Podcast Transcript

Episode 12, Season 1

Life planning with Louis Vollebregt

 

Louis Vollebregt: [00:00] Rather than to do that, we teach financial advisors how to really listen and that doesn’t just mean to be silent, but that does mean to be completely present with your client while listening. That is something that we spend and believe it or not the most time on and usually is highly appreciate people experience that great difference.

Fraser Jack: [00:32] Hello and welcome to the Goals Based Advice Podcast, where we have conversations with pioneers of the new world of financial advice. I’m your host Fraser Jack. I want to thank you for tuning in today. I’d also like to thank our supporting partner Advice Intelligence for powering this podcast. In this episode I chat to Louis Vollebregt, who coaches financial advisors globally on how to have goals-based advice conversations with their clients. He lives in the Netherlands and works with the Kinder Institute of Life Planning. During our conversation we get into the methodology they call financial life planning. We cover topics like deep listening, goal categorization, and the seven stages of money maturity. For all things, goals based advice from the other side of the globe, let’s kick off our chat with Louis. Welcome to the show Louis.

Louis Vollebregt: [01:33] Good morning.

Fraser Jack: [01:35] Good morning for you. It’s actually good afternoon for me. Tell me whereabouts do we find you at the moment?

Louis Vollebregt: [01:39] I’m in the Netherlands where I live, at present it’s pretty dark still outside. It’s 7:00 AM so, my day still starting, whereas yours has already spent.

Fraser Jack: [01:53] Absolutely. It’s been a busy day, and your busy day is about to start. Thank you so much for getting up early this morning and joining us on the show. I very much appreciate that.

Louis Vollebregt: [02:02] My pleasure.

Fraser Jack: [02:03] Do you want to start by just giving us a bit of an overview of you and who you are and what you’re doing at the moment?

Louis Vollebregt: [02:09] Yeah sure. Well, my name is Louis Vollebregt. I’m 58. I started my career in the financial industry as most people in financial industry starts and then there’s well, completely accidental, not really realizing that this would be a profession for lifetime. When I started my job, one of the most interesting things happened to me once that I was very early on, introduced to a man who at that time was of my age right now. He was really interested in helping the industry, moving from product sales to something that would be more beneficial to clients but more directed to their lives rather to financial products that were very normal business in those days.

Louis Vollebregt: [03:07] I was lucky enough to help him, to introduce the early on financial planning programs that we made throughout the Netherlands. At that time it felt great to be able to be a part of that movement, but in a very short time, I got very frustrated because I noticed that financial advisors, at that time, the concept of financial planning in the way that they used it in the advertisement. As a marketing tool, but if you really looked at number of offices that would really use financial planning as a serious offer to their clients, you wouldn’t find many. I spent a lot of my career in our education center and teaching financial advisors how to use it well. After eight or 10 years, I was really quite frustrated in how little I achieved.

Louis Vollebregt: [04:14] I went off in different directions and for instance, made, I mentioned billing programs much to tell if that had more concise outlook so that it will be more easy for people to use them. They became quite popular in the Netherlands and in any advisors Netherlands those days work then. But it wasn’t really a luxury, I’d rather have them work completely in full with. The funny thing is that now after more than 30 years, you can see that more than half of our professional financial planners are formerly with what we call the FFP Federation of Financial Planners, which is very much like CFP. That standard for quality advice has really risen well. I have moved on since.

Fraser Jack: [05:12] To summarize you, to a certain extent, everybody here in Australia the same. The industry certainly came from a product based sales industry. There was products that needed to be distributed and advisors were that distribution model, and you back then, what year did you say that was?

Louis Vollebregt: [05:31] Started probably at 1984.

Fraser Jack: [05:34] 1984, and you were working. Was that when you meet George was it or?

Louis Vollebregt: [05:39] No, no. This was in the Netherlands when I was working for equity and law. That was the previous session for AXA.

Fraser Jack: [05:50] AXA, yes. We know AXA here. You were doing that human based needs advice type stuff, then way back then. As you mentioned there was that sound like a bit of a rocky road trying to introduce that at the time.

