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Podcast Transcript

Episode 86, Season 1

FPA Congress 2019 with Christine Bau and Alex Tullio


Fraser Jack: 00:09 To the goals based advice podcast where I have conversations with pioneers of the new world of financial advice. We’re currently on tour at the FPA Congress in Melbourne, sitting in a combi van in the middle of the hall and enjoying the festivities. Very lucky to be here and very thankful. And welcome to my guests.

Christine Bau: 00:31 Thanks for having us.

Fraser Jack: 00:32 Do you want to introduce yourselves?

Alex Tullio: 00:34 Yeah, sure. So, hi guys. I’m Alex and I work for, I’ve got my own business now. So after 25 years in corporate land, financial services, executive Bendigo bank, running the retail bank, I stepped out on my own two years ago and now I work with ambitious and motivated business owners to make sure they’ve got a clear vision for success. They define their role and they know how to achieve that vision.

Fraser Jack: 00:56 Fantastic.

Christine Bau: 00:57 Perfect.

And hi everyone. My name’s Christine Bau. I run a HR consulting firm called People Focused. I’ve got about 20 years experience in professional services and in 10 of those efforts specifically in financial planning. So with that, I’ve then gone out on my own to create a HR brand that really specializes in supporting businesses from an HR perspective operationally and strategically because often they can’t afford to have their own HR on the payroll. So it’s about being able to make sure that they’ve got that support because, ultimately, their business is all about people.

Fraser Jack: 01:32 So perfect for small business?

Christine Bau: 01:34 Absolutely.

Fraser Jack: 01:35 Fantastic. And now you’ve just got off stage. I’ve managed to drag you into the combi van after you’ve been presenting today.

Do you want to give us an overview of what you were presenting?

Alex Tullio: 01:43 Yeah, sure.

So it was a big session. It was a good session. So we had the three, hour workshop and I think we clocked in at about, I don’t know, more than 420 people I think we seen. So we had a really good opportunity. So the theme for our whole session was really how are you actually going to... Where are you going to be in 2024? And so the focus for us was really practical business plan.

There’s so much coming down the pike. It’s obviously practitioners and advisors. The industries been through a lot and it’s reforming really, I think. So the emphasis for us was literally giving the guys who attended some really practical tools about actually how to get a business plan. And the elements of that, for us, were very much in our experience dealing with our clients.

We know that if you... You need a clear vision, you need to define the role you’re going to play. And of course, importantly, you need to get the right team around you and actually know how to get that right talent. Find them. Recruit them. Cate them.

Christine Bau: 02:36 Yeah.

So it’s about giving them some space to start thinking about those things...

Alex Tullio: 02:39 True.

Christine Bau: 02:42 And then also, give them some practical tools that they could take away in terms of not feeling that sense of overwhelmed that often you do encounter. And so, being able to support them in that context.

And then also, making sure that when they move away from this conference and they’re back in their businesses, how do we make sure that they’re not distracted. And that they’re actually taking those key learnings from the session and applying them long term. So that they can really make that change to be able to move forward.

Because there is just such a change in the landscape and there will continue to be. And people need to come on that journey or risk getting left behind.

Fraser Jack: 03:18 So how do you run a workshop for that size? Because that’s a pretty mammoth task.

Alex Tullio: 03:24 It was epic but we were ably assisted by three amazing practitioners as well. So they did a bit. Well then it was really good to get a different perspective from them because the guys that were doing their 5 to 10 minutes interspersed. Were really sharing, I guess, their experience as fellow practitioners. Around setting a vision. Grabbing the bull by the horns. Redefining their role. Getting the right team.

So we were trying to get that real balance, weren’t we Christine? Of a bit of well here’s some information it’d be for download. And so we were really interspersing with some activities and some practical time. And I think, like you said, it was actually we had these great place mats where the guys could actually feel like, what’s my vision? My priorities? My 90 day plan for when I walk out of here and get back into the vortex? As you say, Christine, “life happens”.

