Podcast Transcript

Episode 26, Season 1

How to start again, design and open your new practice, from the ground up, with Thabojan Rasiah

 

Thabojan Rasiah: [00:00] Do the modeling with the client live. So, we'll sit down, and that takes a bit of courage and learning as well. Because, you're putting yourself out there and running a piece of software live in front of a client, at the risk of ah, stuffing it up, I guess. But, it's very powerful from the perspective of being able to show clients, this is where you are, this is where you're going, based on doing various things.

Thabojan Rasiah: [00:19] It helps run through different scenarios, testing different decisions that they may or may not make. And the really powerful part is that it extracts ... the conversations that we have um, with the clients about how they feel about different decisions. How they feel about different outcomes, in different scenarios.

Fraser Jack: [00:35] (loud music)

Fraser Jack: [00:35] (music fades)

Fraser Jack: [00:40] Hello and welcome to the Goals Based Advice Podcast. Where I have conversations with pioneers of the new world of financial advice. I'm your host Fraser Jack. I wanna thank you so much for tuning in today. Thank you to everyone who has given me feedback and reviews. And if you're enjoying this podcast, please help me spread the word. Share it with your friends and colleagues, and leave me a review on iTunes, or whichever platform you use to access this podcast.

Fraser Jack: [01:01] I'd also like to thank our supporting partner, Advice Intelligence for powering this podcast. And you can book a demo directly from adviceintelligence.com.

Fraser Jack: [01:07] In this episode I chat with Thabojan Rasiah. An experienced ex-Shadforth Advisor who had made the tough decision to start again and open up his new advise practice in Melbourne, Sydney.

Fraser Jack: [01:19] Thabojan opens up and chats about how he came to make the decision and how he designed a new business around his own values and beliefs and philosophies to attract the clients who align well with him.

Fraser Jack: [01:33] We talked about how he survived the first 12 months and where he's heading to from here. So if you've ever thought about starting your own business or going out on your own or redesigning your business then you have to listen to this chat.

Fraser Jack: [01:43] Let's kick it off right now.

Fraser Jack: [01:44] (loud music)

Fraser Jack: [01:44] (music fades)

Fraser Jack: [01:44] Welcome to the show Thabojan.

Thabojan Rasiah: [01:51] Thanks Fraser, great to be here.

Fraser Jack: [01:53] Yeah, then tell us where abouts is your practice?

Thabojan Rasiah: [01:56] So I'm based on Collins Street in Melbourne, ah, great place to be based, yeah.

Fraser Jack: [02:01] In the, in the busy city?

Thabojan Rasiah: [02:02] Yeah that's it, that's it.

Fraser Jack: [02:03] And do you wanna give us a quick overview of your practice as it is at the moment?

Thabojan Rasiah: [02:08] So, Fraser I started Rasiah Private Wealth Management about 14 months ago no, um, so very new, started pretty much from scratch um, left a big good client base behind apart from ah, a couple of family and friends ah, now after a bit over 12 months ah, got about 25 clients um, just had a first permanent staff member start um, and a, yeah, you know, growing really well, lots of opportunities um, exciting times.

Fraser Jack: [02:39] Yeah, it's a, it's a big deal that first year isn't it? A lot of, a lot of growth, a lot of um, good times, a lot of nerve wracking times I guess.

Thabojan Rasiah: [02:46] Absolutely there's so much happening, so much changing ah, a lot of new things to have to think about, worry about, have to take care of ah, particularly coming out of ah, you know, a business where you're working as an employed advisor perviously um, and it's, it is scary, but it's ah, tremendously exciting as well.

Fraser Jack: [03:08] Yeah, so there's a lot of, lot of newness around with regards to, you know, you starting your own business and really taking the plunge and going out on a bit of a limb, but you've still got plenty of experience behind you, you not exactly a new advisor, you've been around for, for a fair few years.

Thabojan Rasiah: [03:21] Yeah, so before starting 12 months ago, I was, I spent 13 and half years at what's now Shadforth Financial Group so I was a partner there for, been over 10 years and um, that was, that was a fantastic experience and I'd done um, couple of years at a smaller firm prior to that as well, along with some casual experience while I was studying in University too, so, um, certainly I learned a lot along the way.

Thabojan Rasiah: [03:49] And I guess the way that I've always approached the business is always working for the client, so, the business that I worked for paid the wage but ah, I was basically working for clients not working for an employer.

Fraser Jack: [04:03] Yes, a lot of experience, great experience and then ah, and then, what made you decide that you wanted to ah, well take the plunge and go out on your own?

Thabojan Rasiah: [04:12] I guess the business that I left, Shadforth, got taken over by IOOF um, a few years ago and that was okay, but it was no longer the business that I used to work in which was small boutique um, more client focused, not institutional um, owned by the advisors so that, that just made it a different sort of place to be working in, and I found I had less influence and control and flexibility and the way that I was able to deliver advice um, look into the future and thinking about where, where I think advice is going to be in 10 years um, I certainly wanted the flexibility, and the ability to deliver advice the way that I thought it should be ah so that, that really ... It was a very difficult decision you know being there for you know, 15 years, got plenty of autonomy, got really good loyal clients you know, lots of staff and team members around you that you get along well with and so, it was a big decision but ah absolutely the right one.

Fraser Jack: [05:16] Yeah, there're big decisions and obviously there's a lot of stakeholders involved as you mentioned, you know, the community that was around you and all the people. Now, once you've made that decision what was then your tasks, in that what did you have to do then, what was the things that you set yourself and how long did it take you?

