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Podcast Transcript

Episode 38, Season 1

How Michelle Tate-Lovery found her niche client


Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:00:00] Ultimately people are walking in with a lot of anxiety. No one really skips into a financial planning meeting. They’re usually feeling a bit... they’re insecure because they don’t know what to expect, they don’t know if they’re going the like you, trust you, they’re being sold something. Then they’ve got their own issues around usually quite complex family matters.

Fraser Jack: [00:00:26] 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 want to thank you so much for tuning in today. A big shout out to all the feedback and reviews I’ve recently received, and I’d like to thank our supporting partner, Advice Intelligence for powering this podcast.

Fraser Jack: [00:00:44] In this episode I chat with lifestyle financial planner, Michelle Tate-Lovery. We chat around how she uncovered her niche client, and how she helps her clients discover their goals using a vision board and Steve Covey’s four L’s, love, learning, lifestyle and legacy. We also cover solving her clients’ financial anxiety and how financial planning provides her clients with a return on life.

Fraser Jack: [00:01:13] Michelle gives us plenty to think about, and she’s a great mentor. It gives me a lot of pleasure to share this conversation with you. Let’s kick it off right now. Welcome to the show Michelle.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: 00:01:28 Thank you. Great to be here.

Fraser Jack: [00:01:31] Now tell us you’re there, whereabouts are you at the moment?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:01:35] I’m in my office in Carlton in Melbourne, Victoria, if people are not aware of where Carlton is. I’m sitting in my financial planning office.

Fraser Jack: [00:01:47] Very nice. Now the weather will be cooling down about now, wouldn’t it, in Carlton?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:01:5] Yeah, not bad. Quite varied weather in the last couple of days, but looking forward to the Easter break. Very much so.

Fraser Jack: [00:02:00] Very good. Now try and give a quick overview of both yourself and your financial advice business.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:02:06] Sure. I feel like I was born in the industry. I’ve been around for a long time. I think the profession chose me rather than the other way, but I have been in the industry for 30 years, been a financial planner in private practice for all of that time.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:02:28] Have at an early stage obtained my dealers license, because I felt like I wanted to do financial planning my way. I’ve stayed in Carlton for the best part of that 30 year period, and I think you would say my practice is a boutique practice, and we are financial lifestyle planners.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:02:57] We have a small team of people, six staff. We’ve got a bit of flexibility of working patterns in our team. We do a bit of virtual stuff, and more importantly, our client base has actually grown out of the health industry, Allied Health professionals. I’ll save it, stop now, and give you a chance to ask your questions.

Fraser Jack: [00:03:25] Very good. That’s a really good overview. Tell me about, you said you’ve been in the industry 30 years, and tell us how you got into the industry?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:03:33] Well, looking back, and I didn’t know this at the time, but financial planning only had about a 10 year history when I entered. So financial planning has been around for about 40 years, and I was fortunate enough to quite by accident fall into the industry and I was recruited by, back then, the only financial planning organization, reported to be, in Australia. I had some great training on the job, and subsequently felt it was too much of a responsibility not to have any formal education.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:04:14] But back then there were no degrees, so I launched into the diploma of financial planning, and then very much on the job did my education and achieved CPF status many years ago.

Fraser Jack: [00:04:31] I’m just thinking back at that time, I entered the industry back in 2000, and going to PD days and conferences at the time, there was very few females coming through in the profession at the time. That must’ve been an experience for you to have to come into in its own.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:04:54] How candid do you want to be? I was very young, I was very inexperienced, and yes, incredibly male dominated industry. I didn’t actually know any females at that time, because you were cocooned. I suppose to be fair, being thrown into the space and feeling the weight of responsibility of giving advice and knowing that I needed to be technically competent, my focus was really on that technician role in the early stages.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:05:29] I felt like I needed to get the study and the experience under my belt before I launched into thinking about where was this all taking me.

Fraser Jack: [00:05:40] I find a lot of planners, and I certainly was when I came through, really throw yourself into that technical space and to be able to know the inside and outside of every product, of every strategy, all that technical side, and that was really a string point. Did you find at the time that was probably something that you spent too much time with your clients on?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:06:01] Well, I mentor a lot today, and I would tell anyone who enters the industry that there is an apprenticeship period, and I really do think it can vary for some people, but it’s a good five year minimum. I certainly did that. I think it’s really important to get that under your belt to give you confidence when you are dealing especially with older people, which I found myself dealing with.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:06:31] Subsequently, the focus was around how do I... I didn’t really want to do the hit and miss, mom and dad, just anyone would do sort of thing, someone sitting in front of you to give advice to. I felt it was just not as structured as I would have liked it to have been, so I very early on went on to carve out a market base in the health industry.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:07:03] So that then gave me focus. Having done my technical stuff, now I was focusing more on specialization from a client perspective, rather from a strategy perspective.

