In order to succeed in the financial advisory field, you need to be able to identify your own niche and keep abreast of larger trends in your field and how they might affect you. Today’s guest is an authority in the financial planning industry who understands the importance of clearly defining your own niche and scaling your firm using technology.
Jason Pereira is a Partner and Senior Financial Consultant with Woodgate Financial Inc., which manages $200 million AUM across 180 families with three partners and four staff. He is a graduate of the Schulich School of Business’ MBA program where he now teaches classes in Financial Planning. Jason holds an MBA, CFA, CFP, and RFP, among other designations. He has won and been named as a finalist for several industry awards and is Canada’s only two-time winner of the PlanPlus Global Financial Planning Awards.
Listen to the episode to hear Jason’s thoughts on finding your niche, using technology in your financial advisory practice, and understanding trends within the global financial advisory field.
Topics Discussed in this Episode:
- Jason’s five-meeting process for new clients, and what happens during each meeting
- Jason’s views on how to compete with larger, established firms
- How Woodgate Financial arrived at their niche
- How to increase the value of the financial plan for clients
- Woodgate’s pricing structure and how it was arrived at
- The importance of being upfront about fees
- The potential benefits of capping fees
- Knowing when to partner with other professionals and say no to projects outside your niche
- Tools and technology that can be used for scaling the practice
- How the cost of automating processes can be outweighed by the efficiency gains
- How to optimize a financial planning office
- Jason’s advice for financial advisors getting started in the business today
- Why monthly fee-based planning is the financial advisory trend of the future, and what that model looks like
- How trends in the Canadian financial planning industry stack up against global trends in the field
- Jason’s new podcast, Fintech Impact
Woodgate Financial Inc.
Jason’s Fintech Impact Podcast
Life Design Analysis
FinaMetrica Risk Profiling
Quotes by Jason:
“The same way you take on any adversary that has more resources than you do. You don’t attack them head-on; you attack them in blind spots.”
“Being a good entrepreneur is knowing when to say no. And that’s a challenge.”
“There’s a tremendous amount of background work and tools that we develop to take a lot of complexity and reduce it down to simplicity, and deliver it in an easily digestible way.”
We’re sure you don’t want to miss any nuggets of wisdom from Jason, so make sure you listen to the full episode. However, below we’ve given our quick take on three ideas that we thought you would find the most interesting and valuable:
- Competing with larger financial advising firms
- Saying no to projects outside of your niche
- Optimizing your practice by automating processes and bringing in new tools
For more on how to identify your niche, Woodgate’s fee structure, tips for starting out as a new advisor, and more, listen to the full episode through the link above or find it on iTunes or Stitcher.
Competing with larger firms
Large banks have way more resources than you do to dominate in their field, and there’s not much you can do to beat them at their own game. In fact, the worst thing you can do is to try to compete with them directly.
Instead, according to Jason, “you don’t attack them head-on; you attack them in blind spots.”
- Identifying their weak points
- Finding your own niche within that space.
The biggest blind spot Jason has noticed among the big banks is that they focus almost exclusively on investments.
They tack on financial planning for free, but that just goes to show how little value they place on it. It’s often just a box to tick because clients ask for it. If there’s ever a conflict between the plan and something the investment advisor suggests, the plan tends to falls by the wayside.
Luckily for you, many folks seeking out a financial planner aren’t looking to squeeze as much as they can out of the market. Instead, they need help with lifelong planning for their finances. Planners like Jason have positioned themselves as fundamentally different from the big banks by prioritizing financial planning and looking at the whole picture. That’s where you can find the best opportunities and truly give clients the service they’re looking for.
When (and how) to say no to projects outside your niche
As you grow your practice, you may be tempted to grow your business by adopting additional models and expanding your offerings. But where should you draw the line?
Jason admits it’s a challenge, but “being a good entrepreneur is knowing when to say no.” Here’s how:
- Know what the core of your business is and be able to articulate it to others.
- Have enough of an understanding in other areas that you know when you’re out of your depth and need to bring in an expert you have a relationship with.
- Develop a network of professionals (like accountants and lawyers) with whom you can collaborate when needed.
Jason considers his firm as specializing in financial planning and having general knowledge in just about everything else, and he’s able to use that knowledge to direct prospects who fall outside his niche to the right person.
Tip: Jason’s goal is to work with clients who are a great fit for his business. Don’t turn away potential clients who would be wonderful to work with just because they don’t fit every single one of your criteria.
Deciding when to bring in new tools to optimize your firm
When you listen the episode, you’ll hear Jason mention about two dozen tools that he uses for everything from communication to preparing presentations to accounting. Thinking about learning to use all of these tools (not to mention paying for all of them!) may be enough to make your head spin.
However, they can help you optimize your firm by addressing your biggest pain points. Here’s why technology can be a huge benefit to your business:
- They save money by saving time: Many planners think they can save time by transferring their annoying and monotonous tasks to their assistants. Big mistake! As Jason puts it, if you do this, “you’re not solving the problem; you’re transferring the problem.”
Your staff are your biggest investment, so focus their time on high-value activities by using comparatively low-cost tools to help with the most time-consuming tasks. Most of the tools Jason uses cost under $1,000 annually, but each one more than makes up for its cost in time savings.
For example, one of Jason’s staff members was spending nearly 70% of her time booking, rebooking, and confirming meeting times. With ScheduleOnce, a booking tool that automated that process, he estimates they got that time down to 20%. Suddenly, she had half of her day back that she could now spend on more productive tasks, drastically improving the firm’s efficiency.
- They keep employees satisfied and engaged: You hired your employees for their communication, organization, and technical abilities, not for their ability to do the same task over and over again. Respect them by letting them use those skills. Thinking back to Jason’s staff member, we bet she feels a lot more satisfied and engaged now that she’s using the full range of her skillset on valuable activities.
- You don’t have to be an expert in every tool: You just need to understand the basics of the functions that are actually relevant to you and save you time.
To decide whether it’s worthwhile bringing in a new tool, ask yourself these four questions:
- How much does the tool cost?
- How much time does it cost me or a staff member to do the task that the tool will help with?
- How much is that time worth?
- How much time (and therefore money) will be saved using this tool?
Most of the time, the answer will be obvious and you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’re optimizing your resources.
Hint: If you’re new to the industry or your firm has been fairly low-tech so far, don’t worry about purchasing or subscribing to multiple tools at once. Try them out one at a time, evaluate how they’re working for you, and bring in more as the need arises.
We hope you enjoyed Episode 6 of Growing Your Financial Advisory Practice Podcast. For more from Jason, check out his own newly-launched podcast called Fintech Impact.
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