Emily Blanch: 00:00:00 And again, it took me five minute to do, but super powerful. It’s just going to help them get to where they need to go quicker, and [inaudible 00:00:09]. So, to me, it’s about the one percenters. Those things are just powerful beyond measure.
Fraser Jack: 00:00:17 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 today. I’d also like to thank our supporting [inaudible 00:00:29] Advice Intelligence of powering this podcast.
Fraser Jack: 00:00:31 In this episode, I chat with head of community at XY Adviser, Emily Blanch. We talked about hosting a community, what involved in that, the pains to the memorable moments, from the running of a Facebook group to events, and from a free group to a paid community. Emily is an inspiration to listen to. She has a drive and passion, not just around the work that she’s doing now, but she’s also got a great vision for what she wants to achieve in the future. So, let’s kick off our episode with Emily, right now.
Fraser Jack: 00:01:07 Welcome to the show, Emily.
Emily Blanch: 00:01:09 Hey, Fraser. No worries. Thanks for having me.
Fraser Jack: 00:01:11 Thanks for being on the show. It’s amazing to have you.
Emily Blanch: 00:01:14 Yeah. Really great to be here. I’ve actually tuned into a few of your episodes.
Fraser Jack: 00:01:21 You’re the one. Awesome. Excellent.
Emily Blanch: 00:01:24 I’m number one. I’m number one. Yeah, I find some really good nuggets of ideas and [inspo 00:01:29] in there. Actually, funny. I was listening to Keith Abraham’s episode from a little while ago, and he was actually ... I went to a workshop of his quite a few years ago, and he was a bit of a catalyst in me getting a bit of motivation to go off and do a few things for me personally and in industry, and whatnot. So, yeah, it was cool. I was like, “Wow. I haven’t heard Keith for ages.” So, that was really cool.
Fraser Jack: 00:01:55 Keith is an absolute legend. I really enjoyed that podcast. I think it was number 30 or thereabouts, but, yeah, it was a really, really good podcast. I really rate Keith. He’s just so motivational. You come away all pumped up.
Emily Blanch: 00:02:07 Yes. That was it. Motivation. You leave there, and ... I love those conversations with people where when you leave the conversation, you feel elated. You feel like, “Wow.” You’re ready to tackle something, or you just feel really inspired. He is definitely one of those people.
Fraser Jack: 00:02:22 All right. So, that’s our mission. When people leave this conversation, hopefully they’re feeling pumped and inspired.
Emily Blanch: 00:02:26 Yes.
Fraser Jack: 00:02:27 Do you want to start by giving us a quick overview of you, who you are and what you’re doing at the moment?
Emily Blanch: 00:02:33 Sure. My name is Emily. I am currently head of community at XY Adviser. For anyone who doesn’t know what XY Adviser is, we are a community, online and offline platform, for financial advisers, finance professionals, just anyone interested in driving the positive evolution of financial advice. That’s pretty much it, in a nutshell, I suppose.
Fraser Jack: 00:02:58 That’s the best term in the world, head of community. It’s like a leader.
Emily Blanch: 00:03:02 Yes. Well, it’s certainly involved. I’ve been doing what I do with XY for close to two years now. The time has flown by, but, yeah, it’s been an absolute journey, but I ... Community is 100% the tagline for me in personal and professional life, so it’s very fitting.
Fraser Jack: 00:03:22 Perfect. Now, tell us. How did you get there? Where did you start this journey?
Emily Blanch: 00:03:28 With XY Adviser, it’s a-
Fraser Jack: 00:03:31 Where did you start? How did you get into ... Tell us your story. Where did you start?
Emily Blanch: 00:03:36 All right. Yes. This is an interesting one, so I need to backtrack a little bit. I, straight out of high school, did a business degree. I majored in finance and economics, up in North Queensland. That’s where I’m from originally. After uni, I worked full-time for about two, two and a half years, in a financial planning firm. So, I sort of went up through CSO, and then to [paraplanner 00:04:00].
Emily Blanch: 00:04:01 Then I stepped out of that business for two reasons. First one was I had a burning desire to go traveling, and get overseas. So, that was pretty much going through my head, especially being really, really early 20s, and going straight to uni from school. I knew that I needed to get out and explore. At the same time, the firm I was working at, I love the people I worked with and I loved what I did, but I felt like there was something more, or it ... I just knew I wasn’t going to be stuck in the nine to five at this job forever, and I just needed to get out and explore. So, those two things, and Keith Abraham, like we spoke before, he was one of the motivators for me to go and do that.
Emily Blanch: 00:04:42 So, yeah, I spent two years, working and traveling overseas. It’s all the cliches about it being life-changing, and it really is. It totally puts things into perspective.
Emily Blanch: 00:04:54 Then, I came back to Australia, and was a bit of a ... I don’t know what you want to call it. Quarter life crisis. I was like, “What am I doing?” So, I couldn’t quite work out where I was being pulled or what I wanted to do. So, for me, my career was a bit of a process of elimination. I had done hospitality, in and out of university. I ended up working tourism, because coming back from overseas, obviously, I was obsessed with traveling. And I worked for an independent travel agent at the time. I knew that was never going to be my endgame, but I learned a lot about just how much I loved building relationships.
Emily Blanch: 00:05:37 I was building this amazing rapport with customers or clients, and helping them set up their holidays and travel experiences, and I really enjoyed that, but again, I knew that was never going to be my endgame. With that said, again, I was like, “Okay, what am I doing? What am I doing with my life?” I knew I wanted to create something, or build something. I just didn’t know what that looked like.
Emily Blanch: 00:06:02 Then, I made a bit of a radial decision to just pack everything up from [Cairns 00:06:07], where I was living at the time, and make my way down to [Willunga 00:06:10], and buy a one-way ticket to go to Europe. I was like, “Okay. Nothing’s coming to me. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m going to go traveling again. Maybe that will help me figure out where I want to put my time, and energy, and resources.”
Emily Blanch: 00:06:22 So, I moved down to Wollongong. And people often say to me, “Why Wollongong?”, but I had family here. So, my dad lives here, and a bunch of other family. I thought that will be a nice, fresh start, so I packed everything up into my little three cylinder car and spent three weeks road-tripping down the east coast of Australia, by myself. That was an experience in itself. I had a ball doing that.
Emily Blanch: 00:06:45 So, I made it down to Wollongong. Then again, I knew I was ... Well, at the time, I was like, “Okay, I’m going overseas.” I didn’t really want to commit to anything full-time. I did a little bit of online media and marketing, and bits and pieces as well, and I was constantly just learning. I’ve got a very curious mind, so I’m always keen to absorb knowledge. So, I was sort of doing that.
Emily Blanch: 00:07:07 Then I decided to work. I ended up working in a restaurant, funnily enough, but I have a lot of experience in hospitality, and I really enjoy customer service. And because I knew I wasn’t going to be here forever, so I stumbled across this restraint that had only just opened. Long story short, I fell in love with the place, and the owner of that restaurant and myself ended up spending the next 12 months building it up. So, I actually pushed my one-way ticket to Europe on hold, and I’ve actually still got it in limbo. It’s just sitting there. I haven’t used it yet.
Emily Blanch: 00:07:40 I spent the next 12 months building up this restaurant, and I learned more about the employee experience, and the customer experience, in that role, than anywhere else. It was there where I worked out that my absolute purpose in life is delivering unforgettable experiences, or creating that human connection, and inspiring human connection collaboration.
Emily Blanch: 00:08:09 At the same time while I was there, I ... It’s called [Ray’s 00:08:14] now, but then it was Acorn’s. You get the blogs and the emails, and things like that. I don’t normally read them, ever, but for whatever reason, this one dropped into my inbox one day, and it was this article written by a young adviser. Very fresh. Very modern. My experience in financial planning, previously, was quite traditional, old-school. Just didn’t quite resonate with me as much. So, when I saw this, I was like, “Wow. This is awesome. I love this blog.”
Emily Blanch: 00:08:47 At the bottom of it, the call to action was to download the first chapter of their book for free. I thought, “Sweet”, because I’m genuinely interested, with a finance background. I thought, “Cool. I’m going to check that out.” Sure. Put my email address in, and the link was broken. It didn’t go anywhere. I thought, “Oh, my God. This guy doesn’t realize he’s missing out on capturing these email addresses.” Me, putting my little marketing hat on ... So, I tracked down his email, and I sent him a quick email. I said, “Hey, Clayton. Loved your blog. It really resonated. Just sometimes, I know, people wonder if anyone actually reads the stuff. Well, I did, and I loved it. Just letting know your link’s broken at the bottom. You’re missing out on email addressing. Anyway, great to chat. Have a good day.” And I didn’t think anything of it.