Fraser Jack: [00:07:18] From a very young planner age, you’d started your own business by this point, developed your own niche in the health industry. Was there anything holding you back in that way with regards to finding your niche? How did you go about finding your niche?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:07:36] I don’t know. I must have had special powers, because it kind of came to me quite by accident. I was introduced into the Allied Health Union Movement fairly early on, and at the time they wanted to disseminate information around financial matters into the workplace. So I seemed to be the right person at the right time, and so way back then we started doing financial literacy workshops in public hospitals, pathology labs, with pharmaceutical companies, it just snowballed.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:08:20] It was all about providing value and services for your union subscription. That’s how it started. Back then it was actually before ACTY Financial Services, and I don’t know what form that’s taken since, but before financial planning was really big, it was fairly unknown. I found myself doing such basic things in the workplace like helping people understand their payslips, helping people understand their super statements, their tax returns.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:08:56] Back then salary packaging was very big within enterprise agreement, so it was about talking through the issues associated with packaging, and how to do that in an optimal way. Then what happened was there was privatization of pathology services in Victoria, and so once again I found myself at the right time in the right place to be involved with negotiating helping the unions negotiate with management appropriate redundancy packages for Allied Health professionals.

Fraser Jack: [00:09:34] Well, okay, so it’s not just the standard we look after health professionals that’s just doctors. You’re looking after everybody in the hospital?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:09:44] Broadly, yes. I suppose the market wasn’t doctors and it wasn’t nurses, because there were very clearly demarkation, the unions were separate. It was everyone else, Allied Health, and excluding domestic services. So many scientists, psychologists, dieticians, audiologists, radiographers, broadly speaking.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:10:14] Then within the union movement, what ended up happening is when you’re dealing with such a broad group of Allied Health, they all had their own professional associations as well. Then it filtered into that. I really had a kickstart, very fortunate to have a kickstart. I was really, really busy running around, and I realized very early on that people want an education rather than product.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:10:47] At the time when I was authorized through a dealer, my activity for them just wasn’t happening. I mean there was a lot of activity, but there wasn’t any production with regards to income for them, because I was hopeless. That made me go and obtain my own license, because I felt I wanted to charge for consultations and education and all the things that I believed in.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:11:16] I should have said earlier, I was on this trajectory to be a teacher and then found myself in financial planning, so I suppose I played to my strengths around education and helping people. If I think about it, for all these years, those are the things that have kept the fire burning, to be able to really try and connect with people, help people unpack all this complexity that they’re facing and teach them and empower them so that they can truly find a sense of progression in their lives.

Fraser Jack: [00:11:54] I love what you’re saying and the way that start every sentence with helping, and helping people. I think it’s a big fundamental thing that we do, is we help people by doing these things, not we provide advice to help people. We’ve always got to start with the how can we help people, as you mentioned before, not start with the product or the strategy or anything like that. It’s amazing. Now I wanted to talk to you about the financial education piece, you were going in to do workshops. How did that come about, and how did you put together those workshops, and what did it do for the people inside the workshop?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:12:32] Okay. You’ve got to wind back 30 years, right, there was absolutely no guidance, and I had big brother breathing down my back and saying, “Here you need to place business,” and they did not get this whole education piece. But it gave me my confidence I suppose, because I had to understand financial planning matters first, complex issues and strategies, and I had to unpack it for myself. In so doing I realized when I was spieling off the stuff that I was so proud of, people weren’t actually getting what I was saying.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:13:11] It made me challenge that, and going, “I really have to unpack this, firstly for me to communicate better with people, otherwise there’s no hope of reaching them to help them.” I kind of just broke everything down. Back then, you’ll laugh, I don’t know Fraser, I don’t know whether you’d remember RBLs, but I knew everything about RBLs back then. Every single thing about RBLs, and I was dealing with defined superannuation and still am, but people were just not getting superannuation, the basic things.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:13:45] As I said before, people didn’t even understand what income they were receiving because it was disguised by salary packaging, and they weren’t sure what they were taking home. It was chaos really. So I just sort of chunked every single thing down and designed little mini workshops around it, but no one really taught me how to do it, I just sort of went by gut feel.

Fraser Jack: [00:14:07] Was it fair to say that you’d ask people who needed the help to tell you what they needed, and then you just delivered that?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:14:14] Yes. Absolutely. I felt there was a pattern developing, and spoke to that. I’m actually not even sure I asked them what they needed, because I was so young and naïve. Also at the same time felt very like a fish swimming in the opposite direction from the school of fish. Is that the right expression? I don’t know.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:14:40] But I just felt like I was just... there was no one who was doing this at all, so it was very weird, which drove me to the next little discovery, which was I couldn’t find anyone else doing advice or talking about financial education the way I was in Australia, maybe overseas there was hope.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:15:03] So I started really investigating how financial planning, which was very, very new, what was it like in other parts of the world. I was so comforted to know that it wasn’t all just in my head and I was making it all up, and I wasn’t alone, there were a whole lot of... it was a whole movement around financial life planning.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:15:31] Then after getting the technician piece right, and then getting this specialization of market right, I suppose the next move was to try and label, if I can use that word, identify for myself and for other people, what style of advice I was giving. Who was I as a financial planner? I knew that distinctly I was not an investment adviser at that time. I was definitely a financial planner first, and it was all about people, because I’ve always believe the investment and all the formal training that you had, it was going to be there at the end, it was a means to an end.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: 00:16:14 It was a journey for the client to take, and there’s no way you could put a product in front of a client without the client trusting you, and without a client revealing to you were they were in life and how they were feeling about things and those bigger conversations. There’s no way they were ready for the will out of a super product or an insurance product or whatever.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:16:41] Finding a identity was very important to me, because once again I’m young, naïve, a little bit more experienced now, because I’ve gone through the education process, and quite comfortable in my market base, but I felt a need to label what I was doing. So financial lifestyle planning was a great label, a banner, that we started adopting. Then we started speaking more broadly to what people actually needed, which was... What they needed, get ready for this, what they needed was so basic, what they needed was a plan.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:17:28] They needed direction. They needed someone to talk to about their life and their complexity, and they needed a way forward. Then I’m thinking, “How do I do this with strategy stuff and technical stuff and product stuff?” But it sort of developed from there.

