With Kim Payne, Managing Director of 9rok Consulting.
To succeed in any business you need to clearly and succinctly articulate the reasons clients should engage your services or invest in the products you recommend. Kim Payne, managing director of 9rok Consulting, discusses how to effectively communicate the value you provide and she shares marketing strategies to get your message heard.
Matt Heine: Hi and welcome to Between Meetings. Today I'm joined by a very special guest that I've known for a very long time. We haven't quite worked out how long, but we've often spoken on panels together or at conferences together. She's had a life in corporate world. She's run financial planning businesses. And now she's spending her time helping advisors. Welcome to the show, Kim.
Kim Payne: Thanks, Matt. It's really good to be here.
MH: Now, just before we kick off, it's always interesting for me anyway, and hopefully the listeners, just to get a bit of a backstory on how you actually got into the industry and some of the interesting things you've done throughout your career.
KP: Yeah, so if I go right back, my parents split when I was three. And my father and my step-father ... I eventually had a step-father come into my life, both worked in financial services. My father ran his own business, and he was an insurance sales guy at the time, who then became a consultant. And my step-father worked for AVCO Finance. And so, very much in the corporate world. And it was really interesting being a child watching the two in the same industry, but how different their lives panned out. And I lived with my step-father. We, when I was in year seven, at the end of year seven, so I'd made all these new friends, we had to relocate to Sydney because he got a promotion. And basically, if he wanted to keep his job, he had to go to Sydney.
Three years later, when I'm now a 16-year-old really lovely teenager, we got told we had to relocate back to Melbourne. So, I kind of had a lot of decisions that impacted our family being dictated by this large corporate. My father, on the other hand running his own business, he had holidays when he wanted, he did what he wanted, he had no cap on his earnings, he lived where he wanted. So, as I was growing up and observing this, I started to realised that what was important to me was being able to control my own decisions. So, from very young, I saw that and I lived through it.
MH: And yet, it sounds like you started off in the corporate world.
KP: Spot on. So, I ended up going ... Well, okay, so when I was 16, I was out for dinner with my dad. And I remember saying to him, "Dad, I really love what you do. It's really cool. One day I'd really like to work with you." And he turned around and he said, "Yeah, that's cool, Kim, but you'll have to learn to type." And of course, being a 16-year-old thinking I can conquer the world, I'm like, "Type? Why would I need to type?" And he said, "Because all my secretaries type." And I'm thinking, "I don't want to be your secretary. I want to stand next to you and run the business. By the way, maybe one day you can work for me."
So, it funny. After that, I kind of did everything not to follow directly in his footsteps, and I ended up in the corporate world, where I ended up staying for nearly 20 years. And it wasn't until I ... And it was in financial services.
MH: Did you start as a secretary?
KP: No, I didn't start as a secretary, funny enough, actually. But I did go learn to type, more because in the work that I was doing, I had to learn to type. But I ended up starting in stockbroking as a script clerk back when share certificates were a thing, like physical share certificates. And then, I worked my way up working in a lot of relationship management, investment management. And then, eventually, I think I was about 28, I decided to move into financial planning. Did not ask for any help from my father at all. You know? Again, one of these girls, I can go and conquer the world on my own. And I moved into a financial planning role.
And when I was in that role, it was quite interesting because I was young. So, I was only 28, and I was female, which is a great thing to be young and female. However, I would have clients sit opposite me and say ... And usually older women, not men, that would say, "So, what gives you the right to sit here and give me advice?" And I remember thinking, "Wow, didn't think my gender or my age was going to be a big problem." And that's really where, even though I was in financial services, that's where I started to think, "Gee, you've got to really help them understand why you and the value of you." And that became kind of a mission of mine ever since then.
But what I found is being an advisor, I was actually more interested in how the business was running as opposed to how my clients were going, which being a financial advisor, that's not really a good thing. But I just realised I was on the wrong side of the fence. So, after that realisation, I ended up moving over into a consulting role in a large corporate. And that's kind of where the consulting side of my career began. And gee, that's about 17 years ago now.
MH: So, the industry's certainly changed a lot in that time.
KP: Goodness, yes.
MH: So, you started off when you were at the stockbroker in the pit, so you were running the slips between the brokers?
MH: Just talk through that a little bit, because it might be a bit foreign to some of our listeners.
