The video connection

04 May 2022

Money & Life team

Money & Life contributors draw on their diverse range of experience to present you with insights and guidance that will help you manage your financial wellbeing, achieve your lifestyle goals and plan for your financial future.

As a finalist in the 2020 FPA Innovation Award, CT Wealth is doing some interesting things with video, as a way of engaging with and connecting to clients. Cameron Teague CFP® explains the business’s approach to Jayson Forrest.

It may only be a one practitioner business, but CT Wealth is seriously turning heads with its approach to, and use of, technology. But what really defines this Brisbane-based business is how well it uses technology to connect and engage with clients, as part of its online service model.

“As a business, everything we do is online, including safely storing all our documents in the Cloud. This allows us to work from anywhere – as long as we have an Internet connection – and be just as productive, as if we were in the office,” says Cameron Teague CFP® – Director of CT Wealth.

To understand Cameron’s reasons for taking the online route, you need to go back three years to when he set up CT Wealth as a fee-for-service business, focusing on strategic advice for clients transitioning to or in retirement. A focal point of his service offering is providing advice on complex superannuation strategies, particularly in relation to Government and related defined benefit schemes, like the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme (CSS) and Public Sector Superannuation Scheme (PSS).

“From the very start of CT Wealth, I knew my client-base was national. So, I never had the option of just having a traditional shopfront with clients walking in through our Brisbane CBD front door,” says Cameron. “By properly identifying my target market from the outset, we were able to lockdown a way of connecting and engaging with our potential client-base nationally. This required using technology, and building systems and processes to engage with clients in a way that was compelling and lasting.”

When Cameron finally opened the doors to CT Wealth in May 2019, he did so with a business model that was specifically aimed at online advice.

“We were delivering online advice well before the COVID-19 pandemic. So, you could say, we were the early adopters of software like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, which was purely driven by the fact that our client-base was national. This meant when the pandemic hit in early 2020, it had absolutely no impact on our business whatsoever.”

To support his assertion, Cameron points to CT Wealth’s business revenue, which has been doubling each year since it’s been operating.

“While we’re obviously going to hit a peak and plateau, the growth has been outstanding,” says Cameron. “But what is particularly pleasing is just how national our client-base is. About 80 per cent of clients are not based in Brisbane, where our office is located.”

Something visual

When setting up CT Wealth, Cameron was adamant he didn’t want to have any potential clients coming through a gatekeeper, like an accountant or lawyer. He believed relying on referrals like this makes a business vulnerable. Instead, he decided to go direct to consumers.

“I’ve learnt over the years that consumers are very visual. They prefer to learn about something by seeing it, rather than just hearing about it,” says Cameron. “If you show a client something on a whiteboard, you can immediately see if they understand what you’re doing, because they are actually watching you draw on the whiteboard as the concept evolves before them.

“As part of our approach to advice, I thought about how I could replicate a whiteboard visually for clients online.”

This prompted Cameron to experiment with different software, finally settling on Doodly – a whiteboard animation software that allows the user to create professional and realistic whiteboard videos.

“By using Doodly, we set about creating a number of ‘explainer’ videos that were mobile friendly and of three minutes duration. The time duration was important because we identified that people watching these videos were most likely to do so commuting to and from work.

“We also found that if an ‘explainer’ video went beyond five minutes, then people would stop watching. But by sticking to this three minute format and making these videos mobile friendly, people watched them.”

According to Cameron, these videos replicate the whiteboard online, with each one addressing a specific financial planning question. The videos also feature a ‘call-to-action’, which encourages people to book a 15 minute phone call with Cameron. This allows him to start “the conversation” with potential clients.

It’s an approach that is working. Since recording these ‘explainer’ videos in July 2019, CT Wealth has racked-up 193 subscribers on its YouTube channel and 32,296 views. An impressive result! Today, the business continues to focus on the videos that have been particularly successful with clients. These include: Understanding Higher Duties for PSS Scheme Members; Calculate my PSS Pension; and Contributing to your PSS Super Account.

The videos also impressed the judges of the FPA Awards, which named CT Wealth a finalist in the 2020 FPA Innovation Award.

The power of Google

Cameron remains amazed at how many views these videos have had. He credits this to content that is current, easily digestible, and relevant to the needs of his target market. He also points to the importance of Search Engined Optimisation, which includes adding CT Wealth’s profile to Google My Business, which has helped drive client engagement with the business.

