Intro: 00:00 This episode was recorded live at United, the 2019 AFA conference in Adelaide. The Association of Financial Advisors is the association of choice for financial advice professionals and it powers them to transform the lives of Australians through quality financial advice. For more information, check out afa.asn.au.
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. Thank our supporting partners, Advice Intelligence, Oh My Pod podcasting editing for editing needs, and the Association of Financial Advisors for hosting us at their conference in beautiful Adelaide in South Australia. I’m joined by Tara Lucke. Welcome, Tara.
Tara Lucke: 00:47 Thank you, Fraser. It’s a pleasure.
Fraser Jack: 00:49 And Tara, you are here as an estate planning lawyer. That’s correct?
Tara Lucke: 00:55 Yes. I feel very privileged to have infiltrated the conference as a non-financial advisor.
Fraser Jack: 01:00 I don’t think that’s infiltration because what you’re actually doing is you’re coming here to help financial advisors better their businesses by estate planning.
Tara Lucke: 01:08 Yeah, exactly. I feel that estate planning is such a golden opportunity for financial advisors. So I was very lucky to be able to come and spread that message.
Fraser Jack: 01:18 Fantastic. Now do you want to give us a quick overview of yourself and your business?
Tara Lucke: 01:22 Sure. So, I am a lawyer and I specialize in estate planning, but I’m not your typical estate planning lawyer. So I do wear a hat where I meet with clients and do their wills, like an estate planning lawyer. And I do that through the Nexus Law Group. But I also have a business where I teach financial advisors and accountants how to take control of the estate planning process and use it to grow their business. And that’s called the Art of Estate Planning. So in one sense I’m almost cannibalizing my estate planning practice by empowering financial advisors to take ownership of estate planning themselves.
Fraser Jack: 02:06 Fantastic. And tell us about your journey.
Tara Lucke: 02:09 Sure. So it has evolved. I’ve always been an estate planning lawyer that has worked with accountants and financial advisors and sort of in the Eagle Street of Brisbane days. We as the lawyers probably took more of the lean and had the referrals coming through. But around global financial crisis time and sort of starting to realize, you know, not every client is going to pay $5,000 upwards for an estate plan or needs to pay that. We started to get involved in, well how can we disrupt estate planning, use technology and re-engineering the estate planning process to basically make estate planning more accessible and affordable. Because the reality is 100% of people need an estate plan. And if you look at the statistics, only about 25% of Australians actually have a will, let alone a comprehensive estate plan. So, there’s just so much need for estate planning to be done better.
So sort of started six years ago with the Eloya business, looking at revolutionizing that and then moved into The View Legal business and I ran their online estate planning platform there for many years and now I’ve taken a back step out of View Legal, but through that role, I saw that the online platforms for estate planning are great, but they don’t onboard advisors particularly well, and there’s no one out there really teaching advisors about how to facilitate. So if you go to kind of training for estate planning, it’s like, “Oh, the latest cases or here’s some really good war stories,” but practical systems and implementation guidance, there’s no training on that. How to have empowering trust-building estate planning conversations, no one’s really talking about that either. So that’s the kind of angle that I’ve come at estate planning through, I guess cutting my teeth in the traditional estate planning firms and then running the online estate planning firms.
Fraser Jack: 04:25 Fantastic. And you saw a need there and decided that you’d be the one to solve it.
Tara Lucke: 04:30 Yeah, and to be honest, it is quite a passion of mine. I really like working with advisers. I feel like they add tremendous value to their clients and I just think estate planning works better when advisors get involved and work collaboratively with the lawyers. So I wanted to do my bit to help, I guess remove some of that arrogance that can come from the legal profession in estate planning and empower advisors to feel like they deserve to be at the table and feel really confident taking ownership of it.
Fraser Jack: 05:11 Yeah. So breaking down some of the barriers and the stigma and allowing a professional conversation to take place peer to peer. Is that...
Tara Lucke: 05:18 Yeah, exactly. And you know, a lot of advisors are already having estate planning conversations even if they don’t think of it as that. Because conversations about legacy, about goals, about family, about where do you want to be in five years, 10 years? You know, we’re building this wealth together. Where is it going to end up? What’s the end game? Those are actually estate planning conversations. Now not many lawyers are approaching the estate planning conversation that way. They’ll just like, “Oh yeah, where do you want to leave your money? And then if they die, where does it go after that?” But it’s actually an estate planning conversation and advisors are already doing it.
