Deliver value – not products, solutions or hours.

My first paid job was repairing lawnmowers. It was an early lesson about value. I was 10.

I loved engines and all things mechanical. Their smell, noise, shiny insides and, to me, their simplicity. Once my Dad told a neighbour that I had somehow repaired our broken mower, I soon had a tool shed full of broken mowers from around the neighbourhood. Well, at least two.

My skills were limited. I only really knew how to change a spark plug and clean a carburettor. Little else.

When the surprised neighbours asked how much for their returned working mower, I said, “whatever you reckon”. I was earning a neat 20 cents a week pocket money which funded the Friday afternoon after-school shop on Killara railway station. So, anything around 20 cents seemed reasonable.

When the neighbour handed me $10 in $1 dollar bills, I ran home and threw the whole amount up in the air in front of Mum, dizzy with my riches.

Most of my repairs were then done for $10. It was a ridiculous amount of money for a 10-year-old back then. Unfortunately, I quickly ran out of neighbours with broken mowers!

But my first business taught me that I wasn’t getting paid for effort or a reward for products, I was getting paid for providing value.


The narrative for advice is similar.

Payments for advice based upon hours worked or products provided have not served suppliers or purchasers.

The relative value of an hour’s effort from equally qualified providers is as varied as the value of being taught by a teacher who inspires students compared to a teacher that bores students. Both teachers may be equally qualified, but the different value each provides can have life-long effects.

A model of payment and value based upon the amount of effort provided neglects efficiency. The more efficient provider working smarter earns less than the less efficient but similarly priced colleague. Significant value can be efficiently provided in a very short period of time just as easily as no value can be added over a longer period of expensive time.

Similar too is the negative effects of pricing advice based upon products supplied rather than value.

My lawnmower clients in the 1960s weren’t in the market for spark plugs, they wanted their poorly maintained mowers working again. They were unaware that the solution was a new spark plug, a good clean and dollops of WD40. They didn’t care. They were mowing again because a kid down the road not only fixed their mower but saved them a trip to the more expensive mower shop.


Value is like a mirror.

If advisers believe their value is beating the investment markets or offering the cheapest superannuation products or being experts in tax, that’s how their clients will value them. Their clients will reflect that value back at them.

Similarly, if advisers believe their value is the progress made in their clients’ lives, that’s how their clients will value them.

The key to future advice narratives is the decision made by advisers about the mindset they project for their clients to reflect – the traditional mindset which focuses on the skills or products they bring to an advice client or a value mindset that focuses on outputs – how their skills and products will enable a client to progress.

Deliver value, not products, not solutions, not hours. Your future will depend upon it.

What do you reckon?





photo_credit: shutterstock_651176284




For over 30 years, Jim has influenced, coached, and consulted advisory firms across Australia. His firm, Certainty Advice Group coaches, trains and is building a growing group of advisory firms delivering comprehensive, unconflicted advice, priced on value. The community of advisory firms aligns with Australia’s highest and only ACCC/IP Australia Certification Mark standard of comprehensive, unconflicted advice – Certainty Advice. He has authored three books regarding financial advisory firms and is due to release his fourth book in Spring this year – What Price Value.

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