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Podcast Transcript

Episode 90, Season 1

GBA on tour at the FPA Congress 2019 with Janet Hugo


Fraser Jack: 00:02 Welcome to the Goals Based Advice Podcast where I have conversations with pioneers of the new world of financial advice. I’m your host Fraser Jack, and today coming to you from the FPA Congress in our kombi van on tour currently. Now I’ve just managed to grab Janet, who’s walked off stage, who’s been giving a keynote presentation. Welcome Janet.

Janet Hugo: 00:29 Yeah, thank you so much for having me.

Fraser Jack: 00:31 Now do you want to introduce yourself to the listeners?

Janet Hugo: 00:33 Well, I’m a financial advisor from South Africa and was probably invited here because I won the financial advisor of the year award last year. It’s a great privilege to be here.

Fraser Jack: 00:47 Fantastic. And is this your first trip here, or you’ve spent some time?

Janet Hugo: 00:48 I’ve spent time in your beautiful country before. It’s an amazing country, but it’s so sad with the fires that are going on the East Coast.

Fraser Jack: 00:54 Yeah, there’s a bit of smoke and [inaudible 00:00:56] over the last couple of weeks.

Janet Hugo: 00:57 Yeah, gas masks and all.

Fraser Jack: 00:59 Yeah, it’s been a bit crazy, but we’re here now, and you’re here, and you’ve been speaking on stage. Tell us your background, more of your background. How did you get into financial advice?

Janet Hugo: 01:08 Oh, that’s a great question. I did that because the advice that I was given by my husband’s financial advisor just didn’t make sense to me. And I was asking questions about, what happens if you’re gone? I’ve got two little children and will there be enough money? And his financial advisor said, “Of course there’s enough money.” And he practically patted me on the head like... Anyway and came back with two new life insurance policies a week later. And I couldn’t understand how the numbers were fitting together, and he didn’t explain it to me in words that I could understand.

And my husband was a very successful businessman, and it just left me feeling empty that I didn’t have the information. That was December, and in January I signed up with the university and studied financial planning. The end of that year I passed my CFP board exam. And because I had absolutely no industry knowledge I carried on studying. I did advanced qualifications in estate planning and investment management. And then my husband turned around and said, “This is enough with the studying. Get on and be my wife and or get clients” That was how I started 12 years ago.

Fraser Jack: 02:22 Fantastic. And so it was really about your own passion to understand and to be able to explain it in a way that other people that were sitting in the same position as you.

Janet Hugo: 02:32 Exactly. I mean, financial planning marries so many disciplines. We marry law, investment management, finances and calculations and techs. It’s lovely broad disciplines. It keeps me fascinated, and the detail keeps me fascinated as well.

Fraser Jack: 02:48 You’re 12 years into your roller coaster.

Janet Hugo: 02:50 12 years in. We have a lead regulator in South Africa who looks at Australia and looks at the UK and looks at Americans says, I’m going to take the best. We were chatting on stage about it being an elephant and it’s a big one. Hey, we are all dealing with our own regulator, and we’re all absolutely convinced that our regulator is the worst one out there. And I think we are all true. I mean it’s all absolutely true because they throwing stuff at us that is confusing at times, and we know most of us know that we’re going out there with best intentions, but there’s this weight of paperwork that we have to bring with us to prove that we are doing the right thing and that’s a challenge.

Fraser Jack: 03:33 Yeah, it seems like that regulator, the uncertainty around how it’s going to work has been the main concern for most people.

Janet Hugo: 03:41 Also the uncertainty around how much time it’s going to take me in my day that’s already incredibly busy. And I’ve been chatting to some advisors and if you go back to the principles, and you engage with the principles as opposed to just being angry with them. The principle is let’s bring the best to our clients and that’s what we all want to do. Then the next principle from that is proof that you’re doing it and if you can prove it, you probably complying. And in my personal situation, the one thing that I’ve had to learn in the last couple of years is you can be angry with something. It’s not going to change it. You just simply have to get up and go forward and move forward and achieve what you can in the situation that you’ve got. You’ll gain a lot more energy from not fighting the situation and it’ll just give you a positive start on the future.

Fraser Jack: 04:32 Fantastic. Now tell us about how you became South Africa’s number one advisor.

Janet Hugo: 04:37 I got a business coach about four or five years ago and I’ve always used coaches in my business to help me go in the right direction if we’re expecting our clients to use us as coaches financially. Then I just thought it made common sense to include a coach in my practice time and internally grateful to the coaches that have influenced me. And what we did was we sat down, we said what are the goals that we want to achieve, and the goals that we wanted to achieve, where I’m being recognized as the best in my industry. Because South Africa is an incredible patriarchal society. Men make business decisions and make decisions about the families as well so woman don’t know anything. I needed to maybe strive a little harder or at least I thought I did. And I want it to be recognized as the best so that was one of the goals.