Thabojan Rasiah: [05:31] I guess as I was thinking through the process of leaving and then I guess to take a step aback, take a step back a little bit, I guess it was an itch that I needed to scratch for a little while. When I did first start at Shadforth it was very small, very boutique um, as a an owner in that business as well ah, there was involvement in decision making and, and in the business itself which obviously then, as it becomes bigger that becomes less and less and ultimately when your [inaudible 00:05:58] get bought out that can disappear so, um, some of the things that I thought about before leaving was what sort of advisor did I want to be, um, I did go through a lot of soul searching, you know, you ask yourself the why's, why am I doing this, um do I wanna be doing exactly the same thing in a different place um, eventually um, if that's the case then why, you know, why do it?

Thabojan Rasiah: [06:20] Um, there certain philosophies or beliefs that are important, that we want to uphold. Is it for the money, is it for the ego ah, you know, really challenge all these things which um, you know, some things are easier to talk about other, other things, you know, you have to ask yourself whether you can admit to um, and then you know different options in terms of whether you join another firm, whether you ah, go into partnership with somebody else um, or whether you take the plunge, go back to zero income and negative cash flow (laughs) for a period and um, have a crack yourself.

Thabojan Rasiah: [06:53] And um, there was someone that I was listening to ah, you know some years ago and that really framed part of that mindset for me which is, you know, worse case if things don't work out and you no good at this running a advisory stuff, you good at it then ah, worse case you need to go and get a job as a financial planner.

Thabojan Rasiah: [07:12] So, you know, that when you, when you put it that way um, sort of gives you that freedom to take that risk um, absolutely it's a risk and you know, all those things to think about.

Thabojan Rasiah: [07:22] In terms of things that needed to be done obviously you've got the corporate, corporate structures um, part of it. I, I think what was really important and I did spend and invest a lot of time and was thinking through all the philosophies around the business so, what sort of business do we want it to be um, how big do we want it to get, what do we want to deliver for our clients, how do we ah, want to be perceived by our clients and by the broader community. I'm not the sort of person that thinks I know everything so ah, what was really important to me was um, having good people around me as well so, um, I did set up an advisory board with some um, mentors that I've had over the years and they've been great from the perspective of ah, you know, some experience my people to bounce ideas off and keep me somewhat accountable more in the thought process and the approach to um, how we, how we run business and you know important things to me like integrity, ethics um, and things like that.

Fraser Jack: [08:25] Yeah. Yeah you mentioned that, I'll come back to that advisory board cause I wanna ask you more about that but at the time when you had the options of say, you know joining another business or going out on your own or as you say, as a part of it buying it or even purchasing a business, how did you decide that it was gonna be starting up on your own was gonna be the one and why did just discount the others?

Thabojan Rasiah: [08:43] Good question. So, if I stepped through the different options really that were present um, and a number of people you know, have gone through this or and might be thinking about it now. You know, first the joining another large firm as an employee, I was kind of already doing that and the business I was in, Shadforth was a really top-notch advise business with some really good people, really good advisors, good clients and we did a very good job. So, you know, it would take a lot for me to leave and go to a similar business um, I'm not sure if I would have found a better quality business out there even though you know, you can get offered more money and things like that from various places but you know, it's, it's not about that.

Thabojan Rasiah: [09:23] So, that was pretty much off the table pretty quickly. Um, I then had a number of people that I'd known for many years through, through the industry and so forth where they were already running a, a financial planning business, established somewhat and looking to bring in another partner um, and that was very appealing, um I prefer working in teams and working with other people um, as opposed to on my own so, that was very appealing. There were some challenges, so the people that I culturally fit well with um, there were some other things that, you know, were potentially gonna hold back a number of things that I wanted to do and try out particularly with changes in ... Well all the changes we're seeing now um, particularly technology, changing legislation, professionalization all that sort of stuff um, which I didn't want them to get in the way of, and become a challenge, I suppose.

Thabojan Rasiah: [10:18] So, um, and I guess part of it was as well, you know you go into an established business and you probably gonna do things their way which is fine um, but certainly the way that I've approached this business is to challenge everything from the perspective of how we as advisors do advice, I suppose.

Fraser Jack: [10:41] Thank you, and also with regard to the advisory board, how did you go about setting up that advisory board, how did you ask the people that are on it um, how did you choose the people that are on it?

Thabojan Rasiah: [10:48] You know what it was pretty um, non-structured to be honest. Basically I thought about people that I respected, I trust who I've seen been successful and done things in a way that I think were, you know the right way in my view and basically just had some conversations um, asked for some advice and it probably came about initially when I was out seeking advice from some of these people that I knew quite well and about this transition in my journey and through that process that's where the concept of the advisory board came up because I just thought, "You know, well it would be to have some people around me who have got a lot of wisdom and experience in this," so then it was a matter of just having those conversations um, about um, you know whether they'd be willing to continue to mentor me in this journey which is really what the arrangement is.

Thabojan Rasiah: [11:41] It's not a, it's not a board of directors, it's not a formal board it's, it is really a true advisory board with, with more mentors so it just came about from people who are willing to you now support me in that journey.

Fraser Jack: [11:54] And ah, how important has that, that advisory board been to you and what sort of ... would you recommend that others do the same?