Fraser Jack: [00:17:49] Fantastic. Now that whole financial lifestyle planner are probably more what we convert to the Goals Based Advice conversation today, but certainly with regards to the financial literacy, and I don’t like that term as much as what it does, which is more around financial confidence and financial empowerment along with the lifestyle planner scenario, giving your clients confidence to then have that conversation around the plan. Do you see that all that’s a forefront to the plan, and then you create the plan, then the advice is an implementation of the plan?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:18:31] Yes. Sorry, is that a question? I absolutely agree with what you’re saying. Yes, absolutely.

Fraser Jack: [00:18:36] Yep, yep. All right, now so I thought I might come forward a little bit towards where we are now. You’ve built a larger practice and a bigger team over the years. Why don’t you give us a bit of a overview of your team you’ve built and how you went about that?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:18:53] We’re still a small team. Starting from one, there are now six. I’ve had a larger business. I should say being around for a while, my model of business has also changed many times given the regulatory landscape. We do pride ourselves on being a bit ahead of the time, and trying to stay ahead of legislation.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:19:19] I never really wanted to feel that legislation was dictating to me how I was going to practice, although interestingly in recent times it seems like, wow, there’s this big whoosh of change, and no wonder people are feeling a little bit disconnected and frustrated. But I suppose we’re going to be talking about that a bit later.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:19:48] Fee-for-service definitely was prominent in the early stage, so just to wind back I got my dealers license and then I was charging for workshops and charging for advice and consultations and plans and first meetings and all that, and that’s still with me. Back then I had a volume of clients, lots and lots of people coming in and paying me for what I was doing, which was great.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:20:21] I brought on staff and I grew a big business as far as head count, as far as volume of clients. I probably didn’t really at this point have the business hat on, and I suppose that’s another part of my journey. It sounds a bit like Gerber, if anyone’s read Michael Gerber, the doing it, doing it, doing it man. I don’t know, Fraser, do you know Michael Gerber?

Fraser Jack: [00:20:55] Yeah, I’ve read... which books-

Michelle Tate-Lovery: 00:20:55 The E-myth?

Fraser Jack: [00:20:55] Yeah, he’s had a few books, hasn’t he?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:20:55] He presented, geez, 15, 20 years ago at a FPA conference, and that was definitely a life changing moment for me because I suddenly realized if I wanted to be sustainable... I love what I was doing, it was sort of taking on a life of its own, and then I started becoming very conscious of the fact that this business had to be sustainable. There were costs, there was regulation, compliance was coming in, back in 2000, coming in in a bigger way.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:21:25] In 2000, it was the time when we all had to reapply for our licenses along with DST and the 2000 bug. It was like we’re all getting new. My model of business, I could see the writing on the wall, but it wasn’t going to be about volume anymore. I felt it was going to be more about doing more for fewer people, and charging fairly for it, and certainly if I felt I was developing great relationships with people, I had to get better at it.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:22:05] So it went from more people on the team, lots of clients, to a really radical team, which was to actually communicate to all our clients about what was going on in the landscape and why we were changing our model of business. We actually let clients go. We did the business thing and we rationalized, we looked at the worse case scenario and our communication plan. If we lost... I don’t think it was ever I’m going to lose every client, but we were prepared for a massive amount of clients to leave, and they did.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:22:43] For a year the business went backwards on revenue and profitability, but it was in that recalibration mode, and if I look back now it was the best decision I ever made.

Fraser Jack: [00:22:55] Do we refer to that as your Jerry Maguire moment?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:22:59] Absolutely. Jerry Maguire moment.

Fraser Jack: [00:23:03] It’s probably fairly relevant at the moment too, with what a lot of the guys will be going through now.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:23:11] It is. It is. I think the key to sustainability is don’t get too comfortable. You’ve got to have adaptability, and you’ve got to be forward thinking. You can do all of those things I suppose, if you really believe in the value of advice. If you really believe that you are there to make fundamental, positive, life changing difference in client’s lives.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:23:40] I think with every change, it’s uncomfortable, but has always made our business better, feel more connected to clients. I felt I was doing a good job 10, 20 years ago, I’m not saying I’m perfect, I’m not saying I’m there yet, I just think it’s just given me so much confidence to have courageous conversations with clients that I would never have had before.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:24:15] What that then leads to is that you never really need to look outside the clients that you’re actually helping, as far as bringing on more clients, because if you do your job really well, guess what happens? Your client is going to invite you into their families. They’re going to refer you to the people that they cherish the most. It becomes this community of people that want the same things.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:24:47] They want to have what the next person has, and it just becomes this flow on effect. The hardest thing I think for us at the moment is to say no, because the natural thing is to want to help everyone, but the reality is there are some regulations around that. There’s efficiency issues, there’s a whole lot of other issues and I don’t need to probably go into that, because everyone’s feeling that at the moment.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:25:25] Just to compensate for that, that’s why we still continue to do workshops. If we can’t have an individual sitting in front of us who can afford to pay our fee, then the way we give back is through community engagement and financial education, in the hope that one day people will find their way to us and pay fairly for the life changing advice that we do give.

