I’ve run three marathons and a dozen half-marathons.

I take my running gear whenever I’m travelling overnight.

I love what running does for me.

That’s thanks to Pete Talty.

Regardless of the conditions, Pete was always there.

6am every Saturday, waiting at the bottom of the Harbour Bridge steps, Milson’s Point side, for our big weekly run.

This was when I was still unsure if I even wanted to be a runner and I definitely wouldn’t have turned up if I had any idea that Pete wouldn’t be there.

By constantly turning up and leading the way, Pete made me accountable for something I thought I wanted to achieve – becoming a distance runner.

At a time like today, when uncertainty is epidemic in financial advice, the industry needs more roles like Pete’s to support teams to endure what they have to endure to achieve what they want to achieve.

Despite massive uncertainty, 2024 and beyond are full of the greatest opportunities the advice industry has ever had.

The hard part is how willing and ready today’s teams are to be held accountable to their potential.


What is accountability?

It’s the oxygen that fuels growth.

Invisible and vital.

Its importance becomes more evident as its absence becomes more pronounced.

When firms remain stuck in constant ‘hectic periods’, when workflow discussions ignore, park, or avoid the same blockages, when new systems produce far less than hoped, when hard conversations are dodged to avoid ‘rocking the boat’ because it is quicker to just ‘get on with it’, the missing traction is probably due missing accountability.


How to implement accountability?

The foundational ingredients of the advice firms I consult with are combinations of autonomy, independence, and governance.

The basics.

Success, however, tests foundations.

Inevitably, better standards, built upon deeper foundations, are necessary for teams hoping to grow profitably, without dependency, while improving client value, maintaining capacity and retaining team members.

If firms cannot design and adhere to their standards as they grow, achieving sustained growth as a firm (e.g. in reputation, brand value, culture, and valuations) becomes impossible.

Every advice firm feels the power of accountability and, ironically, has become more accountable to today’s ridiculous compliance regime than the potential still stuck in their business plans.


There is a perception of immediate pain for every compliance mistake, yet less perception of any immediate pain when the strategies in new business plans are not adhered to.

Adhering to a business plan full of better strategies is as engaging as adhering to a new diet – enthusiasm always wanes.

Something else is needed.


Leading and managing the advisory teams of the future is the industry’s most significant challenge.

The military uses a VUCA acronym when planning.

They build plans upon the assumptions that the world is constantly changing (VOLATILITY), that it is increasingly difficult to make predictions (UNCERTAINTY), and that situations are both challenging to analyse (COMPLEXITY) and resistant to simple interpretation (AMBIGUITY).

VUCA provides leaders of advice teams a framework to help understand their approach when asking others to account.

Poor leaders attribute non-compliance to individual personalities or abilities.

Better leaders attribute non-compliance to VUCA, i.e. the short-term situation, long-term circumstances, or the environment team members find themselves in.

Asking others to account for their actions depends upon the words, the manner and the character of the leader addressing the crucial accountability.

Done wrong, plans stay as plans, hopes stay as hopes, frustrations become accepted as the status quo. That is, until others achieve more and cynicism takes root.

For some of us, accountability is crucial to protect ourselves from ourselves.

Of the six essential business strategies for progress in 2024, which I have highlighted in my last six blogs, accountability is by far the hardest.

It is worth it, for these are the best times to build great advisory teams.

What do you reckon?




Photo credit: istock_ipromiseto_

PS: I’m hoping to raise money for my favourite charity – Streetwork Manly – who work hard to support stressed kids, particularly around Christmas when their calls for help far outweigh their supply of care. I’m running a $25/seat 45-minute virtual event at 11:30am Thursday 30th November to do this. I’m facilitating discussions around the six growth themes for 2024 (i.e. the topics from my last six blogs). I’m also providing the three most valuable and proven advice tools used by my consulting clients to address these themes. It would be great to see you there. More information and registration is available here.



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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