Bella’s Transition

Bella has run her small architecture firm for over 20 years.

As the demand for her work grows, so do her costs.

At 52 years old, she had hoped for more options.

Since a messy divorce seven years ago, she has spent all reserves from the settlement and parent’s inheritance, putting every spare cent into her kids and firm.

She doesn’t have a home of her own.

The three kids (now 22, 19 and 16) live with her in a rental.

Due to bad planning and landlords, she and the kids have had to move twice since the divorce.

The instability is getting harder as her third enters the pressure end of high school, and the first hasn’t been able to find the ‘right’ university degree or job.

The ex-husband pays for the youngest’s school fees, but beyond that, he is distant as he and his new life partner expand his award-winning trekking firm.

She had believed that hard work, talent and a good reputation would produce more good times than bad.

Like a couple of close girlfriends whose marriages had also ended and gone on to find new partners, she also presumed she wouldn’t still be so alone.

A new loan was meant to provide her with a home and stability.

However, she fears it may represent the tip of a bigger out-of-control financial iceberg that could cause her fragile world far more harm.


Financial advisers deal with client transitions every day.

Transitions to retirement.

Transitions into aged care.

Downsizing transitions as empty-nesters sell the family home.

But, most financial advisers don’t have a business model for Bella’s transitions.

Today’s advice paradigms focus on clients with transitions that include a shift of significant funds (i.e. product) when clients retire, move into aged care or downsize.

Bella has plenty of potential but lacks any significant lump sum.

Her transition is less relevant for advisers and thus less serviced.

If she doesn’t have a benevolent adviser or accountant, she may find a good mortgage broker, or reach out to her disinterested ex-husband, or continue hoping things will improve.

The irony is that Bella craves good advice, but today’s advice paradigms fail her.


Bella is facing a common transition – a behavioural or circumstantial transition.

She needs another financial product far less than advice to help her adjust her circumstances and behaviours with an achievable forward path with different habits, decision-making, planning and support.

Measured by the hopes of the new path for her family, firm and herself, this advice is of significant value to Bella.

Still, when advisers lack the skills to pitch, price and advise clients like Bella along valuable paths without accompanying insurance premiums, funds under management, or other similar products, she can only rely upon generosity, friends or hope.

The misalignment of advice-seekers like Bella and advice providers is systemic.

Bella is not alone in her behaviours, fears or circumstances.

They are not limited to small business owners, as similar pressing issues needing better paths, habits, decisions and support exist everywhere – in families, relationships, and individuals.

While not downplaying the importance that products provide, identifying, positioning, pricing, resolving and managing Bella’s issues are the advice skills of tomorrow.

What do you reckon?




Photo credit: shutterstock_1509976991


Since 1989, Jim has influenced, coached, and consulted financial advisory firms across Australia. He founded a training firm, Certainty Advice Group, to coach, skill and build advisory firms delivering comprehensive, unconflicted advice. He has built a collaborative community of advisory firms aligned to his firm’s comprehensive advice model – Certainty Advice – Australia’s only Certification Mark accredited by ACCC and IP Australia for impartial financial advice. He presents at conferences, has judged professional advice awards, written industry white papers, chaired practice management curriculums for tertiary institutions, and authored four books on financial advice – his latest being What Price Value.

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