Michael Grammatico: 00:00:00 Communication is not what you say, it’s what they hear. It is self-taught to be positive as opposed to negative. So enthusiasm is infectious. I talk about passion. I think when you come into a room and you’re enthusiastic and you show that, it rubs off on people just like negativity can rub off on people. So I think that’s a real earlier adaption of a mindset that can boost morale in your team and make the complex simple and the simple compelling.
Fraser Jack: 00:00:33 Hello and welcome to the Goals-Based Advice Podcast for our conversations for 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 our supporting partner Advice Intelligence for powering this podcast. If you’re enjoying this podcast, please help me spread the word.
A lot of our colleagues still don’t listen to podcasts mostly because they don’t know how. So the challenge is still out to do your good deed for the week and help your friends and colleagues by showing them just how you listen to podcasts and how they can get involved. In this episode, I chat with Goals-Based advisors Michael Grammatico and Chris Hockey from Innovative Financial Solutions.
They opened up and discussed many aspects of their advice business including the way they have quality goals conversations with their clients, the way they focus on the people in their business and culture, the transactional advice and ongoing relationship advice models. We also spend a bit of time discussing how they took two separate advice businesses and merged them into one professional practice now with three separate offices and all the challenges and learnings that go with that.
Chris and Michael have been so helpful with what they shared in this episode and I know you’ll get a lot out of it. Hit in play now on my chat with Chris and Michael.
Welcome to the show, Chris and Michael.
Chris Hockey: 00:02:00 Thanks for having us.
Michael Grammatico: 00:02:00 Thank for having us.
Fraser Jack: 00:02:03 Tell us about yourself. Michael tell us about yourself.
Michael Grammatico: 00:02:05 Well, I go back obviously from a career point of view to the early 2000s, but I fell into advice to somewhat an extent. I did a bachelor of arts in leisure management with major in tourism.
Chris Hockey: 00:02:22 Funny enough like credits for any of the changes to the education standards.
Michael Grammatico: 00:02:28 That’s right. Chris always has a bit of a go at me because I’m the one organizing all the way our quarterly business activities, Christmas events and I’ve got the pipework to back it up.
Fraser Jack: 00:02:38 So you did a bachelor of being a social human being.
Michael Grammatico: 00:02:41 Correct.
Fraser Jack: 00:02:41 Well, excellent. Good start.
Michael Grammatico: 00:02:43 It was good fun. Then I left uni and went to work for Suncorp actually in general insurance sales. Did really well in general insurance sales and then from that point stepped in, one of my mates had transitioned from Suncorp into Advice. I went from general insurance sales call center to Branchland as a consultant. So got used to very quickly flicking referrals to the fin planner in the Branch.
The general insurance sales pace was something that I’d already done and won a few awards there as well. Then my mate who had gone out into Advice and stepped out of Suncorp said he’s on Advice business, he said, “Hey come along with me.” So what really worked well for me from an industry point of view early days was that I did all the back office things.
I did the administration, I was the advisor support manager, I was the power planner. So while I was doing all the study, I was always the person following-up ensure is fund managers. I was the guy building the budgets or helping clients build budgets and that helped me get grounded to then my transition in Advice. Yeah, became a salaried financial advisor back in 2004 in Brisbane.
Fraser Jack: 00:04:07 So you did a tourism degree and then you thought Sunsuper was a tourism company, is that how it works?
Michael Grammatico: 00:04:11 Some goals.
Fraser Jack: 00:04:13 Some goals. Sorry, I get that right.
Chris Hockey: 00:04:20 Well, yeah. Probably as you’ve discovered with all the podcasts you’ve done nobody’s probably answered that question with, I woke up after school and wanted to be a financial advisor, fell into it as well. It was leaning into being unsure of what I wanted to do after school, but I had an interest in finance. I started doing a bit of study there but while I was doing that I was doing a lot of corporate sales roles.
So it was an interesting experience going through that. There was a lot of focus on communication. There was sales training that cliched soft skills training every single like raw applying every single week. I was doing that, but it was something that I enjoyed the communication aspect to it, but the end outcome of the process being not a personal one, a bit soulless, no disrespect to that industry, made me realize I like certain aspects of what I’m doing.
I’m interested in finance and then through a few friends as well that were in the financial planning industry saw a way that I might be able to bring those two things together but be in front of people face to face and get a more personal outcome. So that’s where I ended up going into that line of work and that was early 2000s and I was what, 22 I think when I first saw my first client who fortunate enough is a client today.
I started out in the bank so I was with Suncorp for seven years and then got to a point where I was interacting with clients on an ongoing basis, but obviously, their model was very different. It was a bad get people in and look to put them in a product and I was doing things differently and then decided and saw an opportunity to start my own practice and we celebrate our 10th year this year.
Fraser Jack: 00:06:04 Yeah, fantastic knowing. So you both came through an institution route and Michael you also did some BDM work as well as part of your, getting to know how the industry works.
Michael Grammatico: 00:06:15 Perfect timing. It was 2007 when I became a BDM, every investment advisor wanted to start selling risks during GFC.
Chris Hockey: 00:06:21 That’s why we cut it down anyway with it. Somebody [inaudible 00:06:24].
Fraser Jack: 00:06:23 So tell me, so then you both decided actually to start your own businesses individually and you started those. Do you want to give us a quick run through what was going through your mind at the time? Maybe, Chris, you go first and have a chat about why you wanted to start your own business and how you went about it.
Chris Hockey: 00:06:39 Funny you do things like this and what I do realize is ignorance is bliss. I went into it with a real focus on I think it needs to be done a better way. I had two kids, youngest one was three months. We just moved here and I thought, why don’t we start a business at the same time?
Michael Grammatico: 00:06:57 Of course.
Chris Hockey: 00:06:58 I don’t even remember that really being a thing until my wife and I reflect on it again, what were we thinking? That it was just a real mindset of where I wasn’t reflective of who I was and I wanted to do things differently. Also, I didn’t like the fact that there was a model just around that pre and post for [inaudible 00:07:19], which is an area that I love and we do a lot of work in. But I wasn’t saying any of my friends or colleagues and I wasn’t saying where they are able to get advice.
So there was a real focus, and continues to be and it’s been a huge part of our success from day one focusing on how we can build a model that works well for your under 55 clients. So that was the mindset going out and it’ll happen fairly quickly. I remember one of the biggest advantages of reflecting on my bank time is I’m very glad I did it that way because I got to spend seven years learning how to be an advisor.
I didn’t have to focus on going and getting clients, building relationships. I’d had that a little bit in a previous life, so I was very lucky that I had that skill set ready to go. But then when I reflected on those first couple of years of starting a business, it was 80 percent of that. It was going out, building relationships, you’ve got to get people on the door.
That’s really, really important and then when I did get a referral, I was ready to go. I was an advisor. I was a trained professional that could deliver straight away and opportunities didn’t slip through because in the background I was also learning to be an advisor. So I was very happy to go through that transition that I did and I think that’s if I’d done it in a different way it would have been a real struggle.
