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Podcast Transcript

Episode 64, Season 1

The renaissance of the inspire community, with Kate McCallum and Cara Williams


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 empowers them to transform the lives of Australians through quality financial advice. For more information, check out afa.asn.au.

Fraser Jack: 00:21 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. I’d also like to thank the AFA Conference for hosting us here and allowing us to speak to the guests and also their speakers, which has been fantastic. I’d like to thank the people from Oh My Pod podcasting and editing, who are editing these podcasts and getting them out, doing a fantastic job and of course, Advice Intelligence for powering this podcast.

I’m very lucky to be joined by two amazing people, Cara Williams and Kate McCallum. How are you?

Cara Williams: 00:59 Very well.

Kate McCallum: 01:00 Excellent.

Fraser Jack: 01:01 Thank you for joining us. Now, you’ve been doing a lot of work recently in the Inspire community and obviously that’s been the big part of this conference. Do you want to give us a quick overview?Let’s start with yourselves actually. You want to introduce yourselves and then give us an overview of yourselves as advisors.

Kate McCallum: 01:15 Sure. So I’m Kate McCallum, and as you know I’m the national chair of Inspire so I started this year and I’ve been running an advisory business for 12 and a half years. So based in Sydney, Multiforte Financial Services and do all the usual things that advisors do. I’ve never been described as a pioneer before but I quite like that.

Fraser Jack: 01:39 There you go, there you go.

Cara Williams: 01:41 And so I’m Cara Williams and I’ve been an advisor for four years, been in the profession for about seven, joined the AFA last year, and just this year have been involved with the Inspire committee and leadership team.

Kate McCallum: 01:56 And that’s important because we have state chairs for Inspire and they’re obviously an integral part of running the grassroots events for the community in each state. And we also have leaders, so there are people who bring their thought leadership and their ideas and help with some of the projects that we’re running.

Fraser Jack: 02:11 Fantastic. Now Inspire’s been running for a number of years now, really focused on and helping females, especially in the advice area or who to financial advice. Do you want to, and of course you guys have just recently come on as in last year to take over roles in this area. Do you want to give us an overview of, I don’t know what’s changed, what’s new, what’s happening, what you been up to.

Cara Williams: 02:35 Yeah. So earlier this year I was lucky enough to be invited as part of that leadership team down to Sydney where we had a whole day of a strategy planning day. So looking at not only the short term but the long term as well of what we wanted to achieve and being a new person as part of the community, I was able to help bring the perspectives I had and what we should change. And we were, it was a great group and we got a lot out of it, and we’re still working on some key projects that we came out from that day.

So essentially we’re trying to clarify purpose and the direction of Inspire and then looking at developing a strong network of connections with women in financial advice. So we redefined our purpose and what that looks like. We want to be advocates for the betterment of women through policy, professionalism and community. So what we want Inspire to look like now, we’re looking at being courageous, having a purposeful voice, being bold with ideas and asking for what is required.

Also being collaborative so sharing knowledge and resources is so powerful and then staying connected, being, through networking, growing and supporting women who are working in financial advice.

Fraser Jack: 03:44 Yeah, fantastic. Now obviously as I mentioned, Inspire has been going for awhile and I really like this idea that you are always challenging yourselves and challenging the idea of yes we are doing these things, but how can we always improve on that? Was that something you brought in?

Kate McCallum: 03:59 Very much so. It was, I’ve always worked in organizations where if you were brave enough to break things and rebuild them, you often ended up with something was that was more suitable for the times and with Inspire, it’s been running for six years. It has been the most amazing community and particularly in the environment that we’re in at the moment, there was definitely just a need I think to reconnect and to reconsider what we were about and to make sure that we were being far more purposeful.

And that was really where the, Cara mentioned the being courageous and being bold, that was where that came in. It was feeling that it’s not enough to just be a community that supports each other. We actually need to be looking outward and we need to be making a difference in the broader community.

And we very much want to move the dial. We want to be shaking the trees, we want to get attention from Canberra and we want to see structural change. We want to see policy change and we’re very, very happy to support the AFA in achieving that.

Fraser Jack: 05:08 Very good, and now obviously the Inspire community has been growing over a number of years and it’s kind of been good to see that more and more females are now attending these conferences and being more involved in these sorts of things.

Kate McCallum: 05:25 It’s actually really exciting. And I think the important thing with Inspire is that we were not just about women. We’re definitely for women, but we want to engage everybody. And I can tell you the Inspire master class yesterday, Fraser, was just fabulous because we had a really, really good representation of AFA advisors and support staff and BDMs in the room.

And that’s what we want, that’s what we’re about. We’re about harnessing everybody who’s interested in being part of Inspire so that they can contribute to the betterment of women, both women in financial advice and women in our community.

Fraser Jack: 06:02 Do you want to tell us about the masterclass?

Cara Williams: 06:05 So we had two lovely ladies and we spoke about wellness and forming better habits to ... so what I personally got out of it was at the end of it, we had to redefine our goals and look at what we were going to change in our life in terms of wellness.

