Ditching Jargon and Creating a Fun, Multi-Award Winning Brand with Keith Boyes [Ep75]

*Note: This is the last episode of 2020 and the podcast will be taking a few weeks off in January to make some fun updates. Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday and a joyous new year!

Welcome to episode 75 of The Innovating Advice Show featuring the first guest from Scotland, Keith Boyes.

Being the first guest, we chat a little about Scotland and I bet you’ll be surprised by what their national animal is.

Keith is the Founder of Spentwell, which he launched in August 2019 after spending 10 months talking with and learning from other firms and focusing heavily on what has become a multi-award winning brand.

Keith walks us through his journey, what he’s outsourcing and why, and the team he’s built and what team means to him.


Guest Bio

Spentwell was started by Keith Boyes – a Chartered Financial Planner with over a decade of industry experience and over a decade hatred of industry jargon.

Keith’s worked in many of the industry’s biggest financial planning firms and had a spell in Hong Kong, advising ex-pats. He’s motivated by the little moments of joy that sound financial planning allows. Helping people get the most they possibly can from life is a constant source of satisfaction.

He lives in Stockbridge, Edinburgh and loves Anna, his family and friends, coffee, eating out, the occasional gin and tonic, travelling and playing any sport that involves a ball. Especially football. He’s a Director of The Spartans Football Club and you’ll find him there most Saturdays – come rain or very occasional shine.


02:00 - Introducing Keith Boyes

03:23 - Learning about Scotland: inventions, Nessie, whisky and the official animal

08:26 - The advice and planning market in Scotland

10:00 - Keith’s journey in the profession

15:50 - Delivering in a way that can be deciphered by our clients

20:57 - All about branding: bringing a fresh perspective

27:40 - Starting from scratch

29:00 - Reaching out

31:00 - The benefits of outsourcing

35:20 - Succession planning

38:20 - The team

41:24 - Some final thoughts


Kate: Hello, Keith, the first guest from Scotland. Welcome to the show.

Keith: Hello. Thank you very much, Kate. How are you

Kate: I'm good. I'm so thrilled to have someone from another new country that we haven't yet visited. So since it's been a while, whenever we have the first person from a country, we chat a little about the country. And we'll talk about the advice market and kind of what's going on there.

Kate: Let's talk about some fun stuff first. And I've been to Scotland. I've been to Edinburgh, which is just a beautiful, beautiful place. And as I was looking up Scotland, I always like to learn a little more, everything I was reading just kept talking about how the Scots are a nation of innovators. I was like, well, how perfect is that. But I was shocked. It was like, you guys are credited for like the television and the telephone and the steam engine and anesthesia and penicillin and the pedal bicycle and the decimal point of all things.

Keith: Yeah. I'm sure some people may dispute some of those things, but yeah, we are quite well known for our inventions over the years, which is, we've got quite a proud history I think which is quite cool.

Kate: Yeah. It's, it's super cool. And of course, I think everyone, when they think of Scotland, they think certainly of Scotch, but also of Nessie, the Lochness monster. So what are your thoughts on Nessie, Keith?

Keith: Well, I have never seen the Lochness monster, not yet anyways. But there's never, there's no shortage of sightings year by year. So whether, whether it exists or not, I'm not sure, but you know, always fun to believe in these myths so why not. And it brings lots of tourists to Scotland so a big plus there anyway.

Kate: Yeah, it certainly does. That does, the scotch would, maybe the mountains, not so much, you and I were joking before, that, what your highest mountain Ben Nevis is not that high.

Keith: Yeah, after we caught up, I actually looked at this so in comparison, so Ben Nevis is 1,345 meters high, which correct me if I'm wrong but is about a third of the size of the [Mt.] Charleston peak is it, which is near you guys, which is about three and a half thousand meters. So it's essentially just a little moment compared to what you guys have. I guess in Scotland, this is the biggest in Scotland. So it's a good few hours hike up, which is lovely and as you said, we're well-known for whiskey. So I think we thought it must be well over a hundred distilleries in Scotland. So you can do some quite fun tours in Scotland stopping off at the disabilities.