Fraser Jack: 00:08:39 Yeah, it’s an interesting learning that one isn’t to actually to not to rush necessarily. If you’re a younger advisor coming through maybe [inaudible 00:08:46] for a few years could hone your skills of being a really, really good advisor or planner. Then do the learning curve, the steep learning curve, which is your own business.
Michael Grammatico: 00:08:56 Well, it’s funny that you say that because I did four years as a salaried adviser before I went to BDM land. So when I finished up with the second firm I was with, which is a self licensed practice that you know quite well phrased, they were selling and I was quite young at the time. They were ready to retire and they were selling at quite a large multiple and I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to buy.
I wasn’t ready to drop one and a half million dollars to purchase this business on my loan summit at 25, 26, whatever I was. So I made that transition into BDM land and our great experience and learnt so much. Then my mentality was always I wanted to get back into business or run my own advice business and made that transition right at the back end of 2010.
I guess much like what Chris was saying, I knew I had the relationships all ready. I come from a massive Italian family. I’ve got 43 first cousins, all write down a list and I had a 100 people on that list. So as much as I purchased a small book of clients initially with the licensee that I was with, actually didn’t see any of those clients for the first three months, because what I did was I wrote out a list and I went out and sought those clients.
Being passionate, having that relationship and building those relationships came naturally to me. We talk a lot about it from an industry point of view, the technical versus the soft skills. Chris and I talk about it a lot because we keep on harping on the fact that yes, we’ve, got to lift the bar from a technical point of view.
That’s why these education requirements are lifting but we have to be very careful as an industry that these new students that are coming through or even the existing students that are making that transition there is adequate training for them to hone their soft skills because if they cannot talk to people, they will not be good advisors. So learned that really early on.
For me when I was starting a business is all about systems processes, getting that right operationally because I knew I could do the advice piece. I knew I could build relationships. Touching on what Chris said, it’s intrinsically rewarding. Having that emotive background, that’s the outcomes that I look for. It makes me excited when we can help clients achieve their goals and you’re ticking off those boxes.
Fraser Jack: 00:11:31 This is a really interesting point. Now, you talked about the soft skills and that’s certainly a massive, huge part of it on the technical side. But the other thing that you bring to the table in bucket loads as we mentioned before is around this passion and this idea of the fact that you completely believe 100 percent all-in on the strategies that you go into your clients.
This is one of the things that sometimes advisors can struggle with. Maybe they’ve seen, oh yes, that works here. That’s a good strategy, it works. But they’re not necessarily as passionate about the strategy. I know that when you talk to your clients Michael you certainly come across as somebody that there’s no other option here.
This is the strategy that works, there’s no doubt in the client’s mind that they completely... I know that you completely believe there’s that authenticity there. It’s not just the soft skill, it’s the passion as well that you put into that.
Michael Grammatico: 00:12:25 But if we say it like that phrase, you make a good point there. If you truly believe as an advisor on what you’re delivering to a client through your voice, through your actions, through the way that you’re interacting, clients are going to believe it, aren’t they? If you’re hesitant about the strategy that you’re recommending as an advisor, that’s going to come through in those conversations that you’re having with the client.
Chris Hockey: 00:12:46 It’s really interesting. It was one of the things, it was good that you know that I remember saying in the bank days that I was really surprised and I still see it now that advisors want to tell clients what to do. That’s a legacy of the compliance regimes that we’ve been through up to this point as well. I think that there’s almost a little bit of a fear factor there.
But I remember the one pair that we have over the other professional services that are around universities is that we could tell people what to do. You talk about all the different areas that we can add value. But the reality is people come to us because there’s complexity around finances, and they want somebody to truly understand them and to tell them what to do.
The trust there is that understanding part and there is soft skill parts where we spend a huge amount of time as a practice and I get back to those role plays of the sales days. That’s a large part of our focus where the advisors that’s really what we’re all about at the end of the day. We’re communicators and educators and being able to have those deep and meaningful conversations with clients that even perhaps a couple haven’t even had themselves is the biggest value.
Now more than ever the balancing and what we’re focusing on is getting the technology right in the background to enhance the strategy and the efficiency and really develop and have the rod advisors that have that skill set to have those conversations. But at the end of the day, at the end of all of that, you sit down and tell somebody what to do.
You have to do that because that’s what they’re looking for. We all have areas in our lives where we don’t know what’s going on. So we go see a professional and that’s what we want to hear. I’m always surprised that there’s a bit of lack of confidence in people doing that.
Fraser Jack: 00:14:38 This is really good learning for anybody that’s starting out and back yourself that you’ve got these strategies, belief in them and then you’re right. You’re an advisor, advise. Be there to actually direct the message. Yes, there is a process that we go through that allows the client to choose the strategies about... They’ve really got to see and understand and they believe in you to deliver that information in a way that you’re actually like you said, telling them what to do.
But making sure that they completely understand that you believe that this is the best way forward.
Chris Hockey: 00:15:14 I completely understand part’s really important. One of the great advantages that our practices as we go forward is in our age range is about 38 to 41. But all those advisers have well and truly over a decade of experience. So we’ve got a nice foot in both worlds, old world and experience and a new world doing this for a long time to come.
But what happens with that is that I’ve planned for JFCs and all my clients rang me. But when they rang me and spoke to me about their concerns, they fully understood what they were doing and why they were doing it. So that education part is so important to be a sustainable planner and have longterm relationships.
Every client needs to walk away once they’ve signed up as a client to understand what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and the risks involved. That’s a huge thing to building sustainable relationships and experience teaches you that, to back strategies and make sure that clients are comfortable with it.
Fraser Jack: 00:16:16 Very good. Now let’s see, if I started doing businesses and then, so you knew each other and then you decided to merge and become one business.
Michael Grammatico: 00:16:25 Chris and I both had airline respective businesses under the same IFSL and obviously, as you do in those kinds of environments you’re in and you have your PD days and your conferences and so on. Then Chris got me at a vulnerable time, we’re at a conference in Vietnam and Innovative Financial Solutions had just pipped G financial for an award. He saw that I was all vulnerable and said, “Hey Mike, we should catch up when we get back to the coast in Brisbane.”
Just have a chat about what’s working in your world, what are the challenges and do a little bit of a SWOT analysis on what’s working, what do you want to do, what’s the future look like for you? It’s funny when I talked to Chris about these kinds of things, Chris will always go to a conference or a PD day with a purpose. He knows exactly the structure and that’s what I love about that because I can take a little bit more of a relaxed approach at these conferences.
But we got back and Chris and I caught up and I think for the next 12 months we just did SWOT analysis after SWOT analysis, after SWOT analysis to see whether or not there was an opportunity to bring our businesses together. I think we got to a point where we couldn’t find a reason why not to bring them together.
We went through like, okay, what are the types of duties that you like to do? What does the business look like? Things like, have the divorce before the marriage, which is a big learning I think that anyone that’s looking to merge should always do? But yeah, we just did that SWOT analysis after SWOT analysis. We couldn’t find a reason why 12 months later not to bring the businesses together. In April 2014, we got married.
Chris Hockey: 00:18:18 Yeah, and it’s interesting when you reflect on that time where you get to the same place but is slightly different way of getting there. I think for me I’d hit capacity as I had Gold Coast office and Brisbane office so it was just me and another advisor and we’re both busy. I could see where the industry was going and where a compliant business put a big effort into our compliance and that goals-based approach has always been what we do.
