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Advisor Insights – Wes Hall – Founder & CEO Tomorrow Super

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 so 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 and 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.

 

 

I think when you’re starting out in a small business it can feel like it all sits on your shoulders at times. To have four other Advisory Board members who can help lighten the load at times, when there is a lot going on, is great. Also, just to hear someone tell you that you are actually doing a really good job is good to hear. – Wes Hall, Founder & CEO Tomorrow Super

 

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Louise Broekman:
Hi, my name is Louise Broekman. I’m the founder and CEO of the Advisory Board Center and I am here with our advisor insights interviews. I’ve got the pleasure of speaking with Wes Hall, the founder and CEO of Tomorrow Super. Welcome Wes.

Wes Hall:
Thanks. Always good to be here.

Louise Broekman:
I really enjoyed hearing your story the other day when we had an event in Sydney and I wanted to capture it, so thank you for doing this. Maybe you can start off with sharing a bit about your own background and why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Wes Hall:
I’ve been in financial services for 25 years. I’ve always been interested in innovation and getting stuff done and that naturally in this sort of a world leads to something that is digital and innovative. I started Australia’s first ever Robo advice engine 20 odd years ago and that seemed to be pretty innovative at the time and there have been a few other things where I’ve being able to play along the wealth management value chain across four different continents. I was intrigued about why people didn’t care enough about their super almost four years ago, to the point where I thought maybe I can be part of the solution and that built the foundation for Tomorrow Super. My little business!

Louise Broekman:
It’s a very exciting time. You’re forming your Advisory Board now, what was the catalyst for that?

Wes Hall:
It just kind of evolved. I was very aware I had a lot of like-minded people in the business all coming out with the same sort of ideas. I’ve always been a big believer in diversity. I think gender diversity is important, but diversity of any background, ethnic backgrounds and different vocations, is really important to be able to bring to a problem. I felt with the small and dedicated team that we had that perhaps we needed some other insights. I thought that a governance board probably wouldn’t be right as they don’t naturally lend themselves to having more frank conversations, because you get caught up in all the governance rather than thinking about the specific problem.

A couple of people said to me have you considered an Advisory Board, and I responded with, I don’t know, I don’t really know what that means or how it really works. So, I leaned into that a bit more and fortunately crossed paths with a guy who later became the chair of our Advisory Board, Andrew Murray. He is a part of the Advisory Board Centre as well so he helped educate me about what an Advisory Board might bring. We have been going for just over 12 months with the Advisory Board and it’s been a little bit of everything I wanted and more. I’ve been really, really pleasantly surprised about how it’s helped us.

Louise Broekman:
How has it made a difference to you?

Wes Hall:
The bit that was probably most unexpected, but has probably been the most valued is the support. I think when you’re starting out in a small business it can feel like it all sits on your shoulders at times. To have four other Advisory Board members who can help lighten the load at times, when there is a lot going on, is great. Also, just to hear someone tell you that you are actually doing a really good job is good to hear. It feels like there’s a million and one problems at times and you have to deal with so many of them on your own. That is probably one of the challenges that I have as a leader is that I focus on what the problem is, resolve it and then kind of move on to the next problem.

It’s nice to have some people that recognize those milestones for you as you hit them and it allows you to reflect on it and in itself it provides some renewal. Outside of the support it’s the diversity of thought and the network they bring that you can tap into. I might say, I’ve got these kinds of problems, do you know anyone who might be able to help. It’s not necessarily about asking the Advisory Board to do all the work around the problem but they might know someone who has come across that problem before and can help solve it.

Louise Broekman:
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, versus having a one on one conversation with one person supporting you.

Wes Hall:
It’s the interplay you get between the different individuals. You’ve set up this environment where you can have an open discussion and you have a Chair who allows things to flow, so the benefit is that you get this cross pollination of insights and experience that people have. The role of the chair is very important to get that balance, where the conversation flows but it doesn’t turn into a big talk fest. Those of us that have been in corporate life can be a bit wary of the latter. It’s part of finding that balance that is really important because a conversation might feel like it’s going nowhere for five or ten minutes, but actually you tease out information that is really valuable and that refers to the thinking system you talked about.

Louis Broekman:
It is interesting because the external advisors aren’t in the business every day, so for them it is also a conversation they haven’t had before either.

Wes Hall:
Yeah, I would agree. That is a challenge in itself. How much information do you give to the Advisory Board members because you want them to come at it relatively fresh and provide a different perspective, rather than for me to fill in all the gaps along the way. So it’s useful to just frame the problem and throw that around for discussion.

Louis Broekman:
Great. What top tips would you give to other business owners?

Wes Hall:
You don’t necessarily need to go with the first potential Advisory Board member that you come across. Talk to a few different people before making the decision. I think it’s important to be clear on the expectations of the Advisory Board members upfront. Things such as time commitment, how you are going to remunerate them and what’s in it for them. It doesn’t have to be a typical kind of remuneration you can ask them what they are looking for and what they want out of it.

This is all part of the expectation setting exercise with the Advisory Board. Advisory Boards are a little bit different to a full governance board. They can be transient, so you need to ask yourself what does the business need in the next six to twelve months? It doesn’t necessarily need to be who are the Advisory Board members. It was helpful for me and I think for the other Advisory Board members to understand the experience and skills that we need in the next 18 months.

We just did the same thing again to ask ourselves what does it look like for 2020 and there’s a lot of commonality, but there’s also a lot of difference. So, we stepped back and said well our advisory members in 2019 were fantastic, but you might want to bring other people on and take some people off to suit the time ahead. It’s not that the Advisory Board member hasn’t done a good job its far from that, it’s just the business has evolved.

Louise Broekman:
Yes and that inherent flexibility is its strength. Long-term it makes it fit for purpose for where the business is. And what tips would you provide Advisors?

Wes Hall:
With my own experience, I would say ask the person or the business how you can help. I’ve found that particularly helpful because sometimes you’re reluctant to ask for help and share. I think getting an understanding of how different individuals want to operate as well.

Wes Hall:
What I love about Advisory Boards is that there is a degree of informality. Leveraging modern technology tools – for example we have an Advisory Board member out of the UK, and you would think its going to be too hard with the time zones, but it actually works really well. We’ve got WhatsApp or Zoom and you can turn things around overnight and make that modern day environment work for you. We’re all working from home at these days so use technology tools to enable the business you have to progress forward.

Louis Broekman:
Yes, and this is where the skills of a Chair really come into play to be able to navigate the technology bit and get the most out of the environment for the owner. Wes, thank you.

Wes Hall:
I would like to also acknowledge the role of the Advisory Board Centre been a really positive one for me and for our business. Not only is our Chair a member of the Advisory Board Centre, but so is one of the other board members. That’s been great because it’s brought some structure to it and as an owner, never having had any experience with an Advisory Board before, it’s great to know that there’s a method and we now have something written down. Its great that companies such as mine and others in the future get to benefit from the great work that you’re doing at the Advisory Board Centre.

Louis Broekman:
Thank you so much, Wes. I appreciate that. We look forward to continuing to support you on your journey as well.

Wes Hall:
Awesome. Thank you!

About Author:

Louise Broekman
Louise is an award winning Entrepreneur, researcher and business advisor. Louise has received recognition from Industry and Government at a local and national level for her contribution to the Australian business sector. She is an in-demand speaker and is regularly called upon as the leading voice for Advisory Boards in the Asia Pacific region.