Keith: We did a tour ourselves a few months ago, but unfortunately the distilleries were closed because of COVID. So it was more sober than planned, but we need to revisit that at some point, but it is a bit of a cliche that Scots drink whiskey, cause I actually have not quite got into it yet. So maybe I'm a pure Scotsman. That's something that came alot when I was living abroad, that as soon as I said I was from Scotland the assumption was I must drink lots of whiskey which is not necessarily true.

Kate: That's too funny. well I let's pause for just a second. I've got like 80% static coming through my headphones. I don't know if it's sound from your side or there's something wrong now with my AirPods. So, let me unplug my AirPods real quick and see if that fixes it. I'm going to actually pause the recording just for a second start.

Kate: So I actually am a huge fan of whiskey and I have been for a while. I don't honestly know where it started, but I, as soon as I think about like Scotland, if you have watched Parks and Recreation, Ron Swanson and his just obsession with Lagavulin, which is just super cool. It's like, that seems like that should be on my bucket list as, as a place to go.

Keith: No, I've not seen that actually. I need to have a look.

Kate: Oh, it's so good. It's just a great series and yeah, he loves his steak and whiskey. And I'll say the last thing about Scotland that I think is interesting, your official animal.

Keith: Yeah. The unicorn which is quite surprising. I would actually suspect that not many Scottish people realize that the unicorn's our national animal, but I think, I think it represented nobility back in the day. So, even on the sort of UK crest you will see unicorn and then sort of England's lion as well. So it's quite interesting, but I guess the unicorn is very noble and sort of denotes respect and prestige. So I think that's why it's on it, but it's on a lot of our coats of arms here in Scotland, which would represent Scottish clan back in the day and you still see them now. So yeah, it's quite interesting that, actually.

Kate: I think that's kind of wild and I read that and I had to go look up like three different sources because I was like, is it true that the unicorn is the national official animal of Scotland?

Keith: Yeah. It's not, it's not what you'd expect. So I guess it ties in with those mythical creatures. We seem to like a bit like the lochness monster.

Kate: Hey, you don't know that Nessie's mythical. She could be real.

Keith: Could be true, we've just not found her yet.

Kate: Not yet. Not yet. Well, you haven't Keith, but I think other people have.

Keith: Yeah, she's playing an Epic game of hide and seek.

Kate: That's pretty awesome. All right. So let's shift our attention to what does the advice and planning market look like in Scotland?

Keith: Yeah, it's interesting. I think here in Scotland and I guess definitely in Edinburgh, which is where I'm based, which is our capital, the advice market's very traditional. So looking back, it's certainly changing now, but there's quite a focus on sort of investment management and, and traditionally stockbroking, particularly here in Edinburgh. And that's something that's been sort of carried through, over the decades.

Keith: We're seeing an interesting transition now where there's a lot of big investment firms and they would be led on that front rather than financial planning, but there's not a lot of these guys starting to do this awkward transition and flipping it round. And they're realizing that, Oh, actually financial planning is pretty important. Actually we can lead with that and add a lot of value. And the investment management stuff, while it's still important, but it's maybe not as all encompassing as the financial planning side of it.

Keith: So we're seeing and interesting shift but I'd say we're still behind the curve here in Scotland on that front. It is still quite traditional, but that said there are a lot of really good firms good financial planning and investment firms doing some great stuff. So it's important to point that out, but I would say overall it's, particularly in Edinburgh is quite traditional, which we're trying to bridge.

Kate: Yeah. You especially, you're leading the pack there. So talk us through then your journey in the profession.

Keith: Yeah. So I suppose like many, I fell into the industry. I actually studied sports management of all things at university and quickly came to the realization that whilst I enjoyed sports and found it quite interesting, I didn't see it as a, as a career as such. It was more of a hobby.

