Glen James: [00:00] So what I wanted to do, I’m basically of the view, if I don’t add value, or you don’t think I add any value in your life, I don’t want your money. It’s as simple as that. So every single year, you will put pen to paper and agree that you want me engaged as your financial advisor.
Fraser Jack: [00:24] Welcome to the Goals Based Advice Podcast, where we have conversation with pioneers of the new world of 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: [00:41] In this episode, we chatted to the ever cheeky, but genuine nice guy Glen James. Now, Glen runs a local practice in a small coastal town in New South Wales, Australia, and he kindly shares his journey on just how he set up his business, and also how he built his referral relationships. We chatted about all things, from business planning to coaching to setting up referral sources. We covered off on cash flow and budgeting and the spending plan conversations he has with his clients. He mentions a little bit about his online course that he’s created and we covered off on just how he works with his clients in setting goals.
Fraser Jack: [01:22] We also discussed his review process, and he has a very unique twelve month service agreement which he’s put in place, which is a little bit different to most businesses. There’s plenty of great tips in this episode, so let’s jump in.
Fraser Jack: [01:43] Welcome to the show, Glen.
Glen James: [01:44] Thanks, Fraser, for having me, and congratulations on launching such a cool project, that I think is needed among the advice community. So congratulations, and thanks for having me.
Fraser Jack: [01:56] Yeah, it’s been good. It’s had a quite a bit of feedback, been very special and I’ve enjoyed it so thank you.
Glen James: [02:00] No, no worries. So are you up to, like, three listeners an episode now, or...
Fraser Jack: [02:03] I think we’re up to eight.
Glen James: [02:04] Oh, eight? Wow.
Fraser Jack: [02:05] Yeah, it’s been really good. I’m so excited.
Glen James: [02:08] You’re just breaking the internet, aren’t you?
Fraser Jack: [02:10] It’s called breaking the internet.
Glen James: [02:12] Yeah, nice.
Fraser Jack: [02:14] Enough about me, tell me about you. What are you up to at the moment?
Glen James: [02:16] Well, at the moment, I don’t know how literal you want me to be, but I’m sitting in my home. I live at Blue Bay on the New South Wales Central Coast, if you know the coast well, it’s just near the Entrance, between Terrigal and the Entrance. And I’ve got a financial planning office, which is just at Killarney Vale, so it’s about a five minute drive, without any traffic lights, to my house. So I just thought I’d duck away from the office for this interview, and here we are.
Glen James: [02:45] So, I’ve got the practice Fortify Financial, and that’s kicking along. In March, it will be nine years since I’ve had my financial planning practice, and it’s really great, and it’s at the stage now I feel, it’s almost like a mature practice, and we can get into the details a bit later about what that means for me, and what I’m doing with the practice. But certainly I’m out of that growth phase, which a lot of your listeners would be at, so if I can give any advice to those people along the way, I certainly will.
Fraser Jack: [03:14] Great. Now, it sounds like a terrible place to have to be.
Glen James: [03:17] Yes.
Fraser Jack: [03:17] Very high stress, lots of traffic lights, obviously, and then getting... Commute to work.
Glen James: [03:21] And it’s just so annoying. I was trying to sleep last night, but the ocean was so loud.
Fraser Jack: [03:24] My heart bleeds for you, my heart bleeds.
Glen James: [03:29] Yeah, we’ll edit that out, yeah.
Fraser Jack: [03:31] Yeah. So tell me about your journey, nine years on. How did it start?
Glen James: [03:37] Yeah. It was funny. I was 25, and at the time I was working for a financial planning business at North Sydney, Genesis Financial Partners, and a few of you may know Michelle Flanagan and Phil Robbins who are in that business at the moment. And I was there for just under five years, and I wanted to get into finance, I wanted to get into investing, or financial planning, so I started there, basically in an admin role, at the very bottom, and then I did the study on the side. So really I did an apprenticeship in financial planning, because I got to know how the office and how the backend works, and then I moved through to paraplanning and associate advising. And then, because I was commuting to North Sydney, which was an hour and a little bit each day, I was driving down, it got to the point where it was like, “Well, I don’t really want to leave the coast because my roots are so deep here, and I’ve got a lot of friends and family and it’s where my life is,” and I thought I would start a business.
Glen James: [04:43] And I took the leap, and I had a good mentor at the time, that was very important, and I started Fortify Financial with no clients and, I think if I said I had $8000 to my name, I might be pushing it. But it’s funny how fast the fortnights go when you’ve got no money. Yeah, so I started from the ground up, organically, and every client I’ve got, I’ve actually met and know their story, so it’s really great.
Fraser Jack: [05:12] So take me back to that time. You’re... Got a job, you are traveling for it, but how did you actually go about the planning to start your own practice?