Thabojan Rasiah: [12:01] I think whether, whether I've leveraged the experience and knowledge of the advisory board absolutely hasn't been um, I haven't done it to its maximum for sure but, you know, just the process of having them there and you know, I've had plenty, lots of conversations with them in that first 12 months and just having people that you can bounce ideas off you know, some, just say, you know, "I'm thinking about doing this, you know, what do you think?"

Thabojan Rasiah: [12:26] You know, everyone doesn't necessarily agree but you get some good perspectives around you know, "These are the things you should really be thinking about, you know if you do that, that could be, that sounds really good um, and sounds like the right thing to do but it can have a financial impact on your business. Is that something you comfortable with?" So, you know, having that sort of coach and mentoring, that I suppose we provide to our clients to a large extent has been the biggest benefit for me.

Fraser Jack: [12:49] Yeah and then I also love the idea of you know, with advisory boards actually getting some of your clients or consumers onto that advisory board so you getting a sort of different perspective. Have you ever considered something like that or would ...?

Thabojan Rasiah: [13:01] I have, I have it's not something I've got at the moment but I do really like the idea of having clients or consumers who can give you feedback on the way that we're doing things, that you can road test ideas with, to be frank I probably haven't done it because I haven't prioritized it and put the time into it along with everything else but yeah, absolutely that's, that's a really good thing to have.

Fraser Jack: [13:22] Yeah, now you mentioned you were lucky enough to start with a sort of a blank canvas when it came to the advice process and really challenging what sort of ah, advice and what sort of a planner you wanted to be. Um, what ... and, and and challenging you know everything about the business um, at the, at the beginning when you were, as you said you sort of had that blank canvas, so what were some of the things that you um, decided to put into the advice process or take out of the advice process because it wasn't gonna fit with you?

Thabojan Rasiah: [13:45] I think, you know, there's, there's some core things that for me are, real- that are placed at the top of the list and I sort of tried to step away from what we do as advisors from a compliance perspective, from a process perspective, from a "This is how advice is done" perspective, and tried to put at the top of the list, this is what I think is important. So, so, starting with ... And you know, there's no right or wrong, this is just the way that I framed it but starting with you know, removing all conflicts from, from the business.

Thabojan Rasiah: [14:19] So, you know not getting paid by anybody apart from the client um, to try and align up that with other true professions I suppose and you know, I don't, I've removed the idea that disclosure of things is enough um, I prefer to remove potential conflicts rather than disclosing them and try and keep the focus always on the client as well. And one of the challenging things has been as part of that thought process is, you know, we're in the business to get paid for giving really good advice but my view isn't I want to get paid as much as I possibly can from every possible client, I really want to get paid for adding significant value to the lives of our clients. So, you know, so many times I look at, look at client situations and I know that other advisors would be charging that same client a lot more but it's more of a value judgment call on, you know, is that fair, is that where the world's gonna be in 10 years time, is that something we can justify long term perspective.

Thabojan Rasiah: [15:17] So, starting with some of those core things um, and then building around that in our fee philosophy and investment philosophy um and in insurance philosophy um, all those sorts of things from a solution perspective. Then bringing the advice process and so I was fortunate to and have exposure to and be running a very good advice process from Shadforth, I thought, and so that was kind of the starting point um, as a wide frame but then really testing and challenging the way that that process was run and whether everything is really necessary um, whether it can be done better or differently and the other thing is what's, what's driving any step or stage in the advice process, is it compliance, is it you know, legal, is it client objectives, is it our own profitability, what are the things that are actually driving it and trying to link it back to those core principles um, ultimately.

Thabojan Rasiah: [16:19] So, yeah, you know, the ... And, and this is an evolution right it's only been a bit over 12 months so there's an evolution absolutely don't have any of the answers (laughs) um, but it's, that way of thinking has absolutely led me down a path where I'm really comfortable and really happy with some of the decisions we've made so far and some of those, you know, those decisions will be tested and we'll see whether, you know, whether it works out but um, yeah, that's sort of part of the journey I guess.

Fraser Jack: [16:47] Yeah, that's really a great way of approaching it, it feels to me like there could be a lot of other advisors out there going through a very similar journey in, in working out do they want to, you know, be a compliance lead and obviously compliance gonna be important but to sit down and actually think about ah, you know, the other parts of the philosophies first and then bring the, bring the framework around that afterwards. I, I really like that.

Fraser Jack: [17:07] Now you do a lot of work in the, you know, director consumer education space ah, you do a lot of newspaper um, and radio, do want to tell us a little bit about what you doing there and, and how you got into that?

Thabojan Rasiah: [17:20] Yeah, at the moment I'm not doing very much to be frank, I've put that aside as lower on the priority list in this first, early stage of the business um, and that's an intentional decision. But when I originally got into it fortunately one of my mentors Kevin Bailey, a real pioneer in the advice industry, one of the first to do away with commissions, one of the founding members of the Financial Planning Association, a very vocal, very passionate ah, very ethical man and um, he was on the ABC radio for many years and he also did some writing and so through his influence um, it certainly was an interest of mine and through inquiry and ah, um, you know, tapped into his contacts as well I was able to start off with a couple of um, engagements and that led to doing a bit more which has been really good.

Thabojan Rasiah: [18:09] Um, very, very scary ah, to start doing that and very challenging, it's not something that comes naturally from a comfort perspective um, and being able to just share and help people um, I mean Talk Back Radio is, is um, just something else, you know, you don't know what you gonna get, you don't know how you gonna answer things but you know, you've got real [inaudible 00:18:31] who've got real concerns and um, if you can try and help them you know, with no gain whatsoever it er, it's certainly very satisfying.