Emily Blanch: 00:09:31 Five minutes later, I had a reply email from Clayton, saying, “Hey, Em. Wow, you’re a legend. Thanks so much. How did I miss that?” Then we sort of got chatting, and I was kind of like, “Hey, if you want, I’ll fix it up for you. I don’t know if it’s your thing, or if you know what to do. No strings or anything. I’m just happy to help.” And that sort of instigated a conversation.
Emily Blanch: 00:09:53 That ended up leading to a little project that I did with Clayton. Then, a few weeks after that, he said, “I’ve got this other project that I would like to get your two cents on. It’s called XY Adviser.” And I’m like, “Oh, okay. Never heard of it.” So, I went on a bit of a dig and did some research. I just came across this world in financial advice, that I had never seen before, didn’t know existed.
Emily Blanch: 00:10:21 For anyone who doesn’t know, Clayton’s actually one the co-founders of XY. There’s four of them. Clayton, Ben, Adrian, and Ray. So, I found the Facebook group, went stalking online, and couldn’t believe that I had come across this group, or community, or nook of the internet that was full of young, fresh, modern advisers. I was like, “Wow. This is amazing. This is something that I want to get involved in.”
Emily Blanch: 00:10:51 Fast forward a little bit, I ended up chatting with the guys, and did a little project for them. Then, a week later, I had a email saying, “We know you got a job, but we kind of want to offer you a job. We have no idea what it looks like.” They basically, I’ll never forget, they gave me a word doc with just dot points of everything they had done so far, and they’re like, “This is basically what we’ve been doing. If you can make it better, go for it.”
Emily Blanch: 00:11:21 That was near around two years ago. It’s been a total experiment and journey ever since. Yeah, here we are now. So, I more or less am the face of the community. I wear a number of different hats, the marketing hat, the events hat, the community hat. I’m in the group all day, every day, and I wouldn’t stop it for the world. I absolutely love it. Yeah, I’ve totally found my jam and my purpose in life. And that’s sort of how I came to be part of the XY family.
Fraser Jack: 00:11:51 It’s been amazing journey to watch, actually. I remember Clayton telling me his version of the story of how he met you, and it’s pretty much the same, but it’s very interesting that he was very happy that, all of a sudden, you appeared and saved everything. It’s also been a great journey to watch from XY point of view, to see how it’s developed over the last couple of years and become a really organized organization, I suppose you could say, as opposed to the boys who were doing their best and ... It’s certainly been amazing to see you sort of take the reins of XY, I’d like to say, and make everything happen.
Emily Blanch: 00:12:32 Yeah, totally. I’ve definitely given it my flare, I suppose. I guess, both ways, it was definitely a bit of a gamble. I mean, I’m really grateful to the guys for giving me the freedom and the flexibility to really make it my own, and add my flare, and vice versa, you know. I learn really quick on my feet. I have that creativity, as well as that ability to be operational and execute. So, yeah, it was definitely an experiment on both parts, but I think it’s really paid off, and we’ve definitely found our groove. Yeah, it’s been awesome.
Fraser Jack: 00:13:11 Yeah, it has been. Now, I wanted to talk to you today about the idea of building this community, because essentially, to me, this is the new way of business. This is the new world of business, not just advice business, but any business, in that idea of building community. People come for something, and then often stay for community.
Fraser Jack: 00:13:31 Building community, and then, from a lot of business’ point of view, either then turning that into something that could stear business. That could be new clients coming into a financial advice practice, or it could be providing something that is outside of advice that you could help these clients with, as a lot of people do with online courses and things.
Fraser Jack: 00:13:51 I wanted to just talk to you about how do you build a community, and how do you make something happen from, say, a financial adviser’s point of view?
Emily Blanch: 00:14:00 Totally. In my opinion, I honestly believe any business can create a community. This kind of popped into my head the other day. Community is the new customer service. I honestly feel like that is the new way, like you said. People resonate. With the power of digital and technology, don’t get me wrong, it is amazing, and it opens up so many opportunities and doors for people to instantly connect, but at the end of the day, nothing, in my opinion, can beat a face-to-face catch up or that human interaction. No AI. No bot. Not anything like that.
Emily Blanch: 00:14:43 Any business really can build a community, and you can use it. It has so many benefits. Just off the top of what you were saying just then ... It can be used as a client education tool, as that real extra level of service and going above and beyond. One of my core values, I suppose, that I operate by, is under-promise, over-deliver. I do that in every single way possible, and the community really brings that ... It’s a catalyst for me to do that.
Emily Blanch: 00:15:18 Another thing with building community, especially for advice businesses, is it becomes an element of productivity, especially for those people out there or advisers who are nicheing, I suppose. They’re coming up again, I would assume, all the same sorts of questions. If you’ve got a same target demographic, young couples looking to have a family, or buy a property, or things like that, I’m sure you’re going to come up against similar sorts of questions. So, instead of answering those questions individually and really soaking up extra time, having a platform or a space to answer that question once and deliver it to your many clients is just an uptick in productivity for yourself, as the adviser.
Emily Blanch: 00:16:04 Another thing is just around that whole holistic service offering. I talk to advisers all day, every day. I share ideas with them, and they bounce ideas off with me. A lot of advisers are coming to me, saying one of the things they want to do is be their clients’ trusted adviser and deliver holistic service offering. It’s one thing to get your financial world sorted, but that’s just one element of the pie. There’s health and wellbeing. You know, up-skilling eduction. You can really have an area and a platform to not just help your clients with their financial world, but be able to give them ideas and opportunities, holistically, in other elements of their life, and really, really entrench yourself as their trusted adviser, not just for finance, but other things as well, and without actually having to go and up-skill yourself to teach those skills.
Emily Blanch: 00:17:00 You don’t have to go and do a PT course, and then help your client get healthy. You can, by all means, connect them with the right people, or show them the way to go and figure that out for themselves. It’s just the possibilities are limitless, really. It’s just how much you want to get out of it and put into, I suppose, but at the end of the day, it’s all about connecting. That’s what I do. Sure, my thing is head of community. It should just be the connector. That’s kind of one of my role titles that I’ve given myself, because that’s all I do. I connect people. They reach out to me with a question or a problem, and I go into solution mode and work out, “Okay, how can I help them with this, and fix this?” More often than not, it’s introducing them to someone else.
Emily Blanch: 00:17:51 Having that platform to welcome your clients into, and then giving them that space also for them to support each other, as well ... I mean, yeah, we can really unpack this, I suppose. That’s probably it, at a higher level. Yeah, if there’s anything you want to deep dive, maybe we can go backwards and forwards on that.
Fraser Jack: 00:18:08 Yeah. I was thinking as you were talking there, the idea of connecting is a massive thing. You describe it as a community, and I’ve heard people talk about memberships and those sorts of things. To me, it feels a little bit like memberships are, “I’m broadcasting to you, my members”, whereas community is a little bit different. There’s different people have different roles in a community, to make the community work. Not just up to one person, but you’re there trying to bring people forward and do things in certain ways. Really, that idea of saying, “Well, no. This is not just for me to broadcast to you. This is for everybody to get some help.”
Emily Blanch: 00:18:47 Absolutely. It’s just about facilitating. Again, yes, my role is head of community at XY adviser, but it’s very much not about me, at all. If you look at the Facebook group, we’ve got over 3,300 people in there now. On any given day, there’s a minimum of 1,800, closer to 2,000 people checking in there, every single day, to post comment or read on, and follow along with the posts.
Emily Blanch: 00:19:16 The amount of posts that I put in there is minuscule. I barely post in there. It’s all user generated content, so it’s the community supporting each other. It’s very much this collective, rather than like you said, a broadcast.
Emily Blanch: 00:19:30 Obviously, in the beginning, when it first started four years ago, the XY guys and their immediate circle were in there, and obviously it’s a way to build momentum, but once that momentum kicks in, it’s really as good as the community and the participants who get involved. Yeah, like I said, it’s very much that collective element, so having that space for your clients ... I think we take it back to creating a community for an advice business. Sure, you have that platform, and in the beginning, yes, I would totally say that it’s very much a space for you to initiate those conversations, but once the momentum generates, it becomes this network where the clients can leverage each other for support. You start to see people answering each other’s questions themselves, without you having to be in there and do that.