So to be able to do that, it’s going to take a lot of work and it can take scale. I realized that for two reasons that and also a personal reason of watching my dad build a business, get sick before his time and get nothing for it. I remember my first business loan the guy at Macquarie asking, is it just me or do you have a partnership? I said it’s just me and he brought in at all these other docs because all of a sudden they saw more risk.
I was never in a mindset that it was always going to be about me. I was always going to want to build something that was bigger than me. Like we alluded to Marco had been in the same license and with that mindset of needing that, I was looking for somebody that was on a similar journey. I suppose the key learning out of that is I spent a lot of time thinking about me.
What do I want my business to look like in the future? What am I good at? What am I not good at? Who out there could compliment that? Obviously, I have a time I positioned it with Michael because I thought there was a potential to explore a good fit. The process we went through was thorough and what you learned from that is two things. One, you really need to be clear and start at what the end goal is.
What are you looking to build? Do you all agree that you’re working towards the same thing? Then working back from that gang, well what are you good at? What am I good at? How does that fit? What are our non-negotiables? Because everybody’s got things that are important to them on a personal level whether that’d be financially or what they get out of bed every day to do and drive some.
Once you get through those hurdles, you can’t go through a process like this without giving something up. So you have to give something out, whether it’s financial responsibilities, there’s ego involved and everybody being clear on that and making peace with that as well. Whilst coming back to that bigger picture goal, we’re all working towards this so that’s where the payoff is going to be.
We went through that process in a fair bit of detail and where it really, really worked is that Michael was the right person. Yeah, he’s great in front of clients. He’s driven to just be in front of clients as much as possible and deliver great outcomes where my career journey was a little bit on the excitement of expanding out of business and that commercial mindset.
That was a nice fit for me and Michael wanting to be involved as a director and driven in that but not a day to day management of that. So that was a nice fit as well. I think commercially one of the big outcomes of that was that we decided to equalize out and get 50/50 from a partnership perspective.
That’s one of those things that big part of the process was to bring professionals in and give us advice and a lot of people gave us that advice. When you reflect on our day to days and our decision-making process, it is fantastic to know that everyone’s in for a penny and for pound and it really makes that process a lot easier.
Fraser Jack: 00:21:53 Yeah, there’s a lot of good stuff I’ve got out of that actually. The idea of that starting with the end game and making that the priority and then having that clear vision of what you want it to look like, not just now but in the future. The fact that you had this belief, this learning inside you that said the professional practice is going to be worth more than a business.
Even though you were giving stuff up there, you mentioned it or give something up to hit your goal which is what you normally have to do anyway to get a goal, right? You’ve got to give something up. But really just to go, well, I’m going to giving something out but I’m turning my biz, my small business into a professional practice. So yeah, it can end up with a lot more out of the other end.
Michael Grammatico: 00:22:36 Just to add to that, like Chris said, because our goals were so similar from a personal and from a business growth point of view that made it easier to bring our businesses together. You can see how that could stop a lot of merges and M&A’s happening because one person, regardless of age, one person could have different objectives than the other. One more be ready to sell up in five or 10 years and go on to another career path and the other [inaudible 00:23:06]. So that comes hand in hand with having the divorce before the marriage if that was the case.
Fraser Jack: 00:23:12 Yeah. So I hear that from you both, both saying the idea of choosing the people over the business and making sure your personal values are aligned and that you’re both on the same page. So the businesses could look like anything in completely different businesses but if your personal values are aligned and you’re on the same page, while you want to get out of it you can, like you said, give stuff up and make that really work.
Now, we mentioned succession or we mentioned starting with the end in mind really. The will, making sure that... I was talking to Patrick Fruitland the other day, he was talking about a pre-mortem where you sit down and you guys are doing a subsequent analysis. But if anything, if this is all gone pear-shaped, what were the things that went pear-shaped and you’ve been to the point where you’ve went through everything and couldn’t find anything else to go through. How did you go about that with regards to the end in mind? You’ve got that all sorted out with the if something goes wrong.
Chris Hockey: 00:24:06 Yeah, we buy-sell agreements and making sure that you have funding that the right way and all of those conversations are really important. It’s what we preach to clients so you got to practice what you preach. That end goal in mind is really important. But the reality is there was a clear focus on what a practice should look like and we’re both at an age where nobody was going anywhere anytime soon.
So you cover off that 50/50, it makes it a lot easier if it doesn’t work out. The buy-sell agreements if the [inaudible 00:24:40] happens and then the reality is that it’s a constant conversation because life changes. So we’re really good at just as friends and as business partners. What’s happening in your life? How is that affecting the business? How do we address that?
That’s really good because I think it’s really easy to do at the beginning when everyone’s pumped up and excited about where they’re headed. It’s really, really important to make that a constant conversation because life throws all sorts of stuff at you and sometimes it’s out of your control. So if you’re not communicating [inaudible 00:25:15] though, I think that’s where it can blow up.
Michael Grammatico: 00:25:16 It’s not just the whole, okay, every quarter you’re sitting down as directors and having a chat and having a structured agenda, albeit we do that. Chris and I are a lot better communicators than that. So we’re talking daily about things on the business. We’re talking daily about what’s going on in his personal life and what’s going on in my personal life.
I’ll just add something. I’m not sure this might be learning for others, but we found it really beneficial to get our spouses to buy into the buy-sell agreement. Getting them to sign off on the process around valuation methodologies and so on because I think that’s really important to have everyone on the same page there as well.
Fraser Jack: 00:25:58 Yeah, that’s certainly something I used to talk to my clients about with succession planning is it’s not just about the people in the room, it’s about the people that are going to be in the room at the time when it’s needed. When you pull the plan out when something’s happened to one of the people, who’s going to be in the room? Which are lawyers are going to be giving direction to who and what was the intent at the beginning.
Michael Grammatico: 00:26:18 We’ve heard the war stories. [inaudible 00:26:21] the war stories.
Fraser Jack: 00:26:21 So I just wanted to quickly touch on two, we haven’t touched on it yet. But you both had great names for your businesses. Tell us about that.
Michael Grammatico: 00:26:31 Mine wasn’t as creative as Chris’s. Mine was Jay Financial, so sir name Grammatico, I just wanted something short and sharp, had a graphic designer design the logo and yeah, creating and protecting your wealth, which sounds pretty cliche. That was our slogan, Chris gave more thought into asking. It’s the reason why I had to rebrand.
Chris Hockey: 00:26:58 We’ll talk about that and two of the things that we’ve touched on lead to my naming the business. What went [inaudible 00:27:03] first of all, Michael’s willingness to do that and give up his branding. We all know that real personal connection as an entrepreneur to business was a great example of this is a guy that’s focused on the bigger picture here. That’s one of those examples of giving something up and leaving your ego at the door and always noted that.
I named my business based on the fact that I didn’t want it to be Hockey and associates because I always had the mindset that it wasn’t going to be just me. It needed to be something that was generic in nature that represented something that was beyond just me. I remember that being a clear thought at the time and represents where we’re taking the business and have taken the business up to this point.