Fraser Jack: [18:42] And how to you prepare for that ah, like that radio for example you, you just like gotta go in blind or is there, do they give you some, some topics to start with?

Thabojan Rasiah: [18:50] So usually ah, when I used to do that I'd come in with a topic, you might talk about something for 5 or 10 minutes which is a good start but the talk backs completely random um, and you do, you know, people that call in some of them will, will um link back questions to the original topic but most people have already got something that they wanted to ask and just phone in with random things. So, I think that's pretty nerve wracking but ah, [inaudible 00:19:15] has been able to handle that properly. So I think just experience and having dealt with enough clients that you probably had those questions before um, bringing, always bringing it back to some common sense, bringing it back to goals, help giving them something to think about that's gonna help them make the right decision cause, you know, as you know we don't always have the answer to everything in terms of what they should be doing, so, yeah that worked that way but yeah, was certainly challenging um, sometimes but ah ...

Fraser Jack: [19:43] And did you find that was a successful thing to do from a new client point of view? Well, did you get, did you get many, any inquiries around that from, from new clients, from that media?

Thabojan Rasiah: [19:54] It's a good question, it's hard to know with ... I think that, that applies to all forms of marketing, all forms of ... It's hard to know what actually comes directly from any of those things. What I certain-, you know, and we, and I did get some inquiries through that um, what, what I certainly know is that there are no avenues through which you can connect with potential people that need your advice, the stronger the chance that they're gonna reach out and the stronger the chance that they gonna be comfortable that you going to be a good fit.

Thabojan Rasiah: [20:24] So, you know, it's also gonna mean that you turn away people cause you're out there a lot more in lots of different media but that's okay, um, but what it means that people that like what you're talking about in different forums in different ways they're the ones that will contact you and um, I guess as long as you connecting with, with some people um, that's really the main thing, I think.

Fraser Jack: [20:46] Yeah, that's exactly right. It's, I guess the only time you put yourself out there you put yourself out there and open to ah, people disagreeing with you which is, which is fine but it also, I think you right it actually means that when people come forth and come towards you they, and, and you said the comfort level um, I think that's a really good way of looking at it, that they're more comfortable that you gonna be a good fit with them, so, yeah, I think that's um, a great way of looking at it because obviously the other way of looking at it is that you gonna be fearful around putting yourself out there.

Thabojan Rasiah: [21:10] Mm-hmm (affirmative). And I think even with um, I know with, with any client engagement certainly one thing I've introduced into um, the process is, and it's not easy but, but very conf- you know, if we again take a step from, you know, if someone contacts us, if we remove the almost obvious thing of, we wanna try and get this person as a client which sounds crazy, but if we try and step back from that and say, "This person is reaching out because they need some help," and if our desire is truly to help them then are we willing to walk away from this person potentially being a client if it's the right thing for them.

Thabojan Rasiah: [21:51] And what that thought process has led to is having a very frank discussion about all the options that they have making sure that they're extremely clear that we may not be the right fit for them and that there are many, many options for them, there's lots of good advisors, there's lots of different structures and places and avenues that they can get advice through and this is how we do it but that may or may not be the right for them.

Thabojan Rasiah: [22:17] And, it's, it's funny it's, it's been liberating in some way because it really does, it does turn away some people because you know, they do find that they can, maybe I do need to deal with somewhere else but it does mean that the people that do come on as clients are really dealing with you and they know exactly how we do things and they, you know, they want to build that relationship with you, so.

Thabojan Rasiah: [22:38] Yeah, that's, that's been, you know, a big difference in the way I've approached new clients in the last 12 months.

Fraser Jack: [22:45] Yeah, actually I really love that approach um, to the new clients and, and just the way that you put that with empathy that they're reaching out um, they properly and [inaudible 00:22:55] just respecting that. Yeah, I really like that approach, congratulations.

Fraser Jack: [22:59] Um, now I want to talk to you about the [inaudible 00:23:02] how you sit with your clients what sort of your process is around and, and how you work with them to achieve their cause.

Thabojan Rasiah: [23:10] So, I guess this comes to the advice process and again when thinking about this um, if we remove the idea of you know, all the stuff that we are used to doing whether it's [inaudible 00:23:21] um, the advice process, how we see it and if we again go back to that concept of truly starting with understanding the client which we all, you know, we all do, I guess I've drawn a lot again this isn't anything that I've come up with, it's absolutely pulling stuff from all the people that have been successful in the past around and um, but you know, you look back to um, people like Bill Bachrach, Jim Stagpool ah, David Hines, who's someone that I worked closely with for a long time and the approach of really getting to understand clients and their values.

Thabojan Rasiah: [23:57] So, I'll spend, you know, a good, you know, half an hour to an hour with a couple talking, getting to understand what's important to them, really challenging them on what they say is important to them, not for any other reason but to make sure that they're agreeing with what they're actually saying as well and that they're not just reeling off what they think they should say. Um, so try to go deep, sometimes it's successful sometimes it's not from getting them to express that but starting the process is really important and different people engage down that path to different degrees um, but it's really to extract, you know, what their values are um and what I tell clients before we have that meeting as well is that what we want to do is to get them to clearly articulate it as much as possible um, at any point in their journey and then we will document it so, so we document that, that conversation and then we, you know, we'll pull it out um, on a pretty regular basis with clients and remind them this is why we're doing everything.