Fraser Jack: [00:26:01] You mentioned in there courageous conversations, and this is one thing that rings true when I speak to you is all the way through this journey you’ve had a lot of courage in doing what you do. Many conversations with your clients, as you mentioned, you have the courage to ask maybe confronting or difficult questions with your clients.

Fraser Jack: [00:26:25] Talk us through that process, because obviously you now with the experience you have, are pretty comfortable with it, but for a lot of people that find that really tough and shy away from some of these confronting conversations, and maybe they just don’t have the courage to ask at the time.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:26:42] Okay. I’m going to try my best with this piece. I think, as I said before, depends what stage of your career you’re at, but in the early stages we’re young and fresh, it’s all about that technical piece. I think you can lose people. You think more about yourself and not looking silly, or trying to anticipate the questions and have the answer for it, than actually being present with the client and listening.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:27:15] That active listening piece that everyone talks about today. Then there’s the issue of how much time to spend with clients, because depending on your business model and if you’re self-employed or whether you’re with a group that is around volume rather than quality, so you’ve got time restrictions and stuff like that.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:27:40] I’m not sure I’m expressing myself well enough there, but the time that you spend with a client means there has to be a fee associated with it, because your time is valuable and what you’re doing for the client is valuable. You have to believe that there’s some commercial viability here, otherwise it can get... you’ve got the technical side, you’ve got the commercial hat on, then there’s the compliance hat going, and then if you’ve got the right client in front of you and you’ve got the right philosophy and processes and the client is happy to pay and you believe in what you’re doing, then it finally comes down to the courageous conversation, but you have to set yourself up for that.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:28:34] You just can’t go in and have courageous conversations. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to make sure you’re connecting all the dots as an adviser as to who you are, what is your unique offering, what is your philosophy of advice. You kind of have to practice this a lot with friends and family, with clients. If you’re not sure, yes, you do have to mine it, drill for it with clients.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:29:09] How can I add this value to you? What would be life changing? What do you want to achieve from this meeting? How would you like to feel when you walk out of this office? All those questions earlier on I suppose I asked, if I’m thinking about it now, but the number one thing is I think you have to be comfortable in silence. Whatever question you’re asking, you have to be very comfortable in yourself and in the silence that you create, because if you do your job well, I think there will be a lot of silence in your meetings, because client’s have never been asked that question before.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:29:56] This is a bit of a moment, right? They’re going to answer in one of two ways eventually, they’re going to say, “No one’s asked that question before,” or, “Wow, it’s a big question.” Or they’re going to say, “What’s it to you?” You haven’t asked their permission if you like, because they’re trying to work out, “I came in wanting to talk about my money matters, and you’re asking me these things?”

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:30:23] You have to position it well, but I think, and what I teach my advisors is just let the client be with that question, because you know you’re onto something if there is a long pause. As to the question you asked, well, we talked about this before, it’s a really hard one because I don’t really feel there are any magic questions because if you put yourself aside and you’re there to help the client, I feel your job is as an advisor to try and work out what the client’s anxiety is around money.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:31:07] What the client’s issues are, what’s their most confronting... this is not the right wording, but almost like what’s the most confronting family issue at the moment, or work issue at the moment, or health issue at the moment. I don’t exactly say it like that, but I think you have to just trust yourself and let the conversation organically grow, but ultimately people are walking in with a lot of anxiety.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:31:42] No one really skips into a financial planning meeting. They’re usually feeling a bit... they’re insecure because they don’t know what to expect, they don’t know if they’re going the like you, trust you, they’re being sold something. Then they’ve got their own issues around usually quite complex family matters I think, and I think the other one with complex family matters combined with that is some sort of property decision.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:32:14] If I put those two together, if you think about the people we’re talking to, mostly the sandwich generation. They are being hit from all... they have aging parents, they have still children that they are either sending to school, or tertiary education, or supporting in their gap life, or whatever is going on with their young adult children.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:32:42] They’ve got grandchildren, they’re still working, it’s a tough life. I don’t know, it used to be simpler back many years ago. It’s kind of got very fast and furious with advancement. I think everyone’s decision fatigued, so that’s part of their anxiety. When they come into the office, you obviously have to put them at rest and it’s not about talking about what you can do for them, it’s about letting them relax and trust you enough to reveal some part of themselves.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:33:27] When they do, in my experience, it’s usually around a family matter, which is then linked to a financial matter, a property decision. Then you’ve got a really interesting discussion because you’ll have some people that might walk in and have an unrealistic expectation of what they can achieve in life, that’s one type of person, but there is anxiety associated with that too. Then there’s the other person who really needs help and needs to work through this very complex matter. They don’t know who to trust, and they almost want to be told or shown the way forward, but they’re not going to be accepting of what you are going to say, unless you can build confidence with the client and rapport.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:34:25] I find letting them speak is a really important thing, and I better pause there because I’m sure you’ve got a question somewhere. Sorry, you asked that question and I was thinking as I’m speaking, because I don’t know how this is going down.