Fraser Jack: 00:27:53 Now, so you merged the businesses, you went through the hard yards. Tell us about the growth of the business. Tell us about the men of staff you’ve got, the offices you’ve got.
Chris Hockey: 00:28:02 Yeah, so we’ve got four advisors. We’ve got an office in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast and Sydney as well. Probably mostly by accident than design at Gold Coast is our head office where all our support staff are with a couple of outsourced options as well. Growth of the business has been really good. One of the advantages that we have is that we came in and we were very much focused on that goals-based advice and a fee for service straight off the bat.
A flat fee for service at that as well. Because we wanted to have a strong focus on that under 55 as a service offering as well as the 55 and over, and we weren’t a fun-based percentage-based business, we were able to go out and recognize that there’s two types of way to deliver advice. We’ve got all the work we do upfront and then an ongoing service package and not everybody needs to be on an ongoing service package.
So we very early adopters of what a lot of people call transactional advice now and making sure that we built a really good system if we see Fraser and there’s a moment in time where we can add some value but ongoing perhaps you’re not quite there yet. We still communicate too in a semi-regular basis and would hope that through that process if you’re at a barbecue and you’re saying, oh, who’s your financial planner, you would say Innovative Financial Solutions.
Even though there’s not that regular fee or ongoing commitment there that if you win lotto, you walk back in the door and we have ways of keeping in touch for when you do grow into something a little bit more on ongoing basis were to continue with that work. That’s been a really big part of our growth. That and focusing on really building strong referral relationships.
We’ve got a lot of diverse businesses. The refers business, we spend a lot of time on it, it’s a real focus on and you need to... We’re very much about getting new people in the door all the time. A big part of our mantra is that we want more people to get advice and it’s really hard getting people out of their current world and say, you should come and see us and let me explain why. A lot of work goes into that.
Michael Grammatico: 00:30:16 Yeah, people are quite astonished when we talk about number of clients that we actually onboard each year. But just to go back a step, when Chris and I brought the businesses together we literally, from a numbers point of view, there was myself and Justin, another advisor, and we had another advisor support manager and Chris had the same. Chris had himself, Ben and another advisor’s support manager.
So from a numbers point of view of staff, it was great bringing that together. What we worked on very early on was bringing our advice process up to speed. Okay, let’s mold that together. What’s coming out of the mouth of our four advisors from our practice is systematic, it’s the same. If you came in to see me Fraser or if you came in to see Chris, you’re going to get the same process.
What’s been constant in our business is the four advisors have never changed. So there has been no turnover of staff from an advice perspective in our business from day dot. To delve a bit deeper there and Chris talks about those referral relationships. Absolutely, once again, building those relationships are key to getting business through the door.
But word of mouth is very big within our business. We’ve got a lot of existing clients referring on to us and I’ll just go a little bit deeper with that transactional piece. When we talk about a transactional advice model, we’re getting deeper because we’ll build a goals guide for the client as an example. So goals guide, and this is probably a little bit of a differentiation.
Once again, going back to that passion pace and getting a true understanding of what the client really, truly wants to achieve, the sexy stuff, if I can call it that. It might be the big overseas holiday every second year. It might be, I’ve dealt with goals that you’ll just go, wow. Had goals for surrogacy on goals guide before.
I’ve had goals of obviously clearing debt. I have had goals for building investment property portfolios, I’ve goals for children’s education. They’re so varied. But when we build a goals guide for the client and that’s their visible to them. That whole old-school mentality, that urban myth in 1953, three percent of graduating [inaudible 00:32:56] and it’s documented their goals and they went on to accumulate more wealth than the other 97 percent.
That whole SMART goal-setting theory, we take the time to take that client through that journey. Once they’ve got that documented, even though they might be a transactional client because they don’t require that ongoing advice at that point in time, we’ve educated them on how they can keep themselves accountable to that goals guide.
There’s still, like Chris said, in a barbecue conversation two or three years later and we may not have seen him for that period of time. They know when to come back to us when these major events happen in their life but they’re still telling people, “Hey, you’re going to go see my guy even though they’re not paying us a fee.” We find it’s a valuable model.
Fraser Jack: 00:33:40 I love this goal’s guide and it also, it allows you to, next time if you, or if you do ever speak to them or they’d bring up, you can pull up the goals going, “Hey, how are you going with that [inaudible 00:33:48] plan?” Did you actually get there? If they go, “No you go, well, there’s an opportunity to continue the conversation.” Let’s dig into this goals guide.
How do you talk to your clients about their goals? How do you get the goals out of a client because sometimes some advisors struggle with that a little bit. How do you actually have those in-depth conversations and then go a little bit further to bring the goals out that the real goal is not necessarily just the face value ones and then how do you document it and how do you present it back to your client?
Chris Hockey: 00:34:16 Well, I’ll talk about the conversation pace. Really, really probably the biggest thing that we do and the constant feedback I get and I can even think about my own personal situation, is that our first goal was to create an environment where people can have those conversations because my wife and I have a 12-year-old and a 10-year-old and she’s back setting a [inaudible 00:34:39] and I’m running a business.
I would love some space for us to have these conversations because we don’t have them. It’s just which kitty you drop it off to cricket today and that’s about as far as we get. I know that’s where we add the best value and I’ve so often seen clients looking at each other not knowing the answer to the questions that I’ve asked and where I think our skill set is knowing what questions to ask. That comes from experience.
So looking at people’s backgrounds, looking at people’s occupations and getting an understanding and being the miniature experts in all, what a nurse would be having to deal with day-to-day and shift work and those sorts of things. A guy that’s from the country and living in the city, “Oh, hi. Is there any expectation that maybe one day you would go back out to the farm or where the family is?” He says, “Yes” and the wife goes, “you’ve never told me that.”
So there’s little things along the way that you learn about various people’s situations and then being proactive to poke the bear a little bit and bring those things up and bring conversations to the surface. At the very beginning of all of that is a conversation of why it’s really important to have the conversation we’re about to have, because context is everything. It relaxes people.
You’ve got to be able to say, listen, for me to do my job, here’s some examples of where I’d be in a fork in the road financially. The context of your personal situation would guide me one way or the other. When people hear that they go, “I understand why he’s asking these sometimes personal questions because I need him to make those decisions.” So that context upfront gives me permission to then go where I need to go.
Fraser Jack: 00:36:23 Yeah, set the environment so that they know that you’re going to push them a little bit outside their comfort zone and that’s where all the great stuff comes in.
Michael Grammatico: 00:36:32 I’ll add to that from a conversational point of view. This is relevant on so many different levels because it relates a little bit to what is the future of our industry look like? Face to face advice will always be around and this is the reason why, from a goal’s point of view. If I’m sitting down with a husband and wife first and foremost, I think a lot of the time they haven’t had that conversation.
They don’t even know what their goals are or one of them have done the completed paperwork, the pre-meeting completed paperwork. We start talking about the goals that have been noted on the paperwork. There and one of the partners will say, “Oh, I didn’t know you wrote that down. That’s not the way that I think.” So like Chris was saying, it’s about getting them on the same page. We’re being the accountability piece.