Thabojan Rasiah: [24:58] Um, so the goals for my clients um, my ideal clients isn't that that they wanna make as much money as possible, that might be a result, but the goals are really going to be again like most advisors listening to this ah, is about, you know, their family, their health, their well being, their security, their peace of mind, all those sorts of things but um, having that very deliberate conversation with them and getting them to articulate that, I think is a very important part of the process.

Thabojan Rasiah: [25:25] So, once that's done we typically then start um, doing some cashflow modeling so, you know, there's so many different tools out there and I think we can get too caught up on the tools but whether it's, you know, Xtools Plus or whether it's spreadsheets or whether it's some other modeling software and I, you know, I don't, I know a lot of advisors do, do modeling as part of the, the financial plan in inverted commas, and you know you might have all the projections and things like that sitting in the back um, but really you telling the client, this is what you need to do.

Thabojan Rasiah: [25:55] What I found really beneficial and is something we used to do at Shadforth as well was um, do the modeling with the client live, so we'll sit down um, and that takes a bit of courage and learning as well because you putting yourself out there and, you know, running a piece of software live in front of a client at the risk of ah, stuffing it up, I guess. But, you know, um, it's very powerful from the perspective of being able to show a client this is where you are, this is where you going based on doing various things. It helps run through different scenarios, testing different decisions that they may or may not make and the really powerful part is that it extracts, the, the conversations that we have um the clients about how they feel about different decisions, how they feel about different outcomes and different, in different scenarios, that's the real power because then we get a real understanding about, you know, how to manage that.

Thabojan Rasiah: [26:48]  You know, once you know how they feel about certain things, they might say they want something but when they see that it's gonna impact another outcome, they themselves will say, "Oh well actually, you know, maybe we'd prefer to do things a different way." Um, and you're giving them the power as well which is again ah, as an advisor can be a bit of a scary thing, you know, you sort of giving away your, you know, are you giving away your expertise, you letting the client actually see exactly what you're doing, they're actually seeing that it's not rocket science it's a really complicated spreadsheet but, or calculative but it's not rocket science um, but I think more and more clients appreciate the value of the actual conversations and challenges that we're bringing forward as opposed to the again, the work.

Fraser Jack: [27:30] Yeah, now you mention giving the power back to the client and I love, I love this, this conversation it's, yeah, the power, you know, it can be said that currently when you go and see an advisor there's a power and balance you know, the, the advisor has the power um, and is letting the client know what they should be doing or telling them in some cases what they should be doing and having the client, you know, as you mention model with the advisor and co-create that advice together really does give them, you know, empowers them and gives them ownership in the process.

Thabojan Rasiah: [27:57] Absolutely, it's in my mind it's got to be a partnership. So, you see a lot of relationships where, you know, the advisor is the expert, ah, I tell you what to do, you do it, otherwise you're in trouble without me you can't do this yourself etc, etc, personally that's not something that I'm comfortable with. Then you've got the other type of relationship where the client is the person in power where they basically tell the advisor what they want and the advisor does it um, whether they agree with it or not, again, I don't think that's a healthy ah, relationship the way that I would want to run it because you know, clients don't always have all the answers.

Thabojan Rasiah: [28:29] I think where, where you extract the most value for the client is where we're having those conversations in partnership and there's, there's no one in a higher position of power ah, you're really working together, there's mutual respect and you know, whether you're having the conversations about what's important to you it's, it's all about trying to help the client, um, when it's about doing the modeling and showing them this is how we do it, again, it's all about helping them and um, that's you know, that's where they get the benefit, I don't think we need to hold back information from the client, if clients can do it themselves then they probably should um, it's that most people don't have the time or the, or the head space or the, or the expertise, or the experience to do it themselves.

Thabojan Rasiah: [29:13] Um, they need to be, they need to know that.

Fraser Jack: [29:17] Yeah, then you mentioned you started with cashflow and um, you know, you can use tools or spreadsheets or whatever you want to use, um, how deep and granular do you go with clients. Is it different for each client or do you um, you sort of do an overview, category level or how deep do you go with each client and how, and what do you think the clients get out of that process?

Thabojan Rasiah: [29:34] So, how deep we go does depend on the client but when I talk about cashflow I'm really talking about cashflow modeling from a live on cashflow modeling perspective. So, and, and obviously with any modeling you know, rubbish in, rubbish out, the models only as good as it's assumptions. So, it can take time to get those assumptions right, um, but it's not always easy particularly when it comes to particular expenses, you know, that's the, that's the hardest um, piece to get right.

Thabojan Rasiah: [30:02] I guess through the relationship, you know the initial modeling is really about okay, this is what you think your spending, you know, we can do some high level ah, checking and testing and use those figures to make big decisions or give us an idea high level of where they're going. But then as we go through we'll get a better feel for whether, whether we're on the mark or off the mark and that's something that gradually gets adjusted.

Thabojan Rasiah: [30:25] I think these days particularly with some of the technology that's available, um, it's a lot easier to track things like cashflow. Again it really depends on the client, some clients aren't interested in going to that detail but I think it's our job to challenge clients if they're not on the mark in terms of what their spending is cause that, obviously has a large impact. Ah, so at the moment I'm using um, My Prosperity but there're so many tools out there whether it's Money Soft, um, Zero, ah, you know, going through credit card statements and downloading all the data (laughs) and sorting it out. I had one client that does that.

