Reducing Dependency – Building Great Advice Firms

I know the problem with my golf game.

The guy holding the club.

My instincts want to hit the ball too hard because my ridiculous golf brain believes ‘bigger is better’.

On the odd occasion when my instincts produce a great shot, it’s usually a fluke.

Tim Carrigg and Joel Seach can attest to this after our round last week on Moonah Links in the glorious sand belt of the Mornington Peninsula.

It is similar for advisory teams.

Growing better is less about bigger efforts and more about different efforts.

During discussions after our round, Joel and Tim discussed six principles they believe will guide the growth of their firms:

  1. Increasing Profitability
  2. Reducing Dependency
  3. Deepening Client Trust
  4. Increasing Prioritisation
  5. Increasing Collaboration
  6. Increasing Accountability

I discussed in a previous blog how it isn’t costs but a focus on capacity and value that best drives profitability.

In future blogs, I’ll explore Joel and Tim’s principles.

This blog is on reducing dependency.


Every advisory team becomes stuck in a dependency loop at some stage of the firm’s evolution.

Left untreated, loops become exhausting.

Like my golf swing, dependency loops come from mindsets.

Successful mindsets.

Under-delegation and perfectionism ensured jobs met the needed high standard.

Fears of loss aversion created enough tension to perform better when threatened.

Over-servicing and under-charging made value more visible and kept competitors at a greater distance.

How to break free and grow a team’s success?

Two models help address dependency.

The first is ensuring every client engagement and re-engagement is built upon a team rather than an individual engagement.

This requires two skilled team members (i.e. 1st and 2nd Chairs) in crucial client meetings —the meetings where value and payment are agreed (or re-agreed).

The second is recognising that only a minority of the value of comprehensive advice relates to a client’s technical issues.

The bulk of a client’s value is the impact or consequences of the advice, the resolution or management of the client’s complex issues, and the confidence created due to the advice.

Elevating the engagement skills of non-technical advisory team members to position, price and deliver valuable, comprehensive advice in parallel to the technical skills of advisers reduces significant dependency upon experienced advisers.


Despite today’s ridiculous compliance regime, non-technical advisers within Certainty Advice teams, such as Joel’s and Tim’s, are presenting, pitching and engaging on fees for valuable advice relationships using Certainty’s Terms of Engagements that make no mention of specific technical recommendations.

They can achieve this because the most powerful conversations between advisory teams and their comprehensive advice clients are those about client value.

Due the product-origins of many advice firms, the old days of hiring exacerbated dependency loops because new team members (technical or non-technical) were initially hired to help experienced advisers prepare and follow up on client meetings, manage client files, and provide administrative support.

New hires were expected to repeat the careers of their technically experienced employers. They could not expect to meet with clients to identify, understand or manage what they value until they had experienced the administrative and technical hurdles involved.

The more focus, time, experience, and skill-building all team members (especially new team members) allocate to the identification, assessment and connection to what clients value, the less dependency on experienced team members.

Like my golf, dependency loops start with the mindsets of the person holding the golf club.

Growth is less about finding the perfect team member, system or latest time-saving technology and more about different mindsets and habits to broaden the understanding, delivery and connection to the value each client seeks from their advisory relationship.

Different team development habits are required to deepen and broaden the trust between the firm’s comprehensive clients and the whole advisory team.

That’s the next blog.





Photo credit: shutterstock_107531468



For over 30 years, 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 with fees priced purely on client value. He has grown a solid and 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 – What Price Value – was released in March 2022.

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