KP: Yeah, so I was in the settlements team. And so, what would happen is whenever people would buy and sell shares, they actually were given physical share certificates. Often the share certificates that say someone had previously owned were of a denomination that was different to what someone had bought, so we used to have to split them. And I don't mean like rip up a piece of paper, but you had to split and create a whole new physical certificate. And then at the end of each night, we would literally get these big trays full of physical share certificates and go and put them in the vault where they were held overnight, then the next day get them out again. So, I wasn't in the pit, but I was right next to the trading room floor and just saw all of this going on. And yeah, it was quite fascinating.
MH: Remarkably, I think we might still have one or two of those sitting in a safe in the office.
I'd have to dig them out, but yeah, I think they're still sitting there. And it's quite remarkable when you think that's only 17 years ago and just how far things have actually come from those times.
KP: Absolutely. And how a lot of what we did back then now is all done just by computers. Same concept, just it's done with computers. But I work with a lot of stock broking clients actually. And when I say that I was a script clerk in a past life-
MH: Automatic credibility.
KP: Absolutely. It's like, "Wow, if you've seen that, then you know what we're trying to do." So yeah, it's interesting times.
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MH: So, you've seen a lot happen in a relatively short period of time, particularly as you moved into that consulting role. What were some of the good things that you used to love about the industry? And what are some of the good things that you're starting to see now, despite the backdrop of doom and gloom?
KP: I think one of the best things that I see about this industry is the good ones out there, they genuinely help people, they make such a big difference in their lives. And I know that there's been a lot of change, and even over the years there's been a lot of change. But those that still stay true to why they're doing it, like the genuine reason why, gee they can make such a big difference. And I look at a lot of friends of mine and family members that have either not had advice or that have been on the wrong side of the advice, and this is exactly why the Royal Commission happened. And it's really sad because that has kind of taken over, especially in the last couple of years in the media and in the minds of a lot of people, taken away from the good stuff that the advisors can really do.
And even just a lot of the little mindset changes that they can have with people along the way. I think that those that still are doing that, their biggest challenge is working out how to do that today with all of the noise that's going on, how to help people understand that with us, you can get a better result. And it doesn't have to be this big kahuna of a relationship that costs a big amount of money. Sometimes it's just the small stuff that they can be doing that I think is fantastic. Yeah.
MH: So, if you look at ... You're big on the value, and you've spoken about that a couple of times. We recently did a white paper, which is available on our website for download for those interested on your unique value proposition. Now, this is not a new concept, this is something that we've certainly been talking about for 15, 20 years. Are the practises that you're seeing come through having to totally redefine themselves? Or is it more around sort of polishing, I guess, their existing value proposition? Because we're seeing a huge amount of change, and it's interesting to see people go through this in different ways.
KP: Yeah, so I don't think it's necessarily a revamp. It's definitely a repositioning. And one of the things ... I don't like the word client value proposition. However, for use of a better word, that's what everybody understands. But what I like to think of it today is more of a human value proposition. So, it's one human doing business with another human. So, if you've had a value proposition in the past or a unique proposition that you've brought to the table, for me it's more about tweaking it to deal with humans as they are today. So, the things that we value is that human connection. So, in the world of social media and digital, we tend to have lost a lot of that. A lot of the relationships are now being digitalized or automated. People are craving that human to human connection. People are also really craving to feel understood. So, how can your proposition that you either are explaining, that you're demonstrating, that you're marketing or you're communicating, how can that better get to the heart of what a human being needs today, and then how you can help that human in what you're doing. And that's really the tweaking.
There are still some advisors out there whose value proposition still rests on the product and the fact that they do investments, insurance, or superannuation. A lot have moved past that. But now it's really upping the anti in that human space. So, that's ... yeah, not a rejig, but a refocus and a repositioning is probably where I'm finding the majority of the advisors that are doing it right today are coming from.
MH: And how are the best practises that you're seeing articulating that? You've articulated it well, but it would be difficult to sit in front of a client and say, "My value proposition is human contact."
MH: Because it's almost an expectation that your point's well made.
KP: So, it's kind of ... the best ones articulate it like this, it's the beer test. So, if just beer or wine, whatever, coffee, whatever your favourite drink is. But if you and I were sitting down having a beer ... I don't drink beer. Let's say you and I are sitting down having a wine. And you're explaining to me either the problems that you've got or the challenges that you face when it comes to life and money or the things that you want that you haven't got today, how would you be describing them to me? What words would you be using if we're having a casual conversation? As opposed to an advisor who sits there to put a proposition together. I don't know, they put on this formal hat and they don't say it in the language that somebody speaking it over a beer or a glass of wine or a cup of coffee would do it. So, it's not even about trying to say, "Here's my proposition," and having a script. It's about ditching that script and saying, "If we were just talking just together casually, how would you be describing that problem or articulating that result you want?" And speaking that language. That, to me, is the gold nugget of the best that communicate what their value is.
