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Episode details

James Wrigley 0:00
Hello, welcome back to the podcast. I’m James Wrigley. I’ve got the pleasure of speaking with Rob Petrie from a Canberra Financial Group today. Rob, thank you for joining me on the podcast. Pleasure. Hopefully the audio comes through today we’ve had to patch together a bit of a recording studio here, we’re recording on the phone voice memos. So apologies if the audio is not as great as it normally is. Rob, I wanted to get you on. We’re just talking before I press record here, around this, you kind of manage a team of advisers, and we’re gonna want to get into your roles at a combat and what you do, how you got to there. But as I think a lot of the people that I interview for, for ensemble, they’re either small business owners, there might be solo practitioners, they might have a limited support staff, maybe they’re growing and adding on a couple of advisors. Or they tend to be the other end where they’re an employee. And in a financial planning business, that might be a reasonable size. But I think there’s probably some gold in between the other two years around around managing growing teams of people. Can you maybe start with telling us a bit about what your role is the Cambo? What you get up to?

Rob Petrie 1:07
Yep, yep. So my role with the Campo is to facilitate the relationships with our advisors, with our joint venture partners, where we actually walk in and assist them with their advice notes. So we have a multifaceted angle with managing the relationship with a business owner, but also then managing their relationship with the client. So which is good, fun, and keeps us on our toes, from the advisors perspective we’ve got, as you can appreciate different personalities, different skill sets, and making sure that they’re aligned with regards to best interest duty and the needs of that time in our business and that profile that they specialize in, but also the client needs as well. Yeah.

James Wrigley 1:51
What can you elaborate a bit more on this, this idea of the kind of joint venture partners because until I got to know, you and the Academy business, the setup that you have, I think anyways is probably a bit unique in in the market, what does it? What does it look like? What do you clients come from? How do you as the business work?

Rob Petrie 2:09
So essentially, we partner with accounting practices, primarily with accounting practices, who are looking for an advice solution, but don’t necessarily want the the issues of managing an advisor or an advice, running an advice business themselves. So we will come in and partner with them, and work with the accountants with clients and making sure that we address their needs. So from an accountants point of view, they essentially get an advisor in house essentially, we can white label as the relevant accounting practice, to provide the services. So it assists the accountants not only with their needs, but also around ring fencing their clients. So they’re not exposure to be basically ripped away to another practice where they potentially may be exposed to a different accountant or different services.

James Wrigley 3:01
Yeah. Was that something that that came out of the changes around the accountants licensing from a few years ago? Or was it already happening before then we already

Rob Petrie 3:10
it was already happening before then. But it accelerated with regards to the change in licensing expectations. Okay. So from that perspective, there are a number of accounts that were aware of where it’s just become too hard. So they wanted to be self licensed or remain license, but it’s been too difficult. So we step in and assist with that void, where that’s played out?

James Wrigley 3:33
And how have you come across the accounting firms to, to, you know, to put the advisors into it? Where do they come from? How do you stumble across an accountant?

Rob Petrie 3:43
Yeah, we’re very fortunate that with regards to Anthony and Joe and then David Pitt, from a leadership perspective, that they have large profiles in the industry, and through different communities, we generally get approached to, to actually understand what our solution is. And then basically, we’ll walk in and see what their problem is, and how we can solve to that particular problem. So most of it is word of mouth. And that that’s probably where it primarily comes from,

James Wrigley 4:15
because I think a lot of financial planners, they they’re always trying to find the accountant that’s going to refer work to them. But you seem to be in a unique position where it sounds like they’re coming to you rather than you going searching for them because of the network that you’ve that’s been built by the business over time.

Rob Petrie 4:30
Yeah, I think a lot of that credit needs to go to the the original directors here in terms of the amount of time and effort they’ve spent on building their profile with accounting practices, but also knowing what the right solutions are, and establishing what those pain points are so that you can actually repeat them. And the beauty of our relationships are that you can come in at any point in time and that share our experience with other practices so you can accelerate some of those potential pitfalls or or raise awareness to them similar to a client relations? Yeah,

James Wrigley 5:02
they they I think there’s there’s probably a degree of credibility given that you can go in there and say we you know, we’ve done this in the past we’ve done that you can show that experience that you’ve had exactly with clients scenarios. Yes, definitely. This isn’t the first time that I’ve dealt with this problem, although we’ve had to come up with a solution for you.

Rob Petrie 5:21
Or better still, there are three options we can we can put to the table to try and solve to this. Which one do you want to try?

James Wrigley 5:29
It so prior to joining a combat, what were you what what’s your your story and financial advice.