Emily Blanch: 00:20:26 Eventually, you just facilitate and moderate, and just make sure that the ship is on course, I suppose. Yeah, it becomes very much less about the organizers and the hosts, and more about the users themselves. It’s quite empowering, as well.
Fraser Jack: 00:20:41 It certainly seems to me like momentum’s absolutely spot on there, because in the beginning, it’s a bit like the compound interest curve, really. Isn’t it? It’s like it starts with a little bit of growth, and a little bit of growth, but the idea is just to keep sticking at it for a longer period, and then all of a sudden, it becomes a community. I guess, it’s really difficult to start a community, but once you get it going, it’s amazing.
Emily Blanch: 00:21:03 Absolutely. Yeah. I won’t sugarcoat it. It’s hard work, but the reward is worth it ten times over, in my opinion. The way I kind of explain it, and it might be a little hard to do with just an audio and a podcast, but I imagine an X axis and a Y axis, so a graph. The line, if I sort of floating along, it’s very horizontal. This is the start of the community. It looks like the wheels aren’t turning or you’re putting in all this time and effort, and it’s a hard slog, but over time, that line starts to push towards the up, and up, and up. It gets to a point where it just then flies off the chart, up above, because the momentum is there. All of a sudden, the effort required from your part reduces significantly, but you do have to put the time and effort to get to that point.
Emily Blanch: 00:22:00 Again, one of my things is, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. If they’re not, then there is some effort required, but the reward is so, so worth it. It’s really inspiring. It’s a really, really cool thing to be a part of, and, yeah, I actually believe anyone can create a community. It doesn’t have to be huge. It doesn’t have to have 3,300 people in it. It’s just about creating a space for people to support each other, feel connected, and know that they’re not on the journey by themselves.
Emily Blanch: 00:22:34 To compare it to XY, for example, there is a handful of advisers in there, looking to go out on their own, or they’ve just gone out on their own, and the thing they love more than anything else is just listening to other advisers in the same position as them. Especially more regional advisers, or people who feel a bit isolated or one man band advisers ... You know, you’re sitting there in your office going, “Oh, my God. Am I the only one struggling with this?” And then you jump into the group, and then you see someone else has posted about the exact same thing, and you’ve got that validation that, “Oh, my God. I’m not the only one.” It’s almost instant relief. So, it’s just creating that opportunity for your clients, if they’re struggling with trying to stay on track with their cashflow and their budgeting, to pop in there and have someone else go, “Oh, my God. Is anyone else struggling with XYZ?” The power of that is phenomenal.
Fraser Jack: 00:23:29 Yeah. One of the things I admire is the fact that you do create a really safe space to be vulnerable, and that’s not an easy thing to keep up, because it could easily get out of control. How do you keep that safe space?
Emily Blanch: 00:23:43 Yes. That is where moderating comes into play. It has its ups and downs, but it is 100%, yes, it’s super important to ensure that the vibe and the culture of your community is where it needs to be, or it is what you ... When you create it, you maintain that.
Emily Blanch: 00:24:02 Obviously, the XY Adviser Facebook group is a private group. We have about eight or nine group guidelines, which we moderate in accordance with. The thing to remember is that it’s an art, not a science. There is no one set formula in moderating a group. It’s a journey. It’s an experiment. It’s an art, not a science, but it really helps in keeping conversations on track, ensuring there’s a level of respect, and really holding a safe space for people, like you said, to be vulnerable, because that is where people really shine, and that’s where the power of community really shines in support.
Emily Blanch: 00:24:50 Moderating, I would 100% say you need to have a really good think about the kind of vibe and the culture that you want to provide, and stipulate some rules and guidelines around that, that everyone is very much aware of, and remind them of it.
Emily Blanch: 00:25:07 To give you an idea of how it works in the XY group, for example, we have those guidelines. When a new member joins the group, I personally welcome them with a Facebook massage. I also send a quick email as well, just to follow up, but it’s very much about reminding them that, “Hey, this is a safe space. This is a supportive space. Please, feel comfortable. If you’ve got any questions, do reach out.” I point out the guidelines, as well, so that they can have a read through those. Then, people are free to post and comment in the group when they like. So, we moderate.
Emily Blanch: 00:25:44 I do get a bit of help with this, because moderating a group of 3,300 is a huge feat in itself, and social media never sleeps. Basically, we read all of the comments and all of the posts in the group, and we moderate in accordance with the guidelines. If there’s something that we feel beaches one of those guidelines, we will remove it. I then go and personally message that person, just to let them know why it was removed, if I can help them in any way, I will, if they have a particular question, and just so that everyone is up to date.
Emily Blanch: 00:26:17 Over time, this has definitely been a process. I think about it now, and I’ve had this conversation with Clayton a few times. Having almost a bit of sense of naivete sort of worked in my favor. When I came into the group, it was a bit of a barrier, because here’s this new person, and this name constantly popping up. Who is this person? Especially since the group had been alive for a couple of years before I came on board ... Looking back now, it took me a good 12 months, at least, to build up a level of rapport and trust with everyone in the community, to be at a position where I am now, where I have that voice and that level of authority, but in a respectful way. I’m not here to enforce rules and be really abrupt about it. It did. It took time, because you have to nurture relationships. That’s what it’s all about. You can’t walk up to someone on the street and say, “Hey, do you want to get married? Will you marry me?”, because you got to go on a date. You got to go on a second date. It’s the same thing with finding referrals. You can’t just walk up to somebody and say, “Hey, let’s switch business”, or, “Can you refer to me?” You need to trust them. You need to build a relationship. This is what it’s all about.
Emily Blanch: 00:27:42 Brene Brown, she is a phenomenal speaker. Has done a TED talk. I don’t know if anyone is familiar with her work, but she uses an example around building trust. It’s about a jar of marbles. To gain trust with someone, you don’t have to do one huge, massive show of appreciation or task for them. Real trust is found in all the little elements that we do. So, every time you do just a little something for someone, a marble goes in the jar. Over time, that’s building trust for that person. It’s super, super powerful.
Emily Blanch: 00:28:14 How did I build trust? I would value people. When I have conversations with them, they would say to me ... or if I welcomed someone into the group, and I would fire off a bit of a conversation with them, they might tell me that they’re looking to go out on their own in the next couple of months. I would set myself a little reminder, or some of the time I would just remember, as well, but as the group grows, numbers grow, it gets a little bit too to remember everything. I would check in with them, in a few weeks time or a few months time. I’d be like, “Hey, Steve, I remember you told me about XYZ. I just wanted to check in. How’s that going?” Because, it’s a journey, and you’re creating those relationships and building that rapport. It’s not just a set and forget, or like, “Hey, welcome to the group. All right. I’m not going to check in unless there’s a problem.” It’s all about building those little elements of trust.
Emily Blanch: 00:29:11 Over time, with the moderating, as well ... It’s all about having honesty and transparency and communication. So, when we remove someone’s post, I could easily just not say anything, and just get rid of it, but then they’re not going to learn. They’re not going to understand why it was removed in the first place. Over time, people start to understand and get it.
Emily Blanch: 00:29:32 A couple of our guidelines, just to give some examples for people who might not be in the Facebook group, we have a guideline, our number one guideline, is around no soliciting pitching. We’ve stuck to this since day one, and it works. I’m sure many people have stepped into groups and you see left, right, and center, “Hey, I’m this, and I do this.” It’s the last thing people want to see. It’s quite aggressive. When you step into the XY Facebook group, you instantly feel like you ... It’s just this sense of openness. We have a great healthy mix of people in the group. We’ve got advisers, support staff, aspiring advisers, allied professionals, mortgage brokers, lawyers, accountants, product and service providers. It’s one of these things where everyone leaves their badge at the door, or their title at the door. Leave all judgment at the door. This is a space for conversation.
Emily Blanch: 00:30:32 It’s take a while to get to that point, but people now understand. They know not to come in and post and say, “Hey, I’ve got this new service, and I do this.” We’ve molded this expectation and this culture where it’s about, firstly, providing value.
Emily Blanch: 00:30:50 We encourage product and service providers to get in there and share their value, because we know they have so much great knowledge, but adding things like, “Reach out to me for more information”, or, “I can help you with that”, or, “Get in touch and we can sort out a time to catch up”, those sorts of tag phrases are not okay. So, over time, it’s taken a few messages of me to go back and forwards with people. Sure, I’ve had to defuse a few questions about, “What about this?”, and stuff, but it’s worked, and people, now, get it, and people are actually self-moderating now. They’ll message me and say, “Hey, Em, I’m not sure, but I saw this comment”, or “I saw this post. I’m not sure. Is that okay?” It’s like, “Wow.” That was my realization that, “Okay, it’s working. People get it.”