Louis Vollebregt: [06:07] Absolutely. At that time my focus even was pretty much financial because the financial planning. I made spreadsheets. I made financial programs that would do the math and would show people how their lives would ... We made projections of their financial lives. Even in doing so, I found very often that something was still missing. Even though we would have made the best projections and produce piles of paper in which people could really, really go into great depth in how their financial future would look like, they would not put it on the corner of their, of the home table and then it doesn’t get read, you know? And so again, that was a bit frustrating and it was only 2004 I think it was that I got to meet George Skinner and he had a system in which she said, well, it’s not so much about the numbers, it’s much more about people. And although the, the [inaudible 00:07:18].

Louis Vollebregt: [07:18] Okay. So what’s the difference then? Because of course my work is about people and I feel that I’m very much oriented towards them anyway. The problem is that once you get to something that is important, we don’t know how to deal with it. Because if something is really important, there’s obviously emotion around it. And what do we do with emotion pops off, especially in our meetings, we will probably say like, oh, would you like to have a copy? Because we want to evade that. We don’t want to be challenged by emotions. Emotions are very fearful. Yeah. So yeah. Sorry. Yeah.

Fraser Jack: [08:01] Yeah. So, um, so you met George in 2004, and sounds like you hit it off straight away. Now you came from a background in psychology. Was it then surprising that people didn’t relate too much to numbers?

Louis Vollebregt: [08:16] No, it was not surprising. But then again, it was because the funny thing is there’s a lot of things that we know and we have concepts of those things in our mind, but there’s difference between knowing and experiencing. And if there’s anything different about how George approached both his clients and educational financial punished than it is that everything that we do is about experiences. How can you feel and experience what it is that is so meaningful to you? One of the things that I often tell in our training is that you can compare it like this. So just you mentioned that you’re behind your computer and you have a task at hand and you know that you can produce quality work and be finished at 5:00 in the afternoon and you really, you’re working diligently, you’ve really [inaudible 00:09:16] downgrade and you think it’s real important work in you want to make it count.

Louis Vollebregt: [09:20] So you’re that. You’re doing it and then all of a sudden beep, beep, right hand corner, email pops up. What do you do? Click Click. Why didn’t you just click that? Yeah. Well it’s blinking. Yeah, sure. Maybe it’s important. Maybe, but what you were doing were doing wasn’t important? Yeah, but maybe it’s urgent. Someone needs me. So we get confused. So the stuff that is most important to us gets compromised by all the other stuff, all the other signals that we get all day to the extent that sometimes we don’t have a clue anymore of what it is that was originally important to us. We lead lives that are filled with rubbish. That is other people’s important business but not others. So having someone to help you find or find back, what are these? That is so important to you. And then to find a way to make that happen in your life is an incredible good way to start the financial planning.

Louis Vollebregt: [10:33] Because if you want to financial plan someone you are making, you’re helping to make or even making decisions for your clients that have long term substantial effects to them and really influence the way in which they are able to be fulfilled in their lives. So shouldn’t we feel an obligation to really have the conversation with our clients to go in depth in great depth about what it is that really [inaudible 00:11:03].

Fraser Jack: [11:04] Certainly, I certainly think that with all, as you mentioned, the signals, you know, distraction has actually become a habit.

Louis Vollebregt: [11:12] Absolutely. Distraction is more normal than being focused on what it is that really fulfills me. And this might all feel or sound very selfish like okay, so it’s all about me, but I come from a conviction, my personal conviction, that we bring the best of ourselves to the world if we make sure that we do what is most important to us and that isn’t selfish. It is really helping everyone around me because when I am passionate about the things that I do in my life and I feel that it’s great and it’s fulfilling and that it’s, Oh, it’s the best my due to lead my life and I will be radiant, that people around me will feel my energy and very probably my achievements will be much, much higher than when I do just at task that someone else has appointed.

Fraser Jack: [12:12] Yeah. Now we touched on George himself. Let me just explain to the listeners that George Kinder runs the Kinder Institute or started the Kinder Institute, I should say. George is actually a CFP, a financial planner himself. So he comes from this from a consumer base, customer based, financial planning or should I say, a life planning? Is that the correct terminology he uses?

Louis Vollebregt: [12:34] Yes, yes. When George started to realize that what he did most different and so he was active in financial planning industry of course, he also needed something to make clear that what he did was different, most not so much directed to just the money because was rather directed to people’s lives. So the obvious choice was to replace the word financial or add to the word financial the life piece. So it’s called life planning or rather financial life planning because the financial element is still there of course. It’s not forgotten.