So one thing I wrote down with one of my goals was to stop wasting my time on things that didn’t align with what my values were and what my goals were. Because time is really precious.

So it was really great because we had tangible things to take away to work on, which I think is great, and Kate and I have both spoke at many times about we love going to those sorts of sessions where you actually walk away with something that you can take away and work on and work with, which is great. And I know everyone got a lot out of that session.

And one of the things I said at the start, you asked me how I was and I said excellent. And that’s one of the responses they say when the next person asks you how you are, say excellent. And that’s why I said excellent.

Kate McCallum: 07:03 We’ve had really, really good feedback and I think to Cara’s point, even though some of the content wasn’t necessarily new, it was sort of ideas to meditate, to sleep well, to exercise, to eat well. You’ve heard it all before. It was the way that it was delivered and the reminder that actually just small steps can make a significant difference.

And the people I’ve spoken to have found that encouragement I suppose to focus on a couple of little things that make a big difference and just the mindset shift. And we’re very much about making sure that we’re in the best possible mindset to deal with the challenges that we face in life, whether they’re professional, personal, or whatever.

Fraser Jack: 07:46 Absolutely. Now it’s not the only event that there’s been this over the last couple of days. You’ve also had a very good planning day luncheon on the first day. Do you want to tell us a little bit about that?

Kate McCallum: 07:58 So our our planning day was designed to pick up the ideas that we had generated in the strategy day in January and to do a refresh. And where we’ve landed with that is our three key projects are still exactly the same.

So one of those is a policy project and that’s around seeing what we can do to get better policy for ensuring that all Australians but women being one of the more vulnerable groups. People don’t end up poor basically is what we want to seek to achieve, and we just don’t think that there’s been enough view of that at the moment. It’s been very focused on taxation of superannuation or restriction around superannuation but not really looking at retirement incomes.

The second one was around the renaissance of Inspire, which we’re working on. And the third one was something that Cara’s actually leading, which is a national pro bono day for advisors, which the AFA board is now supportive of and looks like is going to happen next year. So I’m going to let Cara talk about that in a moment.

But on Tuesday, what we did was then refreshed and sort of said, well, what are the other things that we should be doing in our communities to support our communities? And so a couple of key things, we’re going to do a lot more resource sharing. So we’re starting to collect resources and we’re going to find a platform so that people can access things like presentations or learning resources to prepare for education, all of those sorts of things.

And we’re going to run a lot more small group events so that people can get access to what we call the brains trust with Inspire.

Fraser Jack: 09:35 Before we go to the the program, and I just want to also mention that you had a special guest come along to that day, and the political agenda was quite strong.

Kate McCallum: 09:45 Yes. You’re talking about our lunch with Julie Bishop.

Fraser Jack: 09:47 That’s right.

Kate McCallum: 09:48 So one of the things, when it comes back to being bold and courageous was we decided we would ask for the opportunity to speak with Julie as an Inspire community and did a pitch and got the opportunity to do that. So she came along and we had an amazing almost an hour talking with her and I can honestly say she is exactly as she appears on stage. She’s warm, she’s witty, she’s super, super smart and clever and very, very open to the agenda that we have as Inspire.

The key question we asked her was around what can we do, what guidance would you give us in our efforts to try and get better policy outcomes for women? And she was exceptionally helpful in terms of giving us some ideas to move that agenda forward.

Fraser Jack: 10:41 To move the dial, as you said.

Kate McCallum: 10:41 Yeah, absolutely. That’s the aim.

Fraser Jack: 10:44 That’s it. Now Cara, tell us about this pro bono.

Cara Williams: 10:47 Yes. So we have been going with the name Advice Ribbon Day, that’s the name we came up back in January. So essentially the event led by Inspire. We wanted to create a safe and nurturing environment, and then basically we want to empower Australians to create a sense of security, happiness, and confidence to make educated and informed decisions about their life and also help them achieve their goals.

So essentially what we, and it’s still a work in progress, but we’re wanting to create an event where people can, I think it’s an event where we can give back to the community and support women not only in advice but also women in the community and the day’s design, as Kate said before, is sharing resources.

So I look at that in two perspectives within our profession, but then also looking at how can we help the broader community to understand what advisors actually do. And that was one of the things we spoke about with Julie Bishop saying it’s almost, we’re trying to change the perception of financial advisors. It’s not just about here’s a lump sum of money. Can you invest it for me? It’s about getting people to understand.

And I went a session before all about values and people. What people’s goals are? What’s important to them? And so to be able to really say, look, this is what we do, this is who we are and this is why we do it. And then to be able to create an event where we can have that space to be able to give back and help people in the community understand the importance of financial advice, and in particular, helping women in the community understand and empower them to make decisions about their own finances.

Kate McCallum: 12:19 Yeah, so the thinking behind it was that my observation is that many financial advisors do amazing work in the community, but they’re doing it under the radar. It’s being done at a local level and this is an opportunity to say, let’s actually harness the good work that’s already been done. Let’s do it at a national level on a single day. Let’s coordinate it, and let’s actually really, really like superpower it, like leverage it up. Get exposure for it, but make sure it’s very aligned and very focused.