Fraser Jack: [00:34:42] We love hearing your thoughts. I was thinking of the idea of those conversations are incredible with your clients. Sometimes they don’t know what’s coming and it’s kind of good to, like I said, position it well with them, or give them some sort of structure around it, or even a framing around it. How do you go about doing some of that positioning with say somebody that is likely to balk at the question?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:35:10] Right. We only attract people who do want to talk about their lives, because we actually filter our clients and we’ve got better and better at that. So people who contact us, there’s a whole process that they’ve got to go through before they sit in front of us. Most people really check you out, they want consistency.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:35:30] Our clientele are quite astute. They read well, they have opinions, they’re vocational in nature, they have high salaries, and so they do their research on you. What we do is basically let them know what to expect before they come in. They are going to be talking about their lives, because we’re lifestyle financial planners. Anyone uncomfortable with that won’t come in.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:36:05] Put it this way, occasionally we might have someone ring up and say, “I’ve got 100,00, 300,000 to invest and I don’t like the adviser I’m with at the moment. Can you help me?” That’s kind of not the client we’re looking for. We want the clients who want to talk about progression and being the best they can be, having great lives, fulfilling their potential. They don’t say it like that, but that’s our qualification, and prepared to pay for a process.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:36:35] Clients know what to expect when they come in, and when they come into the actual first meeting, they know that it is about direction and uncovering what’s really possible in their lives. Actually to that extent, that’s our client value proposition, to show clients what is really possible, because you can’t really have a plan around how to achieve goals, because people don’t really know what their goals are.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:37:07] They’re insecure about so many things, and unless you have these conversations about life and where life is going to take you and dream a little bit about what does a best life look like, unless you can uncover that, people are not even shooting for the stars. It’s just life at a minimum, and we’re all about living your best life, telling your best story. People like that. They go, “Yeah, okay.”

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:37:42] Our process, and you may have heard this because I know I’ve said this before at different forums that we’ve been involved with, but we needed a structure around how to talk about the fluffy stuff. The stuff that resonated with me and worked well for me was Steve Covey’s four L’s. The four L’s are... Do you know about the four L’s Fraser?

Fraser Jack: [00:38:11] When I think of Steve Covey, I think of the Seven Habits.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:38:14] Seven Habits, eight habits actually. He also in the detail has this way of talking to people around the four L’s, which are love, learnings, lifestyle and legacy. We do a vision board exercise with our clients around what would life... if you looked into the crystal ball, which I have here by me, or if you wave the wand, which I have to my left, I have these props, how do you see your life? What do you want out of life? What will make you happy? How do you want to be remembered? What do you want for your loved ones?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:38:57] Ideally with work, do you really want to work till you’re 65, or would you like to go earlier? Would you like to actually work part-time? What would that look like? What would you do with your spare time, would you like to travel? Where would you like to travel to? It’s not this whole... when you start this off, it’s a little bit like, “Oh my gosh,” a bit scary, but it just flows.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:39:19] People just talk, and whiteboard is completely packed with stuff. That’s why it’s really important to have a little bit of structure around it, because what you’re doing at the same time as a financial planner, putting the technical strategic hat on, is you’ve already seen their information, their financial information. If you’re asking them to dream, they might be off the page a bit, so you’re going to have to try and narrow down, try and scope what’s going up.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:39:54] You put it all up there and then you start asking questions. Then you start having the trade-off discussions. If I can’t give you that holiday house at this time in this location, because that means you’ve got to work until 70, how would you feel about that? “No, I actually don’t want to work till 70. No way.” okay. Partners look into each other’s eyes and say, “No, we don’t want that. We want to actually travel, so we’ll pay the money to rent a house rather than buy a house.” Okay. That gets scrubbed off, and we narrow it down.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:40:36] We narrow it down and that becomes their sort of planning. Then the great thing about this is if you do it really well, and it takes a bit of practice, it’s taken me years and I’m still no way proficient at it, but the advice is actually appropriate. This is the thing, we are in this very litigious environment, best interest duty, appropriateness of advice, how is your advice going to achieve the client’s goals, it’s really on you as an adviser.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:41:14] So if you’re not actually unpacking all of this really at the early stage, one of two things are going to happen, you’re either going to be incredibly inefficient and you’ll be out of business because you’re going to keep on with a million scenarios and the client is never going to make a decision, or you’re going to be non-compliant and out of business.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:41:37] Whichever way you go, you’ll be out of business as I see it, because you haven’t pulled back and thought about really what it is you are there to do. The product at the end, if you’re wearing the investment advisor cap, is only as robust and appropriate if it is meeting the client’s objectives, and you have to demonstrate that. If you have not asked these questions and if you haven’t spent time with clients and you’re not charging for it, I really feel you have to. There is value in this exercise. Clients are prepared to pay for it.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:42:21] They will never pay... it is a token payment, but it is some payment, because they value the discussion and they’ve never had this with anyone before. But more than that, the financial planner will be able to scope more accurately the plan for the client, and then everything magically falls into place. I’m not sure if I’ve explained that well at all, but-

Fraser Jack: [00:42:52] No, actually every time I’m about to ask a question, you just answer it. It’s pretty amazing. I want to circle back to two things though and get a bit more detail. One is the vision board. I was really wanting to ask you about that, because I’ve heard you talk about that on stage before, but just quickly on the process of letting the clients know what’s coming up and what they can expect. How do you do that exactly? Is it like a short video, an email?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: 00:43:16 Yes, we do. We do a short video.

Fraser Jack: [00:43:18] Yep, and so you send it out.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: 00:43:18 We unpack our entire business in a short video.