MH: And do you see that applying to, I guess mass outflow in Australia as well as high net wealth and potentially ultra high net worth?
KP: Absolutely. The words they use are just slightly different, but they're still human words. And you know, I get a lot of advisors that do work with those ultra high net work clients, and they're like, "No, no, there's a certain language we've got to use." Absolutely. But at the end of the day, take away their money, take off their suit and tie or whatever it is they're in, they're still a human being. They're still a human being that's got real needs, got real challenges, got real insecurities, real ambitions and aspirations. So, when you can capture that in the words and the language they use, so their words and language might talk about ... I don't know, a Tesla rather than a Mazda, you know? Whatever it might be. But the concept about getting down to the heart of what it is that's still the same.
MH: So, there's elements of what you're just talking about starting to sound very much like goals based advice, is that sort of where you're leading? Or is it more just around that positioning of sort of the up front conversation and ongoing?
KP: Yeah, bit of both because at the end of the day, for me, it's not about the money. It's about what it is that somebody wants in life and how you can help them make decisions and use money to get what it is in life. And goals is something that people are obviously aspiring to. The only challenge I have with the word goals is when someone comes down to see an advisor for the first time, the advisor says, "Tell me about your goals." What goals have you got, Matt?
MH: Most people don't know.
KP: Most people don't know. It's kind of like if I said to you, "Matt, what do you want for dinner tonight?" What do you want for dinner?
MH: Shepherd's pie? Yeah, okay.
KP: Okay, most people can't answer.
MH: That's my answer every time.
KP: You've got a go-to answer.
MH: It's a difficult question.
KP: Yeah. So, what for me, it's around how can you then help them dig deep, get inside what's going on inside them and find out what are the things that they want to do in their life, where are the places they want to go? What are the sights they want to see? What do they want to do with their kids? What are the experiences, the adventures? What do they want to own? So, it's drawing out the things they want, which we call goals, as opposed to just starting with the fact that we're going to be doing goals. So, all in the same flavour of goals based advice, just making sure it's with that very human speak, not financial planning speak.
MH: And I think that's a really interesting point spending a lot of time looking at different robo options, which I still think are a long way off. And one of the first things they sort of ask you is, "How much do you want to retire with?" Most clients don't know how much they spend today, let alone how much they want to retire with. And so, it's actually reverse engineering that and trying to build in that human element where you can actually have the right range of questions.
KP: Couldn't agree more. And also, getting that conversation at the right time. So, I'm not quite 26-
MH: Not far off.
KP: Not far, thank you. As much as, yes, retirement is in my horizon, my time horizon, it's certainly not my priority, you know? I've got so many other things that I need my money for right now. Yes, I need to know that my retirement's being looked after. But if I sat down with a financial advisor right now and they focused on retirement, then they're probably going to lose me. I was at the basketball just recently with some friends of mine, and I was just asking ... They've got a financial advisor, "What sort of conversations do you have?" And they said ... And they're my age, so I'm going to be realistic here, mid-40s, late 40s. And they said, "My advisor keeps talking to us about, 'You know, when you've retired, when you wake up in the morning, what do you want to do each day? What does retirement look like?'" And I get where he's coming from, but he's just having that conversation at the wrong stage in their life, you know? They've got young kids.
MH: Missed about 20 years.
KP: 20 years wrong time, yeah. So, you know we talk about you know when you find the love of your life, it's got to be the right person at the right time? Same with the financial advice conversation, it's got to be the right conversation at the right time. So, yeah, certainly keep that in the back of their mind, but bring that conversation back to the priorities that they want and that they've got in life today that they need money for, don't focus on the wrong things at the wrong time.
MH: Which opens up a really interesting part of, I guess the wealth management industry at the moment. There's a lot of focus again on sort of cashflow management and budgeting. Are they some of the services that you're seeing planners increasingly offer to sort of bridge that gap where retirement might not be the number one priority?