Christine Bau: 04:12 Yeah.

Alex Tullio: 04:12 But I think it was also, a lot of them were reflecting that life is so busy and operationally so busy. So even just being at the conference and being in that session, having sort of 10 minutes, 15 minutes of actually thinking time around the activity. Like we were asking them some pretty big questions.

Christine Bau: 04:12 Yeah. Absolutely.

Alex Tullio: 04:26 And it was that reflection time, I think as well, that they appreciated.

Christine Bau: 04:30 Yeah. Yeah.

Being able to create space and so important because you just don’t get that. Particularly as a business leader. You just don’t get that time in the day to day world.

Fraser Jack: 04:37 And the length of the session was quite long too. So they actually had time to create some practical takeaways.

Alex Tullio: 04:42 Yeah.

And that was really important for us because we’ve all been there, haven’t we? You go to a conference, you get lots and lots of downloads of information. You might get some light bulb moments and best intentions. But then you go back to your normal life and you’re like, well that was all good. But now I’m smacked in the face by all the stuff that’s still waiting for me. So that was really important for us that it was that balance for actually when they left.

So they left with a 90 day plan that said, this is where I’m... I want to head. Because it’s also, I think Fraser, it’s what does success look like? It’s not just the money, it’s... And a lot of the guys are run down, well it’s health and it’s family time and it’s... Sure it’s revenue and it’s client.

Like what... Because if you don’t have that vision, then that’s really hard. How do you actually take the first steps to get it? You know what I mean? You’re stuck in that overwhelmed place. So yeah.

Christine Bau: 05:26 And, to your point earlier, Alex, the realities the science tells us that people will probably have a 10% chance. So it’s pretty low chance of actually implementing ideas as a consequence. So we really wanted to be able to increase that. And that’s part of the reason why I had a placement. And certainly the direction that we took our session was to make sure that people were setting goals for themselves. But also enabling them to achieve those goals. Post these conference.

Fraser Jack: 05:53 Yeah. So did you break those goals down into little milestones and set them challenges? Is that...

Alex Tullio: 05:57 To some degree and to some degree it was also just giving them a level of simplicity. And giving them the opportunity to say, I only need one goal. You know, we’re so often not turned up on...

Christine Bau: 06:08 Yeah, exactly.

We get so hung up on we need this list of goals. And the reality is that’s actually not how our brain works. Our brain needs that simplicity of just a couple of goals. And once you achieve them, then you can look at more goals.

But giving them that permission to actually break it down. Keep it really simple and helping them, and holding their hand through that process.

Fraser Jack: 06:29 Yeah, we can all have too many goals. It’s a great thing I guess, but you need to prioritize than and just to focus and make sure you get those ones ticked off. I guess it gives you some confidence too with the next set.

Alex Tullio: 06:40 Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

And of course, because that’s where confidence comes from, doesn’t it? It’s like we... It’s that chicken and the egg, Oh, I’ve got to do to kind of, my brain wants the proof that it’ll work. But you’re never going to that until you take the first step. And as a chronic overachiever overthinking myself, recovering. So, and everyone out there, I get it, like it’s very easy. And I think the interesting thing... I’m not sure whether we were surprised, but it was really the same, I think, of today was one of the exercises that we set the guys was, yep, there’s the vision, but also what role do you want to play in this?

And we had everyone from big business owners, to advisers in our practice and everywhere in between. And we found that as we were walking around during the activity, a lot of the delegates were saying, Oh well, but I’ve got to do everything. Like I can’t see another way. And I think this is... It was a really challenging point, but the fact is that if you’re trying to do it all, you’re going to fail. Like you literally can’t, which is why the refrain was, well, I know the problem. It’s just I don’t have enough time.

Well, one thing that we can’t give you is more time. Which means you’ve got to... Which is why this North star [inaudible 00:19:26] vision’s so important. Because if you’ve got that as a filter and then you face with the 20 priorities in air quotes, then you filter actually what’s going to be the biggest bang for buck to get me there. And then if you be really disciplined around the role that I want to play. So we had Rob, who was one of the practitioners who presented, he was great. He shared his journey of how he re-engineered his role. And he said, you know what, I’m the MD. I’m not on the tools as an advisor anymore.

