What type of financial advisory firm will you create? Part 1

My old uncle Martin loved his job.

His enthusiasm for what he did was so infectious, every time I was with him I wanted to do whatever he did when I grew up.  He was an aeronautical engineer for Qantas.

When I was young, he took me on a few night-time tours into his hangars at Sydney airport where I climbed into huge engines, saw toolboxes twice my size, and got to sit, in 1969, in Australia’s first ever Jumbo.

Interestingly Uncle Martin didn’t care much for flying.

He was also definitely ‘old school’.

Whenever one of this engineering team were interrupted with an urgent request to meet an incoming flight and attend to one of the fancy first class seats or entertainment screens that weren’t working, he would scoff. He’d say that looking after the entertainment and seating whims of the ‘pointy end’ was not what his team were meant to do.  

His focus and love was working on the airframes, engines, hydraulics and similar components. He was immensely proud of his team’s tradition of ensuring Qantas’ passengers travelled on the safest airline in the world.

Uncle Martin is similar to many financial planners I know.

These planners have much to be proud of regarding the financial planning businesses they have built and the reputations they now enjoy amongst their financial planning clients. They are immensely proud of their achievements and know that despite the occasional headwinds (such as those which have been blowing since 2008), these times will pass and their core clients will still be around.

These planners are often sick and tired of the debate and noise surrounding fees, FoFA, APES230. Many of them see these changes as challenges against their professionalism. The fact that a ‘big brother’ type government or accounting body is imposing rules on how to charge their clients and making them have clients ‘opt-in’ is, to them, just another bit of red tape making the day-to-day business of being a planner a little more difficult.

To these planners I ask a question.

What type of planning business do you aim to create?

The common answer is something along the lines of one that they can be proud of, built upon trusted client relationships. I then dig a bit further to better understand their ‘how to’. How do they believe they will best create that type of firm, because there are a number of ways to do it?

Answering that question is when they most resemble my uncle Martin.

My Uncle Martin didn’t have any desire to build an airline. He wanted to deliver the best, safest aeronautical engineering experience in the world for the best airline in the world. And he did it, God rest his soul.

These planners sound like him when they say that their ‘how to’ involves best serving their clients with the most appropriate product or service in the areas they specialise in or have expertise in.


I believe the majority of today’s financial planners would answer in a similar way.

That is, their expertise or specialisation is based upon what they do.

They are crafting their firms to be experts in self-managed superannuation or experts in property or experts in social security or experts in financial strategies.  A quick check of most planners’ web sites tells quickly of the ‘expertise’ within the firm.

Of course, with the majority of planners crafting firms that boast this type of expertise, this value proposition is a viable one.

But for how long?

2013 is possibly a time to consider an alternative.  I’ll talk about that in Part 2.

Image courtesy of worradmu / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


About Jim Stackpool

For nearly 30 years Jim has influenced, coached, and consulted to advisory firms across Australia. As founder of Certainty Advice Group, he leads a like-minded team of professional advisory firms seeking to create greater certainty for their clients. As an author, blogger, columnist, and keynote speaker, Jim is regularly called upon for his professional insights into the advice industry. His latest book Seeking Certainty is available now.

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