Keith: The financial area always interested me, but I didn't quite know where I'd land, business or what I'd do. So I started off in pension premium processing back in the great financial crash of 2008, which is an interesting start.

Kate: So, repeat that.

Keith: Pension premium processing. So Kate, if you were contributing to a pension, I'd be the guy with the black screen and the green writing, the various retro computer, I'd be the guy inputting your contribution into the computer for that to then register and throw it on the way and sort of hundreds and thousands of employees. So that was an interesting start.

Kate: That doesn't sound like technology was being leveraged. We're not talking about 1978 here.

Keith: No, not at all. 2008. So that was an interesting start. So I could have easily walked away, I think, but I found it interesting enough. And at that point I was exposed to the certificate in financial planning, which is now the diploma in financial planning. And so, 'Oh, that's actually quite interesting.' That's taking this forward and I'd always wanted a career where I could challenge myself, something that interested me, but I also wanted to make a difference. And I didn't know what that was. And I could suddenly see that opportunity in financial planning, where I could challenge myself and the technical side but actually add a lot of value and help people and support them on their journey personally and financially. So that took me on a six-year journey of study to get to Charter Financial Planner stage so around 17-18 exams I think I did.

Keith: And through that, I'm one of those advisors that rather than stepping straight into advising world, I've worked my way through, starting from that pension administration work. And so working my way through back office, into paraplanning, which is interesting as well, starting to see a bit more of the advice side and then doing a hybrid role and then eventually step into fully fledged advising. So, and that was quite deliberate because I'd always wanted to see, I always wanted to understand that journey. So eventually when I did get to the point where I was sitting in front of clients I could say I could be patient because I understand what goes on in behind the scenes rather than perhaps being the advisor that promises a lot with that real understanding.

Kate: And that's a good point of it. I always think about that sometimes, actually my first job was at Target and I was just a cashier at Target as soon as I turned 16 and being at the sort of lowest entry and it's a massive, massive corporation. I just kept thinking the way some of the inefficiencies were done and just understandingsome of the little things about it. I kept wondering like, are the people higher up, have they been down here at the beginning stage or do they ever come back and revisit it because there is so much value to understand, okay, how does the back end work. How does the entry-level stuff work Like it all comes together to form the brand and the experience and just how everything runs both internally with the business and just what the client gets out of it. So that's great to actually say, Hey, no, I'm going to make sure I go through that whole process.

Keith: Yeah. 100%, Kate. And what you've said ties in quite nicely with some of my thinking around coming into the industry. I think having sort of gone on that journey, I see a lot of good things, which is great, and it kept me interested in industry, but I could also see things I wanted to do a bit differently.

Keith: You know, our industry is quite - not everyone - but can be quite traditional and it's quite focused on the written word. We're not necessarily that great with visuals and making things quite fun and interesting. Finance is perceived to be quite dull and boring. I think it's probably a failure to an extent on our part as professionals that we've not made it more interesting and more engaging for people. So that's something that I've always sort of thought about as I've come through.

Keith: And as a simple example, I recall with one of the firms I was working with where I suggested how about we take this big chunk of text, we move it and put in this great visual that a client can really engage with. And I get not everyone's a visual person, but, and compliance just said, no. Even though it would generate the same outcome for the client. And they said, no, it needs to be written like this. It's little things like that, which made me think there's an opportunity to do things differently here and make it more engaging for the client. And that's the important thing, make it more engaging and interesting for the clients and bring them on board.

Kate: Oh, absolutely. And just let the public understand more that it isn't all just manually entering data in old-school computers and letting other people know that it can be a lot more fun and interesting. And you, you mentioned that it was compliance that says you can't do that. But the thing that I always find interesting and that's such an important piece is, I talk to so many advisors that are in these big companies. They're like, well, we can't do that because of compliance. And it's like, that's the great thing about going out on your own or joining a small boutique practice is they're agile and there's so much more flexibility and yes, of course there's compliance and there's regulation, but it's not at this burdensome level that actually, I think prevents companies from innovating and it's not - that's a general statement, not all compliance people are like that - but I see that a lot. So good for you kind of looking around and going, is that the right thing? Is that really necessary? I think we'd have a better outcome making this slight change.

