My Journey to Social Media…

william-iven-19844-unsplashHi, and thanks for taking the time to read my first blog post, and for hopefully liking my page. I thought I would kick things off with WHY the hell I am embarking on this extremely daunting journey of creating a social media presence. BUT first I thought I would give you an idea of where I have been.

I have been in the Financial planning industry for just over 8 years now, and I must say, the industry has been very good to me. I got a lucky break into the industry and was thrust into the deep end. After only one month of hard core product training, learning different sales techniques and becoming accredited, I was dropped off at an Asset Managers office in Melrose Arch, and told to “go and be successful”. Well, if only it was that easy…

I spent 3 years learning the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of the unit trust world, whilst tending to walk-in clients and orphan” clients. An “orphan” client is, as the name suggests, a client who no longer has a parent, the parent being the financial adviser who has most likely left the industry, “abandoning” the poor client at the steps of an asset manager, much like a baby left on the door steps of a church. The only difference is that the Asset Manager/ financial institution has an obligation to look after you as a client, ensuring that you are getting the correct advice, which you as the client are paying for (even though you probably didn’t know you were). So that became my focus, re-intermediating orphan clients and ensuring they get the investment advice they seek.

Come 2013, I figured there was more to financial planning than calling up orphan clients and performing a risk profile analysis. (10 completely irrelevant questions, meant to guide your investment decisions for the rest of your life, regardless of your objectives or lifestyle) in order to ensure their funds where correctly invested (really just covering mine and the industry’s ass). That’s when I moved into private banking, looking after private banking clients, from a financial planning angle. This was a very welcomed change as I would now be able to offer comprehensive holistic financial planning to clients who actually wanted it, or did they?

I was being fed leads (every financial planner’s dream) for clients who supposedly wanted to meet with me. Turns out, there was a score card which dictated how many leads had to be given and boy oh boy that was an easy box for them to tick. You need an R.A, you need an R.A everyone needs an R.A! If you look under your chair, you’ll find Marc Sydow dishing out R. A’s! Ok, ok, I’m being ungrateful and a bit unfair because Private Banking was a great opportunity for me to take clients through the traditional six step process and develop a mostly unique financial plan, suited to the needs I could identify and that the clients wanted to address. The only problem with this model is that the only way to actually get paid was to sell a PRODUCT.  As a client how does this sound? “Mr client, here is your unique financial plan. It reads as follows… You have no shortfalls on death, disability, retirement or savings (idealistic, I know), you can meet your children’s education needs, and you can buy your dream house at the coast (even more idealistic), but I still recommend you take out this life policy or move your R.A and don’t put those surplus funds into your bond, rather invest it in equities… All so that I can get paid.

This is starting to get long in the tooth now, and if you haven’t already clicked away, you are probably going to do so in the next 2 minutes. (Fun fact, according to a study by Microsoft, humans have an attention span of only 8 seconds, 1 less than that of a goldfish).

Back to my story. So after two more years in a private bank, I finally made the move to independence. One of the scariest transitions I have gone through. Leaving the comfort of a pension fund/ medical aid, and a steady flow of new “leads”.

In March 2015, I joined Adviceworx. “Adviceworx is an Independent Financial Services company whose core business is the professional management of financial advisor networks and practices” – yip straight off the website. I like to describe Adviceworx as a company which allows me to run my business within their business. They provide me with all the infrastructure and support that I require (office, printing, internet, admin, compliance, licenses and most importantly the tech), and I give them a share of my fees (more on the tech side of things in another post).                                                                          I am now able to run a true Lifestyle Financial Planning Business.

As a Lifestyle Financial planner my role is help my clients develop living financial plans. We have proper conversations about things that really matter in their lives. I’m not trying to sell you anything else other than a Living co created Financial Plan. In order to do this, we have the hard conversations, and the fluffy conversations,we talk about things i think are important, and things you want to avoid.. but at the end of the day, we have a proper picture of your current financial world, and then we are able to build different scenarios based on different events/ decisions you may take in the future, all of which is enabled through the tech we use. So if you’re a numbers person, I can pull spreadsheets and cash flow analysis’s, show you future investment values in real and nominal terms and tell you exactly what level of income you need to be able to provide yourself with at different ages into your retirement. If you are a visual person, I can show you your current world via a whale diagram and how things will look in the next 1, 2, 5, 20 etc. years. I can show you the value of specific assets at any point and illuistrate how many years it will really take you to pay off that credit card, all on the big screen.

I guess the most important part of being a Lifestyle Financial Planner is that we can now FINALLY differentiate between advice, recommendation, implementation, strategy and returns and all of these can be charged for separately. Looking at it, you may think well this could get expensive if I am paying for all of these individually, but the beauty is, you as the client, can choose which role you want me to play.  If you just want the financial plan, that is perfect, I will bill you for the hours worked to get you to the recommendation stage, you can then choose to implement the recommendations yourself. If you want me to handle everything from the planning, recommendations implementations and monitoring then I can do that too, and I will charge for each part separately. This gives you, the client, complete transparency of what you are actually paying for, and that I am not miss selling you a product just to get paid.

OK, last paragraph, I promise.

The reason I have decided to embark on this journey of creating a social media presence… I love the work that I am NOW doing. I know I can add huge amounts of value, but I need people to believe in what it is that I am doing. Just like it took me 5 years to make the transition to Lifestyle Financial Planning, clients too need to make the transition, and why would you want to work with me over the millions of other financial advisers out there(DID YOU KNOW: there are currently well over 30 000 financial planners out there in SA, BUT only around 4600 CFP professionals in South Africa)? Well, that’s what you are going to find out along the way. I would like to build credibility, post relevant, useful content and show you that I am continuously growing, learning and able to add value to our interactions. That and the fact that I am 33 years old, I have many, many years to offer in this industry, and let’s face it, if you aren’t on social media you are basically swiping left on your future.


3 thoughts on “My Journey to Social Media…

  1. Reply
    peanutbutterkellyg - May 30, 2018

    This is a great direction Mark. Great story and look forward to some more!

  2. Reply
    Maanda - May 30, 2018

    It’s been an interesting journey you have embarked on Marc, all the best and definitely there is a huge need for advice than product push in the industry.

  3. Reply
    Shirley - May 30, 2018

    Great article

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