KP: Absolutely. And again, the language used in this space is really important because nobody really wants a budget. People don't want to be held accountable, even though they need accountability. So, there's a lot of advisors out there that ... you know, they're struggling to really give the advice that's going to be incredibly valuable because the clients are saying they've got this much money that they don't spend and it's nowhere to be seen. So, I'm definitely seeing a lot of advisors either going fully fledged into offering that as a solution or those that are at least teetering around the edges enough to give the client more understanding of how they're spending and start to change some of their spending behaviours and habits because those that are doing that are finding that the advice that they can then provide is so much more valuable and the clients are getting much better results.
So, definitely an area ... And it doesn't matter what age group too, it still is important. But the language is really important here because again, if you're going in leading with a budget, people think of restraint. They think of, "Oh my gosh, I'm going to have to stop doing this and stop doing that." So, the language around, "It's to help you spend without guilt. It's to help put a spending plan in place." It's got to have that positive connotation because it's not something clients get out of bed saying, "Woo-hoo, this is what I want today." Yeah.
MH: Picking up on one of your earlier points about when you were providing advice and you were having difficulties because of your age and gender, how important is it to match the right advisor to the client if you had that luxury, and particularly with some of the things we just touched on then around cashflow and budgeting? Or not budgeting, helping people spend better. What sort of advisors have you seen delivering that? Is it a very different type of person or advisor?
KP: Yeah, it's a really good question. And it's kind of like it's horses for courses. So, there are typically the younger advisors that are coming through that are doing more of this type of work, and that's a lot because they've been doing it with the younger clients too. So, the X, Y clients, typically with X, Y advisors. But it doesn't have to be that way. So, you can still be a younger advisor that can fit beautifully with an older client because even though you can't necessarily say, "I am one of you, I relate to how you're feeling because I'm there myself," you can certainly be saying, "As much as I'm not there, I deal with people like you all the time, so I inherently understand the challenges that they're facing."
But I do find that the younger advisors are doing more of that. But still, I see some of the older advisors too that are starting to dabble in this space, even use some of the software and the tools out there available to help clients do it. There was one advisor that I worked with for many, many years. She's now in her mid to late 40s. She dealt with very high net worth clients, and this became a fundamental part of dealing with her was around the whole, "How can we spend better? How can we change your behaviour around spending?" And she introduced it almost as a compulsory part of her offer.
So, I think that there's got to be a match, but I think the fit goes beyond just even the services that you provide because if I came right now to get financial advice, I might have a really good connection with you, you might be older or younger than me, but as long as we've got that connection, that's the critical piece because I need to be able to trust you and I need to be able to take you seriously enough to take your advice and think that you're the right person that can deliver it to me.
KP: Yeah, so that whole respect factor.
MH: Yeah, we're seeing more and more advisors using sort of psychographic style testing with their new clients so that they can actually do that matching. And it's probably something that just wasn't seen even two or three years ago.
KP: No, that's right. And even one of the things I like to get clients to do when they're ... advisors to do, sorry, when they're working with their clients, is to get a really clear list of who are you for? So, not just from a demographic or an age or a what you do type of profile, but get into their mental mindset, their behaviours, their attitudes. But also, equally write a list of who you're not for. And funny enough, that ends up being the easier list. But you know, I don't want to work with people that aren't open to change. I don't want to work with people that aren't committed to doing and taking the action that we prescribe. I don't want to work with people that think, "I want the pill that's going to make it all easy," and they're not prepared for the hard yards.
So, that very much is behavioural and attitudinal. And when you're clear on those lists, one, you can help clients self-select. So, you know, I could be privy to that information and that might be something that you're sharing and I go, "Yep, I'm not going to be a fit for you because I'm not like that, or I'm definitely one of the clients I'm not for." Or vice versa, it can reinforce, "Wow, I feel like you and I have philosophically on the same page, attitudinaly we're on the same page." There's some good English. And I think that piece is such a critical piece, because after all, you want to work with the people that you enjoy and that really are going to get the best from the advice that you give.
MH: Absolutely. Just to pick up on something again that you said a little while back, we've spent a bit of time now talking about humanising advice. And yet, we can't ignore the fact that we need to implement or use technology far better within practises. So, it's that combination of technology and humanising the advice. You've got a particular passion, I think, for social media and digital marketing and some of those things. Do you want to talk about, I guess where you're focusing your efforts at the moment and where you see technology really enhancing that human advice relationship?