“We knew by updating our Google My Business profile and adding links to our videos in the profile, then CT Wealth would be ranked higher by Google,” says Cameron. “We have included Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on our website, which has also helped to start client conversations. In fact, Google loves FAQs, so if you search keywords like ‘CSS’ or ‘PSS’, we figure quite highly on Google.”

This approach to creating video content and optimising the ability to search CT Wealth online, has meant the business spends no money on marketing.

“By creating these videos, we discovered we were getting massive traction to both our YouTube channel and our website. In 2021, we had a combined 40,000 page visits and 22,000 unique visits. By doing this, we were able to control the connection to the client, rather than rely on referrals or third-party endorsements. I knew we had to do that to succeed as a business.”

He also adds that as an unaligned, fee-for-service business, CT Wealth is one of only a few advice businesses that have been recommended by the Australian Defence Force (ADF). “We feature on the ADF’s website. So, when you get a reputable website linking to your business, it also helps to increase your ranking with Google.”

It’s easy to do

For other advice firms considering developing their own series of digital whiteboard-style videos, Cameron emphasises the importance of finding the right software that’s appropriate for their needs. He is happy with his choice – Doodly.

“Each video took us about five hours to do,” says Cameron. “The cost to buy the Doodly software is about $100, so the financial cost is minimal. Really, the only cost is the time it takes to do them.”

However, he suggests that any planner wanting to do their own video needs to be able to communicate effectively with their target audience.

“There are plenty of financial planners on YouTube with videos, but no-one watches them. Why? Because they’re static and boring. People don’t like to watch talking heads. However, the reason we have succeeded with our videos is we have adapted the whiteboard concept to an electronic format that is very visual for the viewer, and people have responded favourably to that.”

Cameron believes that in order for these types of videos to succeed, they need to be able to answer a question that someone typically asks, like: How much do I need to comfortably retire on?

“When people are looking at retirement planning, there is a whole raft of questions they want to ask. So, it’s just a matter of identifying what those key questions are and then building your video around that. But remember, you need to answer the question in a format that is short – three minutes is ideal – and visual. Google loves videos, and if people start clicking on your video, then Google will rank you higher.”

In fact, Cameron believes online videos can almost be used as a self-perpetuating medium for client generation. “You first need to create the content, then load it onto the web, and then generate the traction – like embedding links on your website or newsletter. From there, your traffic will just grow.”

Controlling the client connection

According to Cameron, controlling the connection to the client via the videos was the first step in beginning the conversation with interested consumers. The second step was converting these people into potential new clients. CT Wealth has done this by adding a ‘Complimentary 15 minute phone call’ button on all its website pages, where prospective clients can automatically schedule a 15 minute phone conversation with Cameron.

Sitting behind this booking functionality is Calendly – an online scheduling platform – which automatically schedules the meeting into Cameron’s Outlook calendar.

This approach is working for the business, which on average receives 15 new phone call bookings every week from prospective clients. Cameron confirms these prospects are primarily being fed from Google and YouTube.

While still learning how to better optimise online search engines and technologies, Cameron reckons he and his team have done a good job in mastering the Google front-end. This has enabled the touch points the business has with consumers to be “phenomenally high”, which is then converted into client engagement via the 15 minute phone call with Cameron.

“We have that initial 15 minute chat with clients and from there, we’ll proceed to our first appointment or I’ll direct them to other resources, like their super fund, if I believe they can assist them better.”

And what about CT Wealth’s paraplanning? This function is outsourced to Guideway, which also helps to reduce the business’s operating costs.

Last piece of the puzzle

As an online business, nothing changed too much for the firm during COVID-19. However, the pandemic did enable the CT Wealth team to enhance some parts of how the business operated.

“In our two stand-alone offices, we’ve always had a landline. However, we have recently moved to a voice over Internet phone line, which has allowed us to make voice calls using an Internet connection instead of a regular analogue phone line. We now have our phone running through Microsoft Teams, which means when we have lockdowns or can’t access the office for any particular reason, like a flood, our team can still work from home or anywhere else, with the same ability to call and receive phone calls on the office phone number.