Glen James: [05:20] Yeah, so for me it actually started maybe six months to a year out, and what I did, I’m licensed through Apogee Financial Planning, and at the time, when I was thinking about being licensed, I interviewed about 13 dealer groups, and a lot of those dealer groups are not around today. And so for me, I went with Apogee because they were the only dealer group who actually said to me, “We will not take you on unless you’ve got a business plan.” And I thought, “That’s interesting, that sounds like a pain in the arse to do, a business plan.” And they said, “We want to see that you’ve got four referral sources, to know that you will get clients.” So they really trained me about, “Your whole priority is to get clients, and where are you going to get those clients from?” And I made the decision early on, the day I have to cold call is the day I’m giving up my business and going to sell mobile phones at Westfield. It was just, “I’m never cold calling a client.”
Glen James: [06:13] So I spent the first six months before I started my business working on my business plan, speaking with referral sources on the Central Coast, and really planning that, “Hey, I’m starting my business, this is what I want to offer, is this is something you’d be interested to work me on?” So I got the referral sources, and then the first twelve months of the business, the only cold calls I did was other businesses who could be potential referral sources. So I probably called about 40 businesses, mortgage brokers, lawyers, accountants, I don’t know, lawnmowers, no. Like, everyone. I basically interviewed and met with half the coast before and during the first year of my business, yeah.
Fraser Jack: [06:53] Sounds like you selected the path of most resistance rather than the path of least resistance.
Glen James: [06:58] Yes, that’s right, and that’s exactly right, and that’s why I went with Apogee, because I’m like, “If I can’t climb this big fence early on, which is the hardest thing, why would I bother doing the rest?” So that’s exactly right. It’s a good thing I went with the hardest, because if I couldn’t do the hardest early on, I would have no chance. There was some dealer groups I called, and it was actually really funny, I had to work on... And this is, for anyone listening, I called a few dealer groups and the first phone call was like, “Hey, my name’s Glen, I’m thinking about starting a financial planning business, can I have a license?” And it was pretty much like, “Go away, kid.” One dealer group would just send me a two-page flyer. “Yeah, fill this out and we’ll get you on board.” I’m thinking, “Ugh, that sounds... Yeah, I’m not doing that.” But by the end of it I was all like, “Hey, Glen James here, just seeing what’s the process to come on board?” I just changed my... Just changed the language, and that was an amazing thing to do, when I just changed my language when I approached the dealer groups, to get their attention.
Fraser Jack: [08:02] And did you get more attention when you had your business plan under your arm?
Glen James: [08:06] Well, at that point, I only did the business plan for Apogee, and that’s when I decided to join Apogee. But it was actually really good. The first year... How candid you want me to be with business plan?
Fraser Jack: [08:18] Up to you.
Glen James: [08:19] My business plan, I wanted to generate $97000 in the first financial year, right? And I was working in an office fricking earning $35000 a year at the time, right? So it was like, “What the hell?” But you do that business plan, and the first financial year I basically generated $95000. I hit the target, it was nuts, right? And it was just very interesting, if I didn’t do that business plan and my projections and what would I... Who knows? But I would encourage anyone... And I often, like, once a year I really look at my financials in the business today, and it’s, “Okay, what do I want next year to look like?” I actually hate, I hate having a budget for the business because I think I get a bit of exam anxiety and I hate trying to test myself or whatever, but I think it’s just good to know what your target is, and what it costs you to exist, and then what you need to do to actually take some profit home.
Glen James: [09:13] And I will say, the other reason Apogee was really hard, because they were a flat fee, and I think at the time it was like $26000 a year to have their license, including PI... Well, I don’t even know if that was including PI, but it included everything but it was like, “Okay, so, I’ve got to do a grand a fortnight before I even pay rent.” So it wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination.
Fraser Jack: [09:37] Yeah, it sounds like a really good example of setting a goal and actually pushing yourself towards and achieving it, rather than worrying about too much else that was going on around you.
Glen James: [09:45] And to the point now, we set with our clients every day, right? So why wouldn’t we have that for ourselves? So what I do now, I’ve got a business coach and it’s Paul Harding-Davis. You actually know Paul. So I meet with Paul every three months, to do with Fortify Financial, but also because my business now is really a lifestyle business to fund Glen James’ overspending... Why are you laughing? So what I do, I’ve also got a colleague of mine, John Pidgeon, who is, I guess, my personal wealth accountability guy, and then Paul is my business accountability coach. And every three months, the three of us have a meeting, just to keep me on track. So it’s really important that I, Glen James, am on track with my personal finances but also the business, and because they’re so linked in my life at the moment.
Fraser Jack: [10:48] Yeah, it sounds exactly right, practicing what you preach, regarding to, if you want to help people achieve their goals.
Glen James: [10:53] Yeah, and I mean, the more that we do financial advice, the more that we’re learning that the wins for clients are in the day to day spending, right? So none of us are above that, we’ve all got habits and behaviors that we... We’re not above anything, as humans.
Fraser Jack: [11:08] Exactly right. We’re going to touch on habits a bit later, I just wanted to take you back to that time when you first opened your business and that, and how did you about choosing your name and getting your website and all that sort of stuff up?