Rob Petrie 5:36
If I go back, originally, an advisor with the CBA did that for 10 years, 10 or so years, and then manage teams across Victoria and Tassie, for the CBA in terms of the financial planning, and then move to shadforth. With the team there 40 Odd advisors that was across Victoria and South Australia. The the part that I enjoy more, in terms of leading teams is actually coaching people to their potential. My most enjoyable aspects are working with grads, and basically establishing what they want to be, and then helping them hit their full potential. So that’s the fun part of that holiday,

James Wrigley 6:25
the depth of the leading teams. So how many? How many advisors that are Kambo? Are you responsible for in one way, shape? Or form? What does that look like?

Rob Petrie 6:34
At this point? It’s 12. Okay, 12 advisors who basically work as a team, and basically we’re responsible for servicing not only the backlog, but also the new opportunities that the new introduction is that are brought here, wait. So it’s a relatively small team, but continually growing. So we’ve got some fairly high growth aspirations there. So if we keep growing at the same rate, then the team will keep expanding,

James Wrigley 7:03
we’d love to have advisors in. I would imagine there’s not that many businesses out there might be a handful, but it has to be at the upper end of financial advice businesses with a number of in house employed financial advisors, there wouldn’t be that many. Surely doesn’t. I don’t know, the stats often think there’d be too many like that.

Rob Petrie 7:22
Yeah, I’m not. I’m not 100%. Sure. So again, me from reflecting on working for large institutions. I suppose it’s all relative, same previous team was 40 Odd advisors, before they was 100. On authorized reps. So

James Wrigley 7:42
relative terms? Yeah. So I wanted to kind of dive into this, this idea of managing a team of 12 advisors, kind of what processes and procedures and things they have in place to, to be able to, as you mentioned, trying to, you know, train and mentor and encourage these advisors to be the best version of themselves and whatever it is that they’re aspiring to do. What have you got in place in your whether it’s day to day, month to month, like what what have you got in place, what processes to try and help facilitate that?

Rob Petrie 8:14
The point where I probably default to is one on one time, and I dedicate on a fortnightly basis, an hour to each of the advisors where we talk about challenges or work on things that they want to develop the aspect that I make sure that we have factored into that discussion is more around the skills that they want to develop, and less about the outcomes that they want to achieve from will make assumptions that get given the profession we work in, which is outcome driven, that people are pretty clear on their goals. It’s usually just making sure that we refine the skills along the way to make sure that they get there.

James Wrigley 8:54
I found in the past, and I’m interested in your your input in this that you kind of I have a similar, you know, one on one type session with different people in my team. And it can often particularly talking to advisors, it can often go down the track of then you end up talking about a particular client scenario and I was in New in Duck maybe workshopping a particular client scenario, and that that’s beneficial in the moment. But trying to take a step back to progressing them and developing them more than just dealing with this one client scenario. How do you how do you deal with that?

Rob Petrie 9:32
I think the key there is just making sure that you don’t get suckered into the thought process or validating the thought process. And in terms of framing, like I’ll, if I’m working with you, James, I’ll frame with you that you’re going to present a problem you’re going to present a situation, even if I agree with your situation. I’m going to take an opposing view, just to make sure that we’ve got perspective from other other angles. So in Continuing to make sure that I’m agile enough to flick around and take a different stance at different times that that aspect, but having really clear parameters that people can work within sight, because you and I deal with the same client will have totally different solutions, we could achieve their goal, okay, it’s no different. And the part that we’re all attracted to is that agility to use our minds. So making sure that there’s not just one way, and making people aware of that, but being really clear on the parameters from a regulator regulatory perspective, making sure that those bumpers are there, and that they stay in sight that you’ve got the autonomy to play, okay? Early on, when coaching, and when working with advisors, feeling that there’s only one way, I found that really prohibitive. That’s where I get pleasure out of working with newer people to our profession, because they have an open mind, or they haven’t stumbled across as many obstacles before. So they don’t have preconceived ideas of what can and cannot work. And better still, they could probably execute on an idea that I I failed at. But because they’re smarter than me, they might find a better way or an alternative way to make that work.

James Wrigley 11:20
Yeah. You mentioned about this kind of some some pretty aggressive growth aspirations. And in the time that I’ve known you, you seem to absolutely execute on it. How do you how do you find new advisors to, to kind of feel that growth trajectory? How do you? How do you find them? And what is it that you that you’re looking for? Because there’s 1000s of advisors out there?