But I think our message to that to everyone is that you’ve got to make a deliberate decision about what you do want to do and what you can do. Because that also then goes, great, now who do I need around me?

Christine Bau: 08:19 Yes, I was just going to say that.

Becomes then, the compliment. You can’t do it all yourself. So you need a really great team. And how do you identify that team? And that’s incredibly hard. And I think one of those light moments for me was where we talked about the fact that we unconsciously biased. We’re going to pick people that we resonate with, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re actually the best people for our business. So being able to understand what does the right person look like is really, really critical and being able to do that now. I mean, again, we’ve spoken about the fact that the landscape is changing. The reality is there’s so much change, but it’s also going to take a little bit of time to implement any solution. So you need to start planning. Which is the whole premise around this to start planning now because you can’t wait till tomorrow because tomorrow will be too late. So how do you start taking action today?

Alex Tullio: 09:12 Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Fraser Jack: 09:13 Yeah.

I definitely agree with the idea that you’re better to give yourself the tasks that you’re actually going to complete. Not the ones that you say you’re going to complete but you don’t enjoy doing. And like you said, opposites could attract in that scenario where you get people that enjoyed doing the task that you don’t doing, like doing actually to get stuff done.

Alex Tullio: 09:32 100%

I wrote like, I always thought, spreadsheets really? Poke my eyes out with red hot pokers. And PowerPoint slides. And I reflect on back in my corporate days I used to drive my EA, shout out to you Lily, you’re very patient. And when I tried to meddle in things that were just not in my wheel house and she’s like, can you just please stop?

But there was someone else in the team that’s like, oh my God, I can’t believe you get on stage and talk. I can’t think of anything worse. Give me a spreadsheet and I’m a happy. So I think this is the benefit of diverse teams and actually really defining that. Is that, that’s where you leverage.

Christine Bau: 10:01 Yeah.

And understanding where someone’s strengths really do lie because we will naturally go towards our strengths. We’re going to leverage them and we’ll forget about those elements of the role that we really don’t like. So being able to understand those and play to those is, obviously, really advantageous.

Fraser Jack: 10:22 Wow.

What a fantastic workshop. If you could sum it up in a few words that the planners wanted to take away or what they must do what would they be?

Alex Tullio: 10:25 Well for me it’s very much... Guys, takes some time out. So carve out some time. Get a really super clear vision and like we said, don’t get hung up. It doesn’t have to be five years, threes, whatever. It’s just, literally, even starting with that north star of this is what? And the thing I always find really useful is I reflect in three years or whatever it is, I’m having a glass of wine with Harvey. I reflect on the three years, what have I achieved? Like what would I be really proud and thankful for? And I think that’s a great filter.

So guys get a vision because if you don’t have that, you are constantly going to be pulled into the vortex and reacting. And for me, it’s very much define the role that you’re going to play. And I don’t care whether you’re an employee or a business owner, where do you want to be in three years? Like what’s the role that you want to be doing? And then it’s about reverse engineering.


Christine Bau: 11:10 Yeah. Yeah.

So absolutely reverse engineering. So understanding the people. I would suggest one of the best things that organizations can do is things like behavioral profiling. Which we absolutely spoke about in the session. But just in terms of understanding what you buying. You’re making an incredible investment when you create a team. To understand what that team looks like from the outset. And something like behavioral profiling will give you that opportunity to do that. Really quickly, at next to no cost but amazing benefit. Because then it becomes about that learning new development, so the employee long term.

Fraser Jack: 11:49 Fantastic.

I definitely like the pride filter. That looking back, what were you most proud of. I think that’s probably a really powerful driver in people.