So why not round that out by empowering them to fully facilitate the process, choose their own panel of legal providers that complements their clients’ needs and supports their process and actually get it done? Because the reality is the market has shifted and clients don’t usually have their like local solicitor anymore and the market has changed so that even if you do have a local solicitor who does your like property stuff, they’re not usually an estate planning expert and financial advisors are seeing their clients more than anyone else. So I feel like they’re at the front line of being able to make a difference and motivate people to get their estate planning sorted.
Fraser Jack: 06:51 So you saw this and you went, “Well I can do something about it. I can create a course that teaches everybody what to do, teaches advisors what to do, teaches accountants what to do.” Then how did you come about setting up that course and then go about developing it and creating it?
Tara Lucke: 07:09 Look, it was a bit of a journey. I know journey’s a bit of an overrated word, but I mean it kind of evolved out of my personal circumstances at the time because I’d been in the legal industry for about 10 years and frankly I was burnt out. I was a partner of View Legal, that wasn’t the right fit for me. I worked really hard, like 14 hour days for 10 years, eating every meal at my desk, just like working my butt off, which was great. And I was achieving the goals that I saw that I wanted, you know, I was a partner before I was 30 and I was like, “Wow, everything’s come true.” And then I got there and I went, “Oh, this does not feel like success. I’m burned out, pissed off, disillusioned, fed up, all of it.” So I left the partnership and took some time off and moved to the Gold Coast, sat on the beach for three months and went, “Oh, maybe I could become a florist or what kind of job can I get? I don’t even know how to make a coffee.” But then-
Fraser Jack: 08:28 No one pays you to watch waves roll in on the beach.
Tara Lucke: 08:31 No, no. But what I did do was just nothing, which was a real privilege. I had a lot of sick leave built up that I was allowed to sort of take while I worked out what I was going to do and I just sat on the beach and listened to podcasts and different industry things and just didn’t put any pressure on myself and went, “Well, you know what? I’m like one of the very few people who have been on the coal phase of seeing advisors try to use these new online estate planning platforms.” So I ran the View Legal one where I would talk to advisers who were looking for an estate planning solution, sell them onto the platform, see the instructions that they sent through, talk to their clients, did the client meeting, supervise the documents, the whole shebang.
And what I noticed is all the advisors were making the same, I don’t want to use errors because I wouldn’t say they were errors, but they were all doing the same things that we would look at and go, “Oh actually, this could be tweaked,” or “You don’t have a knowledge about this.” You know, for instance like, “Oh you really should use a testamentary trust in this place or have you at least, you know, we need to position that to the client and maybe you need more information about that.” And they were all doing the same things, which meant well it’s not the advisor issue, it’s a platform issue and we’re just not educating advisors in the right way with the practical tools. You can go to a very entertaining estate planning seminar, but do you actually walk away with practical tools about how to have estate planning conversations? Not always.
So I thought, “You know what? I’ve got this skill set, I’m going to try something different.” And then tying into that was the fact that I was still recovering from stress burnout and I couldn’t work the hours that I used to work. And I went, “Well, what’s the end game here like for me personally? How do I find a way to be a lawyer without killing myself?” Because I didn’t even want to work every day or I want to work like four hours a day and that was about two years ago and my resiliency is back and you know, I can work a lot more. But back then my motivation was, I need to find a way to be a lawyer that’s smarter than hourly billing or working for someone else or running my own shop where I’m a small business owner.
So, the course kind of evolved from there. But I have to say, I went back to View Legal and did online meetings for them for hire and did a bit of like consulting and that type of thing and that worked well. But then a year later, the course still was not built. I’d got some nice branding and, if you have a look at my stuff, I’ve got really beautiful colors and I had like an outline and an idea, but I had no course or anything. But then I decided it was time to leave View Legal and I had another three months off with nowhere to go or nothing. And I went, “It’s now or never. I’m just going to knuckle down and write this course.” So I wrote it, filmed it, like a lot of it was filmed on my iPhone and-
Fraser Jack: 11:59 So let’s just unpack that a little bit. You’ve filmed it yourself?