They’re coming to us to seek the advice, the just the way they do with their doctor, the physio, the psychologist and so on. They’re coming for us. But I think the biggest point from a conversational point of view is your ability to read body language because I take a lot out of that.
I can see from the conversations that are hard. If someone’s squirming in their chair and there might be something that’s been said that needs to be interpreted or needs to be drawn out and it’s about asking the right questions to get that out. Does that make sense?
Fraser Jack: 00:37:56 Yeah, absolutely. So even though you might be providing transactional advice, you’re still really mess up on the relationship. The relationship with the client in during that process is really strengthening and being really strong. Like you said, it might not be relationship advice. You’re providing relationship as in longterm ongoing relationship style, financial advice but yeah.
Chris Hockey: 00:38:18 I think the reality is the only way I can give a good strategy is to have context and the only way I can get context is to have what is now referred to as a goals-based approach. I think we’ve always had a goals-based approach because we’re all at always having those conversations with clients. I think the industry is a bit hard in itself as people have heard me say before that a lot of us have been doing this for a long time.
I think we’re just an environment now where regulation and compliance is catching up to that. We’re trying to work out how to articulate in our fall nights and our SOAs the conversations we’ve always been having with clients so we can prove in a sense that I came to these decisions because I truly know my client. I think that’s the process that the industries are on and it’s come a long way in the last couple of years.
Fraser Jack: 00:39:06 Yeah, not just know their facts and figures and the actual amount of money they got in their super and how much money they’re spending, but actually, the why and what’s beneath it and where people are hitting. So the conversations are obviously huge. What about the process side? What happens after that?
Michael Grammatico: 00:39:21 So from a documentation point of view what we’ll do is we’ll work with the client then specifically in accordance of the SMART goal-setting theory. So obviously we did all of that at uni, specific, measurable, meaningful, adaptive, attainable, realistic, have a timeframe around it. But what’s important with all of that is someone can throw a goal, if it doesn’t have those measures then it’s not detailed enough to have that accountability.
So what we’ll do as part of our onboarding process is we’ll help the client document that and we’ll be specific about whether or not there’s a monetary value to that goal. We’ll be specific about the steps that need to happen in order to achieve that goal and we’ll have a timeframe around it of when the client should expect to complete that. That’s ultimately then laminated and the client, I’ll ask the client to either have that up on their fridge or in their own suite.
So once again, they’re keeping themselves accountable, it’s visible. That goes hand in hand with their budget and banking structure. That’s also laminated and they’re keeping themselves accountable because obviously at the end of the day, you know better than anyone Fraser, it’s a circle of control. We can only influence. We can’t control people’s behaviors. That’s why probably this transactional model helps as well because we can help the client with the tools to keep themselves accountable.
We’re not playing that longer-term accountability piece because we’ve given them the tools that they need to be able to keep themselves accountable. Then they might check-in. I have a lot of clients still sending me emails or give me a call, “Hey Michael, we just ticked off X from our goals list. Thanks again, Mike. That was awesome.” That all stems some conversation.
Chris Hockey: 00:40:58 For me, this is the biggest part of our practice that I’m constantly thinking about because I think we can improve it and I think it’s a real value add. I’m glad we do what we do and whilst we do transactional advice, we’ve got a lot of clients ongoing services and that’s great going on that journey. Having it interactive for the process where maybe a client’s up on the whiteboard, writing those goals and taking ownership for them.
As we’re talking about strategies, sharing presentations, they’re ticking off the goals being achieved, helps them take ownership but using technology have some engagement with it, something for them to take away and something for them to interact with afterwards is very much at the forefront of our minds. We don’t have the answer yet, I’m waiting for some of the tech-heads to perhaps lay it out on a platform for us.
Fraser Jack: 00:41:49 [inaudible 00:41:49] That’s at the forefront of my mind too. That’s all I think about all day.
Chris Hockey: 00:41:52 So yeah, we understand the value of it. I think over the next 12 months we’ll talk to clients as well and say in a perfect world, what would you like? I would love to implement something new and improved in that area.
Fraser Jack: 00:42:10 That process around giving them that information, how many goals would you say? I’ve interviewed Keith Abraham, one point we talked about the idea of having a 100 bucket list items that would be nice to have as goals and then be able to quantify some of those as actual goals. How many do you see would you like to draw out and therefore set as something?
Chris Hockey: 00:42:35 It’s funny, I’ve never really thought of it as a number. But if I was to close my eyes and think about the last few whiteboards I saw, it doesn’t often get past six. It’s a couple of short term, a couple long term and it doesn’t often get beyond that. I think if you’re going beyond that and then you dilute it a little bit that’s just my personal experience on it. If you’re any different model.
Michael Grammatico: 00:42:59 No, I would agree. When I’m creating a goals guide with a client, what I’m finding is they might have three or four that are a bit more shorter term for the goals guide itself. We might be doing other work where there’s other goals in that documentation that a bit more longer-term than not have it. They don’t have that on their goals guide. But then what I’ll talk about to the client is once they do tick off that goal, they’ve got the document to then add to it.
So we can’t really quantify from a goals point of view how many we’re ticking off because of the fact that they, not an ongoing client in some cases we can’t with those that obviously the ongoing clients. But yeah, I’d say three or four on average per client.
Fraser Jack: 00:43:44 Yeah. Because it’s about the focus, isn’t it? Because the long-term goal said it, do the things that you need to do towards it, but to have those short term goals and to be getting close to them and then achieving them and then to be able to focus on those ones as well as the longterm one but at least the rewards are sooner in the milestones I’ve seen.
Chris Hockey: 00:44:02 How often do they change? That’s the power in having that conversation on a regular basis is I can set myself a 10-year-goal but it’s a bit like riding the 10-year business plan. It’s a bit airy-fairy in there because so much happened. So I got back 10 years of my life and I would never have guessed. So it’s an ever-evolving conversation and it just lies a framework around what you’re doing and being able to bring it up and then talk about it.
It’s such an ingrained engagement piece at year in year out to go, well, why is this still relevant? Why aren’t we trying to achieve that goal? What’s happened in your world or the world around you that would warrant us to change that?
Fraser Jack: 00:44:41 So you mentioned that you do a lot of transactional and fee per service. Talk to me about that fee per service. How did you go about that working out how much you needed to charge and [crosstalk 00:44:52]
Chris Hockey: 00:44:51 Well, that’s a constant conversation, isn’t it? First thing that we learned is that we used to have two service offerings and we realized it’s impossible to do in our world. In our mind we believe you’re either in or you’re out. From an efficiency pace, running a practice. If you go into an ongoing service arrangement, everybody’s getting the same level of service, which means I can build a set of processes that make sure that gets delivered every time.
How am I going to build prices to go? Well, you’ve only got access to an advisor, a certain [inaudible 00:45:25] and all that sort of stuff. It just didn’t work. So that was a real revelation. Again, if you require our services this is what it is and therefore it’s just going to cost, one cost. I don’t think we’re quite robust enough in the back office yet to really nail that. What it costs us to deliver advice and on the margin.
