Working ‘on it’ or ‘in it’? Which one, but not both…
My doctor has cancer.

At the time of writing, she is undertaking treatment and hopefully on a path to full recovery.

I began seeing her just over twenty years ago when I started running long distances.  My running buddy was a patient of hers and some of the surprises she uncovered for him came from similar shallow assumptions I used to hold about my own health.

It was obvious from the get-go, she was thorough. She insisted on a complete approach to patient health. She believed she could not afford to assume anything about the overall health of her patients. If I didn’t have at least one annual check-up, she said she could not do her job properly and she’d recommend me another doctor.

She made an immediate impact.

Her thoroughness uncovered a malignant colon polyp during a colonoscopy she insisted upon that I didn’t know I required.

Her annual check-ups made no assumptions. I’ve learned it is a solid basis for many relationships. She searched each year for any new imbalances and updates on previous issues in blood results, exercise routines, mental health, nutrient, skin specialist reports, renal reports, cardiac reports, bone density reports, and colonoscopy reports.

Anything she considered important was on her list.

She was interested in anything that could affect her patient’s total health physically, emotionally, mentally, or environmentally.


She epitomised what we at Certainty Advice refer to as Plato’s Purpose – “The cure of a part should not be attempted without the treatment of the whole”. It has become one of our narratives.

She charged a consistent flat fee, higher than government rates, but not on value. Understandably, her days overflowed into late evenings. She was always running late. I guess she had 100% fee tension, taking on more than she possibly should.

I stupidly tried to play my expertise in her midst and start conversations regarding her fees, she stone-walled me, politely reminding me that my position was as her patient as she would do as she believes best. She had an obligation. She placed the needs of her clients above her own and would not have it any other way. She knew her time was a difficult balance. Such is the price of outstanding care and service.

Her greatest strength – genuine care – was her greatest weakness – putting others too far above herself.

Many advisers advise like my doctor dispensed her care.

Like her, they don’t become advisers to focus on making money, but to assist clients progress. But, ironically as the business of giving advice gets more compliance-based, more procedural, more difficult, advisers too often need advice, after careers of giving advice, as to how they themselves can best progress.

Unfortunately, this level of outstanding service works to a point, then it doesn’t. Usually dramatically.


The business of care is different to building a business of care.

The “working on the business rather than in the business” slogan confuses many founders.

They believe their own success working in the front-line is the best pre-requisite for working on the business in the back-line. Few make that transition from front-stage to back-stage. Even if they could, that’s usually not where they get their energy, their ideas, their patience, or their satisfaction.

Whether doctor, or adviser, or teacher, or accountant, the most talented at caring and serving on the front-line, often fail the equally important, difficult and needed skills, objectivity and paradigms needed to pivot growth beyond one’s personal exertion.

The three ingredients for needed progress is the same for the doctors or advisers as it is for their clients: a plan, a commitment and support.

I’ve been incredibly lucky to have had such a great doctor. She has significantly impacted my beliefs about holistic health and care.

That’s what great advisers do too. Change the paradigms, beliefs and confidence surrounding their client’s financial lives.

Until it doesn’t work for the adviser – often dramatically.

These are the best of times to be building great advisory firms leveraging the great work of founders into even greater advisory teams. It’s not about repeating the careers of those that went before, it’s about leveraging the careers. That’s the future for advisory teams.

Particularly in these most uncertain of times.

What do you reckon?



photo_credit: shutterstock_581985622




For over 30 years, Jim has influenced, coached, and consulted advisory firms across Australia. His firm, Certainty Advice Group coaches, trains and is building a growing group of advisory firms delivering comprehensive, unconflicted advice, priced on value. The community of advisory firms aligns with Australia’s highest and only ACCC/IP Australia Certification Mark standard of comprehensive, unconflicted advice – Certainty Advice. He has authored three books regarding financial advisory firms and is due to release his fourth book mid this year – What Price Value.


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