Emily Blanch: 00:31:40 Yeah, that’s one of our guidelines. Another one is around not posting direct links to articles and blogs. Obviously, in the beginning, you need to build the momentum, so things like that were fine, but over time, we’ve found that that tends to dilute the news feed, and results in a bit of less engagement. So, that’s one of our guidelines. And people get it.
Emily Blanch: 00:32:01 It took time, but we’ve really now created this vibe and this culture that everyone understands, and it’s really cool. Yeah, moderating can be ... it’s a ...
Fraser Jack: 00:32:15 It’s an art.
Emily Blanch: 00:32:16 ... interesting, but worth it.
Fraser Jack: 00:32:16 Yeah. I was still going to ask you, before you told me about that, because it does get to the point where you have to moderate, and you feel like you might be alone at times, but then once a message gets out and everybody gets it, then if somebody does something that’s wrong, it’s almost self-policing, isn’t it?
Emily Blanch: 00:32:40 Yes, absolutely. Absolutely.
Fraser Jack: 00:32:43 Now, apart from moderating, what are the other really hard things of running a community, that you come across?
Emily Blanch: 00:32:50 Well, what is another hard thing? Yeah, probably definitely the moderating, and just the time and effort. Like I said, it is hard work, but it is rewarding work. It definitely helps to have a support team, and a support network around you to do so. Sure, I spend a lot of time in there, myself, but I have the support network of the other XY team, as well, to help with that.
Emily Blanch: 00:33:23 Probably, the occasional bad egg, I would say. You’re going to get that. Opinions. Also, I think just remembering that, yes, you may get the occasional keyboard warrior, as well, and probably just remembering that they ... They don’t see what goes on in the background. That’s probably another thing that I’ve had to deal with, just a few people who just don’t understand what actually goes into moderating and managing a group, be it small or be it the size that we are now. I have definitely received a lot of pushback on a few things, as well. So, probably having to keep that element of resilience and also setting emotion aside.
Emily Blanch: 00:34:15 One of the things that really just try to put myself in the shoes of the other person. Like I alluded to before, moderating is an art, not a science. When you remove a comment or a post, there has been occasions where people have really decided to give me their two cents and their thoughts in a message. That’s fine, because I know that they don’t see what goes on in the background.
Emily Blanch: 00:34:43 The other, probably, challenge is responding to those people. I use a lot of restaurant analogies to explain things, because it just works. So, reviews for restaurants ... People just on TripAdvisor, and they’ll leave a bad review for a restaurant. Now, when anything like that happened at the restaurant that I was managing ... Someone goes on TripAdvisor and they have something bad to say, half the time I knew the situation, or the way that they’ve portrayed it in that review is not what happened, but I would never get on there and go, “No, no, no. You’re wrong.” It was very much about being diplomatic in responding to that, because the way I would approach that is, “Okay, this person’s left this negative review on TripAdvisor.” When I reply to that review, I’m not concerned with how that person’s going to react to it or absorb it. I’m concerned about how third parties are going to react and see that. It’s around defusing the situation.
Emily Blanch: 00:35:53 Same sort of thing goes with having those negative replies from people. For us, it really only happens ... It’s a rare thing. It’s an outlier. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen. So, it’s very much taking a few breaths, and having a think about it first before replying, not letting emotion get in the way, and being diplomatic about it. I would reply, and I would just reiterate why it was removed, let them know the effort that we put into creating this space, as a way for them to benefit from it, and reminding them that, hey, this is a free Facebook group, and reminding them that we actually don’t take any pleasure in removing person comments, but being able to keep high engagement does require moderation. And being a Facebook group, for example, it’s very limiting having one thread of discussions, not being able to separate forums, and the have specific risks, specific [inaudible 00:37:01], specific SMSF or pricing your advice.
Emily Blanch: 00:37:05 So, having one newsfeed and making sure that as many posts provide as much value as possible for the wider community, that’s kind of our angle on how we’ve taken it. So, reminding them of that, and just knowing that people will be quick to give you their two cents, and throw a bit of emotion in there. They may even throw a personal attack in there, but at the end of the day, I just try to remind myself that they obviously don’t see what goes on in the background. I remain diplomatic, and respond to that, and nine time out of ten, we resolve it, and we defuse it.
Emily Blanch: 00:37:39 On the rare occasion, you will get that person who doesn’t align with your values, and that’s okay. Maybe this particular space or group is not the best place for them. We did have a three strike and you’re out policy. So, one is if they have a post removed, I will go and message them. If they really crack up about it, I’ll sort of just keep on eye on them. If it very much gets a bit personal, I might remove them from the group, but more than anything we worked off a three strike and you’re out policy. That worked quite well. But, yes, you will get the occasional person who just doesn’t align with your values. And you know what? That’s fine. Maybe it’s not the best place for them, and maybe you can revisit it later on.
Emily Blanch: 00:38:33 Yes, actually, I guess to package that up a little bit is you want people to align with your values. A bad egg can bring the culture and the vibe down very quickly, so you want to fix that or defuse that in a timely manner. You don’t want to let that grow or fester, because that can then bring down the vibe of everyone else in there, and that can lead to an issue.
Fraser Jack: 00:39:01 Yeah. I think you’ve done an amazing job, by the way, because it’s the bane of any retail business. You’re always going to get some people who don’t align with you, or they might be angry or upset, or something else is going on in their world, where they want to start a fight. We’ve seen a lot of that in the financial services commentary, media, whatever it might be out there. There’s been a lot change going on, and a lot of people are upset and angry, and a lot of venting going on. I think you’ve guys have done an amazing job to keep out of that fight, if you like, or to not allow the negative Nellies to bring the tone down of the voice and the values of the group. So, congratulations on that.
Fraser Jack: 00:39:47 Now, I just wanted to quickly ask you, you mentioned before unforgettable experiences. This is something that I really love, the memorable moments of life, the things that people talk about. I know that you guys have done some pretty amazing things in this space. Are you able to talk about any of them?
Emily Blanch: 00:40:06 Yeah, or course. I guess, just listening to you say that there and then, the first thing that came to my mind is the one percenters. That’s kind of how I approach it. It’s these little moments, these things that make people look twice, or go, “Oh, my God.”, like wow, feel valued.
Emily Blanch: 00:40:28 Probably the best way to explain this is to just give sone examples of what I’ve done. In the group, we were talking about vulnerability before. And yes, it’s amazing to see posts like that come up in the group, where people just really open up. I’ve been doing this now for nearly two years, with XY specifically, and I still get blown away at the level of support and willingness to share, and just how open people are. It gives me goosebumps sometimes, just because I think back to some of the posts and comments in there.
Emily Blanch: 00:41:09 We had one member who really opened up and started the mental health conversation. Like you said, there’s a lot of negativity floating around the industry, a lot of uncertainty, a lot of people really feeling the brunt of it all, and feeling like their confidence has taken a hit. So, one member posted about that, in the group. He’s a self-employed advisor, and he said, for the first time, he met with a client and he really felt like post Royal Commission and all the chatter and the noise, and everything that’s been going on in the media, he really felt like his confidence had taken a hit. He opened up the mental health conversation.
Emily Blanch: 00:41:52 Off the back of that, comments, upon comments poured in of people supporting him, people who also agreed with him and said, “Hey, I feel that, as well”, and they really opened up about it. When I saw that, I went, “Oh, mg God.” I straight away jumped online, and I ordered some postcards with our branding on it. One of the comments in this thread said, “Remember why you started”, and I loved that line, because it really takes it back to why do you get out of bed in the morning? Why did you start this business? Why is it that you do it? Most of the time, for advisers, it’s to deliver amazing outcomes to clients and change lives, which is phenomenal.
Emily Blanch: 00:42:40 I got some postcards done up in XY branding, that said, “Remember why you started.” I then went through that thread, and any person who commented, who opened up and said they were feeling quite vulnerable and feeling like their confidence had taken a hit as well, I wrote them a postcard. So, I hand-wrote a post card. Hey, XYZ, and I wrote them a little paragraph, and I said, “Hey, thank you so much for opening up in the group. You’ve got a support network of 3,000+ here to help you. Just remember why you started. Keep up the great fight. You’re doing awesome things. Cheers, The XY Team.” Then I found their business addresses, and I posted them those postcards.