And I’m also an incredible systems driven person. There’s such a thing as decision fatigue. I don’t want myself or anyone in my office to have to continually decide what are we doing today? It’s already there, it’s in the plan, it’s in the strategy. And if we know that we’re aiming in the right direction, we’re going to get there. And yeah, life threw a couple of real curve balls at me. Three and a half years ago, almost four years ago now, my husband was diagnosed with a rare blood disease cancer. And we joke with him at home that he’s past his sell by date, but we’re very grateful for every extra day that we get. And if I look backwards, thank goodness I did financial planning because we didn’t have the right medical insurance in place, we didn’t have the right insurance in place.

We call it graded disease cover so that we could just take time out. And a good 20% of my time disappeared from my practice. And because I was going with him for chemotherapy one day a week and there I realized the power of having systems and strategies in place that I could just let go and trust the system that my office just ticked along and went ahead smoothly and just rolled forward. And I look back now that four years later I’m settled into this new normal for me, and I’m just so grateful that I planned ahead and had a strategy in place. It made the biggest difference.

Fraser Jack: 06:56 That’s a really good conversation around the system. I think there’s an acronym around systems that’s like saves you stress, time and in money or something around [crosstalk 00:07:04].

Janet Hugo: 07:04 All right. It’s so good.

Fraser Jack: 07:05 The system. Yeah.

Janet Hugo: 07:05 We need to find that.

Fraser Jack: 07:07 Yeah. You have to write that down.

Janet Hugo: 07:08 Yeah.

Fraser Jack: 07:08 Saves you stress time in money maybe.

Janet Hugo: 07:12 Yeah.

Fraser Jack: 07:12 But yeah, it’s a fantastic thing to be able to say, well I’ve got systems in place, I can now do these external things. And I really love the idea around setting goals and for your practice the same way you would sit with your clients.

Janet Hugo: 07:27 Yeah. We’re expecting our clients to trust us that we’re doing a longterm plan 15 years hence. I’m embarrassed at what I haven’t got a 15 year practice plan. I kind of know where it might be, but I haven’t got a 15 year practice plan, which I’m realizing now. I mean the pennies just gone drop down.

Fraser Jack: 07:44 That could be something to work on in the future I guess yeah.

Janet Hugo: 07:46 Yeah.

Fraser Jack: 07:48 Tell us about you had a chat on a stage as a keynote. What were the main sort of stuff you were covering?

Janet Hugo: 07:58 Gosh, my mind’s just gone blank on the task you’ve given me. My head’s gone down that road.

Fraser Jack: 08:03 You’re on the 15 year plan.

Janet Hugo: 08:04 I’m on a 15 year plan, but I think what I’ve picked up in Australia is that people are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, decision fatigue or regulator fatigued. And if you go back to your core principles do what makes you wake up in the morning, do more of that. And if I look at my practice, outsource what you don’t like doing. Just find another way work harder at what you can do and what energizes you and let go of the stuff that doesn’t energize you. It doesn’t mean don’t do the regulation, but find other people to help you or shadow you or work alongside you who are better at that. And you make teams good teams will get you in the right direction.

Fraser Jack: 08:48 Yeah, this is a really good, that’s actually a recurring point that we’ve sort of come across this idea that do the things that you enjoy doing, that light you up inside and recognize the things that you’re not good at doing and use resources to do those things because you’ll know they get done that way rather than being ignored.

Janet Hugo: 09:05 Yeah, let go on them. I commute between a very beautiful little town on the coast and my office in Johannesburg, which is two hours away and that commute happens once a month. And I remember sitting on the airplane absolutely grumbling because the airplane was delayed, and I was sitting full sun in the morning cooking hot. I’d got off the airplane wrote a standard operating procedure when my office book my flights. I will not sit on that side of the airplane in the mornings, but it’s never happened again. It was a learning experience, a silly one. But it’s a learning experience in my office now know how to keep me happy. I don’t walk into the office grumpy.

Fraser Jack: 09:46 I love the way that you write SOPs on stuff that annoy you just straight away.

Janet Hugo: 09:50 Just get it out and then it doesn’t hang around and it will certainly not come back and bite me in the future.

Fraser Jack: 09:56 Oh, shouldn’t do anyway the system is followed.

Janet Hugo: 09:56 Fingers crossed.

