Advisor Insights with Wes Hall: Founder & CEO

Advisor Insights

Published 26 March 2020

After 25 years in the financial services sector, Wes Hall was intrigued why people didn’t seem to care enough about their superannuation and securing the financial future. So he decided to do something about it and Tomorrow Super was born.

Even with deep experience across four continents, Wes found as a Founder and CEO he wanted to be supported and challenged as he sought to redefine how Australian’s manage their super. In this Advisor Insights Series hosted by Advisory Board Centre Founder and CEO Louise Broekman, Wes shares his experience with implementing an Advisory Board for Tomorrow Super.

The Advisor Insights series are unfiltered conversations giving you a lens into real people and real businesses within the Advisor ecosystem.

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Read the transcript

Louise Broekman: Hi, my name’s Louise Broekman. I’m the founder and CEO of the Advisory Board Center and this is our Advisor Insights interviews. And I’ve got the pleasure of having Wes Hall, the founder and CEO of Tomorrow Super. Welcome!

Wes Hall: Thanks. Always good to be here.

Louise Broekman: I really enjoyed hearing your story the other day where we had an event in Sydney and so we had to capture it and do it again with, so thank you for doing this, but maybe we just start off with a funny bit about your own background and why you’re doing what you told me.

Wes Hall: So I’ve been in financial services for 25 years. I’ve always sort of been interested in kind of innovation and, and kind of getting stuff done and, and you know, naturally that sort of leads to things that are a bit digital and sort of be innovative. I created Australia’s first-ever robo-advice engine 20 odd years ago and that seemed to be pretty innovative at the time and it’s been a few odd things where I’ve been able to just apply along the wealth management value chain across four different continents. And I was kind of intrigued enough about why people didn’t care enough about their super almost four years ago. To the point where I went, ‘maybe I can be part of that part of the solution rather than part of the problem’, and that was sort of the foundation for Tomorrow Super, my little business.

Louise Broekman: It’s a very exciting time. And, and you’ve got an advisory board and forming your advisory board now. What was the catalyst for that?

Wes Hall: I’m very aware of if I’m having a lot of like people working one thing just coming out with the same sort of ideas. And so I’ve always been a big believer of, of diversity and I think gender diversity is important, but diversity of any background but also just different vocations is really important to be able to bring to a problem. Right. And so I’ve felt with the small and dedicated team that we had that perhaps we could bring in some other insights. And so I felt like, yeah, maybe I’m kind of bored.  probably wouldn’t, it doesn’t naturally lend itself I think to a more frank conversation because you kind of get, you get kind of caught up in all the think about that problem.

And it sort of said, if you consider it an advisory board, and I’m like, I don’t know. Yeah, that’s just not what that means. Or, you know, how does that really work and what’s, what’s it mean trying to deport an advisory board. And so I kind of laid into that a bit more and, and tortuously kind of cross out the guy who later became the chair of that advisory board, Andrew Murray. And I was a part of the advisory board center. And so he helped educate maybe about what the, and what advisory board might be able to bring him. And just on 12 months and it’s been everything I wanted and more I’ve been really, really pleasantly surprised about how it’s helped us along.

Louise Broekman: And so how has it made a difference to you?

Wes Hall: Yeah, it’s the bit that was probably most unexpected, but it’s probably been the most valued, is just the support. And I think when you’re when you’re starting out in a, in a small business it can feel like it all sits on your shoulders at times. And to have for other advisory board members who can help lighten the load at times when there’s a lot going on. But also just kind of go, well you’re actually doing a really good job is kind of, it’s good to hear sometimes, right. Cause it just feels like there’s just a million problems and you just having to deal with so many of them. And so this is probably one of the challenges I have as a leader as I am. I just kind of focus on kind of what the problem is, resolve it and then kind of move on to the next problem.

And it’s not bad. I have some people that can kind of help sort of recognise those milestones as you hit them and kind of reflect on that and kind of and that in itself provides some renewal. But I think outside of the support it’s again, as I said, diversity of thought the network as well. Like just being able to yeah, it’d be able to sort of tapping out. I’ve got these kinds of problems, you know, anyone who might be able to help. And so it’s not, not that I’m necessarily asking the advisory board to do all the work around, they might know someone else who has come across that problem before and can help solve to that.

Louise Broekman: Yeah, they’re a handy group of people to know! And to tap into, can I just ask you around this whole thought leadership thing and the diversity, what’s the difference of having an advisory board when it’s designed as a thinking system with multiple people around the table at the same time, those who are having a one-on-one conversation with, with one, one person supporting you.