Thabojan Rasiah: [30:59] But it's, it's all about just, you know, having the information. If you got the information then we can advise on it and help the client make their decisions.

Fraser Jack: [31:05] Yep. And ah, so you ah, with, with its process do you sort of talk to them about the strategies first and then go and produce the advice and then do you show them how the strategies work and is it, is it, is it half educational, um half strategy?

Thabojan Rasiah: [31:20] There's always a bit of education but I always like to use the iceberg approach with clients, you know, depending on the strategy, depending on the, the area of strategy and depending on the client they may or may not a certain amount of detail so we have to give them, you know, some of the information and explain everything obviously but, you know, some clients want to go really deep diving on the investment philosophy and that's fine others don't want to know about the investment philosophy, they just want to understand the fundamentals of it but they might be really, really interested in, you know, how we manage expenses or how superannuation works and then others might be really interested in insurance, you know, some of the doctors really want to understand medical definitions and things like that.

Thabojan Rasiah: [32:00] And so, it does depend on the client and I like to use the iceberg approach whereas as you know, you start off with the tip of the iceberg and continually ask the questions so, you know, I can spend days talking about any topic but how much detail do you want, how much details gonna help you over and above the minimum information that we know we have to share with you.

Fraser Jack: [32:16] Correct. Now, what would your standard um, three meetings, four meetings, what sort of the average that you'd with the client, a new client coming in?

Thabojan Rasiah: [32:24] It's a good question, it's really hard to say at the moment, I mean, ideally you've got a standard process that you follow um, I think um, who was it, David Hines who, who, who always used to say that, you know, you standardize the process but customize the experience so, you know, you might have um, you know, a discovery meeting is the first step in the process. But with some clients you have, you need 3, 4, 5, discovery meetings before we're comfortable, and they're comfortable that it's gonna be a good fit.

Thabojan Rasiah: [32:55] Um, some clients are extremely simple in terms of the outcomes, and they pick things up really quickly and very quick at making decisions so, again, you can, you can step through that really quickly others need a lot more of our time to communicate it to them. So, to answer your question I don't really have a, have a solid answer all I know is that if, if I'm focused on the client achieving what's important to them it's not just the delivery of the advice it's the implementation of that advice, and the clients sticking to it that is where the value is actually realized.

Thabojan Rasiah: [33:25] So, for me anyway I know that with some clients they're gonna realize a tremendous amount of value going through a 3 meeting process, a different client is gonna achieve a similar amount of value if it takes them 10 meetings to do it and I think, ah, and I don't know if, if that's the answer but in my mind I feel like that's the reality of dealing with different people.

Fraser Jack: [33:51] Um, [inaudible 00:33:52] 12 months old obviously ah reviews and progress meetings are gonna be a big part of the next ah, you know, ah iteration of the business if you like, um, how often are you seeing your clients as in are you doing yearly progress reviews or are you doing it earlier than that?

Thabojan Rasiah: [34:07] Um, I guess when you've got new clients as you probably know, you see them a lot more than, you know, your, your client that's been a client for 5 years and I think as well, um, you know, if you think back 10 years ago, you know, a lot of our advice was, you know, we'll have your super or we'll manage your portfolio and you can pretty quickly jump into a standardized ah, review process. Um, the way that we're sort of delivering among, you know, various services depending on what the client needs, you know we doing estate planning and um, you know, a whole lot of things that might come up in the discussions which means that we're probably talking to them a number of times through the first year.

Thabojan Rasiah: [34:47] And you haven't necessarily bedded down every single thing after that either so, um, in at this stage of our business it's certainly not in a structured approach like that. Where I'd like to see it is um, is probably two meetings a year for clients and so yeah, we're, we're coming round to probably ah, annual reviews which in the current environment driven by FDS and things like that (laughs) um, unfortunately not quite centric but, compliance centric approach but you know, the first reviews I've had this month I've seen all those um, in the last 3 months or had meetings whether it's phone or video meetings with them in the last 3 months.

Thabojan Rasiah: [35:25] So, um, yeah it's not like I haven't seen them annually but certainly you've got to put, again, have a standardized process and then customize the experience depending on the client.

Fraser Jack: [35:34] Mm-hmm (affirmative). Now you just mentioned um, video, video meeting there, do you do a lot of video meetings?

Thabojan Rasiah: [35:39] Doing a lot more of it so, um, I'm trying to make sure that we ask clients what their preference is um, really ah, it's nice to be able to um, sit face to face, belly to belly and eyeball them and have those, yeah, conversations if possible. But, you know, sometimes that's, that just doesn't work so, um, you know, we're using Zoom, Zoom meetings works very well, still, you know, building out the different technology that we use to make it as, um, make the experience as good as possible but um, yeah, so far it's, it's been good.

Fraser Jack: [36:13] And ah what are the other things you sort of working on in the business at the moment for the near future?

Thabojan Rasiah: [36:17] Certainly refining that process that we've spoken about, testing a number of things um, testing different ways to deliver information to clients, trying to stay as ah, regularly in touch through different mediums and, and formats. Obviously with the compliance and the royal commission and the changes going on there that lends itself very nicely to um, how we engage, how we um, continue to demonstrate and explain our value um, how we disclose things and testing all the documents and disclosure documents again, that's a continual process because again, we certainly don't wanna be held back by the fact that SOA should look like this or some, you know, some other compliance requirement so how can we use those documents um, in the best possible way to add value to the clients experience.

