No one looks forward to an appointment with the dentist or the doctor; planner Michelle Veitch is doing her best to ensure clients don’t feel the same way about financial advice.
“You’ve got to make it easy for people to want to come and see you,” Veitch says. “If it seems like a chore, something they don’t want to do, like going to the dentist or the doctor, then they won’t come. It’s as simple as that.”
To make sure her clients are engaged in the planning process, Veitch has set up her Mybluesky business in the Adelaide CBD to resemble a café, rather than a corporate headquarters.
“There is a breakfast bar at reception and we have round tables in a café style,” Veitch says. “My office is all glass and it’s pretty much open for the entire time, unless I need to have private client conversations over the phone. The rest of our office is very much open-plan because I want people to feel relaxed.”
When clients come, Veitch takes them to one of the meeting rooms, or if it’s for a more informal chat, they will meet at one of the café tables.
“I make sure it’s a mutual space, so the client feels comfortable,” Veitch says. “My office is not a mutual space, it’s my space, and I think that makes a big difference.”
This philosophy was born from her earlier experiences as a freshly minted adviser, a time when the industry was much different.
This was back in the late 1980s and early ’90s, when superannuation was a new concept and the financial planning diploma wasn’t around yet. In those days, she would get in her car and drive great distances to see clients in their own homes.
“The first time I went and saw a client, I vomited I was so nervous,” Veitch says.
“Here I was this person in her 30s, telling older people how to manage their finances. I knew I could do it – we were one of the first to adopt a fee-for-service model – but I felt the weight of the responsibility.
“It felt like such a privilege and it still does.” As the planning industry morphed from an insurance sales model into an advice one, Veitch noticed how comfortable clients felt in their own spaces.
“They would often be more open and relaxed,” she says. “When people are in their own spaces, they are surrounded by what’s important to them, as opposed to what is important to you. So that is what I’m trying to achieve with the office set-up.”
Veitch thinks informal is the way of the future.
“If you’re looking to furniture to make you look professional, then I don’t think that’s the way to go,” Veitch says. “You want to create an environment that lets the client feel like they’re on a journey with you.”
She finds that people often want very distinct things from life, but struggle to articulate them.
“I haven’t met that many people who want money for money’s sake alone,” she says. “Most want money so they don’t have to worry about money and so they can live the lifestyle they want to live.”
In order to home in on what clients want, Veitch uses various image and text prompts, which clients can select if they resonate with them.
“The prompts say things like, ‘I want to protect my family’ or ‘I want to make sure I can retire comfortably’ and we use that as a basis to explore how to achieve those goals,” Veitch explains. “Because financial freedom looks different to everybody.”
|Name of firm: Mybluesky
Name of licensee: Charter Financial Planning
Time in the industry: 37 years
Academic qualifications: Advanced diploma of financial planning; Certified Practitioner NLP (Business Communications)
Accreditations: Fellow Chartered Financial Practitioner
Professional association memberships: Association of Financial Advisers, South Australia state director (national board); AICD; Authorised Representatives’ Association, SA state director (national board)