Emily Blanch: 00:43:24 I didn’t say anything, and I didn’t let them know. I just threw it out into the world. I think I sent about 12 that time, and the result was phenomenal. One of them messages me and was like, “Oh, my God. Thank you so much. That literally made my week.” They took a screenshot of it, posted it in the group. Another adviser who I sent one to said, “I literally was driving from one appointment to the other, just thinking to myself, ‘Oh, my God’, thinking of all the things that I had to do, all the extra work. Just things were piling up, and then I received your postcard. It literally changed my week.”
Emily Blanch: 00:44:04 The time and effort it took me to do that, to just online, print off a few postcards, versus the reward of the power of that was just insane. So, it’s just little things like that. It could be as simple as messaging someone. Like I said, one of my little challenges that I set myself if anytime I would communicate with someone in the group, I would find something in that conversation that I could followup on, later on. Like I said, when someone tells me they’re going out on their own, or if they’re telling me they’ve got some huge things coming up, I’ll try and find a little something to send them.
Emily Blanch: 00:44:50 It’s just all about these one percenters, and doing these little things that are just remarkable, or will make people go, “Wow.” Similar with any sort of marketing things that we do. Whenever we put something out into the community, I do it under two questions. It’s, what would I want to receive? And what’s going to make me look [inaudible 00:45:14]? That’s the fundamental principles that I follow with that.
Emily Blanch: 00:45:18 A couple of other things I’ve done is I got some magnets printed off. We do like a weekly wrap-up post every Friday, and we highlight a post of the week, or a discussion, and just throw a few things out there to let people know that, “Hey, we see what you’re posting. It’s amazing”, and share it for everyone else to see, as well. So, I had a few magnets done up, off the back of ... Actually, that came off the back a story.
Emily Blanch: 00:45:49 I did a weekly post, and highlighted one particular member. He commented in the post, and he said, “Oh, wow. This is my magnet for the fridge.” I saw that, and went, “Oh, my God. This is going to be great.” So, I actually got magnets printed off that said, “I contributed to the XY community, and all I got was this lousy magnet.” Then I went and posted it to him. Again, didn’t message. Didn’t do anything. I just posted it. And I did that again to another person a few weeks later, and they took a screenshot and put it in the group, and they’re like, “I will cherish this, ever.”
Emily Blanch: 00:46:29 It’s just noticing people, and just recognizing them, and just doing little things that make people go, “Wow.” That is just super, super powerful stuff.
Emily Blanch: 00:46:41 Yeah, I guess anther thing I do is I try to help people with result. It’s just about helping people. When I see someone who posts in the group with a question on CRM or tech ... People love the technology question. They really want to know more about that, or deal groups, or something like that. I will go in and look for past posts, because I realized that I have receipt to all of the amazing content under the XY umbrella. I’m super familiar with the content. I’ll go in and find past posts, take screenshots of them, and then I’ll go and message that person and be like, “Hey, I saw you were asking about this. Here’s a couple posts which I think might help.” Again, took me five minutes to do, but super powerful. It’s just going to help them get to where they need to go, quicker. It’s all just about connecting elements. To me, it’s about the one percenters. Those things are just powerful beyond measure.
Fraser Jack: 00:47:42 Yeah, I can see why you love your job, actually, because you’re exactly right. You get to perform these one percenters, and people get to go, “Wow. That’s amazing”, but then equally so, or probably even more so, you get to feel really amazing about yourself.
Emily Blanch: 00:47:56 Absolutely. Just to be able to help someone else succeed, to me, that’s satisfaction to me, 100%. Yeah, I love doing those things more than anything else.
Emily Blanch: 00:48:14 Then, they come back to me, or if I see ... because, I’m genuinely interested. When I see someone go out on their own, and then they post in the group ... I literally emailed a guy the other day who posted in the group and said, “Since joining the XY community, I’ve literally been inspired to finally take the leap and start my own business.” It’s like that realization that, wow, that’s a game-changer. That’s a life-changer. That’s super, super powerful.
Emily Blanch: 00:48:43 So, I emailed him and sent a bunch of resources on things to help him on his journey. It’s just ... yeah, very satisfying for myself. It’s very [inaudible 00:48:53] me, too.
Fraser Jack: 00:48:54 Literally helping people transform their lives. Amazing.
Emily Blanch: 00:48:57 Totally.
Fraser Jack: 00:48:58 Now, there’s been huge amount of work over the past couple of years, and you’re also going through a lot of change, at the moment, with the group, changing from a free community to a free and/or paid community. Are you able to talk about that?
Emily Blanch: 00:49:14 Yeah, absolutely. We have been working our butts off in the background for a long time to look at more ways to deliver as much value as we can to the community. Off the back of that, we are launching our member platform, XY Plus. Yes, we’re slowly moving towards our own forum. Facebook has been a great platform for us to grow this community, but it’s very restricting. It’s very limiting. It’s very much like building a mansion on top of a volcano. You’re very limited to third-party rules and regulations and restrictions. And we just don’t have that added layer of flexibility, which we need to deliver the kind of value that we went to [inaudible 00:50:00]. So, we’ve been building our own forum, and platform, which is going to live in our website. It’s going to allow us to just take financial advice to the next level, and really just go above and beyond, in terms of collaboration and community.
Emily Blanch: 00:50:22 What do that look like? A few things. One of the things we’re going to be starting with is actually looking to make tax advice tax deductible. Off the back of that, we did our XY tour events in May this year, down the east coast of Australia. The big thing that came out of that was, in light of the Royal Commission and everything going on, there’s this push to make advice professional, and professionalize this industry. If they want us to head towards that’s fine, but we feel like we should be treated like. And why can’t we have advice made tax deductible, just like an [inaudible 00:51:01]?
Emily Blanch: 00:51:00 One of the first things we were doing is creating a strategy and going to government to lobby, and look to have advice tax deductible. Now, that’s going to take a lot of time, effort, and resources. We’re happy to put the effort into make that happen, but we do need help from the community. So, that’s one of the elements of paid Plus membership. We feel like this is a win, win, win for everyone involved. It would benefit the clients, because they ... and hopefully, allowing more people to engage with an adviser. And it’s great for the adviser, as well, as costs to serve [inaudible 00:51:38] going up, and up, and up. So, we see it as a really, really positive thing for the industry, as we move forward.
Emily Blanch: 00:51:45 The other [inaudible 00:51:46] thing is our forum and online community. We’re going to be able to separate the conversation, and really hone in on what people want to be a part of and learn more about. So, that looks like all different conversation threads, from risk to self-managed super funds, to pricing your advice, to starting a business, rookie questions. Honestly, the list goes on. The possibilities are endless. People are going to be able to really tap into the conversations they want to be a part of, and what they want to learn more about.
Emily Blanch: 00:52:17 It’s also going to allow us to provide discounts to paying members of the platform. That looks like the standard tickets to XY events. We’re really going to start to turn that up, and up the quality and the value of our events. They’re just going gangbusters. That’s our way of bringing the online community to life. So, discounted event tickets. We’re in negotiations to get discounts for eduction providers, in light of everything going on this past year.
Emily Blanch: 00:52:47 Technology discounts. Yeah. It’s one of those things where we’re just going to be able to stack them at the platform, with as much value as possible, and really, really drive the positive evolution of financial advice.
Emily Blanch: 00:53:01 We are globally focused. We really feel like there’s a lot we can learn from other industries and countries, the US, the UK. And vice versa, we feel like there’s a lot that we can add to those guys, as well. So, in time, we’re going to be looking to create this platform that’s just going to take advice to the next level, allow advisers to up-skill, and ultimately deliver better outcomes to clients, and change the [inaudible 00:53:30] of advice.
Fraser Jack: 00:53:32 Wow. Yeah, I imagine it’s quite a difficult thing to do when you’re providing so much value in a free community, to then start asking that community to become or give them the option to become a paid community. There’s a bit of a stepping stone between getting a lot of value out of a free community, to then turn around and then paying, but I guess what you’re doing is just stacking so much extra value on top of that, for those people to then start paying.
Emily Blanch: 00:53:59 Yeah. Well, for us, the driver has always been, how can we provide value? That is literally the reason why we exist, is to help advisers get to where they want to be, quicker. So, for us, we’ve spent the last four years ... Yeah, it’s been a hard slog, but we’ve really built a brand, and a culture, and a vibe that is trust. It’s very much about delivering value. So, in everything we do, that is the catalyst for that. So, this to us is just the next stepping stone in that journey of allowing advisers to really take their advice to the next level, and leverage the power of sharing economy.