Rob Petrie 11:45
Yeah, I find that probably the hardest part of the role here. In terms of finding them. Again, at different stages, you have different philosophies. Early on in my career, I look for the best advisor that I could find. But now I look for someone who brings something different to the team. And looking for those points of difference or looking at the team and going What are we lacking? And from that point of view, you know, I’ve still got aspects of some diversity within the team that I haven’t been able to know yet. And again, it’s it’s one of those progressive things a lot to do with timing as well, yeah, our timing may not be appropriate for someone else’s. And I’ve still got a couple of people that I’m really interested in working with in the future. But at this stage, they they’re working at other firms. So but periodically, I’ll just raise my head and in their, in their messages and drop them a line just to see how they’re going yet. Always caught your eye on. Yeah, I think, again, the beauty of a larger firm that we represent, is that very reliant on on networks and relationships, I think making sure that you get people who can fit into a culture or fit into an environment and want to be there. The two most recent hires, they approached, akimbo from a historical perspective in terms of being watching our, our journey and interested in what that looks like, and that progress to them now of joining the team. So from that point of view, that’s a pretty good fit. But also you have solid grounding in terms of where they’ve been.

James Wrigley 13:30
You have anyone in the team you go through professional year.

Rob Petrie 13:34
I’ve got one starting professional year, a couple of weeks. Yep. Yeah. So

James Wrigley 13:39
that’s that in the client service, someone that’s in Client Services team, where do they sit at the moment,

Rob Petrie 13:43
client services, but we’ll move them into an associate role. So that’s probably the area where our advisors have probably been a little bit more hands on, or our our Client Services team have been a little bit more that crossover journey. So trying to create something in between, so that we have that succession plan more in play?

James Wrigley 14:02
Yeah. So most of the advisors you hire, at least for the moment, they’ve got a couple of years experience somewhere else. Most might be early on in their career, they might have been advising for 15 years, but then, but their advisors elsewhere.

Rob Petrie 14:16
Yes, yeah. And again, from because of our, our solutions that we deal with, there’s, you know, I’m looking for someone who has an interest in the share market, in particular, because of the investment solutions that we provide. I need someone who can actually have that conversation and wants to have that conversation, as opposed to exclusively a managed fund. So from that point of view, because of the accountants and some of the we run a retail and a wholesale business. So we’ve got a fair bit of diversity there in terms of those conversations. That’s not all just to the strategic side. It can be quite heavy in the investment side. Okay.

James Wrigley 14:58
And how does the relationship With the accountants work is similar we spoke before about if there’s a whole range of accounting partners that you have, and you know, knowing either right across the country, we’re in Melbourne, but they’re right across the country. So how does that how does it work in terms of the accountants relationship with the Canberra financial advisors, and they lined up? James, is the financial advisor for this accounting firm, or is it more of a accountant puts their hand up and says, Hey, we’ve got this client that looks like this. And then with your mix of different skills you have in your team, you’re trying to match them up with the right advisor, how does that work? Yeah,

Rob Petrie 15:36
I try and align an advisor initially with the accounting firm from the point of view of it’s a relationship business. So I need to make sure that they gel and from that point of view, generally speaking, it will be more than one advisor, so that they have choice there. And I will choose two advisors who have some similarities, but also some differences so that they stand out that way. And it’s not what I’m looking for, from the accounting point of view is consistency in terms of how we deliver to them. And then the personality component becomes the deciding factor to further where if if it’s not working, it’s generally because we deliver inconsistently so solving to that problem is the biggest issue from my perspective, that that we we sought we we face, which is more around, if you walk into practice, and you do one thing, and I’ll walk in the next day or do something different, we’re going to call out get called out on the points of difference as opposed to the similarities around client experience. Yeah. And

James Wrigley 16:40
kind of to, to that, have you experienced in the past an accountant, if you’re putting two advisors in front of them in in one way shape, or form them gravitating more toward one towards the other doesn’t happen from time to time? Yeah, always. Yeah, always. How do you deal with that did end up putting a different adviser in there, like what happens in that relationship, if, if the accountants gravitating towards one person and seemingly like only wants to deal with, with one of the advisors in a relationship,

Rob Petrie 17:11
it because it’s about the client, like I’ll generally manage the number of clients that we’ve got on the go at any point in time. So the client experience and the brand is important. So in that type of scenario, I’d be coaching the accountant to the point that a, James has got a lot of opportunities on the go, it’s going to take a long time to get through those. From that perspective, this could be a bad, bad experience for your client, which could ultimately impact your brand. I’ve got another advisor here. Let’s tap the brakes in terms of some opportunities to that advisor. And let’s make sure we balance that out. Yeah. That’s my preferred approach doesn’t always, not always well received. Because again, it’s a it’s a relationship business, as I’ve already said, yeah. But but just making sure that we do that. And that’s where it becomes really important around the closeness of those relationships. I’ve got a couple of advisors who work with one of our large practices, and they do that exceptionally well. I’ve got another relationship where I’ve probably got advisors who are too extreme. And from that point of view, I need to bring them both in. And just having those conversations with them around awareness of this is how you’re perceived or this is how your message is being received. And then just trying to coach them to somewhere in the middle.