Thabojan Rasiah: [37:09] I think there's a lot of technology as well as everyone is looking at technology um, to engage better with clients, more efficiently with clients um, and so, you know, things like My Prosperity which we do track expenses through but also to give clients that sense of, you know, we're in a world where everyone's got access to everything on their smart phone these days so um, whether they use it or not, I think, you know, it's, we underestimate just the mental space and the peace of mind it gives people knowing that things are available if I want it. So, you know, that, that's another thing that we have been using but you know, refining that to improve the experience for clients. And certainly ah, something that we're always working on.

Fraser Jack: [37:50] Yeah great. And there's obviously a lot of changes going on in our profession at the moment. What a, how do you see them all sort of paneing out, we've just been through a royal commission and we've got a whole lot of changes indications as well, how do you see this all playing out in the long term?

Thabojan Rasiah: [38:01] Yeah, its an interesting, interesting timing for this chat Fraser it is but um, I mean I've got views on a whole lot of things so um, you know, certain people might not like them but that's okay. Um, I think it's ah, there's nothing in the royal commission that I com-, you know, completely disagree with um, I think they could have gone further in some areas ah, but if we combine the royal commission with everything else going on um, I think our profession, I think it will become, our industry will become a profession, and I think the futures very bright um, unfortunately there are gonna be casualties along the way um, so thing like FASIA coming um, I think that's very positive um, but I know a lot of really good advisors who are unfortunately gonna have to leave the industry or do some really tough work.

Thabojan Rasiah: [38:54] And it's unfortunate for them because it, I think there are those who probably need to come up to scratch anyway, but those who are already knowledgeable and um, qualified but just don't meet the FASIA standards are gonna have to pitch in. I think ending the grandfather in commissions is really positive um, I think more transparent fees um, more transparency on ownership of advice I think, you know, the commissioner handling the address, medical integration directly but um, and I think that's something that people are disappointed with, but I think again, if you look at all the subtleties in the recommendations along with other things that are going on, if there's any or disclosure of um, fees then you know, whether you're an institution or not you not going to be able to retain clients, they don't know what they paying and they happy with what they paying.

Thabojan Rasiah: [39:41] Um, the other thing is, and it will be interesting how it's implemented but the disclosure of not being independent so, he did, if you read his actual recommendations he did say disclosure at the moment isn't working whether it's in SOAs and those sorts of things but he therefore he wants this independence statement, or some sort of way to communicate independence. Because he's saying disclosure isn't good enough, my read on it was that he wants this independence thing to be more than just a line in a document so, I don't know what that actually means but if we have to explicitly say where clients will end up really knowing whether we're linked to another business or institution or whatever then that's gonna give clients more, consumers more clarity about that whereas right now it's very opaque it's very difficult for consumers to know, you know, whether there's conflicts, what the conflicts are cause it's all hidden in all the disclosure.

Thabojan Rasiah: [40:33] Um, so, you know, I think, you know, all those different factors there're a lot of challenges for all of us, but I think and in particular there's the opportunity to ... I guess for us to be held more accountable like I know, that there're gonna be people that don't stay clients but if they don't stay clients it's because the value that I have to give may not be what they need, and you know, I had a few chats with other colleagues as well and maybe that's the right thing. You know, it's not about, if we think about our own hip pockets then absolutely we gonna have a view on certain things but if we think about what is right for our clients and consumers then if they shouldn't be paying the fee that we charge, of course, we gonna hate losing them as a client but maybe that is actually better for them, but it's also gonna position us better to more clearly articulate what our value is and therefore the right clients ah, want to retain those relationships with us.

Fraser Jack: [41:29] Good. That's a good way of, good way of looking at future ah, a bright future um, and really just, again, putting the clients at the front of the, of the conversation.

Fraser Jack: [41:37] Um, now if you're chatting to somebody contemporary, somewhere, I don't know, at a dinner party or something um, what sort of tips do you give to that consumer about how or what they should go about when they seeking advice?

Thabojan Rasiah: [41:46] I think there's, there's some basics such as know what their qualifications are, know what their experience is, um, that sort of, you would have thought obvious stuff, but not always so, you know, call that out, but I think um, certainly I'll tell people to have a conversation with somebody. Assume you gonna have a long relationship with these people, so you gotta like them, you gotta like what they stand for, you've got to agree with their philosophies, and I think it's important that they expect advisors to have philosophies on various things.

Thabojan Rasiah: [42:22] Um, they should have a view, they should have an approach that they can clearly articulate, and these are all things that just make it less likely for clients to end up getting advice from someone that they may not, you know, be a good fit for. Um, it's not about what's right or wrong but if, if clients understand that, and they really know who they dealing with properly then they can make a right, ah, the best decision they can.

Fraser Jack: [42:46] Mm-hmm (affirmative). And in fact if I had that, you know, the advisor hat on in that same conversation it's really about making your views and approaches and philosophies known.

Thabojan Rasiah: [42:55] Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. And then I think we should be able to ... Yeah, and then we, and then that's where if you're an order taker or someone does whatever the client wants then unfortunately you gonna get clients that like to be the boss and get their way all the time but and if that's the sort of people you want to deal with then fine but then you gonna attract people that genuinely want guidance and advice and so, I think we have to have, and it's not easy, we have to have worked that in our own minds what we believe is important and what we think we can help clients with.

