A tell-tale our family is on holiday is a jigsaw puzzle.

A Stackpool holiday isn’t a holiday without a tricky new puzzle.

The puzzling can take all holidays, with the puzzle spot remaining frustratingly off-limits for non-puzzling activities until the puzzle has ceased being puzzling.

I’m not a good jigsawer.

However, the talented Stackpool jigsawers find a thrill in searching for patterns amidst the thousands of randomly scattered options.

Advisers are often jigsawers.

I am not convinced it serves them well.


We are constantly listening to advisers – literally.

Since 2004, we have listened to and reviewed over a thousand discovery meeting conversations between advisers and their prospects or clients. This is a crucial element of our coaching.

Reviewing these conversations highlights the different meeting styles taken by advisers.

A regularly observed style is what we call the ‘jigsawer’ – an adviser who conducts their discovery meetings in a similar manner to how my family solve their holiday jigsaws.

Jigsawers are usually good at setting up their meetings, positioning themselves and their discovery conversations.

But once the conversations with prospects get underway, jigsawers prefer to let their meetings flow.

They tend not to firmly control initial conversations, letting their prospects share their pressing issues, situations and possible strategies.

Before detailed fact-finding, when they do take greater control, jigsaw advisers prefer to listen.

They scan what is said for the pieces they need to create a valuable picture of their prospect’s hopes, issues and situation.

Another meeting style we less regularly observe is the opposite of the jigsawer – the ‘tour-guide’ adviser.


The ‘Tour-Guide’ adviser uses conversation frameworks, as a tour guide uses a ‘map’, to guide their discovery meetings rather than the jigsawer’s open flow.

A couple of recent meetings highlight the differences between the two styles:

At the ten-minute point of a jigsawer’s discovery meeting, the prospect relates his unpleasant experiences in the share market while the jigsawer shares his philosophies about direct shares.

By the ten-minute mark in her Discovery meeting, the tour-guide has explored her client’s hopes to extract her fair share of her parent’s family farm, which is being opposed by one of her brothers.

At the twenty-minute point, the jigsawer has uncovered his prospect’s debt levels, share market preferences, expected short-term incentive payments from his employer, and the financial commitments set aside for his ex-wife.

At the same twenty-minute mark, the tour-guide adviser understands her prospect’s hopes to support her two kids financially. She has also heard the details of the apartment she hopes to buy near Fitzroy’s Brunswick Street, as well as the detailed financial support her aging mother, who lives outside of Melbourne in Heathcote, will need from her.

Both Discovery meetings went on for approximately an hour.

Both advisers talked for approximately the same amount of time during the meeting.

Both prospects proceeded and engaged their advisers.

Which is most effective?


Some might believe both styles are effective because they both engaged.

I’m not convinced.

The more effective discovery meetings are those that consistently, specifically and methodically uncover the valuable details that require either money or advice or planning.

There are puzzling times in client situations and relationships when expert analysis, objectivity and interpretation require the skills of a jigsawer.

However, for most discovery meetings, prospects and clients prefer the value and the path a tour-guide provides to progress towards what they value.

There is another essential difference.

The fees charged.

As is often the case, the tour-guides engagement fees were higher than the agreed fees agreed for the jigsawer’s advice.

While many factors create the correct fee, the more detailed, aligned and specific advisers and their prospects are on the value they are both working towards, the greater the reasons for engagement, the value and the fee.

In most discovery meetings, the tour-guides frameworks beat the jigsawers mindsets.

What do you reckon?





Photo credit: Shutterstock_581985622



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 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.

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