James Wrigley 18:33
And what what type of capacity restraints or expectations do you use it for your advisors, I know you, you operate in a system and some advice practices work on a we want advisors to look after X number of revenue. And then there’s other practices that that look at it from a we want clients, we want advisor to look after X number of clients, or do this number of initial client meetings that week is number of reviews, it’s really regimented. What type of capacity measures do you have around the advisors.

Rob Petrie 19:10
We run into speed model, which is a new business model. And as a retention model. From New Business Advisors, they’ll generally hold somewhere around 70 clients at the top end with a view to making sure that they’ve got capacity to grow and capacity to do business development, which is supporting the accountants in terms of what their endeavors are. From that perspective that allows them to move quickly. From my experience, the amount of time that it takes to bring on a new client is considerably more than what it is to service an existing client. And that’s the rationale behind them holding lower numbers. Is that because it will be a considerably larger piece of work to assist the client with onboarding and implementing their initial advice?

James Wrigley 19:57
And where’s the where’s the line in the sand? And for that, you know, that more new business orientated advisor, where’s that line in the sand? Where you’re starting to say, okay, you’ve got, you’ve got too many either do they then rotate to via servicing advisor? Or do they hand off? Like, what, what? What happens?

Rob Petrie 20:12
Yeah, working too. There are different scenarios at play. And there’s no one one size fits all, the approach that I think works, the best is going into a meeting where you present a team, and I present to advisors to you as my client. And essentially, during that presentation, the advisor who has the more appropriate skills to look after your needs going forward, we’ll take the lead on that. Usually, that would be a servicing advisor, because they’re aspect of retention, and then nurture component, age is probably their skill and more aligned with what they want to achieve, which is help people through their goals. Yeah. So that handoff process early on, generally at the original statement of advice, presentation, that would be predetermined at that point, or determined at that point, with a view to setting that they’re making sure that their client is aligned to that new advisor. Right. Okay, so

James Wrigley 21:13
so it’s not a not necessarily a model where someone builds up a client base, and then they, yeah, I’ve had a relationship with you, the client for three or four years, and then all of a sudden, I’m turning around, you’re saying I need to move you on to a different advisor that the servicing advisors trying to be introduced as early on in that relationship as possible.

Rob Petrie 21:35
Yeah, yes, yes, still a work in progress. And again, clients that they need to gel with their advisor, so it won’t always be that way. And sometimes, we’ll enjoy clients, and we enjoy certain clients that we want to work with. So I’ve got some advisors who want to hold on to clients that they they adore, they appreciate, and they want to see those through. And they can do that. But it’s only up to a certain number. Yeah, and making sure that they can still actually, they’ve got a different skill set, which is that ability to influence clients at the start of their advice journey. That’s a very different skill to, to retention. So making sure that we get that right. And

James Wrigley 22:19
that’s, if I reflect on my last few years, I can, that’s probably the hardest part that I’ve faced, as an advisor myself, this handy clients over to someone else, I’ve had to do it a few times, and we’ll need to continue to do it going forward. But then every now and then like, because there’s a lot of clients know each other, like you get these every now and then that the advisor that’s taken over, they say oh, such and such mentioned that, you know, they know you’re they know James, you’re still looking after their friend, but I’ve been moved on to someone else, and they don’t feel great about it, which then in turn makes me not feel great about it. That’s that’s the hardest part that I deal with is I need to do it. But but but doing it in a way I don’t know that I feel comfortable with it’s it’s always the challenge. My advice to that scenario to help with that thought process.

Rob Petrie 23:12
If I take the recent new members to the team, they’ve actually got better skills in the areas for the these clients that we were going to move from one advisor to the next, they’re actually more appropriate to deal with, because they can specialize in that area. And from our perspective, I’m more comfortable that the client will get a better outcome by dealing with them. Now, if if I’m looking at you, you have a very diverse skill set. And you you work with clients with vast ranges of problems, okay. Where we get to the servicing side, if we choose someone who specializes in a particular area, and we can actually make sure that they are dealing with someone who deals with that problem day in and day out. I think they’ll get a better outcome. Yeah. So from that framing perspective, I wouldn’t feel guilt I’d go. My skills are a bit superficial over here. No disrespect intended. But I’ve actually the good news is we’ve just hired an advisor who specializes in that area, and they will ensure that you get the best possible outcome based on your circumstances. Yeah, yeah.