Alex Tullio: 11:57 And so it shouldn’t sound so [inaudible 00:19:26] like. I think we had a lot of questions today about people going, but hang on, is it the vision for the business? Is that the vision for my personal life? And I kind of go, you know what guys? We’re human beings, so it’s going to be a mix of both. And that’s why I love that, as you said, that pride filter because you know what? It’s not all about just the revenue in the business. It’s well, do I actually have an amazing happy life from spending enough time with the kids? Or am I healthy? Or... And generate. Like it actually, there’s no right or wrong. It’s just, you’ve got something, which I think, kind of crystallizes.

Christine Bau: 12:26 It’s about being in progress, I think.

Alex Tullio: 12:27 Yeah, of course.

Christine Bau: 12:30 That’s the reason. No, you don’t have to win in the sense of, there’s a number one, but it’s about seeing yourself and seeing your business progress and that’s, that’s ultimately... Yeah.

Fraser Jack: 12:40 Couldn’t agree more.

Now tell me if you’re running these workshops, how if somebody missed out today, how could they get hold of you to run? You know, maybe the same thing.

Alex Tullio: 12:49 Yeah.

We also, we do our implement for success program because based on the psychology, like you were saying Christine, about the likelihood of you actually being successfully implementing goals by yourself. Sorry guys, best intentions but you all have the best will in the world and make all the noise but you will get sucked back into the water.

Fraser Jack: 13:04 It’s exactly why we have goals-based advisors cause it’s the same for clients.

Alex Tullio: 13:08 So wait, we feel like, you know, advisers walking the walk here. So we literally do a fully facilitated eight session online program. You get me and Christine. And we literally go through this and it’s part accountability, part mentoring, part... Literally doing all the things we’re talking about but in bite size chunks. And I think one of the benefits, as well, that we get feedback on is that you know, actually getting, it’s carving the time out. Gosh, you know, it’s an hour session, eight times. You’re actually making me get out of the detail and the tactical and the reacting cause I know I’ve got to do this, which is actually carving out time for me to think more strategically.

Christine Bau: 13:42 Absolutely.

And providing the support. You know, because again, we have a particular set of expertise but we might not necessarily be experts in the areas that we’re talking about. So you’re getting that ability to leverage that expertise. We want to see everyone succeed.

Alex Tullio: 13:56 Absolutely.

Christine Bau: 13:57 We want to be able to support them to succeed.

Fraser Jack: 13:58 I really love the online model because one, it’s location independent. But also if I’m running a financial practice, it’s not just me. I can bring my team in.

Alex Tullio: 14:07 Absolutely.

Fraser Jack: 14:07 Big PayPal the eight one hour sessions.

Alex Tullio: 14:10 it’s a peer support and we just find we don’t really have groups of more than 10 in each program we run. And we find that’s a really nice number because it’s enough where you’re getting that peer support but you’re still in that real personal. And you can really have great conversations. And as we know most problems, like thematically, there’ll be variations on the thing where you can actually, even today it was happening wasn’t it, where people were going, actually I had that problem and I did this or that. And so I think that as humans we want to be able to connect with other people that are going through what we’re going through.

Christine Bau: 14:40 Yep.

Fraser Jack: 14:41 Until you encourage that, the peer groups to form, and actually encourage and help each other.

Christine Bau: 14:44 100%.

Alex Tullio: 14:46 Because, and I think it comes back to what we were talking about, whether it’s strengths or your own genius or whatever. Even the three of us sitting here, we’ve got different perspectives, experienced, who see things through a different frame. So that unsolvable problem for me is actually you go, Oh well why don’t you just do it this way? You know, it’s those moments. So I think it’s invaluable to have that support network around you.

Christine Bau: 14:46 Absolutely.

Fraser Jack: 15:10 So what are you two working on for 2020? Are you looking at developing anything new or...?

Alex Tullio: 15:14 Well we’re definitely, we’re in the zone of these supporting advisors and actually helping them implement. So not just sending them out with another thing to do. But actually making it real and actually moving them forward so they can actually really flourish in... things.