Emily Blanch: 00:54:43 Our education platform, with our online short courses, that’s another thing. The whole reason that started was us saying to ourselves, “How can we leverage the sheer amount of knowledge and expertise and ideas that we see going on in this Facebook group, for the greater community, and greater industry, to leverage from? So, it’s finding industry thought leaders, productive providers, and also advisers themselves who have amazing knowledge they can share with the community. They’ve put together short online courses, and we host it on our platform. So, that’s another element and way for us to ... for these providers and advisers to get brand exposure, but do it in a way that’s delivering value.
Emily Blanch: 00:55:30 It’s a really, really cool thing to start creating. Again, this is almost version 2.0. Version 1.0 was the Facebook group, and it took a while to build the momentum, but we’ve built this. The momentum is there, and we have this trust, and rapport, and connection with the community. Version 2.0 is okay, let’s take this thing to the next level, and start building the momentum on the platform. The response we’ve had already, off the back of just, I think, through emails and a handful of social media posts has just been incredible. People are saying, “How can we spread the message? How can we get onboard?” So, yeah, my inbox has been flooded for about three weeks. I’m just replying to everyone, and giving them next steps and whatnot. Yeah, we really feel like XY Plus is going to allow us to create this sharing economy advice and [inaudible 00:56:31] industry that we’ve never seen before.
Fraser Jack: 00:56:35 Perfect, now. It’s sounds to me like you’re crazy, crazy, crazy busy with a lot of stuff. To throw something else on top of that, you’ve just come off the back of a national tour around the country, where you visited a whole lot of cities and put events on. Running events is a really big, big thing, and a lot of people put a lot of work, and have full-time jobs in just running events. How did you go with, obviously, trying to run a community and also organizing events. What were the things that you learned from organizing events around the country? What you do again? What would you never do again, with regards to trying to run a national event around the country in a whole lot of cities, within a short space of time?
Emily Blanch: 00:57:20 Yes. XY on tour. We’d been hosting event since inception, but they’ve very much been standalone events, and only in capital cities. This was the first time that we had the capacity and were able to go ... I mean, I don’t want to say more regional. Slightly more regional ... We went to Brisbane, Sydney Melbourne which we’ve been to before, but for the first time we went to Gold Coast, Newcastle, and Canberra. It was full-on, and just absolute mayhem, but in the best way possible.
Emily Blanch: 00:57:56 The first thing that I noticed was that the events ... And I mentioned before. Digital communities are amazing, and they really open up the door to connect instantly, but you cannot beat the value of face-to-face, and that’s what these events were. They brought the online community to life. Having people who have communicated for months and months through the Facebook group, to meet for the first time in real life was just really, really special, and it was really, really cool to see the ideas and the knowledge sharing that went on.
Emily Blanch: 00:58:35 We had the same running theme across all events, client acquisition for the modern adviser, whish was phenomenal, and we’ll definitely do that again. In the past, each location had its own different [inaudible 00:58:48]. By having the one centralized theme, we were able to get really clear on the messaging and in the promoting of it, as well. It just made a lot more sense. We didn’t have to brand each [inaudible 00:58:58] about that. So, that was definitely a big plus. We really enjoyed doing that.
Emily Blanch: 00:59:06 But in saying that, it was really interesting. We had local panels at each event, and although we had the same running theme, the information, and the knowledge, and the tips and strategies that came out of those events, from the panel, were completely different. So, Gold Coast, we had Brett Evans from Atlas Wealth doing a lot with SEO and tech, and just really streamlining their processes, doing really, really amazing things. [Lee Shadel 00:59:35] and [inaudible 00:59:36] Kelley. So, that even really focused on online, and websites, and SEO, and all those sorts of things.
Emily Blanch: 00:59:45 Then in Newcastle, we were talking podcast and [inaudible 00:59:49] adventures, and buying books. It was really, really cool to watch the different scope of conversation. So, what else did we do?
Emily Blanch: 01:00:04 Again, it’s all about asking how can we be a little different? How can we be unique? How can we have that [inaudible 01:00:10]? How can we inject fun into these events, instead of it just being boring and a place for people to digest information?
Emily Blanch: 01:00:22 Again, probably the best way to explain it is just with ideas and experiences. One of the things I do is I made a real point of onboarding people and welcoming them. Again, in the digital community, it’s about making people feel comfortable, having that level of support, and just knowing that, “Hey, this is a safe space.” You’re basically doing that in the offline sense. When people arrive, I get them to fill out their own little DIY name tag, and this is a great little tip.
Emily Blanch: 01:00:50 The first even I ever organized for XY, I thought to myself ... Okay, first of all, I had never organized events in my life. They boys were just like, “So, the first thing we’re going to get you to do is organize this event.” And was like, “Oh, my God. I’ve never done this before. Throw me in the deep end.” But thankfully, I swam. But I thought I’d be really diligent. I’d print off everyone’s name tag and have them printed really nice with their names. I’d put them in those little name tag holders, and when they arrived, I spent ages just flicking through trying to find all of their names. God forbid if someone turned up late. I didn’t have one for them. I had to hand-write it. It just didn’t look quite as professional. So, when I organized the next event, I thought about it, and I said, “Okay, that was not efficient. How can I make this efficient?”
Emily Blanch: 01:01:37 What I did was I did up name tags that said ... You can sort of imagine [inaudible 01:01:43], “Hello, my name is”, blank line underneath. So, I did that. Hello, my name is line, and then underneath I had some sort of little question or one-liner. So, my favorite holiday destination is blank, or the greatest movie of all time is ... or my best party trick is ... So, as people arrive, I would tick off their name on the list, welcome them, and say, “Hey, guys. We’re doing a bit of a DIY name tag situation”, and give them a Sharpie, and let them fill out their own name tag. It means I have to stick around, we get to have a bit of a chat, they fill out their name tag, we pop it into a little thing, and then they head on into the event. And oh, my God. Game-changer. Streamlined the process. Made it really efficient. No one was left out. Everyone could fill in a name tag, and it’s an ice-breaker. So, especially for people who turn up on their own. Sometimes professional events can be a little bit awkward, especially if you’re introverted. Networking. People go, “Oh, my God.” They freak out when they hear that word. So, it’s an ice-breaker. If you head on into the event, you see someone, and it’s, “Oh, wow. You’ve traveled to Canada? Me, too.” All of a sudden, it sparks conversation.
Emily Blanch: 01:02:53 That was a great one. That’s a great little tip. Anything that we wouldn’t do-
Fraser Jack: 01:02:58 Just on that, I love the idea of, with name tags, doing, “You can call me Fraser. My nickname is”, and then just let everybody put their nicknames on their name tags.
Emily Blanch: 01:03:12 Yeah.
Fraser Jack: 01:03:12 Let people actually joke about some random nickname. They’re like, “Wow, that’s your nickname.” You know? It kind of creates that intimacy around talking to ... If a stranger knows your nickname, all of a sudden, you’re starting to bond.
Emily Blanch: 01:03:27 Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. It’s just, yes, that extra level of engagement, and making people feel comfortable. Yeah, it’s cool.
Emily Blanch: 01:03:35 What else?
Fraser Jack: 01:03:36 What would you not do again? What were the things that didn’t work, you’d probably change next time?
Emily Blanch: 01:03:40 Oh, what would we not do? I would probably ... That’s a really great question, actually. Get more hands-on with social sharing, I suppose. Getting people involved and probably be a bit more interactive. It’s not necessarily something ... It’s not something that I wouldn’t do, but it’s something that I would do next time, is try and get a little more interactive with the audience in any presentations. I think that would ... We just didn’t have the capacity to do that this time around, but you see really cool presentations with thoughts or things like that, or just giving people the ability to get involved and share on their socials and hashtags and things like that. That’s something that I would definitely want to do next time.
Emily Blanch: 01:04:34 We did six events in three weeks. Probably, is ... I would caution people. You need to be really ready. It’s very full-on. I went to all six locations. Drove to some. Flew to some. I was absolutely exhausted by the end of it, so I guess I would just caution people on the side, if you’re going to jam pack a few locations or events into a short period of time, be ready for that, and have a strong support team around you.
