Terence Tobin, CFP®| Financial Planner Profile

Blue Chip speaks to Terence Tobin, CFP®, Director at Rich Ideas Group, about his journey as a Certified Financial Planner®.

Terence Tobin Family focused Certified Financial Planner® and Rich Ideas Group Founder

What inspired you to become a financial planner?

Money was always in short supply in my home and we never spoke of it, except when my parents said, “Do you think it grows on trees?”.

I would see others with wealth and wonder what made them special. I went down the journey in high school of learning about business and finance and realized I could positively impact the lives of people who are willing to speak about money. I could help them make wise financial decisions. This inspired me to learn how to be that person and seek out a career in financial services. 

What prompts clients to come to you? Do you have a niche or distinctive value offering?

When I started, I was a generalist. I think this is how most get started. For seven years I worked as a financial advisor in one of the ‘Big Four’ banks and met everyone from 12 to 80 years old – it was fantastic. I learnt so much, what I was good at, who I liked to consult with and what financial problems I wanted to help solve with my clients. Then I left to set up my own FSP, where my niche is young families with children. 

What do you believe is the most important thing you do for clients?

I provide an environment to talk about money, all aspects of their wealth and whatever is on the client’s mind. I do this without shame, blame or judgment. We focus a lot on their relationship with money, what it means to them, and how to use it to achieve their goals. Money is just a tool.

Something I pride myself on is that I focus on the client and not their money.  

What are the biggest mistakes that you see clients make?

Thinking they know it all. I love it when clients have done research and due diligence, but sadly their data sample size is often limited to their own lived experiences or the lived experiences of those around them. Using a Certified Financial Planner® Professional who will help them see what they can’t see and help them zoom out to understand the bigger picture has incredible value. It often takes years for them to discover the true value of a financial professional. 

How do you charge for your services?

We have a hybrid model for our clients. For financial planning and advisory services, there is an upfront fee which is displayed on my website and forms part of our initial discussion. I always walk the client through what the fee encompasses and offer payment options.

Clients find me as they are actively looking for an independent fee-based Certified Financial Planner® Professional who will focus on them and not just sell them another product. When we do implement products for our clients, we will have a fee delivered via an invoice or built into the product. We discuss these options at length and ensure the client decides on a package that suits them. 

What role does technology play in your practice?

We use technology extensively in my practice, as we are 99% virtual, though I do have an office, and clients are always welcome to visit me. The human touch is critically important, and even though we have technology and a level of automation, we will always be available to our clients. I am further supported by two amazing ladies in my practice. 

How do you utilize social media as a financial planner?

Social Media has been the cornerstone of my success when setting up my FSP. I turned to Twitter and grew my following from less than 100 to almost 11 000 in under two years. Then I tapped into LinkedIn and Facebook. From social media, I would run workshops, info sessions, a weekly podcast and in-person presentations. Social media is a door-opener if used correctly, with a plan and lots of patience. 

What do you enjoy most about being a financial planner?

Stories. Everyone has a story and I love to hear your story. Your story has led you to where I find you today and I want to be your co-author and help you write the story of your future. People are amazing and complex; they keep me intrigued, curious and on my toes daily.

This profession is simultaneously the most cruel out there and yet incredibly rewarding. The rewards should not be measured on the financial success of your FSP but on the positive outcomes you help your clients reach. That is my reward. 

What are the biggest challenges you face as a financial planner?

Regulation. Financial services are one of the highest-regulated industries in South Africa, and ensuring one is always up to date with the requirements of the regulatory bodies is exceptionally time-consuming. Previously, the challenges included recruiting the right staff, but that has been taken care of now.   

What is the biggest change you have seen in financial planning during your career?

The move from product sales to financial planning. We focus extensively on ensuring our clients know every detail of their plan, what is in their plan and what is required to meet their goals. That is front and centre every single time. When I started, it was all about case count.  

What’s your one wish for the future of the financial planning profession?

Fees paid to Certified Financial Planning® Professionals are tax deductible. Imagine a world where clients could consult with CFP®s and then claim that as a tax deduction on their income tax returns to SARS. 

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