The (Challenging & Prosperous) Road Ahead

Twenty-one years ago, I conducted a qualitative survey of Australian financial advisers with John J. Bowen Jr and Russ Alan Prince.

The objective was to identify the client proposition advisers regarded as crucial to the future of financial advice.

Russ’ team had undertaken similar research projects in the USA and did another in the UK soon after ours. He used teams of students completing statistics PhDs to conduct the research.

Interestingly, his initial USA-based student teams failed miserably to connect with Australian advisers. The vast majority of the 630 responses (the most extensive sample at the time) were obtained when Russ switched to his UK-based student teams. It was something to do with the American accent.

The result was this report – The Road Ahead.

Twenty-one years later, the supply of comprehensive financial advice cannot meet the demand.

This creates huge opportunities for providers.


The growth of superannuation balances to $9T within twenty years is a gold rush for rent-seeking product providers.

This will bring more change, opportunity and carnage.

Technology will change the distribution of financial services. Still, those assuming Australians seeking their best pre or post-retirement lives will embrace the new world of generative AI apps like CHATGPT suffer from a severe anchoring bias.

The reality will align with the reasons why airline passengers do not desire to board a pilot-less aircraft even though the technology has been available for some time.

Consequences matter big time.

So as governments continue to contradict previous superannuation rules, as smarter financial services become more understood, financial markets continue to flummox even the experts, and personal lives slide through known and surprising transitions, the need for comprehensive financial advice will only grow.

The only problem is that the financial advice industry is not coping with delivering.


This was the core of last week’s workshop discussions in my workshop here in Manly – managing their capacity.

Over half of last week’s attendees were still in high school when I travelled Australia with John J. Bowen Jr in 2002, discussing how comprehensive advice was to become the ideal model.

They don’t question comprehensive advice as their proposition. Still, they had many solutions for addressing the real issues of capacity while working under a Corporations Act that confuses product and advice.

They spoke about how assistant advisers still finishing degrees and Masters at University successfully and compliantly managed client review meetings with clients paying up to $10,000 in fees.

They shared how they lifted fees for loyal long-serving clients, some by as much as 300%, without a justification based upon a new range of services or ‘switching to better products’, but based upon the simple truth of how their improvement in quality and value of the advice was playing such an impact in the lives of their clients.

They spoke about the freedom and time spared by ceasing old services, previously considered core to ‘adding value’, but now superseded by less dependent and time-consuming methods while achieving similar outcomes that serve the client’s best interests.

The sessions were about a new generation of advisory team members confronting an industry’s old vulnerabilities about worth, value and work habits and dropping those services that no longer serve their objectives of delivering greater value.

Last week’s workshop had one of the lowest average attendees ages in my twenty years of running these sessions.

That was the most exciting aspect of the event.

These are great times to build advisory teams serving the impartial advice needs of Australians who need advice more than ever – and demand will only grow.

What do you reckon?




Photo credit:  THE ROAD AHEAD – 2002



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 solid and collaborative community of advisory firms aligned on Australia’s only Certification Mark advice standard for comprehensive, unconflicted, Certainty Advice.  He has authored four books regarding financial advice, with his latest – What Price Value – released last year.

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