I think we’re close, but we need to improve our CRM capabilities a bit to really map out what it costs us to deliver advice. But I think we’re getting close, but I would say it’s a constant conversation and that’s the nature of our industry at the moment. In the last couple of years, we’re doing so much more to achieve the same outcome for clients really. So trying to keep it affordable because we’re very much committed to that average Australian.
We’re not running to the high net worth so they can afford our fees. We’d like to stay in that sweet spot of people traditionally coming to us and it’s the first time they’re seeing an advisor and it doesn’t matter what if I’m level is we can add some value. So there’s some constraints on us at the moment to continue to deliver that in a cost-effective way and it’s a constant conversation.
Fraser Jack: 00:46:40 I like this average working Australian target, which you guys have focused on for so long now. There’s certainly a lot of them so certainly, you’re not competing with everyone else for the ultra-high net worth or whatever it might be.
Chris Hockey: 00:46:54 Quite often we sit in front of clients with all sorts of dollar values in the conversations at the core are very, very similar.
Fraser Jack: 00:47:01 It’s in or out too. That’s really interesting too. We have one service, this is the price, everybody gets the lowest price?
Chris Hockey: 00:47:10 Everyone gets a high-quality service and we can deliver on.
Michael Grammatico: 00:47:13 It’s obviously quite topical at the moment with the code of ethics and all the conjecture around the standards. But one of the standards is talking about delivering advice to clients in a fair and from a cost point of view in a fair and reasonable way. That’s one thing that Chris and I have always looked at is our advice, the cost point of our advice. Fair and reasonable from an ethical point of view. I’m 100 percent we put our hand up and say, absolutely yes. Is that the only model to run and I’ve heard a lot of other advice firms run completely different models, but it works. It works for us.
Chris Hockey: 00:47:52 It’s always changing as clients’ appetite change and their expectations and regulatory change comes in. Early this morning in a team meeting talking about various different fee models and what that will look like if we go to annual opt-ins and things like that. We’re constantly having to address it but also phrase by accident more than design, wherein a fee no service world our models stood up in that area that you’re at. Being at a walk away from that ongoing service with the confidence that we can go out and get new people in the door has saved us a bit in the last year or so.
Fraser Jack: 00:48:32 You mentioned referrals, about getting people in the door and you mentioned that you have a lot of referrals from your existing clients. Do you have a process in place where you ask your existing clients for referrals?
Michael Grammatico: 00:48:42 Yeah. It’s just part of our process. There’s nothing that that is documented. It’s something that we’ve worked on within our advice team or for advisors have clear instruction why that they’ll ask that question. That generally happens at the end of that they stop at an advice meeting. Then once again at the end of that process, once everything is implemented for the clients. So yeah. Does that answer?
Chris Hockey: 00:49:11 I’ll tell you where I had a great learning is that I very rarely asked for referral when we onboard a client. I made it a mandatory part of my prices from first review onwards because it’s pretty busy in that initial period, there’s a lot going into their heads. There’s a lot of work going on and even when you’ve presented strategies and you’re in the midst of implementing, you still unproven.
A year later you’ve got a bit more space, you’ve proven yourself to some extent. You’re not having as deep a conversations, you’re adding allies. So now I’ve got the space to go. By the way, we really have an appetite to help as many people as we can in all different types of financial situations. So if you think there’s somebody that you know that we can add some value, please don’t hesitate passing on our details. That one shift to making it a big part of our review process where we’ve got the space to have that conversation has made a really big difference.
Fraser Jack: 00:50:07 Yeah, also I think it’s really easy to talk about when you are going through the goals. Like a year later you’re going through how we gone, we’re tracking the goals. We got that one, when moving the next one and then you just saying, is there anyone else that would like me to help me with what they goals.
Chris Hockey: 00:50:26 It’s funny though, the feedback from clients and it was an older advisor who’s now well and truly retired told me never tell a client that, I was so busy because clients have that perception is, “Oh he doesn’t have any time for more new clients.” Don’t shy away from telling people when you want more.
Michael Grammatico: 00:50:47 I think just to add to that, I’ve had success early stages because of the process that’s been undertaken because our process is so structured that when we do get to the advice implementation stage, it’s still very fresh in the client’s mind. They’ve had a good experience and they’ll say, yeah, I know some people that would really benefit from that process. So I’ve had success that way. So I guess both ways can work.
Fraser Jack: 00:51:16 As you mentioned before, you’re running three different offices and staff all over the country that’s a big effort when it comes to the communication and in between the offices. How do you manage that?
Chris Hockey: 00:51:29 Yeah, well there’s two layers to it. So from a staffing point of view and a team point of view, it needs to be recognized as a real focus. So whilst we have like everybody does our team meetings and we have a great culture where we bring everyone together quarterly to have some fun and do some team-building stuff. In this day and age Zoom is a big thing.
I really encourage everybody to not pick up the phone but use Zoom or some form of that technology, even if it’s just the advice support to our advisor in Sydney. There’s nothing beats that face to face interaction. But as the managing director, it needs to be a focus to me.
So Justin in Sydney, really making sure I’m making extra efforts and adding layers to keep him informed and feel a part of the team and recognize that that’s really important. So communication sounds cliched, but that’s the only way it works.
Michael Grammatico: 00:52:28 I guess to add a layer to that because most of our support help based here on the Gold Coast, and I’m quite prominent here so I’m seeing them face to face quite a lot. But to add on what Chris said with regard to Justin, I think it’s also good for those that aren’t based necessarily on the Gold Coast office to especially with the directors given Chris and I can add value in different ways.
It’s good for us to bounce strategies off one another, how we would deal with things that might differ a little bit on how we would interpret information or deal with certain situations. So by Justin in Sydney getting that exposure to Chris and I, he’s getting more value as well because he’s getting learnings from both of us.
Chris Hockey: 00:53:18 I’m based out of Brisbane and I learned very quickly I can’t manage stuff for [inaudible 00:53:25]. So got to be down here couple of days a week because just sitting in the environment tends to flush out stuff that just doesn’t happen. Even if they feel they could pick up the phone and call me or get on Zoom and speak to me, I need to be part of it and I need to make that effort to have that as part of my weekly structured to be here in amongst it all.
Michael Grammatico: 00:53:46 I’m starting to feel like I think I might come to Brisbane. So that might do because it doesn’t get opened as much to be more productive and get some of my [inaudible 00:53:55] worked on.
Fraser Jack: 00:53:56 That is interesting, isn’t it? It’s very similar to the clients, the body language and those sorts of communications when you actually, you might think I need to ask or dig deeper there and make sure that something’s okay. Very good. So tell me about the future. How does the practice grow and what’s the plans?
Chris Hockey: 00:54:13 It’s interesting. I look at the industry and where it’s headed. We’ve now been 12 months so floss since then, that’s been a great move to continue and that was done more of a focus to be the business we want to be then what was happening around us. It just took it probably from number five on the today list to number one with the external environment changing quickly. But culturally we’re always heading in that direction.
As a business we’ve stagnated a bit in our growth because once you get to a certain size we can look at adding advisers on and we will and looking at our advisors [inaudible 00:54:54] skillset. Bringing new clients in and engaging them or reviewing them or bit of both and that conversation is being heard all the time. But I think to take that next step as a business, a big step is going to require capital.