Keith: Yeah. And you're totally right. Cause I think compliance is an important function and we should, it's important to highlight that, but we should be flexible enough for - we need to remind ourselves, who are we doing this for?

Kate: Yeah.

Keith: We're doing it for the client or the family we serve. We're not doing it for the regulator. Yes. We need to stay within certain rules and get the technical points right. But we need to deliver it in a way that can be deciphered by people, not just sitting there bamboozle with endless streams of jargon.

Kate: Yeah. And that's one of your things. You are not a fan of jargon.

Keith: No, I'm not a fan of jargon. I think it's something that I've found a little bit baffling about financial services and I've actually, in all honesty, an admission here, I've fallen asleep in a meeting before as a young paraplanner. I was sitting, listening to pension presentation and I remember dozing off. And then kind of panicing waking back up, a brief micro nap I'm sure, I hope. No one seemed to notice. And I remember sitting there thinking, Oh gosh, am I in the wrong industry? Do I actually not enjoy this. And then I stepped away from it and thought no, I actually find the topic interesting. It's just the way it's being delivered. And it can be delivered in a far more fun and engaging way. And you know, so the jargon, in my opinion, I get why there's a need for some jargon at times, but I think to a degree it's laziness where we do use jargon.

Keith: Why can't we use get visuals and talk about bubbles or chocolate or sweets or something and tie it in with investments. If you see some of the videos I've done, I take some of these topics, I certainly try to, and the challenge is actually, can I talk for a minute or 30 seconds about a subject, like pensions without using any of that jargon and talk about things that people use in their day-to-day life. And that could be nachos and cheese, or it could be a box of sweets to explain what a pension wrapper is or things like that, where people can look at it and nod their head. Yeah. I know what those things are. Oh right, so that's how that works. Right, Yeah. I get that. Rather than sitting there talking about, giving you the one-on-one pensions legislation, who cares, no one cares about that.

Kate: No, not a lot of people. Well, and it's not only fun and eliminating jargon, but it's relatable, which is huge. And perhaps even more than that, it's memorable. Like people are gonna, and they're gonna remember that for the right reasons, not for the meeting they fell asleep in, they're going to remember it for, Hey, remember he was talking about that chocolate wrapper and like, what does our chocolate wrapper look like. Like that creates an entirely different conversation and experience.

Keith: Yeah. Completely. And I think it's when clients sit there and say, I understand that, and then you can sit there and think brilliant it's been delivered in the way it should. Because actually one of my fondest memories is an elderly lady I did some work with and I did some visuals with her and some drawings on the page to explain her current situation and what we do for her. And she said at the end of the conversation, this is the first time anyone's ever explained this to me like this, and I understand or I think I understand what you're saying. And I asked her to politely ask her to repeat what we're talking about. And she nailed it because we talked in her language rather than our industry language. And that's something that still sticks with me to this day, that moment with her and that something I sort of carry forward. So I'm not perfect and I'll slip into jargon, but I think something that's important to me. And I think it seems to be resonating with clients, keeping things as simple as possible.

Kate: Yeah, absolutely. And Keith, you do amazing videos. I do love that chocolate one. We'll still get you here to Vegas at some point in front of the amazing chocolate fountains at the Bellagio, but they're great. And one of your big things when you started Spentwell is around branding and creating a totally different look and feel for what financial planning is. So you spent 10 months on branding pre-launch, I mean, that's pretty full on. What did that all entail?