So we’re doing a couple of things. We’re helping the community, so we’re actually going out and we’re delivering presentations or workshops. We’re actually demonstrating values to the community around the fact that we do care. We don’t just care about ourselves, we actually do care about the wellbeing of the community and that we actually get some positive perspectives on financial advisors at a broader level. So that’s the aim.

Fraser Jack: 13:15 Wow. So this is an event you call it, is going to be around the country all over the country.

Kate McCallum: 13:19 Yes.

Fraser Jack: 13:19 And do we have a date?

Kate McCallum: 13:21 Dates are a work in progress. We’re working with the AFA HQ and as I said, they’re very supportive of the concept. And so it’s really now about, I suppose filling in the bones of the idea that Cara is leading.

Cara Williams: 13:36 And we really look at this as it’s a tribal activity. It’s not, I mean I spoke about when we’re talking about what we’re proud of and I thought the relaunch and rebrand of Inspire.

When I was new to the AFA last year, I thought communities of practice meant you were a member of this community and I didn’t really understand, and that’s the whole point of this whole refresh. And now we’re making it so that it’s led by us, but it is open to the community. So it’s great to be able to have that sort of refresh and yeah. It’s good.

Fraser Jack: 14:10 Fantastic. Now one of the conversations I had today was around the idea of affordability of advice and how sometimes we have a lot of part-time advisors in the industry. It could be moms for example with, stay-at-home, kids for example. Is there anything you’re working on in that space to try and support advisors that want to work part-time?

Kate McCallum: 14:36 So specifically around some of the reform changes, the legislative changes. We’ve been doing it on a one-on-one basis. So women will come to us and say, because I have worked part-time, I’m not going to tick these boxes because of the way that the thresholds are defined.

And so we’ve been advocating for them and working through the AFA, through Phil Anderson to try and get a better resolution of that. So that at the moment is very much on a one-on-one basis.

The question around women working part-time I think comes back to actually my earlier point, which is because of the structural nature and our social culture around expectations of all women choosing to work part-time. I think the single biggest issue is still the fact that that means that those women are getting less paid into their superannuation, that they have career breaks, that they don’t advance as quickly. They may not be paid as much. And so we end up with the double, triple whammy of women not having enough money in retirement.

Fraser Jack: 15:45 Very good. Thank you. Now, what’s next? What’s coming over the next 12 months is that, do we have events rolled out and plans?

Kate McCallum: 15:52 We do. We’ve got some fun stuff. As Cara said, a lot of it’s about this concept of pulling people in. And as I said yesterday in the Inspire masterclass, putting our arms around them. But it’s creating a sense of belonging. If what you’re looking for is to connect, then come connect with us at Inspire, so we really want to encourage that.

So we’re doing a couple of things. We’re doing in New South Wales, we’ve just started doing a quarterly lunch and that’s by invitation, small group lunch, but it’s designed to bring together a group of women who are in financial advice just to share. So we’re sharing key challenge, key opportunities, but really about getting access to the collective brains trust of Inspire.

And the first one that we did of those in July was hugely successful. So we are rolling those out around the country. So that was a bit of a test to see how it went, and we’ve had really positive feedback on that.

We’re running more webinars and again, Cara highlighted the fact that the Inspire masterclass was around wellness. And our view is that there’s many different aspects of wellness and wellbeing and we need to look after our community.

And so we’re looking at doing a number of different webinars that are focused on different aspects of that from dealing with overwhelm to looking after yourself. Just pretty basic stuff, but just getting some good speakers on webinars so that we can do that nationally.

And then we’ve got some really, really exciting ideas for International Women’s Day, which are under wraps at the moment, I can’t share them with you.

Fraser Jack: 17:22 Top secret.

Kate McCallum: 17:23 Top secret. Yeah, but it’s not a breakfast and it’s not a lunch and it’s not a dinner, but watch this space. It’s going to be fun. Yeah.

Fraser Jack: 17:30 Now if people want to get more involved or reach out, how can they do that?

Kate McCallum: 17:36 The best thing to do is to reach out to the state chairs. So they’re the people who are at the grassroots level who are looking after that community. If you’re not sure who that is, then best thing to do is just to contact the AFA head office and they’ll point you in the right direction.

Cara Williams: 17:51 And we also have an Inspire Facebook page as well, so we’re looking at really utilizing that. I think it’s something we can utilize a lot more than we have been, especially in terms of sharing resources and helping people out that way. So that is something that we’re looking at, getting more involved into that Facebook page so people can connect there as well.

Fraser Jack: 18:10 And the name of the page?

Cara Williams: 18:12 AFA Inspire.

Fraser Jack: 18:13 Very good. Thank you ladies for coming and sharing all of the amazing work you’re doing. I really appreciate it.

Kate McCallum: 18:18 Thanks for the opportunity. It was fun having a chat.

Cara Williams: 18:21 Thanks Fraser.

Speaker 1: 18:23 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.