Glen James: [11:20] So what I did, when I started my business and, again, if you’re listening to this podcast and you’re thinking, “Oh, I want to start my own FP business one day.” Well, you’re talking to the right guy because I’ll tell you exactly what to do. I want you to get a diary, ditch the freaking iPad or whatever iThing you’ve got... I’m sounding old. Oh man, it’s happened.
Fraser Jack: [11:42] Let me tell you people how it’s all done. I tell you, sonny.
Glen James: [11:47] It’s happening, Fraser.
Fraser Jack: [11:48] It’s happening.
Glen James: [11:49] People, you don’t know that I didn’t have Zoom installed before this podcast. I had a diary, pen and paper, and what I did, I did a brain dump of... I had to write down everything that I had to do in order to get the business off the ground. From websites, logo, whatever it was, I had 20, 30 things and each day, each week, whatever it was, I just had to go and tick those things, right? So that was, I guess, one practical thing. In terms of the business name Fortify Financial, I had a passion... I was going to be a risk only business, right? You go to your first client and they say, “Oh, we’ve got this managed fund here, what do we do with this? And we’ve got these super accounts.” I mean, in the early days it’s really hard, I believe, to service your clients well, without doing a bit of everything.
Glen James: [12:35] But essentially, I wanted to help people build and protect their wealth, so I wrote, “Okay, what do I want to do? I want to help build and protect, build and protect.” So just doodling on the notepad and just brain dumping. I then got a... Build and protect, and used the thesaurus and like, “What’s some type of word that I believe encompasses that?” And that word was, to me, fortify. And I didn’t want financial planning or insurance or anything like that in the title, I wanted to keep it pretty open, Fortify Financial. I didn’t want my own name, like Glen James and Associates or anything like that. And then in the logo, I actually worked with my designer Jason Knight, and so the build and protect, it was originally like a castle turret and like a shield, and that, we did in 2015 a bit of a rebrand, and you’ll still see in the logo today, there’s the shield there and the castle, so that’s how I went about doing that. And then it was like, “Okay, is the domain available?” And blah blah blah, so...
Fraser Jack: [13:37] Yep. Now you mentioned in your first year that you, when you were setting up, you spoke to a lot of business people around the area. In the first year, were they a lot of your first clients? Or where did your first clients come form in that first twelve months?
Glen James: [13:50] Yeah. So I... And this was one of the reasons that I started my business, because a lot of people I knew knew I was in finance, and I had a lot of friends that were maybe starting young families or whatever, and I knew there was a huge need for family protection, and a lot of people don’t know the best way to go about getting that protection, and the fact that they even need it. So basically I talked to ten people in my, I guess, personal network, and had them, “Hey, yep, line you up.” So I had about ten people lined up, so that’s one thing, and then funnily enough, when push comes to shove, three of them, you get in front of three of them and the funnels game happens.
Glen James: [14:29] So it was basically, I really did push on my personal networks, and then really got into those referral sources and, for me, finding a referral source, of the 40 businesses I met with on the Central Coast, I did the B&I stuff, and that wasn’t for me, because I’m not a morning person and they do a lot of their meetings at like 7am. Like, are you kidding me? I went to the B&I once and I’d met half the people there anyway because I’d been hustling the coast. But for me, the referral sources was like, well, I want to partner with a company who, the person I actually get on with, and I actually would socialize with and go and have a drink with, or have a barbecue with, because I think if you win the personality game and that connection part, the rest will follow. And then it was just regularly coffees and catch ups and the whole thing. Our whole world is built on relationships, it doesn’t matter what business you’re in, whatever you do, the principles are the same.
Fraser Jack: [15:28] Yeah, I absolutely agree. Relationships are such... And like you said, win the personality game. Tell me, how many centers of influence did you have originally, and how’s the developed over time?
Glen James: [15:39] Yeah. So I had probably four originally, but none of them were formal arrangements. It was more, I had four that I was building relationship with and I’d keep in contact regularly. To me, a lot of it, as well, was, “Hey, I’m going to be seeing these clients, I need somewhere good, that I can trust, to send people myself.” So that’s what I did, I had a good couple of accountants, because you know that you’ve got one client, they’re not going to suit that personality, so you try and match up the personalities. So yeah, it was just basically, it kind of ended up that I had maybe only three, two and a half actual, that were ended up sending me business. And then you might get a lead out of the blue.
Glen James: [16:25] There was no real methodology, but the only thing I did have in the beginning was, I had an... Well, it wasn’t an agreement, it was just like, “Hey, you can send me a client, but I’m not paying a referral fee.” That was one big thing that I wanted to do, because I wanted them to send me their clients, only because they actually saw the benefit of what I was doing, and they wanted their clients looked after. And I know that’s not very commercial for a lot of people, when they want to... I’m not saying don’t receive a referral fee, I just really, one, didn’t have the money to spare, I was building a business, but two, I didn’t want any... I felt a bit guilty dealing with a client who was like, “Oh hi, by the way, we’re sending money back.” And I mean, sure, it’s a commercial world, but that’s just how I started with the pitch to the referral sources.