James Wrigley 24:26
That’s a bit of work. Yeah. So where to where to from here waiting for you where to where to for the team? What are your plans for the year?

Rob Petrie 24:37
All things being equal, where the team will continue to grow. So if we work to client numbers, in terms of my my mantra is that each client requires about the same amount of time to to understand and to service. Therefore we work to client numbers. Yeah. As the client numbers continue to grow. That’s the catalyst for us to continue to To expand the time, and make sure that we’re working through those areas, that commitment from my perspective to the broader businesses from a succession plan point of view that I’ll look to develop a couple of individuals from within our broader business, and give them an opportunity to be an advisor in the not too distant future. And outside of that, probably still need to bring in one more advisor in the next 12 months to complement the team in terms of an area that I think we’re probably a little bit soft on,

James Wrigley 25:33
is there. Is there, like an end target of we would like to have 15 advisors servicing this many clients? Or is it just just, if it’s 1516? Seven, and it’s just keep growing? There’s the growth is the is the goal, rather than the there’s no way like, like, there’s no end in sight? Struggling?

Rob Petrie 25:56
Yeah, yeah, that I don’t think there’s an end in sight, you know, working in our profession for a number of years, I think there are so few Australians who get good quality advice, the goal is to get more, or Aziz in front of a good advisor, and make sure that we’re solving to their their needs, and getting them to a better financial position, that that’s the goal. And until that, that number starts to get to something more substantial, where we’ve got confidence that people are being guided through their advice journey, as opposed to transactional advice, I think we’ve still got a massive way to go. So few advisors left in terms of our population live. That’s a pretty good,

James Wrigley 26:44
pretty good position to be in it is it’s, like I said, in the building blocks of that is more and more accountants in the network, your partners, which then there’s more clients that need helping you feel backfill that with more advisors, and

Rob Petrie 27:01
just keep growing? Yeah, I think the opportunity is at the moment, from, from our perspective, we’re probably a lot more reactive than proactive. I think there’s a proactive side of the equation where we could do a better job of, of educating and articulating the benefit we could provide to people. At this stage, we do a great job when people go to you know, financial advisor, can you help me, and we do a fantastic job there. But it’s the people who are unaware that they could benefit. That’s, that’s something that we need to start to solve to a bit better.

James Wrigley 27:37
Do you have any ideas that like is that you know, this is the classic seminars and things trying to try to run events for, for the accountants that are referring work into? Like, do you do that already? Or is that? Do you have any ideas? How do you how do you make it more? You’re making people known about you, rather than people asking for you?

Rob Petrie 27:58
Yeah, I probably defer to you on that one. Because I think you’re doing a better job than I am. Probably that awareness of the strategic value of dealing with an advisor, yeah, is undersold and too many people gravitate to the return. Yeah, and what that looks like. And I think strategically, we add considerable value. But I think the part that I haven’t solved too, and I don’t think our profession has is getting to people early enough, I give us five to seven years with someone before they’re going to retire, and you can change their life considerably. Give us 10 to 15 years before they retire. And you can turn them into anything if they if they’re working with you closely enough

James Wrigley 28:43
versus someone that walks in, they open the doors are retired yesterday, and it’s just trying to make the best use of what they happen to have in front of

Rob Petrie 28:50
them. Yeah, yeah. Realistically, you know, if someone comes in and says I’m retiring in six weeks, we’re just going to place them respectfully, we’re going to we can’t change that outcome in terms of what they’ve got. But give us a few years and through just that discipline of guidance. It’s, it’s such a privileged position that we have. And I’d love to see us getting involved in in people’s lives earlier.

James Wrigley 29:19
So Rob, thanks for joining me this morning to record this video for anyone that’s interested. And for many advisors, in particular, given the growth prospects and you’re saying you’re looking for other advisors, where can people find you to follow along? Have a coffee with you? Where can they where can they get in touch?

Rob Petrie 29:34
Yeah. Rob Cambo So hit the website and just yell out if you think you want to have a chat now or if you think we can help

James Wrigley 29:45
you on LinkedIn as well. So we’ll put some some links to your profile and stuff in there in the show notes wherever you might be listening to this. publish it on on LinkedIn shortly. Be around thanks for joining me.

Rob Petrie 29:57
Thanks James for sure to say

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