Fraser Jack: [13:15] Right. And so when we’re saying that, you know, finance is just part of life and all the financial decisions that we make and the money we have is actually not just for money, but it’s for the decisions and the goals that we want in life.

Louis Vollebregt: [13:28] Yeah, that’s for sure. And that brings up another issue here and that is that we tend to think about goals as being the end results of what it is that we need. But very, very often when you really look at it and the goals aren’t really your goals. They are really strategies to get something in your life. So I want to explain it with an example. I know someone who says you know what, the best thing that could happen to me is that I would want to travel the world for three years in a row. You could easily call it a goal. I want to travel the world three years in row. But in essence, whatever it is that this person wants is he wants to add a certain quality. So we help clients to find what the qualities are around traveling the world for three years in a row. And the beauty of that is that very often we can excited on a certain strategy. You also find that some strategies are really hard to make happen or even to get started. And once you become more clear on the qualities that you actually need in your life, that really fulfill you, then the whole way you will be able to fulfill yourself gets widened up. You get much more possibilities to actually do that.

Fraser Jack: [14:59] So when you’re talking about qualities about the emotional qualities or what the client’s feeling? Is that what you’re talking about?

Louis Vollebregt: [15:06] Yes, it’s a quality of life. For instance, someone saying, well, when I traveled the world, then I experience ultimate freedom.

Fraser Jack: [15:16] I use the similar terminology there. I sort of talk about the emotional aspect of it. If you want to send your kids to private school, it’s not necessarily about paying school fees because let’s face it, nobody likes doing that. It’s not even not even about the school. It’s about the feeling of being a good parent or giving your kids opportunities that you never had. That really matters in that goal.

Louis Vollebregt: [15:38] Absolutely. It’s driving down to the real essence of what it is that you aspire to. But again, we get mixed up sometimes. As you look in the world of money, money, everyone, when you come to think about it, everyone agrees that money is just a means to an end. It’s never the goal itself. But look around you. The world is so mixed up, so confused about money that many people live their lives as if money is the goal of their life. And in essence it can’t be. Never. It’s a means to an end. And again, the qualities that we want to achieve with the goals that we mentioned are often qualities that we can achieve in many different points. And that doesn’t mean that we do not stay with whatever it is that our client brings up, but we want to make sure that they get that quality into their lives. We usually succeed.

Fraser Jack: [16:41] Great. Now I thought I might get you Louis just to explain what it is you are doing it at Kinder and then how you fit in.

Louis Vollebregt: [16:50] Yeah. When I joined George, together with my experience, I started to train with him all over the world and have been doing so ever since. We have now trained people all around the globe on all the continents, I think apart from Antarctica. Let’s be clear. We didn’t any [inaudible 00:17:14].

Fraser Jack: [17:15] You still got time, keep working on that one.

Louis Vollebregt: [17:18] Anyway, all around the world. And we have a certain training program that is kind of divided in three areas. So it’s about the first book that George has written, seven stage of money maturity, which really deals with the, you could say, we are all finding ourselves with a lot of convictions around money and around how money should influence our lives. The seven stages helps people to become more clear on what those convictions might be and how they get us into pain and how you can move through this.

Louis Vollebregt: [17:55] So this a very useful thing in both in your personal life, the lives of your clients, and then the five day evoked training. It’s really based on how can you have the conversation with your client that is really aspirational and that helps clients to get to the core of what it is that they want out of their lives. So these are following up with the mentorship program that is usually coming up for like half a year helping financial advisors to effectively try to use this with their clients and being able to ask any questions that you come across. These programs are the programs that we’ve been delivering really all over the world, and the beauty of it is then you can see that however the differences in our industry may look, quality is experienced exactly the same all over the world.

Fraser Jack: [18:53] Yeah so the human beings on the other end have the same feelings no matter what the legislation dictates.

Louis Vollebregt: [19:00] Absolutely. Absolutely. You get it. Yeah.

Fraser Jack: [19:03] You mentioned that you’re training all over the world, training financial advisers and, there was a five day program, was it a evoke training? Is that correct?

Louis Vollebregt: [19:11] Yep.

Fraser Jack: [19:11] That gets really into the question techniques. Is that right?