Fraser Jack: [00:43:23] Great, and then they can go and then decide whether they want-

Michelle Tate-Lovery: 00:43:26 They self-select based on philosophy, process and price.

Fraser Jack: [00:43:31] Great, okay. Excellent.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: 00:43:33 That’s called the three P’s.

Fraser Jack: [00:43:35] Now just on the vision board, can you run me through that process? Do you actually have photos or visuals for them to look at?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:43:44] I haven’t as yet, but that’s a work in progress. I think we can get better at that. We’re trying to use technology better and go to the smart board and bring in websites and pictures, so we’re getting there, but I don’t want to look too clumsy in front of the client, so the whiteboard work for me at the moment.

Fraser Jack: [00:44:05] Do you have certain aspects of their life that you work through? Is it like what do you do around people and places and events you want to attend or all that sort of stuff?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: 00:44:16 I’m not sure about that question, but the four L’s, we just talk to the four L’s.

Fraser Jack: [00:44:21] Okay, yep.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:44:22] So we talk about for example with love, it’s about relationship. So what do you want for your children and what do you want for each other? Who’s in your life? Tell me about your parents? Then they go, “Actually my mom’s aging and we can’t really move forward this properties decision, or can’t travel because mom’s not in a good state.”

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:44:49] Then it just suddenly... you’ve got to have the love discussion. Whether you call it love, I mean, haven’t been too brilliant around changing Steve Covey’s four L’s, but look it’s just a way to start the conversation.

Fraser Jack: [00:45:06] If it works it works, right? It’s a fantastic way of introducing those four areas and then just digging down and exploring throughout.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:45:16] Yeah. sure other advisors have different questions. I’ve never been one for tell me what’s important to you about money? I hope no one’s going to kill me for that one, but it’s just awkward. I think you just have to be yourself and be interested in helping the person. Think less of yourself, be present more with the client. What is the client’s issue and help them with it, and I think you’ll find your own way forward.

Fraser Jack: [00:45:46] Let’s have a quick chat about what you’re working on now for the future. Are you looking to make any changes or implementing anything in the near future?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: 00:45:53 So much going on. I don’t know where to start. Yeah, lots of change. Lots and lots of change. It keeps it all interesting, doesn’t it?

Fraser Jack: [00:46:03] Sure does.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:46:03] Look really that’s a very big question.

Fraser Jack: [00:46:13] Okay, nothing you want to share?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:46:19] It’s a massive question. Well, I think financial planners are having a bit of a tough time at the moment, including ourselves, and I feel we’re a little bit ahead with where we’re at with pricing and our business model and specialization. If I’m feeling it, then I think, “Wow.” I think it is definitely a watershed moment, like you’re reflecting on a lot of things here. I know one thing for sure, and that is what we are doing with clients is absolutely, absolutely the right thing for us.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:47:03] I mean every time we’ve changed, we become more profitable and that’s what we tell our clients. We’re all about sustainability, so it’ll be unfair if I am not charging someone because someone else is paying for a service, and I need to be in business for the future. I’ve learned that, talk to myself about that over the years. I like to help everyone, but the reality is people will come to us who are engaged with this process.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:47:37] I suppose the number one thing is our process is working. What we need to work on is efficiency, because obviously in this climate we’re asked to do more with less. Now there are other pressures like the cost of compliance, the cost of reeducating, all of this, and I know if we fast forward post 2024, the sky is the limit with regards to anyone who stays the course and trying to get new financial planner into the industry, I think it is just going to be amazing where financial planning can touch more people.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:48:29] Maybe at that time the cost of advice can find its way down, but at the moment it is very, very costly to serve a client, so it’s really important that business owners, financial planner unpack their business, recalibrate their model. All of this takes time, because no one likes to really go backwards, but the reality is I just see it as a basic analogy, which is like shifting gears. There’s always that tension point before you can actually go ahead, and we’re at this tension point at the moment where we have to go more slowly.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:49:12] I don’t know if that’s the right expression. You have to just stand back and if it means... this is the really hard thing to say, but if it means not seeing a client, it means not seeing a client, because you have to be loyal to the clients that you have, to be sustainable because you have to... There’s a lot coming at advisors, you have to get this model of business right moving forward. That’s certainly what we’re taking the time to do, so it’s definitely that balancing act, and it’s definitely a time of reflection and you cannot do this by yourself.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:49:45] You cannot sit there in your office and do it by yourself. You need to reach out for mentors, business consultants, you need each other, you need to help each other. Sure, I’ve gone through a stage where I’ve been very protective of the way I do the advice in my early stage of thinking that I was onto something and, “Wow, I can just deal with all the clients.” But the reality is so many people need advice, and we’re only dealing with such a small level of clients in our base.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:50:17] Sure, I’m happy to share if it means the bigger picture is that more people seek advice and more people stay in the industry, and I think it’s absolutely vital that we all support each other at this time, as we all try and work out the way forward.

