within every work place or every industry that can take you off track. So, hard question, but...
Fraser Jack: [46:10] I feel like you could almost be talking about me at that point when you say that, because it’s I think we might have all been through that, where we’ve lost focus along the, what we really wanted to achieve, we got mixed up in the small stuff.
Reine Clemow: [46:20] Yeah.
Fraser Jack: [46:22] Alrighty, I want to say thank you so much. We’ve sort of run out of time now, but I really, really appreciate you coming on the show and having a chat to us today and it sound like you have a pretty amazing business, and I wish you all the best with it over the next few years.
Reine Clemow: [46:34] Thanks Fraser, I really appreciate the opportunity, and I hope that someone listening can take some lessons away and translate it into outcomes that are beneficial for them.
Fraser Jack: [46:43] Yeah, there certainly is plenty of take aways. Thank you very much, I appreciate it.
Reine Clemow: [46:46] Awesome, thanks Mate.
Fraser Jack: [46:48] See you.
Reine Clemow: [46:48] Bye.
Fraser Jack: [46:48] If you haven’t already, I’d love you to subscribe to the podcast on your podcast platform of choice. And to continue the conversation, head over to our social media channels. We’ll catch you next time.
Disclaimer: This document is a transcription obtained through a third party. There is no claim to accuracy on the content provided in this document, and divergence from the audio file are to be expected. As a transcription, this is not a legal document in itself, and should not be considered binding to advice intelligence, but merely a convenience for reference.