Louis Vollebregt: [19:18] Yeah. Part of that, but you know, many trainings are either about knowledge or about skills, and the evoke trading is, if it’s about something, then it’s mainly about experience. So it helps you to get the experience yourself, what it is to re-find the important stuff in your life and to strategize a way to make the first things first in your life. For many advisors, this is not just an epiphany, but it’s also enriching the lives in a way that they can be much more authentic in their dealing with their clients. And that is really the most quality they get from it.

Fraser Jack: [20:02] So if you could ask you to give away a little bit of your secrets here, with that how to ask questions, is there a framework that you have set up or is there a way that you sort of like to evoke those questions?

Louis Vollebregt: [20:18] Yes. The answer to that is really very, very simple. We teach financial advisors to listen, which is really, it sounds like, okay, well I’m able to do that. But if you look at statistics, if you look at the scientific research and you can see with financial advisors usually do not last longer than a minute while listening because it’s so hard. What we often do as financial advisors or as professionals in general, we have like 8 or 10 common situations that we know will cause a problem. And the funny thing is that we usually sell the solution. So we are focused in recognizing that problem. And as soon as we do, we say, hey, you got a problem. Oh, but you know what? It’s your lucky day. I got the solution as well. It’s going to cost you, but you know what? You don’t want to have this problem. So rather than to do that, we teach financial advisors how to really listen. And that doesn’t just mean to be silent, but it does mean to be completely present with your client while listening. And that that is something that we spend, believe it or not, the most time on. And usually it’s highly appreciated. People experience great difference.

Fraser Jack: [21:48] Yeah, absolutely. That sounds amazing. So I like to use the two ears and one mouth principle. Listen twice as much as you speak. But you know, that deep listening is actually a skill isn’t it?

Louis Vollebregt: [22:00] Absolutely. Absolutely. I think that in the original conversation, the balance with us would rather be 90% client and 10% advisor. The beauty of that is if you’ve done it well, then at the end of the conversation the client is going to say to you well this has been a great conversation. Thank you very much. The client will very much perceive it as being a conversation.

Fraser Jack: [22:28] So now I’m visualizing the the psychologist’s couch in financial advice offices across the nation. The client’s sitting on the couch and then the advisor just sitting back, not talking and asking a couple of questions and taking notes.

Louis Vollebregt: [22:43] Well, in a way there’s some similarity in the way that there’s much more room for a client to bring in themselves. So there’s much less of the advisor. And especially in the first conversations, that’s the similarity. But the big difference is that if you are with someone in the psychology area, then usually what is most interesting to them is to find where the damage has occurred so that someone comes to a place like that because something’s gone wrong and something makes it unable for this person to function normally [inaudible 00:23:26]. That means that they need to cure something, and in order to do that, they would usually try to understand has happened so they dive into cost. What has happened in your youth? What has happened? That is what psychologist does.

Louis Vollebregt: [23:44] We doing life planning, on the contrary, we are very much okay with being with the client when he experiences his frustration or pain or problem around the fact that he did not find a way to deliver the most important things to himself, which can be pretty painful. So we are okay with that. So we know how to deal with the emotion itself. But also we also learn how to turn that around into positive energy towards aspiration. So we will very soon move towards ... Knowing how bad that feels to you, what is it that you need to do instead? That means that the whole setting is much more optimistic. And although the whole professional, everyone doing something in that psychological realm is incredibly important. It’s not, it’s very unlike what we do.

Fraser Jack: [24:44] Yeah. I’m now thinking of the idea that if I was an advisor sitting with my client and I want to really think about how much time I’m spending on, cause obviously advisors need to find out where a client’s current position is. You know, what are they doing right now? They want to look at their goals in bits and pieces and looking forward in time. But if we also, what you’re saying there is you’re spending a lot of time on examining their past and their history. Is that, would that be correct? And if so, what would the sort of time frames be around how much time do we spend on someone’s past, their present, and their future?

Louis Vollebregt: [25:17] Well, we obviously spend time on their past if they bring something up. So we don’t go there at all. So if they want to mention something, then we are very understanding and we will listen. But we learn how to turn that around into a future aspiration. So our conversation isn’t about the past. It’s about the present and the future. To clients that means that sometimes when there is psychological trauma in what sense so ever, they will work with a psychology professional in that area and they would still at the same time work on their aspirations with us and that doesn’t bite.