KP: Yeah. I am a big, big, big technology fan. And I love all of the tech tools available today where it can help you have a better relationship with another human being. So, I think now more than ever, the tools that we've got at our disposal, they can take away some of the mundane, some of the nitty gritty stuff that you have to do behind the scenes, and they can make it easier. So, I am a big fan of social media, but I like social media because it allows me to then be in front of more people and have a conversation, not just to get out there and promote stuff and do whatever it is. It's how can you use technology to take away some of the things that we used to have to physically do because there was no one else to do it, and then allow you to have those conversations and sit in front of the clients or be working with them more in a human to human way.
So, I think those that embrace technology for the right reasons are definitely getting ahead because they're able to then have more of the human stuff to complement it. And I'm always looking for different technology that I can use, software, programmes, whatever. And the first thing I think about is, "How is this going to take something off my plate today, make it easier, faster, cheaper, quicker, whatever it might be, so that I can then spend more time having the conversations and doing the human stuff that I need to on the other side?"
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MH: So, I think there's probably still a perception that my clients aren't on social media. Do you want to just comment on that? And particularly which channels you really like at the moment?
KP: Yeah, so I gave advisors say this to me all that time that, "My clients aren't on social media," predominantly because they're not on social media. So, I think firstly, you can't put your own perceptions and your own beliefs about say something like social media or digital on everyone else. Or I get a lot of advisors who work with older clients and say, "Yeah, they're older, they don't use it." The biggest users of Facebook are actually women over the age of 55. So, you know, if you've got an older demographic in particular where there's females, and you're not on Facebook, then you could be missing some opportunity. Also, I think a big one is LinkedIn, where your clients are on LinkedIn.
With social media, the key is to know where are your clients hanging out. So, it's not just going on for the sake of going onto social media. I get a lot of advisors that say, "Hey, I'm going to give it a go." They go onto Facebook, they go onto LinkedIn, they do a little bit of Instagram. And then a couple of months later, nothing in their business has changed, they've got no new clients, so they go, "See? It didn't work." It's not a just do it, wham bam, you're going to get a change overnight. It's about that constant being there, having some presence, but understanding why you're doing it as well. Is it just to reinforce that you're there, that you can answer the questions, that you know the problems they're facing, have some of that recognition? Or is it that you're out there to try and sell something? So, I think it's not used properly. And those that can understand why they need to use it, but where their clients are and how they're using it.
So, if you're working with clients who usually are executives, busy, the typical time that they're on social media, and LinkedIn is probably one that they're on, is at night time when the kids are in bed at about 9:00 or 10:00 at night, even later. That's when they're on it. So, if you're going to be doing anything, you need to know what they're using and when they're using it and how they're using it. And then think about, "Okay, now what is a strategy that we can use to try and get inside their minds with purpose?"
MH: How important is it to have a social media plan and to think about these things up front?
KP: Well, I think it's really important because somebody's not going to just wake up in the morning and go, "Oh, I need financial advice," okay? It's not the way that most humans work. We might in this room, but not many other people do that. So, you want to be out there so that when somebody decides it's time now, they've already seen you or been following you or having had some idea of what financial planning is to them that might be a little bit different to how the industry's been promoting it. So, I think that if you're wanting to get out there, social media is a really important platform. And having some presence is really important, otherwise I kind of liken it to having a retail store and keeping the blinds closed. It's not really good for business, you keep the blinds open, somebody might walk past day in, day out, day in, day out. Then all of a sudden one day it's like, "Oh my goodness, I need that thing that I can see in the window." They go in, they make that purchase. That's to me how social media works at its best. But critical piece is having a strategy, understanding why you're using it and the best way to use it. Don't just jump on board because it's what people have been doing. You won't get the results. Well, I haven't seen the results come from that type of strategy.
MH: And given everyone's fairly time poor at the moment, those practises that you're working with that you see are using it really well, what are some of the, A, programmes that they're using to scale their social media efforts? And how is it in the office that typically is responsible for social media?
KP: So, as far as the strategy goes, that's got to be the owners of the business, unless you've got somebody and your business is big enough that you've got a head of marketing or something. But the strategy, the what you're doing it for, what you're trying to get out there does need to rest with the business owner. You can always then have someone more junior who just implements, who does the posting. There's a lot of tools like Hootsuite, Meet Edgar, a lot of those tools that post regularly.