Keith: Yeah, that was quite an interesting journey. So when I decided to take the plunge and, the real decision was I could see an opportunity to do something a bit different or make financial planning more engaging and pull forward into my vision. So we spent about 10 months pulling that together and did a lot background research. I spoke to a lot of firms in London as well as up here in Scotland. So I spoke to around a dozen firms actually when I total them all up and listened to their different approaches and how they were going about it.

Keith: Also talked about what I was thinking about and how it could be delivered. And through all of that sort of pooled together my own streamlined approach. And then we went on the journey with the branding and design, which was fascinating. And it's something I'd always said that was hugely important. I think we need to get the brand, I'm willing to spend money on the brand because I think it's hugely important here.

Keith: I think there's a lot of good financial planning firms out there. I just think if we do this right, we can stand out in what is quite a crowded marketplace and what we found when we did our research, and this was with Studio LR who are a branding design company. Fantastic. And they didn't have any experience really, in this field, they dealt with retail and public services and so on.

Keith: I though, brilliant. I don't want them to have any knowledge of financial services. I need a fresh look on this. They came in, we did our broader research. And what we found is when we pulled out all these different firms is there's quite common themes. And one of the common themes is the color schemes firms use. And what we found was, and they put this all up on the wall, all these different firms, colors were some form of Navy or Royal blue, white, and gold, three common color schemes. And you see this across the industry, I'm sure you can think of some off the top of your head. There's nothing wrong with that. You know, those colors, generally, some firms are prestige, honor and so on. you know, we didn't want it to be like the pack. And the other part that we sort of discovered was the typical imagery that would be the couple walking on the beach or the family playing with the dog.

Keith: And these are up in the balloons somewhere, typical imagery which you see time and again. And I thought, well, I guess I can see why you've used it, but can we do something a bit different there, let's talk a bit more day to day things that people do and find interesting, which is why you see nachos and cheese behind me. Or there'll be images of people seeing down a hill. So all the images we use are actually based on kind of making a boring image interesting. So they're all actually based on financial charts, so a pie chart or a line graph, and then we've made it visual. So that'd be a, it would be a pie chart there and made it quite interesting. So there's other visuals where we talk about the smartphone paparazzi as an example, bizarre, but it's just things that basically like resonate with people and it makes the whole look and feel of the brand a bit more interesting.

Keith: And a key part of that was also making it approachable. So, pink was never, the sort of soft pink was never, I didn't start with that idea in mind, but we pulled it together and thought that actually works, because it's soft, it's approachable.

Keith: Financial planning to me and investment management, it can almost appear as if the advisor's up here in the mountain top and the clients down below looking up sort of wondering what's going on and confused. And I really wanted to level up the conversation and make it more collaborative. And I think, I believe we do that with a certain color scheme which is meant to be more soft and approachable. And when we deliver advice and sit down with people it is in a more relaxed environment. Right now, it's over Zoom, but we'll do it over a coffee and it will be pop of color.

Keith: You won't see me in a suit or tie, which for me, could create a bit of a disconnect and I want to be more relatable and relaxed to clients. I think when you get them more relaxed, they start to open up.

Keith: So I've maybe waffled on here, but also that gives you a sort of an idea of the journey we've gone on with the brand and design, and actually through that, we've won four awards now, I think for their design which is a lovely, lovely thing to happen, very unexpected, but we're sort very, very proud of that. I'm not sure how often it is a financial planning firm wins these sorts of awards, but that was quite a special year in that respect.

Kate: Yeah. I don't think it happens too terribly often, but it's so well-deserved, and I love that you went for a firm that didn't have experience in financial services. That just speaks so highly to the value of a fresh perspective and a conversation I've been having a bit lately is people have been asking, Hey, I I'm looking at having an operations person join or someone to do more back office stuff, maybe move into a paraplanner role. And certainly when you get to the paraplanner role, you need specific training and whatnot. But recently I had, Stacey McKinnon, the chief operating officer at Morton capital on the show, and she was talking about just like flipping it all on its head and how she goes out and finds people that work in retail or restaurants or service industries. She actually got the job after being a Pilates studio manager and the owner of the company saw the value in having someone that actually isn't familiar with financial services, who can bring a totally fresh perspective to how we find, hire and develop people in our company.