Fraser Jack: [26:07] Yep. So I had an advisor that I interviewed recently say that the value, the true value in the advice I provide is that at least 70% coaching. Is that sort of the same sort of thing that you’re thinking with what you’re teaching, is that about 70% coaching for an advisor?

Louis Vollebregt: [26:26] That very, very much depends on what your definition of coaching is. We come from the theory, the north wind doesn’t blow from the north, but it’s sucks from the south. So we are not pushing our clients towards any of the solutions that we see, but we are helping to create a vacuum that the client wants to move into because they feel this is a great place to be. This is where I’m drawn, this is where I need to go. That is what happens. Clients will actually decide when and where to move instead of we.

Fraser Jack: [27:09] With the course and the teachings that you’re providing with the advisors that have been through that course, what’s the fear that you’re getting from, with regards to transitions with their clients? More along the idea of mindset and an old world versus a new world type mindset.

Louis Vollebregt: [27:27] Well, clients that you can understand that if a client comes in thinking that they would need to buy this big house and the only reason why they think they need to buy it is because the whole world around them points to be you have only, you’re only successful if you have the largest house possible. And it’s something you should do. And this is how you prove to your parents and your family and your friends and everyone around you that you are the most successful individually. But you know, you feel challenged by the idea. You feel there’s a problem with that as well. But you can’t just put your finger on it. So what is it that is so challenging about it? So you have sleepless nights on it, but you want to buy that house but you also feel challenged. So who are you going to see?

Louis Vollebregt: [28:19] You have no idea. So you think like, okay, but you know what? Maybe I need to call my brother now, my brother and my brother. He might be jealous. So maybe not such great. I’ll call my parents. Oh yeah. But they are probably just concerned. So there’s not maybe the best idea. Oh my friends in the club maybe. They just come in for a beer. They’re not really interested in my concerns.

Louis Vollebregt: [28:44] So who’s that? My financial advisor. Well he, he probably just says, you know what, I can squeeze you into loan. That could probably make it work. But does that really make me feel happy? Does that really take away my concern? No it doesn’t. So what’s wrong with me? Do I need to see a doctor? No. Who’s there, who’s really the counterpart, who’s the person who’s willing and able to really listen to the depths of my concern and to help me to refine what my aspiration really is about and my wellbeing, that conversation that if I come to the conclusion that I’ve spent too little time with my two little children as is already. And that even moving to a more expensive house would take away more time from my family and I’m missing out on the most important thing in my life. And this is just an example. It could be the other way around. You know, it’s, it doesn’t mean we always just find things not to happen, but it could go either way.

Fraser Jack: [29:41] Yeah. I wanted to talk to you about a couple things. One is I’m habit and the next one is mindfulness. When you’re teaching advisors in this space, what do you teach him about? Let’s start with habits. What do you teach them about training their clients to create good habits?

Louis Vollebregt: [30:04] Well, let’s go with question. Come back a bit to what we said about coaching. Coaching would mean that we take over a client’s responsibility and we look out for them. And in a way also decide for them what is good. Keep them on track on something they thought of a certain time ago. People evolve things to change. To us, it’s perfectly okay to stay with whatever the client wants and needs at this point in his life. And clients are not trapped in a rigid plan. So whatever it is that we help them do is to find where the energies, when energy is now and where it will be tomorrow. And the more you get down to the actual qualities, the rest will follow. So we rather than to push or to decide or to take over responsibility, we help clients to inspire them and to empower them to do what it is that really feels great to them. So if that’s what happens, then I think that it’s probably quite an answer to your question already.

Fraser Jack: [31:29] When I think about habits, I think more were repetitive, but you know, I understand that to create some energy around a positive, you know, somebody wants to do it, somebody wants to do something or they, they understand what they’re focusing on and then in the habits follow that thinking.

Louis Vollebregt: [31:46] Yes, but we are all in a way we are programmed. The circumstances, upbringing, et cetera, has programmed us to do things in a certain way. And what we do follows our convictions. So our convictions are invisible but are very much there and something that we really, really are very attached to. Because if I could challenge you on your convictions, you would probably tell me that I’m wrong and you would defend yourself. So your behaviors for 90% following on a sub conscious level, your convictions. As your conviction won’t just easily change. it’s very hard to change behavior as well. So if you want to change behavior, in our opinion, you have to be extremely clear on the results that you need in your life. And if you are very clear the results that you need, then you can ... And that’s exactly what we do in the way that we work.