However, what I find is more important is having a social media schedule and do it in batch because if you're time poor, you've got to batch it or else you're never going to do it. So, one of the things that I'll get an advisor to do is to sit down and say, "Okay, over the next month, what are the sort of things that could be going on in your client's lives that you want to have some sort of post about?" And we will map out, "Okay, so this week we'll have two posts about X. The following week maybe one or two about Y. Week three, blah, blah," you get what I'm saying. What that allows you to then do is where you might see articles or something else that's irrelevant, you can still share it. But you then sit down and you say, "Righto, I want these posts. This is the content." And you put it into that spreadsheet there and then on the spot. So, for the next month, someone in the office can then just implement or upload to one of the social media scheduling tools that allows you to do it. But definitely the strategy, what you want to do, the message you want to get across must reside with the leaders of the business.
MH: And I think that strategy is really important and the mix of content. Certainly people I'm speaking to, and I know from our own business, the posts that seem to have the highest engagement and the best engagement are actually around almost what's happening within the business, the impact they're having on the community, the different charities they're supporting. It's actually, again, going back to that humanization of the business where we're seeing great success.
KP: Absolutely. I want to know who the humans are that I'm dealing with. And also, the bloopers. Like, don't ever throw away the bloopers or the crazy cat dances because sometimes there's an element where we do also want to be entertained. But yeah, I really want to see the human behind the brand. And even when you're doing posts out there, don't be afraid to use some humour or to put a smile on people's face. I've got a coach and some of her posts are absolutely beautiful. So, they might just be something like, "Don't you hate it when you're so busy and overwhelmed with work and you find yourself on one of those apps trying to work out which cheese you are?" And you know, she puts posts like this out all the time, and you sit there and you go, "Wow." You smile, but you also go, "She gets me fundamentally as a human being running a business." So, the variety is the key. You don't want it to be all promotional. You don't want it to be all about financial advice. Mind you, I also don't want to just hear about you and your family and all the other stuff you're doing all the time. Break it up. Entertain me, inform me, educate me. But yeah, do it with some interest. Keep me interested.
MH: And what are some of the other good marketing tips that you could give to our listeners? Are you doing much with marketing automation or sort of just email marketing in general?
KP: So, I've dabbled in email marketing for a long time. The key for me is ... And I'm going to use this example that there's a guy that I've just come across recently called Dove Gordon. And he talks about Matt and Liam have got a balloon. Matt's got a red balloon. Sorry Liam, you've got a blue balloon. And Liam throws up his balloon up into the air and instead of floating, it sinks to the ground, hits a sharp object and bursts. Matt on the other hand has this red balloon, and he throws it up into the air and it floats and it sparkles in the sunshine. It's absolutely beautiful. So, of course, everybody when it comes to marketing wants the red balloon like Matt. They go down to the shop, they buy the red balloon. They go home, they blow it up. They let it go, it goes up a little bit, falls flat on the ground, hits a sharp object and bursts, just like Liam's balloon. The difference is that Matt's balloon was filled with helium, okay? The advisor who bought the red balloon has actually filled it with hot air, meaning he's blown it up.
So, for me, no matter what automation you're using, you've got to make sure you've got the marketing helium. It's what you fill it with that counts. So, I'm a big, big, big fan of automation. What I think the key thing is though is to not make the words you use if you're using automation sound like they're coming from a robot. Use human language. Speak to the client in the language they would speak, then automate the process. Absolutely, that's one of the most sensible things you can do. It's efficient, but make sure the content still relates to me, is the right content, is the content that I can look at and go, "Yeah, wow. That was really cool."
MH: Which is actually incredibly difficult to do.
KP: Really hard.
MH: Yeah, we're spending a lot of time thinking about what is the tone of the business? And whilst marketing might come up with a tone, how do you then make sure that the rest of the business is aware of it and that they're talking in a way that the practise should?
KP: Absolutely. And another example, I often when I'm working with an advisor, if they're putting any communication out to their client, any emails, I'll say, "Send it to me first." They send it to me and then I'll go, "Wow. I'm in the industry and I'm actually struggling to work out what you just said." So, it's like, "Right, let's strip it back. Tell me it as you need to, or if there's stuff you've got to have in there that's got jargon or it's got language, just put three dot points at the front that talk about it from my point of view, the benefits to me in the language I understand. Then put all of the detail underneath. But let me understand what you're trying to say." And often that means saying it as you would say it.
So, I'll say to an advisor, "Okay, okay. Before you write that, speak it into a voice recorder just on your phone, and then try and replicate those words that you used when you spoke it because for some reason, the minute we put our fingers to those keyboards, different words come out. And they're not words that we use everyday as humans." And Matt, it is one of the hardest things to do. I was 20 years in the corporate world. Just on a side note, pre-my husband when I was dating, I went on this date one night with this guy, and he was ex-corporate. And at the end of the date, I asked a lot of questions. And he said to me, "Oh my goodness, Kim, you're so corporate." And it's like, "Wow." Needless to say, the date didn't go any further.