Fraser Jack: [00:50:39] Yeah, well said. I’m definitely with you there. We all need to band together and help each other. The more we do, the more consumers we can help. Now speaking of consumers, I just wanted to ask you what tips you would give to a consumer that might be somebody that you meet, a friend of yours looking to get advice? What tips would you give to somebody who’s thinking about getting financial advice?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:51:03] Well, just you can be without it. It is fundamentally life changing, but you do need to work out the type of adviser and the philosophy advise that you are actually wanting. Everyone will want something different. Not everyone wants our process and structure. There are people that want quick fixes, there are people that may not be in the position to have comprehensive advice. We don’t do scaled advice, we do comprehensive advice, so everyone goes through the same process.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:51:46] The only time we engage with scaled advice, it is with our client’s children. We believe in intergenerational planning. For example if someone is looking for holistic advice around wanting to have a way forward, a plan, direction, guidance, to asses if they’re on track, then definitely we’re the right organization.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:52:17] But at the end of the day consumers need to appreciate that it is not a quick fix, it is a process. They have to engaged with a planner that they trust and that they have rapport with. They have to be aware that it is going to cost them, and they have to understand what the value is. It’s no good we’re saying it’s life changing advice, you have to believe it.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:52:47] We do not take a client on unless we can change their lives in a positive way, and we have not taken clients on because we’ve felt that they are just not... like it’s going to cost them too much, and they’re better off going and doing this bit of advice, getting it right, and then coming back.

Fraser Jack: [00:53:11] What I got out of that was decide whether you want transactional or relationship.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:53:15] Thank you for that summary, I’m waffling on, but I think it’s, I don’t know, one of the financial lifestyle gurus have said it’s a return on life. Financial planning is a return on life. Those are not my words, but your investing in yourself. You’re investing in your family. You’re investing in your future. You have got a higher probability of achieving a better life because you have seen a financial adviser.

Fraser Jack: [00:53:46] Now what tips would you give to a new adviser looking to come through, or somebody in a university grad program, or wanting to get into advice?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:53:54] I think to be clear on what type of adviser you want to be. I think there is a differentiation between financial planning and investment planning. I think investment planning is part of financial planning, a small part, whereas I think if you’re an investment planner, a financial planner, is a small part of investment planning. Did I say that well, I don’t know?

Fraser Jack: [00:54:24] Do you think, just on a... we’ll probably won’t go too much into the detail here, but do you think when it comes to terminology, I know there’s a lot of work being done around terms and financial planner, financial adviser, who does what, do you think investment planner should be a thing?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:54:38] Yeah, possibly. Yep, sure. Because it’s also identifiable for the consumer as well, because you will have people who want to just get the investment advice. People just may not want to unpack their lives. To that end, I’ve been asked the question, “What sort of... do you need to go back and use psychology?” Or, “What are you reading in this space?” We’re not equipped to deal with the issues that come from having these courageous conversations. Well, behavioral finance is the go, even FASEA recognizes this.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:55:19] That’s another reason why going back to school as I call it is a great thing, because maybe some of our colleagues want to dabble in this area, but feel ill equipped. This is a great reason why study could help deeper conversations. But yes, I think the consumer is a little bit confused still about what financial planners do, because the reality is, I think, and I hear it a lot when clients come to see us, and we’ve only got the most recent or the Royal Commission showing us this, that it has become... it was about product.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:56:03] We can’t just be about advice suddenly, and no one’s talking about product. You need both, but you need it in a certain order and I would go, this is just my opinion, but I think even licensing into the longterm needs to differentiate between advice and product. At the moment everything’s thrown into the one pot. Who do you want to be when you grow up sort of thing, to a young graduate, a new adviser potentially.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:56:35] Then secondly I think, with that in mind, being culturally aligned to the organization that you represent is really, really important. Because as I said before, lots of businesses are recalibrating, we’re not quite there yet, so as a young advisor I would be wanting to know what the vision of the business is definitely. The third tip for a new adviser is an apprenticeship.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:57:10] So yeah, sure, focus on the technical, that will give you confidence, especially if you are young, but not to the exclusion of the softer skills, the people skills. I think what will help with that is if you feel that you are there to help someone, then you will naturally orientate yourself to that, because you will feel that you’ll need to develop in that area. Once again, Covey has said it is 10,000 hours of practice before you become a master.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:57:50] That is definitely more than the professional year, that FASEA is talking about. It’s 10,000 hours, I don’t [inaudible 00:57:58] to be, but the bottom line is just really into this whole neurolinguistics programming, this is another conversation, but when you start out you’re really unconsciously incompetent, and then you progress to that conscious incompetence. You’re so scared that you... there’s so much you didn’t... you realize you don’t know so much, and then you get into this conscious competence where you’re a little bit more, “I know my trade now. I can do these things, I can tick the boxes. I cross the t’s, dot the i’s.”

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:58:35] Then you get into this unconscious competence where you just naturally do it. That comes from a lot of trial and error. If you can find an environment that allows that progression for you as a young adviser, that’s not putting pressure on you to perform to bring the dollars, it’s a big ask, huh?

Fraser Jack: [00:58:57] Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:58:59] That’s why I go back to looking at the business model, because don’t feel afraid to slowly start or start charging for parts of what we all take for granted, because we are highly skilled individuals. I think the last thing, the last tip, there’s a lot of tips here, huh? But for a new adviser, some personal traits, curiosity, to be a vivacious reader and have opinions, because that will give you confidence when you’re dealing with older people.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [00:59:38] Definitely a lot of self-learning and reflection, thinking about specialization, and adaptability is number one. You’re not going to enter this industry if you like things being status quo. There’s so much change afoot, you’ve got to relish it. I think at the end of the day, you are a leader. You are leading people down a path, so it comes with a lot of responsibility.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [01:00:05] You’ve got to work out... this is not a short-term gig, it’s a longterm gig. As we say, we have clients for life and I’m proud to say that’s how we’ve developed our business. Clients for life, and with that comes a lot of conviction, a lot of passion. I know that what we do is so amazing. The clients tell us, the clients show us. Clients retire, clients get to their destination.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [01:00:36] Clients send us those postcards from their wonderful travels. So all of that is the rewarding part, but it takes a lot of hard work to get to that stage. Of course mentors and coaches, consultants, they all help as well.