Louis Vollebregt: [32:44] We help clients to feel the passion of the results in their lives. To actually notice it to be there to experience that. That’s why it’s so much experience based. And once they do, we simply ask them what it is that they need to do in order to get that result into their life. So we’re not challenging them on the convictions because that usually doesn’t work anyway. And we experience that once people have really felt what it would mean to them. The chances of follow through are so much higher that we don’t have to chase him around. So we don’t become our clients’ chaser or however you would call a person like that.

Louis Vollebregt: [33:25] If coaching means you chase your client around to keep your clients to whatever it is that he has defined to be beneficial to him sometime ago, then that’s not what we do. What we do is we keep realizing the energy that the client has kept to the places that he really needs to be in his life. And if the strategy then changes because he feels there’s another better way or he has to cry another way that we’re perfectly okay with that. As long as we can see that he is moving towards something that is really fulfilling to him or her.

Fraser Jack: [34:06] Fantastic. Thank you. Now with regards to client goals, do you see how many an average client would have? Because that’s often ... It’s an interesting topic for me to see how many goals people would have at one time, can focus on at one time. And are prepared to sit with their financial advisor at a time.

Louis Vollebregt: [34:26] Yeah. And again, it’s not just the quantity of it also what kind of goals we tend to think of. Often when you talk with clients about goals, the quantity of goals makes ship fairly impossible to get to any form of execution because you are confused yourself. You don’t know where to go and the one goal contradicts the other. And so nothing is really happening. And even when that’s not the case, if and when people have one very, very clear goal, they would for instance, feel that it could be very, well, let’s take the earlier example. I want to travel the world three years in a row. Wow, great. That is something that I, when I’m at a party somewhere, I can tell anyone that oh, I would love to travel the world for three years in a row and then there’s no one who’s going to challenge me. They will all say yea, yeah, wouldn’t that’d be great. Yeah.

Louis Vollebregt: [35:25] It’s so obvious that that, that is impossible because you have to lose your job, your house, your income. There’s many reasons why that would probably be too challenging. So no one’s going to say it. But then again, if I would be at the same party and say I would love to have a holiday for two weeks to Europe. Then everyone says, well, why don’t you? Immediately I’m [inaudible 00:35:49]. We have again, an unconscious tendency to make our goals too big because then we don’t get challenged.

Louis Vollebregt: [35:58] In a way that’s really very contradiction because it seems to be the thing that we would love most, but still we make it impossible by making it too big. It’s an internal defense mechanism and we learn how to work with that because when you bring it down to something that a client can do, so you bring it down to milestones so that they can work it, then and you make sure that the energy’s there. So we never deny clients that really like that. If one wants to travel the world three years in a row, I’m completely happy for them, and I’m positively sure that we can do it. But there’s always a way in which you are able to deliver the quality or actually in a way in which the client is able to deliver the quality to be more herself. We really feel that we are facilitators rather than an enabler or people who take reign.

Fraser Jack: [36:53] Now, I’m going to ... This is year sort of as psychology type question here, but at the different categories of goals that affect people different ways. For example, a goal that’s for me versus a goal that’s for somebody else versus you know, a goal that’s around a place or some other, or a faith.

Louis Vollebregt: [37:12] Absolutely. There’s a lot of commonality, and there’s use right. It’s both at the same time. And what you see is that goals around family, goals around a certain place to be, goals around health, general health goals around creativity and spirituality, these are all subjects that in some shape or form would emerge very, very often. Within those areas you can see that there is a rich variety. Where for some people, if you talk about place and then would we really feel very, very inspired if they could live in a different place. For other people it would be to have a holiday for three years in a row around the world. But that sense of place is very common. Well, you know, in general we have like a couple of areas that we have available. So we have our talents and we have our time and lastly we have our effort.

