What Makes an Ideal Advice Client – Part 4 – Achieving More

Seen the Red Bull ‘gives you wings’ ads?

Whether you like the drink or not, Red Bull’s advertising clearly aims to inspire people to achieve more in their lives.

A similar message for financial advice.


Valuable advice provides clients with the progress and confidence to achieve more in their lives.

This is another characteristic of an ideal advice client – the desire to achieve more.

Understanding exactly what is the ‘more’ for each client can be the difference between plain and enduring advice relationships.


Ideally, the ‘more’ being sought is significant.

If the ‘more’ clients seek is not significant, the value of any advice to achieve an insignificant ‘more’, is equally insignificant.

Details help discover and add colour to what is of significance.

Value is often in the unique and special details which surround the specific unmet aspirations.

For instance, retirement as an objective is important to most workers.

But the details of our retirement are of great significance to each one of us.

Many have worked hard and long, waiting for their own special extended time to forget old routines and visit very specific and special places with the people significant to them.

Others have had long hopes for a retirement in which they can finally renovate their old homes, or build or find new homes closer aligned to particular and sought-after activities, friends, family or lifestyles.

To others, achieving more significance in retirement simply means not having to worry about many of the concerns that burdened them for too long during their long working lives.

While much of the financial advice industry owes its origins to conversations about retirement, advice has as many different topics as retirement has options.

The financial advice industry was cradled in a retirement crib because when retirement day finally arrives it provides the most money to most people in their lifetime.

While retirement day is obviously significant, it isn’t as significant as the planning in the days and years afterwards.

For without planning, the future can become very insignificant, quite quickly.


However, planning lives is difficult, more difficult than money management.

Despite much bravado, money and promise to revolutionise Australia’s financial planning marketplace twenty years ago, most of the institutional financial advice providers have been forced to exit, sell or distance themselves from their former financial planning divisions that not only didn’t work, but brought them much scorn and damage.

While there is no doubt that banks and other financial planning institutions understand money, they did not understand planning. Testament to this was ASIC Report #499 released in 2016 and famously entitled the “Fees for No Service Report” which epitomised the industry’s product, not advice bias. Report #499 provided many of the headlines for the 2018/9 Banking Royal Commission.

Abraham Maslow provided clues as to how to help people achieve more.

His famous hierarchy of needs was not about money. It was about the paths people inherently align with when seeking to achieve more.

Helping clients traverse their own hierarchy of needs to achieve what is of significance to them is more about helping them plan and re-plan than it is about money.

Apart from a minority of clients who are financial enthusiasts and crypto-opportunists, the vast majority of clients seeking to achieve more in their financial lives will always be best served in an advisory relationship that prioritises their plan above all other interests, including their money.

Thanks to technology, education and competition, the management of money will become more of a commodity while the management of financial lives for clients to achieve what is of significance to them will become more of a valued expertise.

This is the future of comprehensive advice – consistently, specifically and methodically managing each client’s progress to achieve more as lives, markets, environments, and relationships change.


Progress can be tough.

Everyone’s day-to-day existence overwhelms all plans.

Financial lives are not meant to be trudged between annual goal-setting sessions.

Managing progress is less about the hype placed on the planning discussions that produce a neat plan, and more about ensuring support, building skills and cultivating the courage clients will need for tomorrow’s different steps. Advisory relationships are built upon progress born from a plan, not the plan itself.

Helping clients achieve more is therefore less about the plan and the gap between today’s reality and the distant unmet objective, and more about the real progress that has been made. As Dan Sullivan articulates in his “Gap Conversation“, progress and momentum in any advisory relationship is more about the advances already made rather than the future steps still ahead.

Ideal clients have a desire to achieve outcomes that are important to them.

The product-based advice industry has for too long placed their product cart before the client’s advice horse.

This has warped too many advice conversations away from the significance of outcomes and the progress needed towards the acquisition of products.

Financial products play an essential role in most financial lives.

Without the progress driven by the accountability, desire, and structure of planning, achieving more is more a hope than probability.

What do you reckon?



Photo credit: shutterstock_1043132674

Next blog – Ideal Advice Client Part 5 – Takes Advice



For over 30 years, Jim has trained, coached, and consulted to advisory firms across Australia. His firm, Certainty Advice Group is known as helping grow the future era of advisory firms delivering comprehensive, unconflicted advice, and valuable advice. 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 four books regarding financial advice with his latest – What Price Value – available now since release in March this year.


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