Tara Lucke: 12:02 Yeah. So you don’t actually need super-duper technology to do that kind of stuff anymore. And maybe it was all a perfect storm because you know, the technology had become so accessible. If I tried to do it five years ago, the infrastructure of filming it would have been crazy. But yeah, just I bought all the lights and did all the staff and went to the filming workshops and stuff. But yeah, basically did it all myself and put it all together.
Fraser Jack: 12:37 And then edited yourself as well?
Tara Lucke: 12:38 Yeah. Yeah. But a lot of it is, I mean it’s just stuff that I was living and breathing. So a lot of it’s one take like I don’t need to do... And I just kind of speak from the heart and in a flow. So thankfully there wasn’t a whole lot of editing and then not all of it is face to camera either, which helps. There’s a lot of diagrams and slides and downloadables and that kind of thing too. So...
Fraser Jack: 13:06 So you put that together and you know, it’s one of those daunting tasks when you first start editing your own stuff, right? You go, “Oh God, is that what I sound like? Or is that what it comes across?” And then after a while that sort of stops and you get over yourself and you put that together and then you had to find a platform to put it on. How did you go about that?
Tara Lucke: 13:24 So I use the Kajabi platform, which is just an off the shelf tool and I’d done a little bit of research and had another... Will I mean I guess this is interesting, I had in the meantime like attracted this group of really cool women in different industries, one’s a lawyer but one does HR and they were all doing courses at the same time. And I think, I don’t know why you attract things when you’re at that but you know, we did kind of get together and so one of them was already using Kajabi and it was like, if the course took two months to write and film, uploading it into Kajabi took one day. Like it’s a total off the shelf, like in you go kind of platform. There’s a CRM in it, all of that. So I just went the low tech route and off the shelf kind of thing and worked out that my pricing would cover the Kajabi subscription. And off I go.
Fraser Jack: 14:27 Yeah, that’s another thing that people look at when they create a course. How much do they sell it for? How did you go through that process?
Tara Lucke: 14:37 Look, I did do a bit of a value process and so I launched it last year and then I increased the price for this year. But I mean that’s hard. You’ve kind of got to back yourself and get feedback. Part of the value proposition of the course is estate planning should help you grow your business and it does that in a few ways. So obviously entrenching the advisor as the trusted advisor, estate planning is amazing for building trust and making you sticky and connecting in with generation below and above and being there to keep the funds under management and primed to assist if the client dies. So it’s great for trust. It’s also great for risk management. So you just take this like tension away from the client because everyone who doesn’t have an estate plan when they think about it, you automatically get the feeling in your shoulders or whatever.
So if you, as an advisor can take that away from your client, like that’s amazing for your relationship but it also helps cover, you know, you [inaudible 00:15:46] obligations and your risk, especially for advisers who are writing insurance and super, you’ve got to make sure the money goes to the right place and achieves the objective. But the last kind of value proposition of why an advisor should get involved in facilitating estate planning is that they can make money from their existing clients. Now, not necessarily like a huge profit center, but you know, you should be able to make, a thousand dollars at least per client that you already have off facilitating the process. Not everyone will want to do it that way. If you’re going to sort of use that model, then you know you’re basically being remunerated for the service and value that you’re adding. And other advisers are happy to just have a really strong referral arrangement.
But I was kind of like, “Well look, if you’re going to make a thousand dollars off your client and 75% of your clients would need this, you should make your money back.” So I priced it at 990, so you should make your money back after the first one or two. Yeah. So now the price is 1,200 including GST because I launched it at the end of last year, so end of 2018 and got more feedback about the value that advisors were finding in it. And so I went, okay, I feel a bit more confident that this works and owning the value.
Fraser Jack: 17:23 Yeah, I love the fact that it’s over $1,000. You know, there’s a lot of online courses that limit themselves with, it’s $59, $199, that sort of thing. It puts a value on your professional experience to start with. And you’re right, it only has to help one of the advisor’s clients and it’s paid for itself.
Tara Lucke: 17:44 Yeah. And I feel like if you pay good value for it, you value the information better and you’ll actually do it. So it is an online course, it’s largely self paced, but I do guide the students or advisors through it. But you know, you have to do the work yourself. So, if you’ve paid good money for it, then you’ll hopefully value it and do it and get your return on your investments sooner.