Louis Vollebregt: [38:25] Those are the three elements that we can put in in our lives to make something happen. And by the way, all three of them convert to money. That’s why money is such an issue in our lives because everything that we do is in some shape or form transferred to money. That money thing, then again, is kind of the enabler to all those dreams that we hold. So in a way we make these three areas work in our lives to do things that really make us feel happy. But then sometimes we get confused so much that there is too much effort on acquiring the money. And too little possibility even in the life or even too little focus to do the things what we were originally getting the money for. So you get empty lives, get empty people, you get an empty world and we are suffering a lot of empty worlds in this in this very moment.

Fraser Jack: [39:30] Yeah exactly. Thank you. Now there’s also a, speaking of suffering, there’s a fair bit of suffering going on over here with a few legislative changes that have come along. Obviously that’s not just an Australian thing. You’ve probably seen quite a bit of that happening in your part of the globe as well.

Louis Vollebregt: [39:46] Yes, absolutely. I think this is clearly a global trend, where we come from product sales where it was very much about how much can I as an advisor make off the client, and that is just pushing products regardless whether the client needs it or not was kind of a normal thing in our branch, I’m afraid. That is something that isn’t possible in many parts of the world anymore. All the countries that were merely commission-based are converting towards any kind of fee system. That has happened in the Netherlands and UK and all the Scandinavian countries, and to some extent even in the US. See that this is happening in the Australia as well.

Louis Vollebregt: [40:38] I think that this is just the beginning. I really think that financial advisors should really think about, okay, so where are we heading and where we are heading is far more open community where people will come in far more informed. The Internet is giving them much more opportunities to be informed and they will be. Also what you see by the blockchain possibilities, you can see that we are very, very rapidly cutting out the middleman. An advisor as such as in the old world was very much a middleman, someone you needed because you couldn’t get to the information. he would hold the information, sometimes even literally.

Louis Vollebregt: [41:30] Now when that role is going to diminish, you could really think like, okay, so what is it that really provides added value for the end consumer? What does this client come in for? Is it really because he needs information? You can get most of that on the Internet. Is it really because he feels that investment policies that you are advising are the greatest and will yield him much more? To some extent that might be true, but it’s probably not the most important thing. Most important thing usually is because people feel insecure about, so what am I doing here? Is this really what I want? Is this what feels most important to me? If you as an advisor ready yourself for that kind of questions and you help your clients substantially in leading a more fulfilled life, then I think there’s much more future in the profession ascension In that kind of relationship, a fee based relationship is really something that much more aligns than any kind system in which the remuneration isn’t really visible.

Fraser Jack: [42:42] Yeah. It’s certainly the way that everybody sort of heading here in Australia. It’s interesting to say that, you know, we’re not alone in that space, that it’s all over the globe.

Louis Vollebregt: 42:51 Absolutely, yeah.

Fraser Jack: [42:53] Now what sort of things are you working on at the moment for the near future?

Louis Vollebregt: [42:57] Well, we are actually still in the process of bringing a much more of this life planning technique, of this ultimately client-centered approach to financial advisors as all over the globe. We’ve recently done a program in India, which was great to see how even in an emerging financial industry, there’s a lot of [inaudible 00:43:22] for those people to adopt this kind of approach. Also in Europe and in America. Now we have found some people have [inaudible 00:43:33] to help us to make this program work in Australia as well. In March we hope to bring two of our most popular programs to Australia for financial advisors.

Fraser Jack: [43:47] Okay, so you’re going to be out here in March 19. Are you doing anything online or is it just a face to face?

Louis Vollebregt: [43:54] We are mainly doing this online, but if there is enthusiasm probably also create online events. It’s just the process a bit. Finding out where the ends just missing and if there are that many advisors interest in going this way.

Fraser Jack: [44:11] You mentioned the idea of product. If somebody wants information on a product, they could almost ask Siri or they could, you know, find it online. How do you see the long term playing out, the long term advice industry playing out?

Louis Vollebregt: [44:24] Yeah, that’s really what I said. Together with blockchain and online presence, you can see it even in the mortgage industry used to be quite unthinkable that a mortgages would be sold through the internet, just online. Nowadays we have cried a few initiatives delivering good mortgage products simply directly to [inaudible 00:44:48] humans. You could argue whether that’s a good or a bad development, but you know it’s there and we can deny it, but it’s there and it’s going to grow larger. I think the big differentiator would still be that I as a person can be your trusted advisor, but I would need to think about what is my skillset to be just that and to be that authentically, to not just fake it, to be.