Keith: Yeah, Kate, I listened to that and I thought that was fantastic. I thought it's so interesting to challenge us to take our best bits of other industries and filling it into our industry. Why can't we do that more often. I thought it was a really interesting podcast.

Kate: Yeah. Well, thanks. And that's an all credit to her. But that's exactly what you did with branding. And so during those 10 months, and you mentioned talking to all these other firms, so had you already left your prior job, and this was part of your initial steps before launch, you built that into your plan.

Keith: Yes. Yeah, so I'd left and tie things up at the end of the year. And I had my four month waiver period but during that whole period I was busy working on the new firm to sort of pull it together, which is quite daunting because you're starting from quite exciting in many ways, because you're starting from scratch, but at the same time, you're starting from scratch. So you don't really know where do you start.

Keith: So I'm hugely in debt, although I've started this firm, I'm hugely in debt to all the people that supported me. Some fantastic guys down in London giving me their time. Guys like Alan Smith who's quite well-known down there. And he was fantastic and really knowledgeable. Some fantastic guys up here as well. And I've got a mentor and everyone's been hugely supportive. And I think what's nice about our industry. What's lovely about it is people are willing to support you. You know, even if you're just a young guy like me starting off, they're willing to share their knowledge, which is, I wouldn't be here, I wouldn't be where I am today without all the support I have, I mean, that's for sure.

Kate: So did you just cold reach out to some of these people? Were they all introductions or people that you had previously known?

Keith: Yeah, it was a mix, so I'd reached out speculative to a few people. And I was kind of supported through some of the guys at New Model Advisor, the trade press here in the UK. And they introduced me to a few guys and I knew quite a few guys up here in Scotland as well, and a couple of introductions to other advisors. So, and I was just blown away by people willing to give me an hour of the time, which, to them, well, I'm sure it was a lot, but a lot of the time, and to me that was far too much and all that helped just to help me take all this scatter and noise sort of bringing it down into a more focused and streamlined approach.

Kate: So you just have to ask. I mean, that's kind of an important moral there is just reach around and ask. And I have people reach out to me all the time and I love talking to people. People that are in university or just coming out and kind of just saying, what are the different options out there. It is a profession where a lot of people, a lot of wonderful people are willing to give their time to help other people new to the profession are looking at doing something new like you were.

Keith: Yeah, a hundred percent. I think it's easy to see other advisors and firms as competition, but why? More firms in our industry take that collaborative approach, particularly, take communities like NextGen [Planners UK] community or XY Adviser [Australia] community. People are just so willing to share knowledge and make the profession better. And I think that's the way it should be, it's fantastic. If you're in the UK, there's a third of advisors retiring in the next 10, 12 years according to one publication. So there's an abundance of opportunities there. So why can't we work together to create a stronger industry is a no brainer in many ways.

Kate: So some of the things that I anticipate you learned from them, you actually outsource some of your things. Compliance, we chatted about that earlier, you outsource compliance, which is probably a very, very smart move and investment management. I mean, were those recommendations from those meetings you did?

Keith: Yeah. So, it's something I've thought about and quite a few of the firms I'd spoken to were also sort of using that approach quite well. I know there's an advisory practice over your way in the US where I think he manages something like a billion pounds and he's outsourced everything, which is beyond my understanding, but I think it demonstrates the power of outsourcing. And I've always tried to live by the motto of keen football, minor soccer to you guys, and Alex Ferguson is a big proponent of this where if you're not an expert in the field yourself, make sure you've got people around you that are. I see myself as an expert in delivering financial advice and I've a dabbled with the marketing side and the videos and blogs and all that is interesting but I would never consider myself a compliance expert.