Fraser Jack: [17:15] And have you developed many more over the last nine years?
Glen James: [17:19] Not really. I’ve still got two accountants who send me... Well, maybe three accountants, who send me clients... Or actually four. Actually, they do grow, I just forget, because the leads are so ad hoc, right? I’ve got four accountants. I had a really good relationship with a general insurance broker, who I still refer work to, but as my business has transitioned, I’ve kind of stopped taking leads from that broker because they were just bad leads. Like, I need an IP policy to get onsite and all that type of stuff, which just wasn’t the direction I was going. But mortgage brokers are good, particularly around the risk [inaudible 00:18:00] accountants, and that’s basically it, yeah.
Fraser Jack: [18:03] And tell me about-
Glen James: [18:04] It’s hard to get leads from lawyers. Actually I do have a good relationship with a lawyer here on the coast, and I do a lot of their business insurance stuff, because that’s what I specialize in. So you get some good leads out of it that way.
Fraser Jack: [18:15] And you mentioned that your business has developed over the time. What’s the main sort of changes that’s happened over that period?
Glen James: [18:21] Yeah, so to the point now where I feel I’ve got enough clients and income... Well, what happened was I had an associate advisor, a paraplanner and another admin person. Well, I had two admin people, associate advisor and a paraplanner, and at the end of last year, I wanted to pivot and change my business, because I was just working too much, and I hated it. So basically, as of this year, pretty much decided I don’t take new clients unless they’re a really good client referral, or I feel like it. So it’s just now myself and my PA. There’s another advisor in my office who, he runs his own car through Apogee but he uses the Fortify brand, so he rents a desk. So it’s good, because any clients that come in, like, I got a couple of leads today and I just send them over to Ross, and he will sort them out. So at least we’ll... Fortify the business can take new clients.
Glen James: [19:18] So what I do now is, and I still take the odd client, but there’s a couple of things that have changed. One, the first meeting, it’s $220, and it’s a general advice session, regardless of whether you go ahead or not, I’ll always charge that. And you’ve just got to add some value, and you always do in your first meetings. And then it’s basically, I’ve changed my systems and processes now on reviewing clients and really servicing our clients well. So I’ve got about two... I’ve probably got 245, 250 clients. 75% of them families, risk only and super. The balance is either wealth coaching, fee paying, retirees and all that stuff.
Fraser Jack: [20:04] And so you’ve really developed your review process, trying to high-touch-
Glen James: [20:09] Yeah, so... And even navigating that high-touch in the compliant world, like, our licensee standard says any fee-paying client, when you reach out to them for the annual review, you’ve got to communicate with them via two means, if they don’t reply. So you can’t just send an email and say, “Okay, there you go.” So what we do is, we send an SMS and an email, to say, “Hey, it’s Glen here. Just sent you an email, I’d like to catch up.” So that works well. And I’ve actually ditched the [FDS 00:20:37] and opt in, so I just do twelve month service agreements now, and that year starts on the 1st of September, and it’s not an ongoing agreement, it’s a twelve month fee agreement. So it was easier for us to send out all the agreements in August, chase everything up, get everything back into the office, and that might mean someone might have a review period in March, that’s fine, but our fee year is the 1st of September.
Fraser Jack: [20:58] Okay, so let’s just have a think about how that works from a practical point of view. Every year you’ve got to... You have an agreement with the clients saying, “We’re going to look after you for another year.” They have to agree to be involved in that?
Glen James: [21:09] Yes, yep. So what I wanted to do, I’m basically of the view, if I don’t add value, or you don’t think I add any value in your life, I don’t want your money. It’s as simple as that. So every single year, you will put pen to paper and agree that you want me engaged as your financial advisor.
Fraser Jack: [21:30] And so, if they don’t, or they have moved away or something like that, then how do you go about actually removing yourself as the advisor?
Glen James: [21:36] Yeah. So a couple of things. Depending on the type of client, I will actually say, “Well, we’ve now terminated our advice relationship and you’ll have to contact the service provider if you want any things happening, blah blah blah.” Or would be on an ad hoc meeting basis, so they’re still sitting there, where they’re still on the email list and all that but there’s... I had a meeting today with a guy, he comes in every three months just for a coffee and a chat, and that’s cool. He pays for that. But, yeah, if you’re a good person, and the portfolios that I’ve set up for are pretty low maintenance, yeah, if you want to come in on an ad hoc basis, yeah, you can just pay the advice fee.
Glen James: [22:21] What’s in the back of my head at the moment, and this isn’t gospel in my business or whatever, I’m almost thinking about turning the majority of fees off and going to a pretty much, “Hey, if you ever want to catch up, come in and just pay me ad hoc.” I don’t know yet.
Fraser Jack: [22:37] Okay. And you do a fair bit of cash flow work with your clients?
