The De-Brief Meeting – A Key to Build Firms Not Jobs

The old fisherman with the summertime job running the rusty merry-go-round on Terrigal Beach taught me how to rig my fishing lines.

He reckoned there was only one fishing knot I’d ever need – the locked half-blood knot.

While my mates say I’m wasting money renewing my fishing licence and should get a casting licence, at least my knots are good.

All knots reduce a line’s strength.

Knots in lines act like adviser dependency in advisory firms by reducing their original design’s strength, potential and power.

What exactly is the problem with dependency?

The shame it creates.


I first heard the term rugged individualist while attending Dan Sullivan’s business-changing Strategic Coach program twenty years ago.

The rugged individualist believes that you can only rely upon yourself if you want a job done well.

They think if a job is not done correctly, why bother doing it?

Due to their drive to survive, they are usually focused on exceeding the expectations of every client.

If you were a client, would you accept that?

Oh? OK….

I’m a fan of Brene Brown’s work.

I particularly like her research on shame in the workplace.

According to Brown, without management, workplace shame tends to validate perfection-seeking work practices.

In some workplaces, perfectionism acts like gravity, forging advisory firms into silos of excellence where each silo delivers different versions of perfectionism, condoning a powerfully influencing culture buffeted by feelings and rankings of shame.

The debilitating consequences of the perfection, shame and dependency cycle numbs sought-after team growth.

New and seemingly lesser-performing team members seeking growth can only muster a shaming imperfection compared to their high-performing leaders and founders. After a while, most aspiring lesser-performers either don’t bother trying to reach unattainable standards or, after building some experience, leave to be less imperfect elsewhere.

Perfectionism forges jobs, not firms.

It upholds beliefs that clients would not be satisfied if they shifted to another adviser.

It pays too much attention to one client’s criticism while neglecting a hundred clients’ loyalty.

It assumes a firm’s future success is built upon the standards that initially created the firm leaving little room for the new standards advisory teams need to develop and grow.

Where and how to build (and continually re-build) the new service standards and break the dependency cycle?


Building (and re-building) a firm’s service standards of the future must be centred upon why clients pay their advisory firm and engage with the advice.

While success has many origins, it culminates in the annual client conversation when an advisory team gains (or re-gains) a client’s commitment to engage (or re-engage) –these are the Discovery or re-Discovery meetings.

But there is a more important meeting than any client Discovery or re-Discovery meeting for firms seeking to grow and crack any dependency, shame and perfectionism cycle.

It’s a firm’s internal De-Brief Meeting.

These meetings are scheduled immediately after each of the significant annual Discovery (or re-Discovery) client meetings, where the adviser who led the just-completed Discovery (or re-Discovery) meeting de-briefs with another team member (regardless if they were in the meeting or not).

The De-Brief meeting is a consistent, specific and methodical example of durable work practice to crack the dependency cycle and fast-track firm rather than job growth.

De-Brief meetings focus on why advice is required in the client’s order of priority.

They identify the order and priority of the advice expertise and capability required by each client.

They confirm the overt and covert issues that a successful advice relationship needs to consider to deliver the client’s best interests.

The De-Brief confirms a high-level project plan for the coming twelve months, the probable pricing or re-pricing required, and immediate post-meeting responsibilities and timeframes.

By collaborating on each client’s “why”, “what”, “how much” and “how”, immediately after each significant annual meeting, the dependency treadmill is weakened.

It delinks the dependency on the senior adviser’s strategy, project, and client management skills while empowering other team members, not only with the technical but also with the value and confidence needed to drive and advise every client relationship.


Financial products, platforms and the technical know-how to recommend and deliver them have added tremendous value to the lives of many.

However, as they achieve scale, they will commoditise, becoming as ubiquitous as today’s internet giants and apps providers.

For advisory teams building prosperous firms for the next era of advisory firms, the differentiators will be advisory skills more than product or platform skills.

This will be tough for firms busy navigating a workplace spinning around a dependency roundabout.

The thirty minutes spent in collaborative post-Discovery De-Brief Meetings between senior and supporting team members helps dismantle the bond, demands and dependency upon senior advisory roles while fast-tracking the new era skills for all team members.

Most importantly, De-Briefs serve as a live skilling laboratory for every advisory team building the core skills to differentiate, thrive, and prosper in the new era of advice.

What do you reckon?



Photo credit: pexels-claudio-mota-9945961



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 its release in March 2022.


Certainty Growth Day

A one-day workshop that aims to help support
and accelerate the growth of financial advisory teams seeking to advance the value for their clients and returns for their advisory businesses. 

Non-Members Fee: $480+GST/seat

Thursday, September 15th 2022
Manly Pacific Hotel
9:00 am – 4:30 pm

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