Profile: Rohan Sivajoti on playing the long game and joining online advice firm eVestor
Rohan Sivajoti, founder of Postcard Planning and recently appointed advisory services director for online advice firm eVestor, says as a younger adviser it is the lifetime value of clients that is important to him and playing the long game
It’s been an eventful six months for financial adviser Rohan Sivajoti and 2016 looks set to follow suit.
Following the launch of his own IFA firm, Postcard Planning, in June 2015, Sivajoti recently announced he would be joining online advice firm eVestor as advisory services director.
Postcard Planning will become an appointed representative of the robo-advice firm, set up by Moneysupermarket founder Duncan Cameron and Paradigm founder Anthony Morrow.
Sivajoti says: “It’s an incredibly exciting proposition and I’m really looking forward to joining the team. This is an online advice proposition with a hugely personal feel and has best advice at its very core.”
His role at eVestor, he says, will be “to create an online advice proposition with a focus on financial education”. This will include building the advice process, making sure it’s compliant, running the money and hiring a team of advisers. Advice will be available when the customer wants it, Sivajoti stresses. “Our advisers will be there via Skype at hours that suit the customer. As an industry we still haven’t quite understood the concept that it’s not really convenient if we provide advice Monday to Friday when everyone is working rather than when people are sorting out their money, which more often is at the weekend.”
Taking on this additional role was a natural step for Sivajoti, who was already looking at building his own ‘robo-advice’ offering founded on an educational premise, via the Parmenion white-labeled service, before he was approached by eVestor.
It fits well with his passion for bringing advice to a wider and younger audience. At 29 years of age, Sivajoti believes he owes it to his own generation to make financial advice as accessible and approachable as possible.
“My decision to become a financial adviser was never driven by money,” Sivajoti states. “I have always wanted to build a legacy and create something I and my children could one day be proud of. As such, my mantra has always been one of building financial education.”
Sivajoti set up Postcard Planning with a view to helping clients in their 20s and 30s.
“I am part of their demographic, we can connect on that level, and I understand the concerns they have,” he explains. “I am never picky about an individual’s assets, my main priority is ensuring we click on a personal level.”
Unlike many of his peers, Sivajoti says his business strategy is to play the long game. He envisages being in the business for the next 30 years, and says the clients he looks after today with little or no funds will accumulate significant wealth over that time.
“The lifetime value is significantly more important to me than it might be to many advisers in their 50s,” he says.
Unsurprisingly, mortgage advice ranks highly among his target market and Sivajoti uses this a starting point to address a client’s wider financial planning needs. He admits that for many of his younger clients, pensions and retirement do not feature highly on the radar, but says it’s “his job to make them see the bigger picture.” It’s a strategy that has so far worked; to date Sivajoti has built up a 60-strong client base.
“I do believe young clients prefer working with an adviser their own age. I never wear a suit to meetings, and I always try and communicate with them in plain English,” he says.
Social media key to building brand
Sivajoti, says content marketing and social media have been key in building his client base. He writes weekly blogs addressing issues he feels affect his own generation and is active on Twitter, Facebook and Unbiased.
“The best platform for me has been Facebook,” he says, “financial advice is based around trust and Facebook is a trust-building platform. People see you posting pictures and quotes and they can a get a look into you as a person, which I believe helps them to trust and connect with you.”
Indeed, Sivajoti says the advent of the internet and social media has made setting up his own business much easier and reasonably inexpensive.
He says: “Of course, you need a six month salary buffer in the bank as you can’t be sure how quickly you will build the business, but technology today means anyone can have a voice for free and you can use the internet to network and reach out to prospective clients.”
Sivajoti prefers to keep his business model simple; he outsources compliance and paraplanning and has no plans to bring those in-house, noting that he prefers his own time to be spent “focusing on and meeting with clients.”
Realistic business planning
So what does the future hold for Sivajoti and Postcard Planning? He expects eVestor will take up a lot of his time this year, but would like to continue to grow his own client base, although he says experience has taught him not to plan too far ahead.
“I would like to reach capacity for myself which would be around 100 clients, and I may look to bring on another adviser at some point, but I try not to think too far ahead. People say you should have a five-year business plan, but if someone had told me six months ago I would be working with the fantastic entrepreneurs at eVestor I wouldn’t have believed them, so I think it’s sometimes wiser not to try and plan too much,” he says.
However, one thing Sivajoti is keen to achieve this year is the ability to teach school pupils the importance of financial education.
“I think it’s an absolute travesty that people leave school not understanding how a mortgage works or the importance of saving and debt.
“My goal in life is to have a positive impact on society and I just want young people to go into the world with that knowledge and education,” he says.
If his recent accomplishments are anything to go by, it’s easy to see that Sivajoti will achieve exactly what he sets his mind to do.
Visit the Postcard Planning website
The eVestor website is not yet launched.