Keith: I know it falls on my shoulders, but I knew I needed extra support. So it made sense to get onboard and outsource a firm there that could support me and I'm not at the point where I can take on staff. So I outsourcing it was the perfect, perfect route. And similarly with the investment management approach. So we've engaged with Abraham Arcosani and the team who have been fantastic at . And we did a lot of research into all the different firms and landed on them cause it's simple, they hate jargon and they want to deliver a lot of value for clients and Abraham himself's quite a character. So again, that was about looking at, could I sit down with a client and say, I've looked on the market. I know these are the best 10 funds out there.

Keith: And I sat there and thought about this, cause I toyed with different approaches and decided I couldn't do it. I couldn't, I wouldn't have the time to be able to do that broad research. So I needed additional support. so again, that was part of the reasoning and I, and I knew combining those, compliance support, investment support would deliver what I want, which is a lot of value for clients. So yeah, I'm a big fan of the outsourced approach and it allows me, which is the most important thing to set from the clients whilst I do all the marketing for the firm right now at some point, I outsource that, though I do quite enjoy that.

Kate: I would say, hopefully not those videos. That's a huge, it's a huge piece and that's part of building your brand and raising your profile.

Keith: Yeah, yeah. There's, there's definitely a balance there. I'm sure I'll still take the lead, but, anything that helps with the efficiency of the firm and keeps me in front of clients and delivering a strong service for them I'm all for. And that's just a whole part of having that strong team around me and you know, the other outsource I have is a mentor. I outsource counseling to an extent, I guess. I think it's good to have other experts in the industry who can challenge you, so I've got a mentor. And I'm part of a smaller group of advisors who have been fantastic as well, where you can ask the daft question. So I think because there's a fear, I actually had this fear as a young advisor coming in to the industry, the fear to ask what would be perceived as daft questions, which you presume everyone knows but probably everyone's sitting there wondering the same thing. So I've just got to the point where I would just ask and I'm okay looking a fool because at least then I know.

Kate: Yeah. And, and that's, I mean, you're not going to know unless you do ask and I remember that back in elementary school, I used to think the same thing. I was like, am I the only one that doesn't understand what's going on? And as a kid, I actually was shy in class sometimes. I don't think I'm too shy anymore. But then there were a few times I raised my hand and a bunch of other people were like, Oh, I had the same question. And so I feel like I learned early on, I was like, we just have to ask. And if people do look over and they're like, well, it was a dumb question. That's on them, not on you. So good for you asking.

Keith: Yeah, 100 percent.

Kate: And you mentioned a minute ago, like a third of advisors retiring in the next number of years, which is a huge number. And one of the challenges that a lot of those firms have, especially when they're solo shops is not having a succession plan and not actually having something in place. And so even if something happened to the advisor, even if it wasn't heading into retirement, what then happens to those clients? And so you have already started taking care of that with a, what do you call it, a fallback advisor?

Keith: Yeah. So that's an interesting point. And it's a big challenge for advisors, this sort of succession planning. There's no shortage of client books out there which you could buy because there's many, as I said there's a lot of advisors coming up for retirement. So yes, so I've got fallback option. So I do have a backup advisor who would step in, predominantly if I wasn't able to do the job. So if something was to happen to me, if I fell ill as an example, I've got the peace of mind of knowing that someone will step into the firm and take over the range, which is hugely important. And it's important for clients to know that they do have that backup as well. It's a risk you take as a solo advisor, and you do need to think about these sort of support options behind the scenes.

Keith: And then longer term, I think it's something I'm still giving thought to, succession planning, but I do love the thought, there are some fantastic firms doing some great succession planning, where they're passing on to their staff and spreading it using a couple of clever mechanisms. So if I take on staff, is that something that comes on the horizon? I love the idea of passing on to the next generation who I've hopefully sort of brought up with similar viewpoints and similar approaches with a quite simplified approach. That'd be quite interesting, but that's for a future Keith to worry about. I think right now I'm just over a year in so we just did our state of the nation review back in August, which is crazy to think it's been a year gone by. So we set our targets for the next couple of years, and then our big, hairy, audacious goal, which is our 10 year target as well.