Fraser Jack: 18:15 Yeah. Now what I love about this concept is it’s certainly something that advisors could replicate what you’ve done because they’ve got years of experience and to be able to make something like that for their own clientele. But what I love about online courses is it’s not like it can make a pizza and you sell the pizza and then you’ve got to make another pizza again because you sell it again, you’ve got this asset now ongoing. You know, obviously you probably have to tweak it if there’s legislative changes or whatever it might be or a case has come up where change things of precedence. So tell us, how does this going to affect you in the future?
Tara Lucke: 18:53 Yeah, so, I really set it up initially, but I mean obviously I have this driving purpose behind it, which was to improve access to quality and affordable estate planning. And I feel that advisors are the key to that. And so, empowering them to do it and not only to... And then teaching them what I’ve learned about all the advisors I’ve seen who are doing it to grow their business. So that was kind of the driver behind it. But I also had my own personal drive, which was, how do I still be a lawyer? And while I’m recovering from stress burnout, still capitalize off all the years of training and my knowledge that I have and then also going, “Okay, well I’m like early thirties and seeing how hard it is for women in law.” And I think a lot of professions to balance having a family and their career.
And so my sort of goal then went, “Well actually I need to do this as well because if I want to have children in the horizon or do a lot more travel or something, how can I have the freedom to do that?” And also I’d moved to the Gold Coast like right before all this happened and I loved spending like a run down to the beach for like three times a day. And I didn’t want to have to go and work in an office again. I’d worked remotely for about four years and you know, I was onto a really nice wicket and I went, “Oh, how do I keep this going?”
Fraser Jack: 20:31 You took up skateboarding and all sorts.
Tara Lucke: 20:33 I taught myself to skateboard and surfing and you know? And I was making up for like lost time because I’d basically spent every sunlight hour for the previous 10 years at Eagle Street in my office, so I had like some living to catch up on. So that was the motivation.
And now for me going forward, firstly the community around the course has just exceeded my expectations. We’ve got an amazing Facebook group, which is just going from strength to strength. And what I love about the Facebook group is we’ve got this really lovely community and mix of lawyers. There’s a heap of lawyers in there, financial advisors and accountants all collaborating on estate planning. And so someone will throw up a problem and the diversity of answers, you know, someone will come in and go, “Yeah, but what about like the pension or the Centerlink, the social security issues?” And then the lawyers will approach it from another angle and then the accountants will come in with a tax thing and it’s really rare to see that level of collaboration happening.
And at the moment, I mean we’ve got about 500 members in the group, so it’s probably at a nice level where it’s all really friendly and I don’t know how we’ll keep that, but I mean that’s really exciting. We do like weekly Facebook lives and training and there’s just... The Facebook group was almost an afterthought for the course. Like, I think I set it up four months after I launched the course. But now that is one of the pillars of the course, which is awesome. And then we’re just constantly evolving the course as well.
In terms of what’s next for me. So I am expecting a baby now.
Fraser Jack: 22:37 Yay, congratulations.
Tara Lucke: 22:38 Thank you. In early 2019 so sorry, 2020. So I’m putting the plan into action and the Art of Estate Planning will continue to go because it... Yes, I do a lot of work in the managing the community and showing up regularly, but it’s also largely automated. So yeah, I’m putting the maternity leave plan into action to see how that goes. And I’ll probably be winding down my direct legal work for the short term just to see.
But look, to be honest, I don’t know where it’s going because it’s really just... We were just responding to what people need. So for instance, there’s quite a few lawyers who are doing the course now, which I did not... It’s not for lawyers, it’s written for financial advisors, but they’re like lawyers who specialize in family law or adjacent areas who want to start offering estate planning as well. And then they’re going, “Okay, well where do we get template testamentary trusts from?” And you know, so I’m looking at issues and things that I wouldn’t have contemplated when I first started it. But you know, the sort of driving motto is, how do we make estate planning easier and more accessible? So whatever kind of comes up and achieves it, I’m looking into.