Emily Blanch: 01:05:06 Another thing would be to have a really good process and checklist of what you’re going to execute on. It comes down to tiny little things, or remembering the tripod to film livestream into the group, or to make sure you’ve got all your name tag bits and pieces ready, and things like that. So, just having a really well thought out checklist, so that ... Because, when you’re there on the day, you’re in the zone. You’ve got to move quickly, and you can definitely overlook things very easily. So, having that that sort to nice process just streamlines, again, and allows for ease and flow, because that was all I wanted. Going into the events, I knew they were going to be full-on, and I just sort said to myself, “Ease and flow.”
Emily Blanch: 01:05:48 The other thing is to just be okay with something not working or going wrong. You have a tech fail. For example, I had to hire a couple of extra microphones. I picked them up and instead of having two or three, I had one, and I thought, “Oh, my God.” I was like, “Well, look. It is what it is. I can’t change it”, so you just roll with the punches and go with it. When little things happen, it’s going to be fine, because nine times out of ten the audience is going to have no idea. You might, but they’re none the wiser. So, don’t freak out. Just ease and flow. It is what it is. As long as you’re prepared as [inaudible 01:06:29] you can be, that’s all you can do.
Fraser Jack: 01:06:31 Yeah. Having been involved in organizing all sort of different events, not necessarily in financial service, but all sorts of events over a long period of time, you work out that you can have the best laid plans, and you can try and prepare for everything, but something always goes wrong, and nine times out of ten, as you said, no one knows because they didn’t know that thing was supposed to happen in the first place. Often people don’t know it’s gone wrong. They just enjoy what they’re enjoying.
Emily Blanch: 01:06:55 Yep, 100%. 100%.
Fraser Jack: 01:06:58 Now, you’ve been in XY for two years now, and I imagine that if you look back when you came into this environment there was no way you could predict what would be going on today. If you had to jump forward a couple of years from now, are you able to predict what it’s going to look like?
Emily Blanch: 01:07:16 Yes. You’re 100% correct. To look back at when XY started, then when I came on, and to now, the shift and the changes already have been monumental. To look ahead, I only see more massive changes and shifts. So, I guess, it’s two-fold. It’s what I think we can see in a few years to come, and what I would like to see.
Emily Blanch: 01:07:45 I guess for me personally, one of my biggest goals is to help change the public perception of financial advice. One of the things I’ve said on numerous occasions is, “I wish I could shine a public light into the private Facebook group, so that people could see how passionate and supportive XY advisers are.” It blows me away. People just don’t understand. It’s not they’re ignorant. It’s not that they don’t like advisers or they’re ignorant. It’s just that they’re missing [inaudible 01:08:19] just uneducated. They just don’t perceive the value.
Emily Blanch: 01:08:26 So, one of my massive things is to help in any way, shape, or form with XY to change that public perception of advice. XY Plus and XY Adviser, that’s kind of one of our big goals. Again, being a platform organization really opens you up to [inaudible 01:08:46]. You’re not set to one sort of thing, so things can definitely change, but I see huge conferences, really immersive workshops. The biggest spectrum of things, having like a big one, two day experience like no other. Again, how can we be different? How can we be unique? How can we bring financial advice to life, and help as many people as possible? Then also really immersive workshops that are just tailored to specific groups. I see, God, what else? International. 100% international. I’m not too sure what that looks like just yet, but I see tax deductible advice. I see just this ability to provide advice to clients in a fun and engaging way, that reaches those 80% of people who aren’t engaged at the moment.
Emily Blanch: 01:09:54 How, specifically, that looks like, I don’t know, but collectively we have the knowledge, the power, the drive, the passion to get there, and really tap into that doubt and be able to just change lives, really. Like I said, in that whole holistic sense. It’s not just about money. It’s about health, wellness, education, all sorts of elements. Yeah, I feel like we are at the forefront to be able to do that, through education, knowledge sharing, support, and just lifting the bar in general. Does that kind of answer the question?
Fraser Jack: 01:10:37 Yeah, that’s brilliant. I love that, advice in a fun and engaging way. And certainly your vision around helping change the public perception is also really incredible. So, yeah. I definitely encourage you to hold on to that vision, and strive for it over the next couple of years. I’ll definitely be a support on that.
Fraser Jack: 01:10:59 Now, I thought we’d just finish up on some of the questions I ask fairly regularly, when people are on the show. If you are speaking to a consumer at a barbecue or catching up with them on the weekend, and they were asking you some of your tips around what advice would you give to consumers, or basically what advice would you give to them around finding a financial advisor?
Emily Blanch: 01:11:20 Yeah. It’s funny, because I do have these conversations with people, just not at barbecues. Well, now that it’s almost winter, so not quite barbecue, but same sorts of things. Yeah, I guess in terms of explaining the value of advisers, I sort of just share my experiences, but doing research being diligent, knowing where you are or what the outcome is that you’re looking for, I suppose ... Google is a fantastic resource to at least get started. Just talking to people, everyone’s got their two cents and [inaudible 01:12:06], but to me, when you want to, I guess ... I explained it to a family friend of mine the other day.
Emily Blanch: 01:12:18 There’s different options. You’ve got the short term. You can go and do the DIY thing, and sort of Google, talk to your auntie, talk to your cousins, or friend, or whatever, and you might get few short term answers, but there’s no longterm in that. That’s kind of really transactional, but if you want a longterm play, if you really want to set yourself up to live a life that you can get excited about now, as well as in the future, because the actual [inaudible 01:12:54] around retirement that millennials in particular, or the younger generation, they want to enjoy life now. So, having an adviser is like a PT for your money. That’s the way I’d explain it. When you want to get fit and healthy, you don’t just go and see a PT once, and just get them ... Sure, they can give you the printout guide, but then you need to have the willpower and the motivation to go and implement that for the months, years to come. If you don’t have that, you’re just going to put that guide in the drawer and never look at it again.
Emily Blanch: 01:13:29 An adviser is the ... They’re your accountability buddy. They’re your coach. They’re the person who’s going to ask the hard questions when they need to be asked. They’re going to be there to support you on the journey, and it’s a long [inaudible 01:13:44]. But the value from that is just phenomenal. To have someone in your corner, who’s there to cheer you on, to help you when you need is, it beyond measurable, in my books, and everyone can benefit.
Emily Blanch: 01:14:00 I know, obviously, the cost and things like that, but there are now avenues with tech and things like that to get that level of education first, and then sort of head into more engaged advice. The true value is having that person in your corner, your accountability buddy, to support you when you need it, whatever that looks like.
Fraser Jack: 01:14:27 Yeah. I love that analogy that you just said around you can’t get fit by just having the training plan. You need to actually do the training, and continue to keep doing it, and change habits and stuff. It’s not the plan that counts. It’s the actions in the back of it. If fact, in saying that, that’s the interesting part that’s a part of a fairly topical conversation at the moment, around ad hoc one off advice versus ongoing advice relationship. I think when I speak to most people inside the advice community that is providing advice, tend to focus on that longterm relationship point of view, as you mentioned, the ongoing accountability process, rather than just one off. Then, sometimes I speak to people outside of the advice community, and the perception of advice could just be a one off ad hoc. So, I think we probably could have more conversation about getting clearer on that, just not right now.
Fraser Jack: 01:15:26 The next question, what tips and advice do you give? And, as you mentioned, you give a lot of tips and advice to people thinking about getting in or becoming advisers. What sort of things do you say to those people?
Emily Blanch: 01:15:37 People wanting to become an adviser?
Fraser Jack: 01:15:40 Yes.
Emily Blanch: 01:15:42 Yeah. Definitely relationship building, and educating, and up-skilling, I suppose. Just surrounding yourself with the people that you want to be like. That’s probably the biggest thing that I’ve learned on my own journey, and that I see the benefit in the community for others.
Emily Blanch: 01:16:00 Networking. Going to events. Putting yourself out there. That’s probably the biggest one. Also, I guess, one of the things is not being afraid to put yourself out there. You won’t know or you won’t get if you don’t ask. I guess it’s the chicken and egg thing. You want to step into a new industry, and all the job ads that people are advertising, minimum two years experience. And you go, “Okay, well, how do I get my foot in the door and get that experience?” So, there’s nothing stopping you from reaching out to them. To me personally, motivation and dedication trumps technical experience. You can teach someone the technical side of things and that element, but it’s a lot harder to, or sometimes you can’t even, teach dedication, motivation, and [inaudible 01:16:58] element of it. So, if you see a job ad, or if you’re trying to get into the industry, or whatever it is, and adviser or anything like that, don’t feel disheartened by seeing a job ad that says minimum two years experience, because there’s nothing stopping you from reaching out to them and showing your motivation, and showing your eagerness, and offering to even work for free for a week or two, or just go in there and help out just for a little bit.