Fraser Jack: [01:00:56] Wow, thank you. Great, a lot of good tips there for somebody that’s coming through. For an adviser that’s having to go through a massive amount of change, there’s been so many great tips already throughout this recording, but any additional tips for an adviser that is looking to obviously have to make a whole lot of changes in their business at the moment?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [01:01:16] I think I previously touched on it, there’s a lot of pressure on advisers. They’ve got businesses, they’ve got bills to pay, they’ve got their own personal mortgages and sending kids to school and there’s a lot coming at them. Then they’ve got to go and now reeducate, which I mean I believe is a positive thing, but still people are feeling a little bit shell shocked I think.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [01:01:48] I think at this moment when there is this tectonic shift of plates, that you have to, number one, look after yourself. So self-care is really important. Then you need to have the appropriate business support. I don’t think you can do this yourself. I think you need to talk to people around how they can help your business. I think the thing that keeps you grounded through all of this change, this immense change, is why did you come into the profession or industry, whichever way you refer to it as?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [01:02:31] Why did you sign up for this? What is your vision for the future? What do you want for your children? All these bigger questions that we’re not used to asking, so it’s definitely a time of reflection, because I know a lot of advisers. I mean I’m in the age group and are thinking about whether or not they stay the course, is it all too hard? I think at the end of the day I don’t think it’s finished.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [01:02:57] I think there’s a lot to go, so I want to stay around for the future of advice, because nothing would please me more than to see advice available to more people, and affordable advice. I think you have to deal with your anger issues, your frustration issues, that why is this happening? How did it get to this stage? That’s what I’m hearing. They’re all real feelings, they’re all valid, but it’s going to be time to let go of that and move forward and be positive about the journey ahead.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [01:03:34] If it’s that important to you, you will stay the course, or you will do the best thing by your clients and find a home for them, but at the end of the day I feel it’s going to be a worthwhile journey through the pain and the adjustment that we’re all having to undertake. I really don’t think anyone’s immune from it.

Fraser Jack: [01:03:54] Yeah. I like the self-care part, and when it comes to support too, it’s reaching out to support, but it’s just supporting each other too because as you mentioned, there’s a lot of people in the same boat.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: 01:04:06 Absolutely.

Fraser Jack: [01:04:06] Our final question, if you could go back in time and give yourself some tips and advice, where would you go, what would you say?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [01:04:15] That’s a hard one. It’s a hard one because I’ve got to be so careful with how I say this, but I really believe that your journey is your journey. Things happen at the time you needed it to happen, so I’m not really on for short tracking things, fast tracking, whatever that expression is.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [01:04:40] But there’s a whole lot of information around now that wasn’t around before, so I think opening ourself up, being exposed to as much of what is going on in the world of financial planning is definitely a good thing for someone who is up and coming. I would definitely have had a mentor early on, I just didn’t know where to find them.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [01:05:12] I would’ve definitely engaged business advisers, I didn’t know where to find them. I definitely would have... if someone had told me what we’re talking about now with this podcast, there was this journey of getting to know your trade, with being a technician, toward being that business person, toward being that master, then I would have probably made different decision along the way.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [01:05:51] I sort of uncovered that for myself. I think the biggest thing is reach out and learn from people you can resonate with, who you might admire someone for a particular style of advice or type of business model that they are running, and I would definitely be investigating that further. It may have the added benefit of giving you a bit of a leg up, but you will still make those mistakes.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [01:06:22] I think at the end of the day, I’m a worse case scenario person. I always think, “What’s the worst that can happen?” And then you don’t get disappointed. It’s probably a good trait for a financial adviser, you know, scenario testing. And you know what? This is the biggest thing, the financial planner is trying to guide people on a journey of financial freedom and choice and all this sort of stuff, how good are we doing it? How good are we at that process ourselves?

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [01:06:50] I would definitely, and have done, engage the financial planner earlier on. So financial planner to financial planner, you can’t do our own operation. I think that’s also a bit of an interesting concept. I did it much later on in my years.

Fraser Jack: [01:07:07] There you go. Thank you. Thank you so much for coming in the show today and giving us all those gems, and sharing all of your journey with us. I really appreciate it, I know the listeners will too.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: 01:07:19 There’s a lot of information there, so hopefully it’s of value.

Fraser Jack: [01:07:24] Thank you so much. You go and enjoy your Easter break. I hope you have some time with the family and enjoy.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [01:07:31] I’m so sorry for not letting you speak enough Fraser.

Fraser Jack: [01:07:34] No, it was great. It was great. I didn’t need to ask questions. The best guest ever. It was like-

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [01:07:41] There’s a lot to say, so I’m glad to have contributed. So thanks for this opportunity, and what a great idea this is. Hopefully you can reach many, many advisers to help them along the way.

Fraser Jack: [01:07:53] Great. Thank you.

Michelle Tate-Lovery: [01:07:54] Okay, Fraser. Bye.

Fraser Jack: [01:07:58] 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.