The Known Unknowns after COVID19

Unlike zoos, most financial advisers believe they will emerge from this Covid-19 experience stronger.

The imposed lessons of offering flexible workplaces, the insights of client meetings via video links, the no commuting for clients and team members, while still providing value to stakeholders has left plenty of clues for new and better paradigms.

It’s probably not the death of the office. More like an ‘opening’ of options.

Financial advisers are however, not immune to the many known unknowns entering everyone’s lives.

Known Unknowns

A world-wide recession, clearer imbalances between victims and profiteers, job security after current stimulus packages, dismantled supply chains for taken-for-granted goods, the rise and reach of the tech giants, the tougher healthcare guidelines, plus of course how many of us will comfortably and socially distance ourselves into our corporate office lifts.

Beyond the inspiring environmental consequences of the pandemic, there are other consequences for providers of financial services.

There is going to be more financial uncertainty.

If advice is only needed when someone faces a situation, circumstance or event about which they are uncertain, a sustained period of uncertainty should benefit advisers.

Shouldn’t it?

However, for the majority of financial advisers, that’s not their business model.

They don’t get paid for resolving or managing uncertainty.

They get paid when financial products are provided to treat uncertainty.

There’s a difference.

A big one.


By themselves, products don’t solve many uncertainties.

If they did, we wouldn’t need a medical profession – something we are thankful for every day at present.

A glance at the list of the closest names in our lives upon whom we rely strongly for advice will probably confirm the lack of conflict, bias, and alignment with our best interests. All essential in relationships to address, manage and potentially resolve our uncertainties.

So regardless of how an advisory firm might present itself as being independent, fees-based, FASEA-aligned, or self-licensed, the conflicted remuneration models of hourly rates or product-based remuneration creates a real and perceived conflict when seeking advice.

Australians seeking advice in these uncertain times deserve better.

A retainer remuneration model, clearly expressed in understood dollar amounts, priced only on the value of the advice.

It’s called ‘value for money’.

Thesis like these have been predicting the demise of hourly rates and commoditisation of product-based pricing models for years.

Those advisory firms believing that the consequences of Covid19 will not accelerate this trend are ignoring a known unknown as the marketplace is shifting to provide more Australians greater access to valuable advice.

Maybe the zoos will outlast some of today’s financial advisory firms.

What do you reckon?


Photo Credit: © Terrisa Duenas, PhD


For over 30 years Jim has influenced, coached, and consulted to advisory firms across Australia. His firm, Certainty Advice Group specialises in building advice firms who charge flat fees for comprehensive, unconflicted advice. He is growing a community of advisory firms who align with Australia’s highest and only ACCC/IP Australia Certification Mark standard of comprehensive, unconflicted advice – Certainty Advice. He is also an author, blogger, and keynote speaker.

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