Fraser Jack: [43:24] Mm-hmm (affirmative). Good. Good.

Fraser Jack: [43:24] Now if you ah, having ah a chat to a young advisor and you've only got a couple of tips for the young advisors coming through, what tips you give them?

Thabojan Rasiah: [43:33] The best tip I can give, and it's again, this is something that I've, I heard from somebody else, which is find the best advisor you can and spend some time with them. You know, if you have to, if you, I guess to use a, use an example if you had you know, 10 years of experience with ah, working with somebody that you, you know, that you didn't rate, that you didn't think was any good, but you had 10 years of experience, and it might look good on the resume but if you spent one year with the best person you could, and you didn't get paid a cent, you just sat there and listened and watched everything they did, that would be far more valuable to you than the 10 years experience with the ordinary one.

Thabojan Rasiah: [44:13] So, that would be my advice, and I certainly gained, and I'm very fortunate that I worked with some of the best in the industry through my journey. So, yeah, that's something that I would look for.

Fraser Jack: [44:23] And that sort of plays also into the 12 month um, advisory year, doesn't it, with the new planners coming through, to be able to sit with advisors?

Thabojan Rasiah: [44:30] Yeah, that's a really good point. Um, yeah that, that's coming in isn't it so, absolutely.

Fraser Jack: [44:35] Yeah, thankfully also through you know, this sort of medium around podcasts and different things that are around people are getting to spend a little bit of time with a, a whole lot of a, people are gonna be able to spend an hour with you for example right now just on, with that bit, you know. Ah, finding out about what you're doing, so thank you for that.

Thabojan Rasiah: [44:51] Yeah, no that's true Fraser, I listen to a lot of podcasts and um, I gain a lot of, you know, you listen to a lot of stuff from other people, and you know, not everything is stuff that you agree with but, you know you pick up real nuggets of gold. Again, it's just other people who have done it before, um, made the mistakes. Yeah.

Fraser Jack: [45:10] Yep. And if anyone who's looking to transition a business as, as you've done, transition a business maybe from a traditional ah, advice business and do something, do something more client and goals based or something that's a bit more run independent if you like or those sorts of things, what tips would you give to those advisors?

Thabojan Rasiah: [45:26] I think, I think if you can look yourself in the mirror and be confident that you add value for your clients and that then at the end of the day that transition is really a mindset and ultimately it's about having a crack so, believing that, you know, once you truly believe that you can add value out, you know, in goals based advice because that's what clients truly value, and I've seen this happen where you know, you've got an advisor that's very investment focused, and they spend, you know, 80% of their time on portfolio management and 80% of their meetings talking about portfolios, but their relationships with their clients is so deep that if they didn't have those conversations about the portfolios they'd probably have just as good a relation with the client and in fact they'd give themselves far more time to be spending more time with the client on issues that are actually more important to the client than the portfolio.

Thabojan Rasiah: [46:21] So, it's a big shift but um, I think we underestimate you know, how important it is to clients to be ah, continually going back to those goals. And not just, you know, I think there's this goals based advice or goals based investing is thrown around a lot out there, um, I know AMP's been talking about it um, you know, goal, the goal isn't you know, a, the return above CPR or a goal isn't retiring at 65 um, when you really do it well the clients goals are whatever it is they think is really, really important to them and it's getting back to values based stuff as opposed to, you know, I want this, I want that.

Fraser Jack: [47:01] Yeah.

Thabojan Rasiah: [47:01] And that's where the rubber hits the road and that's why we can, that's why that's far more important than investment um, discussions.

Fraser Jack: [47:07] Yeah. I think ah, the goals to me are really those emotional factors in their life , things that really bring out some, there's no emotion brought out in this, and it's definitely you haven't got to the goal yet and ah, and yeah it's certainly the thing that, it's the client [inaudible 00:47:20], you sort of mentioned it before is you know, the clients that come back, and they understand why they doing what they doing and that goal is the way.

Fraser Jack: [47:27] Now, if you could go back in time and give yourself some tips and advice, if you could have a bit of a do over, what, what would you ah, what would you go back and give yourself some advice on?

Thabojan Rasiah: [47:34] If anything it's probably putting yourself out there a bit more, taking more risks ah, being more vulnerable, again, it's not easy for anybody to do that um, but once you do it and you realize, um, this is actually good, um, it's like, you know, once you look under the bed at the monster, I've got a couple of young kids you know, once you look under the bed it's far less scary than when you sitting on top of it worrying about what's under there so, um, sometimes just having a crack.

Fraser Jack: [48:06] Yep. I couldn't agree more, put yourself out there, have a go and ah, it turns out to be a bit less scary.

Fraser Jack: [48:12] Thank you so much for coming on the show today, I really appreciate having you opening up and telling us all about your business and your insights and sharing your journey along the way, and I want to say a big thank you and ah, congratulations on the business you've built and yeah, I really appreciate it.

Fraser Jack: [48:25] (music plays)

Thabojan Rasiah: [48:26] Thanks for having me on Fraser, it's a pleasure.

Fraser Jack: [48:27] Alright. Thank you.

Fraser Jack: [48:30] If, you haven't already I'd love you to subscribe to the podcast on your podcast platform of choice.

Fraser Jack: [48:35] And to continue the conversation head over to our social media channels we'll catch you next time.

Fraser Jack: [48:39] (loud music)

 

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.