Wes Hall: Yeah, the it was so into play you get between the different individuals. And so I can go in a place I might not have envisaged and you’ve set up this environment where it’s an open discussion. You’ve kind of got a chair who allows things to kind of flow. You do get that benefit of this cross pollination of you insights and you know, an experience that people have. Yeah, that’s the role of the Chair is kind of important, right. To kind of get that balance in the, you know, how do you let that a conversation flow. But and those of us that have been in corporate life a bit like someone should kind of be a bit wary of that. It’s like, ‘oh wow it’s just going to be a big talk fest’ and so, but just kind of finding that balance is really important. It must take all this is going now with this sort of five or ten minutes, but actually kind of letting it sort of tease out a little bit can be really valuable and kind of brings to that sort of thinking system is of talking about.

Louise Broekman: It is interesting because the advisory board members, the external advisors and in the business every day, so for them to have a conversation they’ve never had either before, it’s an interesting one for everybody being involved in it.

Wes Hall: Yeah, I would agree. And so it’s and that challenge in itself, about how much information do you give to the advisory board members because you kind of also want them to be sort of coming out of relatively fresh and, and, and be able to kind of see from a different perspective rather than for me to fill in all the gaps along the way. Right. So it’s kind of useful just to sort of frame up a problem and sort of South throw that around for discussion.

Louise Broekman: Great. so what are your tips? What, what top tips would you give to other business owners?

Wes Hall: Well I think you don’t necessarily need to go with the first advisory board member, the participant or potential member that you come across. Yeah, so talk to a few different people. I think it’s clear, it’s important to be clear on the expectations of the advisory board. Maybe it’s upfront. So time commitment you know, it was important how you get to it right, and what’s in it for them. And so that’s, it doesn’t have to be a typical kind of like X dollars per hour or whatever it can be, you know, what are they looking for? And I, I think there’s probably this expectation setting with the advisory board as well as the I think advisory boards a little bit differently to normal boards or full boards.

Wes Hall:

In the it can be transient, like, and so it can be, well, what’s, what, what do you need for the business for the next six or twelve months? It doesn’t necessarily need to be who are the advisory board members. So and so it was helpful for me and I think for the other advisory board members in 2019 with the skills and experience that we need to be able to, it was part of an advisory board. And then when we did that just after Christmas again and said, well yeah, what do we think that looks like for 2020 and there was a lot of commonality, but there’s also a lot of difference. And so we kind of then, you know, stepping back from that and going, well advisable members in 2019 were fantastic, but I maybe need to think about, well how to, it might be, you might bring other people and you might take some people off. That’s sort of what you balance out now. But I think if, if you said that it’s not that the advisory board member might take a step off, hasn’t done a good job that’s far from that. It’s just they actually evolved.

Louise Broekman: And that inherent flexibility, its strength longterm for the business to be able to make it fit for purpose for where they are. And what what tips would you provide advisors?

Wes Hall: I think you’d go obviously with my own experience I would say, I’d ask all the people that you like, Hey, can you help. I’ve found that particularly helpful cause sometimes you’re reluctant as a part of the business you’ve locked up. And so you can kind of make you find that. And you know, I think that that’s makes it much easier to be able to kind of share. I think there’s just a stall, there’s kind of a why working in. So I think it’s kind of setting, it’s trying to get a sense of kind of how different individuals want to offer.

I don’t think it’s good go out and do it. And also I think that the, what I love about advisory board is it can have a degree of informality. And so just being able to use modern technology tools that we’ve got an advisory board member out of the UK. And you know, sometimes you think, ‘Oh, that’d be too hard at the time’ when it actually works really well. We’ve got WhatsApp, I use Zoom, you can turn things around overnight and kind of make that work with the sort of the modern environment that we operate in. We’re all working from home at these days so I could see I had to use different and use different technology tools. So I’m sort of enabling the business you have to progressed forward.

Louise Broekman: And this is where the skills of a Chair really come into play to be able to navigate the technology bit and get and get the most out of out of the environment for the owner.

Wes Hall: I would acknowledge the role of the Advisory Board Center, it’s been a really positive one for our business. So not only is your Chair, one of the other board members is also a member of the advisory. That’s been great because it’s some structure to it and, and for us to, it was an honor having never had any experience with advisory boards before. It’s been great that there’s a method and some things that are now written down on say increasingly with what you shared the other night or I just kind of, it just seems really simple. And so that’s great that you know, that companies such as mine and others in the future get a benefit from the great work that you’re doing.

Louise Broekman: Thank you so much, John. I appreciate that. Yeah, thank you. And look forward to continuing to support you on your journey as well.