Fraser Jack: 24:17 Yeah. And I love the way that your business now works around your life, not your life working around your business. And you know, as your life changes and you go through all these things and the next few years and trying to work all this stuff out as we all do as parents. It’s the fact that your business will continue, you’ll have the asset continuing to provide you income and you’ll have the group that can you know... How you work the group is there but the comments and the information will continue to generate within the group. And so those two assets if you like, can continue to keep providing you while you are working at your own lifestyle.
Tara Lucke: 24:59 Yeah. I feel really privileged to be in this situation. And it’s funny because it came out of, you know what I would say is definitely like a career low light, pulling up stumps and saying “This is not working.” And I would like to say that I handled it all with grace and was very mindful about it but I basically just fell in a big heap and took time out and regrouped twice to like set it up. But now it’s actually giving myself that space in my career and time out actually inspired me to create something that is far more rewarding and fulfilling now and much more aligned to the life that I want to live.
Fraser Jack: 25:55 Yeah. I love your story and thank you for sharing it by the way. You know, there’s two messages in here. One is obviously for advisors that want to build out their business and introduce estate planning that the Art of Estate Planning course that the Alice stated plan, the art of estate planning courses is a great place to start. And the second one is for any advisors that might be feeling the same way you felt about your legal career, there is another pathway. There’s a possibility of this other pathway. We can create online courses and then build those assets in a different way. And maybe so yeah, I hope your story can resonate with people that are listening and you know, give them either one of those two options.
Tara Lucke: 26:33 Oh, thank you. Yeah, no, absolutely. I feel like we’re at this, technology is so accessible for us now that you can create your own platform and build your own personal brand. I wouldn’t mind touching on the personal brand because for me that really opened up so many opportunities and when I talk to anyone in their like early career or I mean anyone really, but especially like early career professionals, I can’t underestimate the power of a personal brand because, only based on my experience, but it was like night and day the opportunities that I felt I had between the two times that I had time off.
So the first time I had time off I went, “I can’t continue because I just need a break and I’m working myself to the bone.” I was reasonably well known but really only within the referral sources in my business. And I was probably, you know, like known as the offsider to our principal there. Right? Like I had a bit of a reputation but not really. It was all connected with that business and our principal. And people would, you know, if he wasn’t available and I was available, find that, accept that, but it’s not like I was a rainmaker in my own right or bringing in all these leads versus... And I have to say, I had the privilege of having this time off, so I had all this time to put the energy into it and be inspired and work out what worked for me, which was video, because I don’t like writing blog posts. So I started doing video. But whatever works, whatever you enjoy doing because if you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it.
But you know, in the 12 months... 12 months later when I decided to finally leave the business and go out on my own, and again, I didn’t have anywhere to go or I just was fed up, but less for burnout reasons and just going, “This isn’t the right thing for me,” but the opportunities that presented themselves because by that time I had my own independent brand as an authority in estate planning. I was the Queen of Wills. You know, like I did a video saying I’d left and I don’t know what I’m doing now, but watch this space and I had job opportunities coming in. When I reached out to the Nexus law group, so I’m a group principal there now. I think I sent my inquiry in and five minutes later the CEO called me back and he knew who I was. He knew what I was about. I didn’t need a resume. He was like, “Yeah, great, let’s go for it. Like we’ll just have a chat and see if we can find something that works.”
The opportunities were night and day and it was all because I hadn’t necessarily become a better lawyer. I’d just grown my profile. And so even if you are happy to stay where you are, I just think the power of having your own personal brand can’t be underestimated because of the opportunities it gives you. Even if you just want to be successful your, you know... If you want to move from an employee to an owner of the business, if you’re bringing in your own leads and own work of your personal brand, like that’s going to get you there so much faster. So I know it’s like, “Oh, who’s got time to do all of that?” But to me it was a total game changer that I wouldn’t have even had the courage to start the Art of Estate Planning had I not felt like I had a bit of momentum behind my brand.
Fraser Jack: 30:35 Yeah. Fantastic. That’s incredible. You know, Queen of Wills, I love that, separate you out from the rest of the pack, but thank you so much for coming and sharing your story. Really, really appreciate it. And congratulations, of course, for early next year. So thank you very much, Tara.
Tara Lucke: 30:55 It’s my pleasure.
Fraser Jack: 30:58 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.