Financial adviser, imposter or both?

Both my parents smoked.

Like chimneys.

As kids, we’d munch down our morning cornflakes surrounded by last night’s dirty ashtrays.

The perfect Christmas present for Dad was a sparkling new ashtray.

Little did we know the dangers of smoking.

Kind of like imposter syndrome.


The similarities between smoking and imposter syndrome can be chilling for financial advisory teams.

Of most significant danger is an advisory teams’ inability to talk, let alone manage the negative business health aspects of leaving it untreated.

For instance, client over-servicing practices.

Doubting their ability, track record and history of creating happy clients, I’m amazed why advisory teams default and sometimes insist on two, three or more annual meetings (live or Zoom) every year with clients regardless of the client paying $3k or $13k.

This is even more bewildering as the offer is often before clients share the level of meetings they want.

It seems ‘being available’ or providing as many new reports of ‘market updates’ is more about satisfying an advisory team’s sense of value-add rather than what is actually of value to the client.

Also, fears of our ridiculous and confusing compliance regime can come at a high anxiety-based expense.

Despite the short-term lack of progress from industry enquiries, the damning headlines from industry reviews such as the Banking Royal Commission not only revealed advice imposters but cast them out of the industry as every significant banking-based retail advice distribution group has now been effectively dismantled.

While the financial giants are reinventing themselves driven by new fintech models atop old promises of value, the real wounded who lost their dealerships, security, networks, or confidence could feel like an ‘old school’ pariah for nothing more than being in the wrong spot at the wrong time.

Years of experience have recently been recognised, but the damage has been done for many.

As the industry enters an era full of never-seen-before opportunities, the imposter syndrome, if left unchecked, can create structural cancers that will cruelly impede long deserved growth and returns.


Early research suggests a natural but unrealistic sense of inadequacy drives imposter syndrome.

It also tragically suggests that victims do everything possible to prevent being discovered in their self-perceived deficiencies, no matter how much repeated success they experience.

While more recent research suggests Imposter Syndrome may be less due to a pathological syndrome and more due to systemic bias, the dangers of mistreatment (i.e. try harder) or no treatment (i.e. this will pass) are the same.

Fundamentally, how advisory teams perceive themselves is attached to how they value themselves, which, for most advisers, reflects how they price their value.

Suppose advisory teams fail to de-attach from yesteryear’s product or activity-based paradigm that their value is something that is delivered (e.g. their time, their meetings or their products) rather than their value being a role that is provided to continuously keep their clients on the valued centre line of their financial lives.

In that case, the future growth depends not on what they are achieving for their clients, but on the hours they can charge or the products they sell – neither of which are directly attached to client value.


For many Australians seeking advice, the consequences matter.

A lot.

The reaction to AI-capable pilot-less planes suggests future financial paths will continue to be driven by human care, while supported by AI care.

However, with the symptoms of burn-out, setting unrealistic expectations, self-doubt and ongoing fears of not meeting expectations, the building of tomorrow’s great advice brands might have less to do with the opportunities ahead and more about giving up some of today’s habits and views about value.

Dad didn’t change his smoking habits. He died aged 61 due to throat cancer.

While the future of financial advice is assured, advisory teams can’t afford to allow old habits to dictate their future value.

What do you reckon?





Photo credit: shutterstock_2393320119


For over 30 years, Jim has influenced, coached, and consulted financial advisory firms across Australia. He founded a training firm, Certainty Advice Group, to coach, skill and build advisory firms delivering comprehensive, unconflicted advice with fees priced purely on client value. He is growing a collaborative community of advisory firms aligned to his firm’s comprehensive advice model – Certainty Advice – Australia’s only Certification Mark accredited by ACCC and IP Australia for impartial financial advice. He presents at conferences, has judged professional advice awards, written industry white papers, chaired practice management curriculums for tertiary institutions, and authored four books on financial advice – his latest released last year – What Price Value.





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