Fraser Jack: [45:20] Yeah. Very well said. Well done. Now I thought I might just finish on a couple of quick questions. If you were chatting to a member of the public, a friend of yours who was thinking about going to get advice, just what would be your tips to that person?

Louis Vollebregt: [45:35] Well, to be honest, I will say, well look whether they got the RLP designation, registered life planner designation, because then you will be pretty sure that they would have had a good education to know whether they are working in your interest or not. But I must admit that throughout the world we have educated quite a few but might be hard for the regular client to find an RLP. In Australia that would certainly be a problem. For clients, I would always say, well look whether your advisor is really listening to you. If you feel that they are pushing you, or that they are taking over your responsibilities, be mindful because this is not the kind of relationship that you want.

Fraser Jack: [46:26] Great. Thank you. Now if you were talking to a younger planner looking to get into advice that wasn’t quite there yet, what would your tips be to them?

Louis Vollebregt: [46:34] To learn it in the right way. We had in one of our training, evoke training, we had a very renowned psychologist coming to our training. Normally we just get financial planners. So that was kind of new to us as well. So we felt a bit challenged there, but just to see about how he would appreciate our teaching. And at the end of the [inaudible 00:47:00], we always have a evaluation rather than ask everyone how they felt about training. He started off by saying, well, I’m really disappointed. So we kind of were a bit shaken there, like, okay, so where’s he going with this? Then he continued the sentence, I should say he was in his sixties. He said, well, I’m so disappointed that I didn’t get to learn these listening techniques at the beginning of my career because they would have been so incredibly helpful and I would’ve been able to help so much clients, so much better.

Louis Vollebregt: [47:34] Even in those professions, I think his testimony was clear that the listening techniques and the way we take interest in our clients are the real differentiator. For a new person coming to this profession, I will always say start with listening and do it right because if you are to decide about major events in clients’ lives, if you are advising on that, think about the word advising, you are advising to you. You are helping to guide them in some like, then you better know what this client is about.

Fraser Jack: [48:16] Great. Thank you. Now if you’re talking to, say, a planner that’s been around a long time doing things in an older, more traditional way, maybe been more product focused, what, what would you quickly say to them?

Louis Vollebregt: [48:29] I would say don’t become a dinosaur. Dinosaurs go extinct. Put yourself in a learning mode. Open yourself up to new possibilities and give yourself the treat of learning how to be authentic and learning how to work with your client in a way that really thrills them.

Fraser Jack: [48:55] I like that, that really thrills your client.

Louis Vollebregt: [48:59] That’s very possible. That’s the beauty of it.

Fraser Jack: [49:01] Yeah, absolutely. Now Louis, if you could go back in time and give yourself some advice to younger self with the benefit of hindsight, what would you say to yourself?

Louis Vollebregt: [49:13] Young people in general are impatient and I have been very impatient many times. I’ve seen that our short term changes and long term changes and I would urge myself not to be too impatient and to have eye for the fact that some things take more time. As this client approach, the real client centered approach, will take a lot of time as well before the whole industry is really converted in a direction like this. But it’s quite inevitable that it will happen.

Fraser Jack: [49:47] Thank you and thank you so much for getting up at some crazy hour of the morning to hang out with me for the last hour. Now tell me how can people get a bit more information about you or get hold of you if they want to carry on the conversation. Whereabouts will you be?

Louis Vollebregt: [50:05] I think they best just go onto the website of www.lifeplanningtraining.com, just like that. That is Australian site or at least the one that we have put up there for the Australian audience. There is also possibility to reach out by email or ask any other questions. We’re here to help. So if there’s anything that I can help you with, by all means do.

Fraser Jack: [50:38] Fantastic. Thank you. We’ll put that information in the show notes as well, so there’ll be definitely a link to that. Louis, thank you so much. I appreciate it and so thank you for coming on the show. It’s been an amazing insights into what we call here, goals based advice, what you referred to them more as life planning. It’s been a real pleasure. Thank you.

Louis Vollebregt: [50:57] Well the pleasure was all mine. Thank you very much for your interest in our work and I hope this has added something to both you and everyone listening.

Fraser Jack: [51:08] Thanks Louis.

Louis Vollebregt: [51:09] Thank you very much.

Fraser Jack: [51:10] 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.