Glen James: [22:41] Yep.
Fraser Jack: [22:41] How does that go?
Glen James: [22:42] Yeah, so I actually... We tried all the cash flow softwares and all that stuff, and what I actually found was, a lot of the times, maybe 75, 80% of the clients weren’t even logging in. Because we’d set up their cash flow, they didn’t actually... They didn’t care that they spent $250 last month at a café. It got to the point where they weren’t logging in and... So what I did, I’ve basically, with my cash flow program now, I actually think... And again, if you’re listening to this, you’ve just got to find a way that works for you and your clients. My way isn’t the way, it’s a way, right? Find your a way. Sounds really bad, but... So that’s kind of the vibe I take.
Glen James: [23:25] So I’ve made a spreadsheet, and it’s a spending plan spreadsheet, and it’s got three tabs. The first tab is income, second tab is all expenses, the third tab is the spending plan. So that goes on Google Docs and clients can log in and edit that, and then I can jump in and see that at the time because, I actually found most of my clients... And it’s kind of funny, you almost attract who you are, right? For me, personally, I don’t really care about a zero-base budget per se, I don’t really... I just want to know how much can I blow each week without using my brain. I want to know that all my fixed bills are taken care of each year, and I want to see my savings or investments increasing. That is it, that’s all I want.
Glen James: [24:14] So the spending plan, I just basically set all the clients up, the spending plan spreadsheet, they log in, they can change if bills change throughout the year, and if they’ve got any issues, they just give me a call and I’ll log in and have a look at it. It’s pretty cool.
Fraser Jack: [24:30] How do the conversations go when you’re sitting with your clients, around spending and setting the goals?
Glen James: [24:35] Yeah, so that’s interesting. So what I do is, I’m big, with financial goals, at attacking one thing at a time. So for example, if there’s a partnership, like a spouse arrangement, one thing I might do is, “Hey people, you over there, David, and you Mary, or whoever they are. Bill and Bill or whatever. I want you to each write down at least three financial goals that you both want in your life at the moment.” And they just... They’re in a relationship, they don’t talk to each other. So they write down the things, and then basically, I take them and I see... If there’s one thing that’s on both of the lists, that’s our first priority, right? So then it’s like, “Okay, we’re going to do this first because we both agree on it.” And then it’s just brokering, “Okay, what’s the next big thing?” And we look at the different amounts, “What are we going to save for first?” and stuff like that.
Glen James: [25:28] And another thing, and the reason I didn’t have Zoom on my computer, is because no one gets me for cool podcasts like this, I’m just a washed up has been. But, you know, you’ve got a community service quota to take today, so-
Fraser Jack: [25:43] Yeah, we’ve got all eight listeners keen to hear from you, so...
Glen James: [25:45] Yeah, that’s right. So my personality is, I don’t think I can service clients remotely, because I need them in the room. I need to feel the room. So with my advice business, I’m totally okay for it just to be local business for the community. And you know, I sponsor the local kids touch footy team, and... That reminds me, I’ve got to pay their bill. So I do that, so I feel Fortify, for me, is just the local community. We’re on the main road at Killarney Vale, Wyong Road, over 20,000 cars a day go past. I’ve got a big sign, we’ve got a banner on the side of the building that we change every now and again.
Fraser Jack: [26:24] 20,000 cars coming past and every now and then some of them stop?
Glen James: [26:27] Yeah. Well, that’s what we want, right? I don’t want them to... If I had my time again, I wouldn’t do a shopfront. The only reason I did a shopfront was it was close to home and it was cheap. I don’t need the walk-in stuff, but we’ve got a community presence. So for my FP business, I don’t want clients remote via Zoom, via Skype, because I want to feel the room, I want to know if one of them’s sitting there squirming, and my personality needs that to interact with them. I need the whiteboard. Hey, I refer clients that I get from the podcasts of people all around Australia, because that’s cool, I can... I don’t need new clients and some people can do remote meetings well. I’m not that person.
Fraser Jack: [27:07] Sure. And you mentioned your podcast there, let’s give it a bit of a plug while we’re on.
Glen James: [27:12] Yeah, so for the eight or nine... By the time this is released you should be up to ten listeners, right?
Fraser Jack: [27:18] Yes, I’m hoping to get a few more from your podcast to listen.
Glen James: [27:20] Yeah, sweet. So I run a... Well, actually, before I talk about that, let me talk about the spending plan spreadsheet, right?
Fraser Jack: [27:31] Yeah, yep.
Glen James: [27:34] And even last week, I was at a café at Erina, and I walked in and there was three guys there. One’s married, one’s engaged and one’s dating. And I did these informal money nights with some friends previously, because I’ve done the seminars on the coast and the buy your first home, get into property and all that stuff, and a lot of it, people just need to know how to manage their money. That’s the biggest pain point for the under 30’s, I believe. Okay?