“This was the last piece of the puzzle that had to go online, and we’ve done it now,” says Cameron. “This means we can literally pick up the office and move it to another state and no-one would ever know. That’s because everything we do is online, including all our documents, which are stored safely in the Cloud.”

Challenges and opportunities

Looking ahead to the next 5-10 years, Cameron is unfazed by the number of challenges on the horizon for the profession, which he views as also being opportunities.

Apart from ongoing compliance and regulatory red tape, he believes the key challenge facing the profession is the declining number of practitioners – and at a time when the demand for advice has never been higher.

“This drop in financial planner numbers will put increasing pressure on the remaining practitioners. And while this is concerning, it’s also an opportunity, as there is growing demand by consumers for quality advice,” he says. “But the real risk is we won’t be able to keep up with the demand.”

Cameron believes the profession needs to actively encourage more students to seek a career in financial planning to plug this gap in practitioner numbers. However, he remains positive that more students will join the profession over the coming years, and applauds the efforts of the FPA to engage more closely with tertiary institutions and students.

“It’s encouraging to see the FPA supporting members and new entrants with the Professional Year requirements, as well as working with them on mentoring programs and career pathways. This includes getting the CFP® Certification Program built into the Masters of Financial Planning.”

And even though CT Wealth is doubling its revenue year-on-year, Cameron accepts that as the only practitioner in the business, CT Wealth is not only at capacity but is also vulnerable to key person risk. He knows that growing the business will require him to take on more advice professionals. But he says, “that’s easier said than done”.

“I’m a hard core fee-for-service practitioner. It’s in my DNA,” says Cameron. “So, finding practitioners who have the same mindset as me is a struggle. That’s why I am considering taking on student graduates and helping them with their Professional Year. This is also an opportunity for me to mould the next generation of financial planners, who will be aligned to my professional and ethical values.”

As a business that has embraced technology, Cameron remains confident that if fintech providers can work with practitioners to get technology working as effectively as possible, it will not only help reduce the cost of advice, but make financial planning truly accessible to all Australians.

“Integrated CRM systems and end-to-end advice solutions will make advice more affordable to Australians. It’s the ‘Holy Grail’ for the profession and we’re edging ever closer to it,” he says. “Technology will be the enabler to help improve the financial wellbeing of all Australians. Now, that’s something to get excited about!”

For more information on becoming an FPA Professional Practice, click here or call 1300 337 301.

FPA Professional Practice Program

The FPA Professional Practice program has been specifically designed to recognise financial planning practices that go above and beyond, by adhering to the highest professional standards to deliver best practice financial advice in the local community.

The benefits of becoming an FPA Professional Practice are many. They include:

1. Recognition

As an FPA Professional Practice, your financial planning practice will become a role model, and employer of choice, within your local professional community. Your demonstration of the highest professional and ethical standards, through commitment to the FPA Code of Professional Practice and CFP® Certification, will bring your practice the recognition and respect it deserves. The use of FPA Professional Practice branding in your office, on your website and on your business stationary, will set your business apart.

2. New client opportunities

As part of the FPA Professional Practice program, the FPA has implemented a series of national referral programs designed to connect Australians with your practice’s financial planners.

3. Professional standards

By becoming an FPA Professional Practice, the quality of your business will be instantly recognisable. That’s because at least 75 per cent of your practitioners are FPA members and a minimum of 50 per cent have achieved CFP® Professional status (or will become CFP® Professionals by 30 June 2024).

4. Practice management support

FPA Professional Practices gain exclusive access to the FPA Connect, Share and Learn workshops with your peer business principals, as well as practice management tools and discounts.

Eligibility criteria

The FPA Professional Practice program is open to:

  • Self-licensed financial planning practices;
  • Local branches of employed financial planners; and
  • Practices under a dealer group AFSL that have been operating for at least one year.

The eligibility to become an FPA Professional Practice is:

  • 75 per cent of your financial planners must be FPA members in the following categories: CFP® professional, Financial Planner AFP® or Associate.
  • 50 per cent of your financial planners are already CFP®professionals (or will become CFP® Professionals by 30 June 2024). There must be at least one CFP® professional in the practice to be appointed the Relationship Manager.
  • Your practice commits to upholding the FPA Code of Professional Practice.

For more information, click here or call 1300 337 301.

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