Listened to any of Pushkin’s podcasts?
They pump out some great ones.
A favourite is “The Happiness Lab”, which lives up to a promise showing how our brains are not always our best guides for our well-being or progress.
Another one – “Against the Rules” – is just as great, notably the series on ‘coaches’!
The Happiness Lab podcasts share common ground with the works of psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman.
I refer to them often in my latest book – What Price Value – due to their research, identification and expertise on an extraordinary influence on all our decision-making called Confirmation Bias.
It turns out that confirmation bias is the common tendency in all our decision-making approaches that prefers choices strongly consistent with our existing beliefs.
Kahneman and Tversky (posthumously) won a Nobel Prize for their work.
I was reminded of their work as I met a great adviser in Melbourne last week who suffers badly from confirmation bias.
Unfortunately, I fear it will drastically affect his 2023 progress.
I met Joe at St Ali’s Café in South Melbourne.
Good spot with a classic Melbourne vibe. Edgey. It opens late (8am! We’re onto our third coffee in Sydney by then) with wild menu choices and hard seats.
Joe’s a great adviser with lots of experience.
We met to talk pricing.
He wants to ensure his 2023 is better than his 2022.
After thirty years in the industry, Joe didn’t expect 2022 to be one of his most challenging years.
Nor did he expect his returns to be as stagnant.
Colleagues were suggesting that he should consider buying a client base. But that didn’t make sense as his workloads were already at extremes.
Others suggested he should hire a new team member and delegate the low-end stuff.
Again he wasn’t clear this would work as his problem wasn’t revenues but profits.
He wasn’t convinced a better CRM, platform provider, licensee or SMA provider would provide the lift he needed.
He wanted to know if pricing provided a better path.
But he didn’t get it.
It’s a pity because his clients love working with him.
Joe loves working with most of them too.
The feeling must be reciprocal as he can’t recall losing any significant clients, nor can he handle the constant flow of new referrals they provide.
He has a great proposition – he’s an expert at delivering peace of mind.
Since his early days, his best days have been in front of clients, helping them make their best financial decisions. He has never found a better proposition and has resisted any specific positioning as a ‘one-trick-pony’ as the expert in tax, underwriting, structures, investments or superannuation.
He wants to be an expert on the issues affecting his clients.
During our breakfast, he took a call from a long-term client who had contracted a life-threatening disease.
The client hadn’t told her kids yet. Her priority was to ensure Joe was going to be in her corner for the times ahead.
This success adds to Joe’s frustration.
Joe’s clients value Joe.
The problem is that Joe doesn’t value himself as much.
Joe’s deadlock is held together by Tversky and Kahneman’s confirmation bias.
Joe isn’t the only one affected.
It is endemic throughout the financial services industry.
Joe is not paying attention to the value he is ensuring his clients experience.
His brain is more wired to pay attention to the common practice of most in the industry who price themselves based upon a client’s funds balance, insurance premiums, or an hourly rate than it has to do with the client’s value.
Joe’s confirmation bias means his growth has to focus on finding new higher net-worth clients because he believes they will pay him more.
When our frustrations, stress and moods build, it is almost impossible to maintain a focus when it matters the most.
Joe needs better plans built upon correct assumptions rather than common assumptions.
Joe’s confirmation bias causes him to believe that his prosperity is not linked to the value his clients place on his relationship. He believes his value is connected to the amount of product he provides.
Joe doesn’t need high-net-worth clients.
He already has plenty of clients that value what he does.
He fundamentally lacks the belief to uplift his pricing and test how much they will pay for the value he helps them achieve.
Even if I gave him the models, frameworks, scripts, examples and networks of other advisers who have already made similar steps, without belief in the approach and himself, these remain in yet another email waiting for the time when he is ready.
Unfortunately, no one is ready for the change they need but don’t want.
Joe’s future is not one built upon clipping a bigger product.
It will be built upon charging for his value.
Overcoming strong confirmation bias is often best with a small but courageous start.
Ideally, one new and existing client at a time.
New price limits can be trialled and tested, case by case.
Results will be initially slow, then pick up as greater confidence develops.
As returns grow, he will wonder why he hasn’t priced like this before.
Once new pricing momentum builds for existing and new clients, different growth options will become available, including better returns for less effort – the core of all productivity. Something that his old pricing never had actual control over.
It is incredible what can happen when good advisers trust most of their clients to value what they do for them.
But they will never know if they don’t test and confront their own confirmation bias.
The last email from Joe thanked me for my time but said he still believes he needs more high-net-worth clients who can afford the size of fees we discussed.
Nice guy facing the toughest challenge – himself.
What do you reckon?
ABOUT JIM STACKPOOL
For over 30 years, Jim has influenced, coached, and consulted advisory firms across Australia. His consulting firm, Certainty Advice Group coaches, trains and builds advisory firms delivering comprehensive, unconflicted advice, with fees priced purely on value. He is growing a strong and collaborative community of advisory firms aligned on Australia’s only Certification Mark advice standard for 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 2022.