Glen James: [28:02] So I walked in and they said, “Oh, can we have you around?” And I’m like, “Yeah, sure.” And they said, “How much is it?” And I said, “I don’t know, just promote my podcast on social media.” So what I’ve done is, the spending plan spreadsheet, is I’ll turn that into a little seminar. How to manage your money, and you can download the spreadsheet, okay? So then what I did was, I had heaps of friends, that I’ll just do it for free, because, yeah, it’s a passion of mine. I enjoy it, right? So I’ll show anyone how to set up a spending plan.
Glen James: [28:34] So then I had the spreadsheet and I thought, “Hang on,” and it got to the point, I was like, “I’m sick of repeating myself,” so I filmed it all and I’ve got an online course. And so basically now, the online course, people can go in, watch the four videos and I’ll walk each person through how to set up that spending plan. So off the back of that, I had this thing, “I need to more online content,” because it’s like I’m all or nothing. It’s like you’re either in my office doing a meeting and that’s face to face, not really scalable anymore, whatever, to I want to be a one to many, to dish out stuff without having to talk to you, almost, right?
Glen James: [29:17] And I thought, you know how you have a hundred ideas in the shower each morning and 99 1/2 of them suck. So one morning, I had that .5, it’s like, “I’ve got to do more online content. I’ve got to be a content creator. I want to be an online content creator. That’s all I want to do.” So I called my mate John, and John’s a property coach. He runs a business called Solvere Wealth, so any clients of mine that are property zombies, don’t pay me a couple of grand a year to coach you. Go and pay John, he’s got an education background, he was a teacher. He can do a lot of the stuff I do, but with a gear of getting people into properties, right? So he’s a fee-for-service property coach.
Glen James: [29:54] So I said to John, who’s also my personal spending guy, voice of reason. I sent him a text, I was like, “Hey, let’s do a podcast. We’ve got to do a podcast.” And then I’m like, “I need someone else.” So I put up on Facebook, “Hey, are there any sassy opinionated women who want to come on a podcast?” And then Erin, who’s on the podcast now, she’s not in finance, she’s a lawyer, and she worked at one of my referral sources, and my sister used to work there, and, you know... Small world, right, on the coast. So as it is today, the podcast is My Millennial Money, and it is a target to millennials who want to be educated and inspired and encouraged around their money, in a fun and practical way. Now, the thing is, it’s comedy, we have a bit of fun, and it’s in the comedy section because I wanted to get people under 30 who wanted to get into podcasting, who know they want to sort their money out, but do not instantly go to the business or investing section. Like, “I want a podcast.” So I want them to go to comedy charts, scroll down, “Oh, money, oh.” And then do that.
Glen James: [30:58] So out of the podcast, I promote the online spending course, and so I do that, and then my website sortyoumoneyout.com, because that’s... And the sortyourmoneyout.com, my blog, that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to help people sort their money out. Because my skill is probably coming and helping people clean up their money. Some people are the other end, “We’ll help you manage it and grow it and blah blah blah,” but mine’s kind of the emergency room, that’s my absolute skill. So I wanted to help put a fence up the top of the cliff, with the spending plan and the podcast. So out of that, if you want one-on-one financial advice, they can fill out a form and I’ll refer them to somebody around Australia to get some personal advice, because I do believe every Australian does need quality, affordable financial advice, at some point in their journey. But there’s such a need out there with the day to day cash flow management, and I’m basically creating a business to compete with Fortify Financial, my own business.
Fraser Jack: [31:59] I really like the idea that you’ve attacked it from a different angle, as in, there’s consumers out there having... If you say, “Well, let’s go have some real serious money conversations,” people will back off and be scared. So it’s really good to be able to bring it in with another thing, comedy or something on the side so it’s not a serious conversation.
Glen James: [32:18] Yeah, and we just want to be engaging. We want to have the discussions, and the reason I wanted Erin on there, someone who’s not in finance, because she’s the most popular person on the show, and she’s kind of like the consumer advocate, almost. The listener’s advocate, so we’ll do an episode and we’ll sit there and I’ll trash Afterpay, and she’ll pop up and go, “Oh, I use Afterpay.” It’s just hilarious. We did an episode once and her phone went off, and it was an overdue thing from Afterpay, while were talking about Afterpay.
Fraser Jack: [32:46] I heard that one.
Glen James: [32:49] Yeah. I mean, that’s a journey within itself. We started it upstairs from my house here, and we were just getting slammed by the reviews and so I’ve got a studio now, next to the third suite in my office at Fortify. Someone moved out so it’s literally a studio, it’s the green screen, the podcasting. I’ve got all the top of the line podcasting gear and I’m just trying to turn it up a notch, because if you want to be up there in the charts, which we are, and competing with the big boys and gals, yeah, we’ve just got to bring our A game.
Fraser Jack: [33:21] Yeah. Now, you mentioned with the podcast, you’re trying to develop it and evolve. What is the near future, so next twelve months, what are you working on at the moment to promote both your personal brand and the business brand?