We make piece that we are what we are and we like being that size and we’re just going to go out every day and give really good advice, which is our mindset of the moment or do we then take that next evolution of like what Michael and I did five years ago? That next step again because we need that scale. But I think in the interim our focus is very much on next couple of years. What does advice look like for people?
How can we deliver the best value in the most efficient way and get that balance between the face to face interaction and that educator coupled with using technology to give great strategies and the compliance and efficiencies? Not wait for the industry to solve what financial advisors clients will tell us what it’s going to be. So having those conversations with, where do we add value?
Then change and evolve our advice process to come out in the next couple of years with what we believe will be sustainable for the next 10. I think we’re at the moment, probably really just go to short term focus on that. Really focus on getting business and our advice process right and continue to bring as many people to financial advice as we can.
Michael Grammatico: 00:56:19 Yeah, I strongly believe that nothing’s going to replace the emotive, trustworthy face to face relationship. I think that will still exist. Different models are going to exist for different demographics in the way in which they want to receive advice and that’s a given. But our ability to connect with clients on an emotional level is paramount I think, it’s invaluable.
From an industry point of view as much as we want to believe it or not, I think we’re going to obviously see fewer advisors exist in the industry and I think the numbers are going to be around about a 40 percent drop. So that’s challenging them because clients are going to lose their advisors. So that’s got to be taken into consideration. We keep on talking about getting good advice to the average Australian family. With those numbers dropping then that’s going to be a bit of a concern.
Chris Hockey: 00:57:19 On that, the industry is taking a bit of a cake publicly. So if we spend the next couple of years looking internally, getting our prices as [inaudible 00:57:29] getting a great value offering and how do we get people in the door and explain that we add good value. That’s where our growth will come from. We’ll be ready for bigger, sustainable growth when that natural evolution comes.
But it’s really important that we get ourselves right first and evolve. That’s why I went back to that great sweet spot we’re in where we’ve got all of these advisors and all of these staff that are on a longterm journey, which is really exciting. No one’s got an all on the clock going on pretty close to retirement, but we’ve all got a great deal of experience and been through the wars and know what it’s been like to get to this point. So I’m really excited what we’ll do with an inward focus and that’s where our growth mindset is.
Michael Grammatico: 00:58:15 You make a really good point there Chris. It’s something that Chris and I have spoken about in so much data from when we brought the businesses together. Having the right team and having good culture within our team is really important. It helps our business thrive. Everyone’s buying into the broader picture. You’ll see up in and around our office, our values.
We talk about respect, integrity, professionalism, and empathy. But Chris and I didn’t just create those values. The whole team got into a room and we went through a process with the coach and got those values. Yeah, so everyone’s buying into the broader picture and the culture of our team is so important because we believe that productivity goes up if culture’s good. Efficiencies are there. We’re getting stuff done. The systems and processes are built to deliver that. So I just want to touch on that because you mentioned. 00:59:11]
Chris Hockey: 00:59:11 The last thing I’ll add on to that is that we’ve spoken a little bit what we do and what we’ve thought [inaudible 00:59:17] well for us over the last 10 years plus, but we are very, very focused on great communities. I love what you’re doing. It’s huge. I’m plugging myself into everybody’s ideas. I love hearing everyone’s different approaches because I do not have the answers, not even clients.
We’re just trying to make it work for what we perceive in our world and what we see in our experience but we have a great community of different experiences, different types of clients and different types of approaches. So we love getting involved and talking to our peers. That’s why Michael and I ended up working together. That’s where there’s great value because there’s all ideas and thoughts being heard out there, which could change everything we’re doing. We’d be naive of us to think that we’ve got all the answers.
Fraser Jack: 01:00:04 I love what I do because I get to chat to you guys all the time and find out you get new ideas and tips and go, yeah, that’s a great idea. I like that. Tell me about, you’ve got two advisors that aren’t shareholders. So the two of you are the shareholders and the directors and you’ve got two aren’t. Is there any succession for those guys if they want to come through or did you [inaudible 01:00:27].
Chris Hockey: 01:00:28 I talked about partnerships, giving up something. I think the same applies for really good people in your business. If you want a good person, you’ve got to give up something and it’s no different to a client. It’s talking about what drives them and what’s important to them. Not everyone wants to be an equity partner and not everyone wants to be driving a business. Some people just want to come, be your grind advisors and feel like they’re getting rewarded for that in a sustainable way for them to grow.
So we have different remuneration models and different set ups for our advisors based on what’s important to them, what skill sets they bring. From a succession planning point of view at the moment, that’s not a focus for those guys. But then they’re rewarded perhaps with more income and being rewarded for the right behaviors and they need to, I don’t want advisors coming for [inaudible 01:01:24] I’m going to go do it myself.
This needs to be a longterm focus for them as well and that’s worked really well for us. That succession plan is that next evolution I was talking about. How does that look bringing in advisors where that is a focus or the existing advisors perhaps now growing into that. We’re unsure, but we certainly recognize that that’s a next step for us is to once again make it more than just Michael and Chris.
Michael Grammatico: 01:01:54 You’ve heard consistently throughout our discussions today that choosing the right people is paramount. So choosing the right people, the right advisers, the right support team, the right administrators within the business and then I think organically we’ll get to that point where we will find that succession and it’s based on the person not us chasing, okay that person’s not right. That person is not right, just organic. I think it will happen.
Chris Hockey: 01:02:24 I think also too, everyone wants to come to work and feel like they’ve got some influence and involvement in the environment that they work in and certainly not a dictatorship here. All our advisors, all our staff are involved in what happens within the business and in the decision making process. Everything is very transparent and everyone has an influence in what we do because at the end of the day we’re a small business, probably the size that will be the smallest going forward from a scale point of view. So we’re a family at the end of the day.
Fraser Jack: 01:02:57 Yeah, very much so. A lot of talk today about the humans in the business and by humans, for humans. So thanks for that. We’ll probably finish up shortly. Before we do that though, let’s have a couple of quick fire questions. Michael, what tips do you give to consumers if you’re chatting to somebody at a barbecue about getting financial advice?
Michael Grammatico: 01:03:19 Yeah. Good question. I guess if a consumer’s going first to advice they’re going to make the step to jump as the first thing. But I would also say they’re like once again, I mentioned before about doctors, psychologists, the people that we go to for advice. It’s not always from a relationship point of view, you’re not always going to get it right first time.
So I would say for a consumer stepping to advice for the first time and I know it’s weird to say this but don’t be disheartened if it’s not right on that first [inaudible 01:04:01] because I’ve seen people do that before and then just not feel right in that first deployment for whatever reason and then just not jumped again. So I would definitely say that would be one piece of advice to the consumer.
Fraser Jack: 01:04:19 Chris, what tips would you give to a new planner looking to get into the industry? Just starting out, maybe thinking about getting in.
Chris Hockey: 01:04:28 I think the new structure is good. I would love to go back to myself and somebody [inaudible 01:04:35] I may free. That would’ve been really handy instead of being dumped into the day pan. I think it’s about learning to be a really good communicator and that’s been a common theme today I know. But not to lose focus on that and not just to be about strategy, but to really be hard on yourself.