Keith: I think you can have a bit of fun with these things because it might seem outlandish, but it's something we'd like to strive for. So our target there is, we're not, funds under management is not something we would badge ourselves on, but it's to have a hundred, 100 client families under Spentwell, that would be our 10 year goal. And what that looks like in terms of possibility and funds under management is not really a driver, but it's having a positive impact on 100 families that can need and value our services. That's what we want to get to.

Kate: That's great. Nice and focused. And you keep saying we, so who all consists in the we?

Keith: Yeah. So I've got a fellow Director. She's not an advisor, but she's very experienced in business, and has actually supported other entrepreneurs in various guises. So she offers me wisdom from running a business perspective. I also have a corporate secretary who helps me running the limited company. And then I consider those outsourced, the investment guys and compliance guys, my mentors and things. They're all part of the team as well. You know, my wife's part of the team because she gives me, she picks me up when I'm feeling down and celebrate the wins with me and things that, as do many of my friends and family. So when I say we, although it may be just me and my fellow Director that actually I feel like I've got a team of 20, 30 people around me.

Kate: And you involve them in these decisions and that's so cool. And I think that's a great lesson because starting a business by yourself can be so tough and so lonely and no amazing business in the history of the world has ever been built by just one person. Even if it's one face, it's always had a team behind it. So it sounds like you're really acknowledging the value that every person on that team provides and that it is a team, even if it's not officially all under one umbrella, it's all going with the same vision and mission.

Keith: Yeah. A hundred percent. And Kate, you'd be considered a part of that team as well, because I listen to your podcast and I've taken a lot of wisdom from your podcast and similarly with guys like Andy Hart, his podcasts, Pete Matthews, these sorts of guys, as well as, just looking at my bookshelf. There are guys like Nick Murray, Seth Godin, Ryan Holiday, these sorts of guys, it seems odd to say, but you're, you guys are all part of my team as well. Even when you don't it. You all contribute, you make me think about things more deeply and help me discover things that I didn't know existed. So thank you.

Kate: Well, and thank you, Keith, for thinking about things differently, for doing things differently, for taking those 10 months. I mean, that's a big investment, time, financially, emotionally, the decisions of coming up with the name and the branding and the colors, and that's something that not everyone does. So you've inspired me to even take a look at my brand and I did not put 10. I didn't even put 10 weeks. I didn't put 10 days into it. So, you've made me think about things differently. So Keith, you were also part of my team and your videos inspire me and they're fantastic. And I'm so thrilled that we got to finally have you on the podcast.

Keith: Thank you. That's very kind. I appreciate being on.

Kate: Any, any final thoughts?

Keith: I think it'd be interesting to have this conversation with you, Kate, in 10 years time to see if I made it to my big hairy audacious goal. But I think regardless I, and for any other advisors listening, I wouldn't change this. I think starting my own firm is the best decision I ever made because it lets me deliver finance in a fun and accessible way and you know, likely have an impact in people's lives. And I think that's just something that's a huge honor to be honest. It's a fantastic industry to be part of. So, I'm loving the journey. I wouldn't change it. And yeah, here's to the next many years in the roller coaster ride.

Kate: That sounds amazing. And how about, I was going to say, we'll definitely do a check-in in five years, but maybe every year or two, because honestly the amount of stuff that can happen in a year is incredible. So I look forward to continuing to see your journey, staying in touch, watching you grow and continuing to inspire planners, not only there in Edinburgh, but all over the world.

Keith: Thank you, Kate, I'd love that. Thank you. I appreciate being on.

Kate: Awesome, thanks Keith.

Propelling the global financial planning profession forward with innovators like you. 

  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Instagram

© 2021 Innovating Advice