Glen James: [33:35] Yeah. So for me, Fortify Financial, it’s pretty much to the stage where I only want to work in that business two days a week. And that means basically, we’re just reviewing clients and... But the weird thing is, if you review clients well, there’s always new business opportunity. It’s just nuts, right? If a good client of mine referred their brother or sister, yeah, I would absolutely help them, but they’ve got to pay me $220 and the advice fee’s double what it used to be, but that’s fine.
Glen James: [34:02] So yeah, Fortify, we’re spending a lot of time just working on that to be a review-only business model, and then... I’ve just gone on the board of the AFA, so I still want to be a champion for face to face financial advice. I want to do more in our profession, I want to, yeah, just really encourage businesses that are out there with some legacy business models, who maybe still do paper applications for insurance. Let’s just start to change, because we need to. So the Fortify stuff, it’s kind of ticking along.
Glen James: [34:34] And the other three days of the week, or whatever’s left over when I... I don’t know, sometimes I work on a Sunday and it’s like, “Why are you working on Sunday? Oh, I want to.” Like, just do what you want when you want. Yeah, so I really want to double down and do an online course. So the plan is at the moment, my spending plan course, I think it’s $50 at the moment. I’m about to increase it to $120, but I’m going to do a whole heap of other content and change it into a financial planning course, DIY financial planning and sell it for $500, perhaps, and have the spending plan part as the free hook. So essentially, yeah, doing that.
Fraser Jack: [35:11] Great, and how do you see... Because obviously you mentioned there’s a lot of change happening. How do you see the long term of the advice industry looking?
Glen James: [35:19] Long term, good. Short term, scary, if you’re an advisor. I probably shouldn’t say scary, but I think if you always just focus on wanting to help people, the rest will sort itself out. I think the best thing that’s happened with all this... You don’t really hear the word robo much anymore because the robos in the hospitals that are operating on people still need the surgeons to operate the gear, right? So I think robo would be a good way to plug into our business, so you can focus as the advisor on the accountability coach and the strategic mastermind for your clients. Yeah, the best thing that’s happened has been this online stuff. The best thing that’s happened for Fortify Financial has been Glen James doing the online spending plan, because those younger clients who don’t have the money, but they do want to get started, I’ve got another option for them. And what it does, it actually... I think it’s a parting of the Red Sea. Now we’ve got a very clear fork in the road, whether you want to read The Barefoot Investor and tread your own path, or... [inaudible 00:36:18] thing, or do you want to go and get some personalized advice.
Glen James: [36:22] Now, yes, that can be expensive. Yes, the prices should be coming down as we use technology in our business to deliver the advice in a cost-effective way. And one thing I have done in the business, before I see any client, they get sent an online form, and they must fill out all their details so I’m not, one, I’m not spending 20 minutes in the first meeting collecting data, which they can tell me their date of birth and their preferred mailing address and their goals and aspirations. Absolutely, we print it and we go through it and we talk about, that’s one way that you can save 20 minutes of your first meeting by outsourcing that back to the client and really being prepared for the first meeting.
Glen James: [37:02] So I think, yeah, it’s really cool, the future of advice is great because what I want to do is, I want to get people under 30, get their money cleaned up, help them, so then they can go and spend the money on getting some personal advice.
Fraser Jack: [37:16] Yes, I think getting to that eight and ten that aren’t seeking, just giving them something that moves them towards advice, is an amazing thing.
Glen James: [37:23] Totally. How many times, the people through the podcast, they’ll send me a message on Instagram, “Hey, do you think I should spend $20000 in this Asian EFT?” And it’s like, “Oh, gosh.” And I write back, “Hey dude, you need to actually get some advice because you haven’t told me if you’ve got $15000 in personal loan debt. Have you got a spending plan? Are you going to be investing that and ten minutes later pulling it back out?” So, absolutely, personal advice is needed. The job for our profession is, how do we reduce the costs of delivery, and that’s a whole other compliance discussion. But I am excited, and if you are wanting to get into finance at the moment, I would probably do a full fee-for-service business model, strip out risk commissions and just, “Hey, you want me, you pay for me.” And I think the days of having a financial planning business with 2000 clients sitting dormant may be over going forward, for new businesses, and it’s just about, “Hey, let’s charge, fee-for-service.” [inaudible 00:38:31] better service.
Fraser Jack: [38:33] Now mate, we’re running out of time, so we’re going to have to cut it short a little bit. Quick couple of questions before we go.
Glen James: [38:38] Yeah that’s fine.
Fraser Jack: [38:38] If you’ve got chatting to a consumer [inaudible 00:38:41] podcast that wants to get advice, what’s your recommendation to them?