Christine Bau: 15:28 Yeah.

And making them part of the other piece of the puzzle is how do you make them great people leaders as well. They certainly, probably, one of the biggest challenges moving forward. And again, businesses are all about people. So how do we support them to become that as great leaders and great leaders of people. So being able to offer that program and support is equally important in 2020.

Fraser Jack: 15:53 Yeah.

It’s interesting, isn’t it? Just because you’re a business owner doesn’t mean that you’re going to be a great leader of people.

Christine Bau: 15:53 Not at all.

Alex Tullio: 15:58 And often I find it’s that question of which is maybe a whole nother podcast, but you know, is everyone destined to be a leader? And I kind of always said, well... No, I don’t think that is correct because it’s taking on the leadership of other humans is a conscious decision. And I might be an amazing, and this is a lot of my clients too, they’re amazing entrepreneurs. They’re incredibly talented, passionate people. They get to the point in their business where they’re starting to scale. They’ve got a team. And they’re suddenly faced with, Oh my God, but I never wanted to do HR stuff in inverted commerce. Or I didn’t want to do... I think there’s that.

Which is part of what we talk about, Christine, is about define the role you want to play. It doesn’t mean that that is the role for you even if you are the business owner. But people get really caught up in that and if it’s not what you like to do or you’re confident, it can be pretty stressful so...

Christine Bau: 16:44 So it’s then becoming an issue, well then becomes a question of do you engage that support. Or equally sometimes it’s about, I understand what I need to do. But it’s getting that friendly reminder and getting that support and feeling that you’ve got a network around you to give you the confidence to move forward. Because it can be quite isolating sometimes as a business owner to hold or to wear all of those hats and feel that you have to know the answer to everything. And so that’s part of what we bring is to be able to say you’ve got that support.

Fraser Jack: 17:15 Yeah.

I’ve also seen some scenarios where the business owner acknowledged they weren’t the best people person. As far as managing staff and actually just to step back, still a shareholder, but it had office managers that did the people part of it. And I just remained a shareholder and a planner and allow that somebody else to do that

Alex Tullio: 17:37 And that’s perfectly cool. That’s better than cool.

Because I think that said there’s nothing worse than someone who’s a reluctant people leader that actually hates it. Like it’s not a good experience for anyone. And this is a lot of what we do, you know, so it’s actually getting that real definition. So our focus for next year, like we’re really excited about the implementation pace of people leadership pace and really supporting and we’re getting a great response out. Because I think you know what you need, it’s not enough to just get the theory. Like we’ve been saying, people actually want that peer group in that hand holding. So yeah, that’s our focus.

Fraser Jack: 18:06 Fantastic.

And what tips would you give to planners at the moment? What’s the one thing that they need to change for 2020.

Alex Tullio: 18:13 I think, seriously, it’s not just the head in the sand, oh my God, so much is happening. Like you’ve got you choose, so decide, yep, I want to be here. I’m still here. I’m going to have a successful business and I can’t keep going what I’m doing. So for me, it’s person time out. Create the vision of success that you’re really looking for. And work out what you want to do and how you want to be a part of that.

Christine Bau: 18:36 And I think the compliment to that is then to say, so get the support that you need. In the same way that your clients come to you because they don’t have the financial experience they coming to you because you have those expertise. So engage those expertise. You don’t talk to the practitioner, sorry, the consultants that are going to be able to support you to create the business that will help you realize that vision.

Fraser Jack: 19:01 Fantastic.

Thank you so much for coming and having a chat in the combi van at the FPA con.

Christine Bau: 19:05 Pleasure having us.

Alex Tullio: 19:06 It’s a very funky combi van.

Fraser Jack: 19:08 It is pretty cool, isn’t it? Little red leather seats and everything.

Alex Tullio: 19:10 Yep.

Checkerboard floor. Very cool.

Fraser Jack: 19:13 Fantastic.

Thank you.

Alex Tullio: 19:14 Thanks mate.

Fraser Jack: 19:16 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.