MH: And he's not your husband.
KP: And he's definitely not my husband. But it was the biggest insult but kick up the butt I needed because at the time I was in the corporate world. And I sat back from that day on and thought, "Wow, yeah, I speak corporate." I've got a lot of girlfriends now in the corporate world, and we go out and I'll sometimes say to them, "What did you just say? You're speaking like you're in the corporate world. Take that hat off, speak to me now as your girlfriend," and it's a different conversation. And it is hard to do. But the advisors that can do that, write in the way that humans speak, and then absolutely adopt technology, automation, any sort of digital tools that you can to get it out there to the people at the right time, but with that right message.
MH: Kim, we've covered a fair bit of ground already and we're probably going to run out of time shortly. What are some of the really big opportunities that you see for advisors in the industry? And maybe even finish with a top three things to think about and focus on?
KP: So, one of the biggest opportunities I see is the advisors that are getting out there. The Royal Commission's happened, all the compliance regime facing is happening, it's all going on. But those that are really spending time working out what their message is, getting clear on what their value is, how they explain it and how they demonstrate it, to me that is one of the biggest opportunities so that they can be getting in front of the right people with the right message. And the world has changed. So, we used to be able to sign up a client and have them. And unless you did something wrong, you'd keep them ongoing potentially for the rest of their life or for your career, whichever comes first. Nowadays, people aren't wanting necessarily to work like that. They don't want all of you all the time.
So, the opportunity is to say, "Hey, there are some advisors that are going to need all of my help on a regular basis as I've been doing." But then there's a whole lot that are going to say, "Hey, you know what? I feel like I'm at a really good place right now, I don't need your help." And most advisors don't know how to keep them onboard. They don't know how to look after them, they don't know how to keep them in their world so that when something does change, it's them they come back to. So, what happens is they typically part ways. So, an advisor that can say, "Hey, there is going to be these clients that don't need all of my help all the time, how can I still keep them onboard? How can I do it on scale using tools today like video, membership programmes, learning kind of programmes, online courses, all that type of thing, how can I keep them in my space, still allow them to be looked after, but at a lower price and at a lower service level?" I think that's a massive opportunity that the market or the industry is still not doing well enough. They're only starting to realise it.
Plus, clients are going to start to be thinking every year about, "Wow, there's so much going on, so much noise and distraction. Somebody else could lure me over to their service or away from the advisor I'm with now." So, that's why getting clear on your message and demonstrating it even more important than ever. I look at advisor websites all the time. And I know a website is not a be all and end all. But I find if you get the messaging right on the website, it then starts to be embedded and permeate right through your business. So, those that are spending time getting that clear, understanding who they're working for, they're the ones where I feel the real opportunity is, and it is for the taking.
MH: I totally agree with you on that one. And I think we're doing a lot of thinking about that at the moment about how do we help advisors with that ongoing advice relationship where the client may not actually want it, to your point before. Yeah, and it's tough. Are there any examples that advisors can look at of people doing it well overseas or in Australia?
KP: Yeah. So, one of my favourite ones is for those with retiree clients, which again, it goes back to he gets most of his clients through podcasting, and they're retirees. So, a lot of people that think, "Yeah, my clients don't listen to podcasts because they're older," you might need to rethink. The website's called The Retirement Answer Man. And he has his full service, it's an annual programme that he runs. And that's where it's kind of the more traditional model that we use here today. But then what he has is this ... he calls it his Rock Retirement Club. And that's where you can go, and for a monthly fee, I think it's about $39 or $49 a month, he has live calls once a week, he has posts, he has articles. He has other things that he shares, and people can tap into that. It's very, very, very clear that it's for those who are nearing retirement, transitioning to retirement, or already retired. So, all the messaging is geared around that. But what he has is there's options to work with him, options that involve the full kit and caboodle and options that are that lighter version. And clients move in and out of both, but they stay within his sights the whole time. So, he does that really well.
MH: What was the name of that site again?
KP: The Retirement Answer Man.
MH: Wonderful. I'll check it out.