Glen James: [38:45] So a lot of things I tell people... If you want financial advice, number one, you do not have to go to the first advisor that you see. Go and have a coffee with somebody, because just as much as they’re interviewing you... Well, you should be interviewing your new clients, I certainly am. You need to be finding out, is the relationship a fit? And one of the questions that I ask people when they reach out and say, “I want help,” I actually ask them, I’m like, “Do you want someone a similar age? do you want the traditional suit and tie or do you want relaxed professional?” So I think you need to, if you are looking for a financial advisor, what is the type of relationship do you want, because realistically, as financial advisors, how many times do we get the phone call, “Hey, I’m pregnant. My husband doesn’t even know yet and I’m freaking out.” Just weird stuff like that, right? So it is a intimate relationship, so you need to find somebody who you can connect with for the long term.
Glen James: [39:46] And then secondly, why don’t you ask some friends, who have they used? And are they happy with them?
Fraser Jack: [39:53] Yep, very good. I was a bit worried where you were going there with the phone call, “Hey, I’m pregnant” conversation.
Glen James: [39:59] Yeah.
Fraser Jack: [40:00] Now, if you were chatting to an advisor that’s looking to get in or start their own practice, have you got any tips for them?
Glen James: [40:06] Yeah. The only way I can... I’ll phrase by saying, I honestly believe the key to my success so far has been knowing how a financial advice office works, from admin and going... So go and work in an office. You need to know that at some point, this form will need to be signed, so when you go into an implementation meeting, in the back of your mind, you need to know, “Hey, we’re going to need this signed.” Because it’s the least path of resistance for clients. How many times, you know, you hear advisors having to back to a client to get that thing signed, and back to a client to get that thing signed? “Oh, I didn’t know that this insurance company needed a wet signature for the medical reports,” or whatever.
Glen James: [40:52] So think I would really recommend working in admin and paraplanning before you’re in front of a client, because you need to know the process of how the financial planning world works, and how the idiosyncrasies of as many companies as possible, because it makes it more efficient when you’re sitting down with a client because you’ve got confidence to say, “Oh, hey, hang on. We’ll get you to sign this.” Or, “Hey, I’ll get you to sign two LOA’s so I’ve got a second wet signature on file, so I don’t have to go back to you to get something,” and it makes you look incompetent, when you’re going back to the client a million times for signatures.
Glen James: [41:30] And another thing that you can do, I tell clients, “Don’t sign anything unless it comes from my office.”
Fraser Jack: [41:35] Very good. Now, if you are chatting to some of your colleagues that have been around a long time and going through a massive amount of change in their business, have you got any tips and conversations, maybe looking at how they implement different things in their practice, if they’re quite traditional?
Glen James: [41:51] Yeah. I would probably say, if there’s one thing that you keep doing over and over again manually, can you change one thing that’s simple and easy at a time? And I think the first thing that I would recommend is doing the online questionnaire pre-meeting. Or even if you use an online questionnaire, like, “Hey, fill this out, let us learn a little bit about you before you come in.” Or just to start to change slowly. Don’t get stressed about doing everything at once. There’s a couple of things in my business that I need to change, but I’ve just got to do one thing at a time, and take my team with me.
Fraser Jack: [42:34] Yep. Now tell me, Glen, if you could go back in time and give yourself some advice and tips, what would you do, where would you back to and what advice would you give yourself?
Glen James: [42:45] I would probably have saved more cash before I started my business, and I would have started a complete fee-for-service business model.
Fraser Jack: [42:55] Okay, very good. That’s good.
Glen James: [42:57] I think. Yeah.
Fraser Jack: [43:00] Thank you so much for all of your wisdom today. Now, if someone wants to continue the conversation, how can they get in touch with you?
Glen James: [43:08] Yeah. I mean, I’m on LinkedIn, Glen James, or Instagram, @mymillennialmoney. That would be the best way to find me, at this stage. I run a... Can I shout out my risk-
Fraser Jack: [43:20] Yeah, go on.
Glen James: [43:21] So I’m a risky at heart, right? I love insurance, I love all of that stuff. I’ve started a Facebook page called My Risk Advisor, and it’s basically set up so younger advisors can get a wealth of knowledge from older, experienced advisors. And it’s just a general discussion about anything to do with insurance, underwriting. Because really, I think every Australian needs financial advice, and most of the time every Australian needs life risk insurance, so you need to be aware of that. You just need to be all over risk insurance.
Fraser Jack: [43:54] Yeah, it’s a great group, that one. I’ve been in it and had a look and then commented on different things. There’s plenty of comments coming backwards and forth, lots of love, lots of helping and any questions around risk, yeah, throw them in there-
Glen James: [44:05] Totally. Yeah, so jump in there and hey, if you want to check out My Millennial Money, the podcast, for a bit of infotainment, I’d love you to have a listen and let me know if you think it sucks of if it’s decent, and I’ll take any feedback onboard, and I’ll read it on the podcast.
Fraser Jack: [44:21] Fantastic, thank you so much. I know you’ve got to go, I really appreciate you giving up your time today, and being on the podcast.
Glen James: [44:26] My pleasure, and thanks for having me.
Fraser Jack: [44:28] Thank you.
Fraser Jack: [44:28] 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.