I tell my advisors that after every appointment that I do, I sit for five minutes with a notepad and make notes about how it went. What I mean by that is when I started explaining risk and return and managed funds, I started talking and I mentioned this and we got off on a whole change tangent and it really didn’t go where I needed to go. So I probably shouldn’t wind up like that going forward or, jeez, when I said it in this particular way, I look at the way that I changed.
I would constantly self-assess on how the appointment went from a communication point of view. Because we’ll have those clunky appointments where you go, oh wow I didn’t really get much out of him and maybe it was the way I was going about it. That little self-reflection in the mirror has been a really big value add for me to constantly try and sell from [inaudible 01:05:40] and also learn what I do well to make sure I keep doing it well.
Fraser Jack: 01:05:43 That’s a really good tip, that debrief idea of continual improvement and just one of the few small things I could change next time to make it better. It’s a great idea.
Michael Grammatico: 01:05:52 Never put your fingers in your ears. I live by that as well.
Fraser Jack: 01:05:56 So you teach your kid? Well, what tips would you give to planners and people that are having to make some tough calls at the moment around where they stay or go or retrain?
Michael Grammatico: 01:06:11 It’s a tough point because obviously people, a different advisor at different stages in life as well. I think there’s going to be a clear cut ground for a number of advisors that will make a call based on where they are at right now to say, hey, [inaudible 01:06:26] basically. For those guys, I think it’s very clear cut and that they are going to be maybe some single discipline risk only guys that may have to do eight or so subjects to get through things and just feel it’s too difficult.
They might be stepping out. They might be some advisors that are closer to retirement and think for the extra study, they’re in a situation where they might get out at that point. I think there’s then that next layer of advisors that are going to take the bull by the horns and really say, okay, well this is great. Like we do, this is great for our profession. They’re lifting the education standards, we’ve got a number of new pieces of legislation coming in. I want to do a little bit more study.
I’m going to reevaluate my advice model to make sure that it suits the future, why that advice is to be delivered and what outside of these guys is, I’d say embrace it. Because what’s going to happen is those guys that go through that process are going to come out the other end and their businesses are going to thrive.
I’ve got absolutely no doubt that once these few speed bumps are overcome, businesses that come out the other end of the educational requirements, making sure their advice process adapts to the new world of advice. I’ve got no doubt these guys will thrive and their business valuations will increase. That back themselves.
Fraser Jack: 01:08:06 That’s certainly a real mindset thing and the embrace part’s a really good tip I think.
Chris Hockey: 01:08:10 I’m going raise something a bit different about that off the back of your questions. I remember during [inaudible 01:08:16] and I fell into this trap and it was a lesson learned. I think everybody just needs to, just don’t get sucked into it because there’s so much uncertainty out there. Advisors talking all the time, spending hours in their days reading and talking about what if this happens, what if that happens?
Then talking to other advisors and oh my God, oh my God. It just sucks. The positivity out of your [inaudible 01:08:45] and out of your wake. I remember so much of that happening around the [inaudible 01:08:49] and then when we get to the end, 70 percent of those conversations never eventuated into anything. All those, all that energy I spent all going, what if this happens, what if that happens didn’t eventuate.
I’m not saying not be across it but take time away from it and go back to the things that, nothing like a grad appointment to remind you why you do what you do. Don’t spend two hours every day pouring for breaking news emails that tell you about who’s been suspended and what’s going on and what might be coming out of the phases, ethics, all that sort of stuff. Give yourself a bit of a break from it.
Fraser Jack: 01:09:24 Yeah, create some space. Gentlemen, if you could go back in time and have a do-over, do it again. What would you do? Where would you go back? What would you change?
Michael Grammatico: 01:09:38 I love where I’m at today. I’ve got a great business partner, a life sensational. We’ve got a brilliant team around us. I guess there’s a few things that I could probably mention. The welded advice has consistently moved forward and changed over time since we’ve been here. So we’ve had to consistently evolve our advice process with that.
So systems and processes around certain adaptation of certain systems and processes could have potentially been done earlier using that software to better keep ourselves accountable internally. I think clarity of data is so important. So data accuracy is really important but I’ve got a business coach and life coach as well.
Some of the things that I’ve introduced into my life of recent years are just quotes that I’ve learned from either current life coaches, business coaches or previous life coaches and business coaches. Where I think, okay, well I would have adapted these quite a bit earlier on in life that probably put me on a little bit of a better stead.
So I’ll just share some of those things, communication is not what you say, it’s what they hear. It is self-taught to be positive as opposed to negative. So enthusiasm is infectious. When I talk about passion, I think when you come into a room and you’re enthusiastic and you show that, it rubs off on people just like negativity can rub off on people. So I think that’s a real earlier adaption of a mindset that can boost morale in your team. Mike, the complex simple and the simple compelling. So just a couple of quotes that I’ve-
Chris Hockey: 01:11:31 A couple of T-shirts.
Michael Grammatico: 01:11:32 ... yeah, a couple of T-shirts.
Chris Hockey: 01:11:33 It’s interesting, isn’t it man that Thomas Shane question makes me reflect on, that I’ve been lucky as well that we’ve had a pretty smooth around. A lot of things have worked and there’s an element of because of what we did and it just being a bit lucky as well. Two areas for me, one I go back and get a CRM system better and more robust earlier. I think our growth came quickly and we’ve been just playing catch up.
They trying to get our CRM and systemization going and the biggie you get the hotter it is to turn the ship. I think pre-merger, if I could go back to that Chris and say, get that rod and then [inaudible 01:12:27] business in and move forward, that would have been a smart move. When I think about the recruitment we’ve done, we’ve learnt that it’s culture first experience second.
Because you’ve got to get the right person that fits in a lot of these even the psychometric testing that you can do in your recruitment process. It does lean itself into, does this person have the skillset to do the job? You need to do what your team is and how that person will fit within that team and not just look for the person that’s got the right experience.
If anything, I’ve had a couple people that have worked out so well for us that didn’t have it, but culturally they were awesome, and then we could just try them out. That certainly costs a lot less than getting the person wrong and in a small business because you’re not just seconding somebody from the other side of a massive building.
You can feel, “oh, I’ve got to get somebody, we’ve got to get somebody” and not rushing into that and making sure it’s the right person. Because recent times, perhaps we haven’t had a couple of people that will work right in some support roles and that whole process of going out the other side is much more time consuming, which made everybody nice.
Fraser Jack: 01:13:39 Yes. Easier to teach the role and the process than it is to try and teach culture.
Chris Hockey: 01:13:43 Yeah, 100 percent.
Michael Grammatico: 01:13:44 Definitely.
Fraser Jack: 01:13:45 Fantastic gentlemen. Thank you so much today for sharing your, the learnings, your journey, your wisdom with everybody. Really appreciate your time in-
Chris Hockey: 01:13:52 Thanks [inaudible 01:13:53].
Fraser Jack: 01:13:52 ... on [inaudible 01:13:54].
Chris Hockey: 01:13:53 [inaudible 01:13:53] Interesting to reflect on it.
Fraser Jack: 01:13:56 Thank you.
Michael Grammatico: 01:13:57 Cheers.
Fraser Jack: 01:13:57 Thanks. 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.