KP: And I cannot remember what his name is, but he's The Retirement Answer Man. And you can Google him. He's an American guy. Then you've got others here in Australia. So, Adele Martin, she's more in the X, Y space. She does it really well. You can work with her full on in her more traditional model. She's got an online course that you can do. I think it's called The Money Buddy. And then, she's got another one. I've just slipped my mind what it is, where it's the whole you can sign up for free and she has a lot of learning, she does live calls, live dial ins where you can ask questions and whatever. It's really smart because it's keeping people within her space, so they can either move in or out of full service or light service. They're very much catering for the differing needs of her different clients. So, that's another one who I find does it really well. And again, the contrast between the younger generation and the retiree generation, both doing that really well.
MH: Sounds like there's a lot of work involved in both of those programmes that you just described. Do you happen to know what sort of resourcing or back office they have to support that?
KP: Yeah. There is a lot of work, but you know, I always say to advisors, "Starting your own business once was a lot of work. Doing FDSs one day and opt in was a lot of work." So, there's so many online courses at the moment that help you do that, even in our community there's the X, Y community. They're doing a lot in this space. I know even Steve Crawford through a lot of the work he's doing, they're running courses on how to design courses. Adele has ... She does have staff. Again, I've only met her a number of times, but I've heard her speak. She's got part-time staff, a lot of virtual assistant staff. The Retirement Answer Man, same thing, he has got staff. He's not a one-man band. But the support can be offshore support as well. So, I'm even doing it now. I've got a full-time virtual assistant that I use, and then I just use contractors as I need. So, it can be as easy or as hard as you want. But yeah, it does require work.
MH: But ultimately allows you to scale the business and service potentially thousands of clients.
KP: Absolutely. So, you've got to have a look at what it is you're trying to do. Talking about opportunities out there today, this is an opportunity if it's right for you and your clients and it's worthwhile doing the investigation, finding out some of the resourcing. You know, podcasting a couple of years ago was very unusual, the amount of people now that are doing it because it's getting some traction and results. But as you would know, Matt, it's not easy to start from scratch not knowing. You've got to get the resources, you've got to find out how to do it. You've got to do a bit of trial and error, pay someone to help. But you can do it. If it's right for you, you can do it.
MH: Absolutely. So, totally agree on that. Anything else that comes to mind before we wrap it up?
KP: The other thing is just remembering why you're doing this. So, there's a lot of bad news stories out there and a lot of advisors that are really feeling the pain of all this. Going back to even the question you asked me in the very beginning, I think the advisors who are doing the best of those are really clear on what they're doing. They're genuinely getting out there making a difference in people's lives. That makes them feel good. But you've got to be able to have a sustainable business in order to do that. So, those that are saying, "What is it that I'm really doing? Why am I doing it?" Being really clear on that, looking at the business model and the opportunities for today and spending the time making those changes because you don't want to do all this hard work and end up getting nowhere. You want to make sure that you get the personal rewards at the same time or else you'll burn out.
The amount of advisors at the moment that are burnt out, they feel like they're running on the treadmill and going nowhere. And there's people out there that they could be helping and making a difference in their lives, and they're not able to do it because they're too bombarded with all the noise and disruption. And I feel it, I hear it, but if you want to get out ... and that's where you get help too. If you're stuck, reach out and get help. There's plenty of opportunity and resources out there of people who can help you.
MH: Which is probably a good segue to my next question. I think we've had some fantastic insights. If people want to get in touch with you, Kim, what's the easiest way to continue the discussion?
KP: Yeah, so I'm on social media. My business is called 9Rok. The number nine R-O-K. My website is 9rok.com.au. So, there's a whole heap of stuff on there. I offer free tools and templates that I've used, I've developed as I've been working with advisors, a couple of paid programmes on there as well. Like I said, I'm on social media. I've just started one of my most exciting things I'm doing now is I've been doing this value work for quite a long time, but I've always wanted to do a programme where I can do it on scale, so do it to more people rather than just one on one. So, I launched it last week. It's called The Value Code. I'm in pilot stage at the moment, so we do live catch ups every Friday and I really help them understand with a framework how they can use value to grow their business. So, at the end of this ... Well, December 6th is the last session. At the end of that, if it works, then I'm going to be putting it out there to the public because I really believe that this is an opportunity for more to understand what they need to do and how they need to do it, and also taking my own medicine, trying to do what I'm doing on scale so I can make a bigger impact in more people's lives.
MH: Absolutely fantastic, Kim. Thank you for what someone once called all of those knowledge nuggets. It's been really enjoyable and look forward to keeping in touch and keep up the good work.