Emily Blanch: 01:17:29 The worst thing that will happen is they just won’t reply to your email, or it’s not a good fit, and you may have spent a couple of days, or a week, or two weeks. Again, I’ll use a quick story and a quick example.
Emily Blanch: 01:17:42 At the start when I was talking about my career history and experience, when I came back from traveling, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Obviously, obsessed with travel, and I wanted to ... I came back wanting to tell everyone to go traveling, because one of the things that I got told a lot from my friends when I was overseas was, “I wish I could go and do that.” I wanted to say, “You can. You physically can do it. There’s nothing stopping you.”
Emily Blanch: 01:18:07 Anyway, when I came back, I thought, “Okay, I want to help people travel and whatnot.” So, I wanted to get involved in tourism. There was a job ad for an independent travel agent, because I didn’t want to go and work for a flight center or anything that was really corporate. I’ve heard a few stories of bits and pieces. I found this independent family-owned and operated agency, and I loved the vibe and the job ad. They were looking for someone, like a reservations specialist or whatever. It had minimum two years experience in tourism or as a reservations specialist, but then it said, “Someone who’s motivated. Someone who learns quickly. Attention to detail, et cetera, et cetera.” And I ticked every single one of those boxes except for the two years experience.
Emily Blanch: 01:18:57 So, I emailed them, and I reached out, and I applied. I sent my resume and my cover letter. Then, I didn’t hear anything, so three days later or a week later, I phoned them, because I was sitting at home going, “I haven’t heard anything. Oh, my God. I don’t know.” So, I thought, “You know what?” I kind of built up this hope, and said, “I’m just going to ring them.” So, I phoned, and I spoke to the manager, and I said, “Hey, I applied. Just wanted to double check [inaudible 01:19:24] you guys a little, whatnot.” They said, “Oh, we did get your application. We did notice that you said you haven’t got any experience, so we’ve got it in the maybe pile. We’re just going to see what comes in over the weekend, and then we’ll let you know on Monday.” And I said, “No worries. Look, totally understandable. I’m really motivated. The opportunity looks fantastic. I tick all of the boxes in the job ad. The only thing I don’t have is the experience, but I’m a quick learner, and I’m really, really happy to prove myself”, and just kind of left it at that.
Emily Blanch: 01:19:56 That afternoon, I had a phone call. “Can you come in for an interview on Monday?” I was like, “Absolutely.” Ended up getting the job. I got the job, and then started, and within six weeks ... I was learning, and it was quite a process to learn. Then six weeks in ... and I’m just going to nutshell version this for you. I secured a $50,000 accommodation booking for a few families from Melbourne, to go to Port Douglas, six weeks in. And I had just learned the process a few weeks ago, but I had built this relationship with the client, with the customers, and was a quick learner, and secured that. It was just insane. They couldn’t believe it, and I couldn’t believe it either. Here it was, I could have looked at that job ad advertisement and not applied, because it said minimum two years experience. So, you won’t know unless you ask. Literally, the worst things that’s going to happen is they don’t reply to your email.
Emily Blanch: 01:20:57 If I was an employer, and someone emailed me, and said, “Hey, Emily, I saw this job ad”, or even if there was no job ad, just put yourself out there. If someone emailed me and said, “Hey, I’m really motivated. I want to learn. I really want to get into the industry. Is there any opportunities?”, I would jump on that in a heartbeat, because the motivation and dedication, that’s ... Like I said, you can teach the technical stuff, but to find someone who’s got that level of drive, that’s rare, and I would snap that up straight away. So, I think of it from that employer perspective. So, that would be my biggest piece of advice for anyone looking to get into the industry.
Fraser Jack: 01:21:36 That’s a fantastic piece of advice. You’re absolutely right. Pushing, putting yourself out there, backing yourself, and actually just ... And even that, like you said, applying for jobs that don’t even exist, I think that a lot of people would consider if somebody comes along, the right person comes along. They create the opportunities, so yeah, absolutely push yourself forward and go for it. Couldn’t agree more.
Emily Blanch: 01:21:55 And join the XY group.
Fraser Jack: 01:21:57 And join the XY group, of course.
Fraser Jack: 01:21:59 Be part of an amazing community.
Emily Blanch: 01:22:01 Exactly.
Fraser Jack: 01:22:02 Quick. The final question, if you could go back in time and give yourself some advice and tips, and some do-overs, what would you say to yourself?
Emily Blanch: 01:22:09 The irony in that is that I would tell myself to back myself. It’s literally been in the last couple of years that I’ve really figured out my skillset. One of the things that I’ve struggled a lot is this imposter syndrome. In my role now, I am a marketer. I am an events organizer, but I never did a marketing degree at uni. It’s ironic that I’ve done this about turn. I did a business degree, right? [inaudible 01:22:45]. That’s what I majored in. And yet, here I am. I’m back now in the industry in a completely new and separate role. Marketing, and service, and events. And I don’t have any prescribed qualification, not piece of paper that says I did a marketing degree. So, imposter syndrome is something that I’ve kind of dealt with, or been struggling with a fair bit, in that, “Am I qualified enough? Am I good enough?” And I know there’s many people out there who do the same thing.
Emily Blanch: 01:23:11 So, it’s just reminding yourself, “You’ve got this.” Just get in, and have a go. It’s a journey. It’s an experiment. Yeah, backing myself is definitely one of them.
Emily Blanch: 01:23:24 The other thing is being open to possibilities, and not forcing something. It’s crazy that when you ... For me personally, I’m speaking from personal experience here. When I stop looking for things, they turn up. When I came back from overseas, I knew I always wanted to, even from a young age, I’ve always had that kind of entrepreneurial spirit, I suppose. I’ve always wanted to build something, create something, start my own business, but of the back of traveling, I didn’t want to be tied down to a location. So, being location independent was something that was really important to me.
Emily Blanch: 01:24:03 When I got back from traveling, I was really trying to force things, and go, “Okay, what can I build? What can I create? What business can I start?” I thought about creating online courses for traveling, and I was like, “I hate this.” Location independent. It’s business I can start. I can build that. And the naïve me didn’t realize just how much of a feat that is. In the end, I was really forcing something, forcing something, and nothing’s turning up or starting.
Emily Blanch: 01:24:33 Similar thing when you’re trying to find your passion, when you’re like, “What am I passionate about? Okay, maybe I’m passionate about this.” When you force something, it’s never going to turn up. Then, when I made the decision to go, “You know what? Screw it. I’m going back overseas”, and I moved down to Wollongong, and I went, “No, I’m just not going to force anything. I’m just going to do my thing”, then all of a sudden Clayton and I meet. Then that whole project kicked off. And now here I am, doing what I always wanted to do. I’m location independent. I’m building up something that I’m super proud of, involved with. It’s everything that I was looking for a few years ago. Then, when I stopped looking, it turned up.
Emily Blanch: 01:25:16 So, don’t get disheartened when you haven’t found your passion, or you feel like you’re trying to push it uphill, for lack of a better term, because it will turn up when it’s supposed to. That’s probably one of the biggest things that I learned. So, I would just go back and tell myself, “Hey, just relax. Enjoy the journey. Take every challenge or mistake as a lesson.” That’s another thing. Just enjoy the ride.
Fraser Jack: 01:25:47 Perfect. Thanks, Em. I want to say thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your journey, because it has been an amazing story. And certainly your vision, looking forward over the next few years, is also really inspiring as well. I wish you every success in achieving those. Thank you so much for being a part of the podcast.
Emily Blanch: 01:26:05 Oh, of course. Not a problem. I hope I was able to provide a few nuggets of inspo and ideas. And anyone out there who has any questions whatsoever, I am very much available to shoot the breeze, to chat. Anything around community, or customer service, or things like that, I’m an open book, and happy to share.
Fraser Jack: 01:26:24 And the best way to get ahold of you?
Emily Blanch: 01:26:26 You can email me. Emily@xyadviser.com. You can find me on LinkedIn. You can basically just stalk me online, through socials and things like that. But LinkedIn and email would definitely be the best.
Fraser Jack: 01:26:39 Stalk you online. Perfect.
Emily Blanch: 01:26:40 Yeah, [crosstalk 01:26:41].
Fraser Jack: 01:26:40 Thank you so much.
Emily Blanch: 01:26:41 That’s right.
Fraser Jack: 01:26:43 Thank you.
Emily Blanch: 01:26:44 Awesome. Thanks, Fraser.
Fraser Jack: 01:26:46 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.