Fraser Jack: 10:04 Yeah. What are the main take aways, I guess for our advisers for 2020? What do you think the things that they need to work on or change in their practices?

Janet Hugo: 10:10 One of the things we discussed on stage was, what is the one thing you can do after this convention that will make a difference to your practice going forward? And when you’ve got to do lists or task lists that just keep growing, at the end of the day, it’s bigger than it started I know those days. Pick one thing that’ll make a difference and do that. It empowers you, it energizes you and you finished it, you’ve completed the task, and you can move forward. And I’d say exactly the same from the convention. We all come away with great ideas, but take the one, two, three things and just implement them one at a time. Don’t try and implement them half because when you go nowhere it’s kind of muddy waters. Take some shining stars and put them to work.

Fraser Jack: 11:01 Yeah. Narrow your focus and actually get something finished.

Janet Hugo: 11:04 Without a doubt.

Fraser Jack: 11:05 Yeah.

Janet Hugo: 11:05 It makes the biggest difference.

Fraser Jack: 11:06 Now I wanted to ask you too about your clients. Do you have a particular target client or a niche client?

Janet Hugo: 11:11 Yeah, they’ve got to believe that I’m going to add value to them. There’s that initial click can I work together with you? Do you have a similar philosophy to me? And then the next part is can you believe that I’m adding value or do I have to constantly justify them adding value that doesn’t work for me.

Fraser Jack: 11:34 And how do you get to the bottom of it? How do you work through that? Is it a direct question or?

Janet Hugo: 11:41 Our first couple of meetings. The way my practice works is we do a plan for fee and I will data gather, create the right information, writer a proposal that says, “I’m going to charge you this much. This is how I’ve assessed your situation. The result will be that the plan will cost you this much and it all solves these questions”. Sometimes the fee creeps up for an irritation factor because I know this person’s going to be a little bit more detailed oriented or a little bit more difficult or whatever. And that plan for fee is a good way to see if we’re going to be able to work together. Because, I’d like relationships that last 20 years. I’ve had clients with me right on the beginning year 11 and that’s valuable having a great ongoing relationship because now it’s unquestioning, unquestionably that I sit in my client’s lives as their CFO chief financial officer and we’re able to have difficult, uncomfortable conversations.

We’re able to admit that part wasn’t a good one. We can draw back on that. And those are great fulfilling relationships. I have a very niche client base and I only have 41 clients. And I’ve been very careful with that because I know that my asset that I cannot get back is time so I won’t waste it. And that’s become so much more in my face recently with my husband’s cancer is that time is just so precious and I want to fill it with decent relationships. Those client relationships are relationships.

Fraser Jack: 13:29 Was 41 a number that you started out for or as in.

Janet Hugo: 13:32 No, I’m aiming at 80.

Fraser Jack: 13:33 Yeah. You still building to 80?

Janet Hugo: 13:35 I’m still building to 80.

Fraser Jack: 13:36 Yeah.

Janet Hugo: 13:37 But only the right ones.

Fraser Jack: 13:37 Yeah.

Janet Hugo: 13:39 Yeah.

Fraser Jack: 13:39 Yep. You’re playing really hard to get when it comes to clients coming in.

Janet Hugo: 13:43 And filter them. I’m still earning incredibly well. At home at the moment I’m the sole breadwinner and both my kids adversity and it’s okay.

Fraser Jack: 13:56 Yep.

Janet Hugo: 13:57 Yeah.

Fraser Jack: 13:57 Yeah. Fantastic and you’re able to travel.

Janet Hugo: 14:02 Travel and enjoy your beautiful country it’s amazing.

Fraser Jack: 14:04 How long are you here for?

Janet Hugo: 14:06 I’ve been here since last week Friday so it’s nine days in total that’ll be here. And I’ve had a fantastic taste of Perth and Melbourne it’s been nice. Taste is the operative word in Melbourne. You’ve got great restaurants here.

Fraser Jack: 14:18 There is plenty of nice places to eat. You could almost eat too much here, I would say. Well, thank you so much for popping into the van and having a chat with us today. I really appreciate it. It’s been amazing to hear about your business and your journey and I guess your award-winning practice [crosstalk 00:14:35]

Janet Hugo: 14:34 Yeah. Thank you.

Fraser Jack: 14:36 Thank you so much for coming in and having a chat to us.

Janet Hugo: 14:37 It’s a Privilege [crosstalk 00:14:38]

Fraser Jack: 14:37 Thank you.

Janet Hugo: 14:38 Thank you very much.

Fraser Jack: 14:40 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.