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Talking Aussie: Brett & Jim

Working as a business consultant, I’m fortunate to meet other consultants from around the world at conferences and events. No one has a mortgage on good ideas and I find in sharing concepts and information from different markets we all have an opportunity to spark off each other. I’m also of the view that ‘business is business’ wherever it’s performed, so, our international guest bloggers will often be writing about issues that are the same for all of us, no matter where we practise.

Sometimes the concepts they write about will be simple. At other times they might have a very different take on a topic. Seeing some different views is always good regardless of whether it reinforces your own view, or changes it.


Jim Stackpool in Australia

I first met Jim when I was running my advisory business in Sydney. A year or two ago we reconnected at MDRT in Atlanta, where we were both presenting. Jim is known as Australia’s leading consultant to Financial Advisers.

Over to you, Jim!


Stop Trying To Be Everything For Every Client

by Jim Stackpool

It’s 2015 – what’s different for advisers?

If you’re an established financial advisory firm, here’s my best tip for 2015: Stop trying to be everything for every client.

If you want to build a great advice business, you have to seriously consider something that might seem contrary to everything that’s made you successful to date… stop trying to give every client the best possible service.

  1. Where did this paradigm come from?

  2. Where did you learn this fundamental principle: that every client deserved the best you could possibly provide?

  3. Was it learned from studies?

  4. Was it instilled by an early mentor?

  5. Was it just what worked in your early attempts at advice, back in the days when your tiny bank balance was the motivator and you were only as good as your last piece of advice?

Consider the airline industry.

They don’t try to give first class service to everyone on the aircraft. When on board, people generally get what they’ve paid for. Those sitting in the big fat seats get the trimmings, but those down the back have to pay more to get more. On an aircraft, economy passengers don’t get the ‘best on offer’ but they get decent service (they seem to keep flying).

In my work consulting with big and small advisory firms, I consistently hear from advisers that they’re just too busy. In their next breath they’ll ascribe their haste to not having the right staff or inadequate systems. Some might even think that’s just the price of success.

I beg your pardon – you’re busy because you’re successful? Who says?

Success can kill great advice businesses. The habits of looking after every client in the best possible way (learned in the start-up phase) turns early success into an ever-inclining treadmill.

Don’t step on it. If you’re already on it, you have to make the leap off in 2015.

Successful advisers naturally get more work. They set high standards for themselves and their teams to address and over-exceed every client’s expectations with the same ‘do your best’ attitude as they’ve done with every client as they built their firm. As a consequence, there are now more calls to make, more appointments to plan and hold, more reports to read and write, fuller inboxes and longer to-do lists.

Something has to give.

Get more people? Great, another traditional sign of success and growth of advisory firms. Really?

Without a change in the same cycles and mindsets that set up this activity machine of ‘best’ expectations and standards of service for every client all the time, adding more people just contributes to the already serious dust storm that invades your busy office every day.

By adding new team members atop the ‘best we can be’ expectations from more clients, you now have more people to train in delivering those ‘standards’. They need to be managed (no, they can’t manage themselves) and more time is needed to communicate and ensure the team is effective, efficient, optimised, collaborative, consistent, methodical, compliant and productive.

Wow. I’m exhausted just writing this stuff.

So how do you break this cycle or mindset?

It’s both very easy and very hard.

Understand that only your best clients deserve your best. That’s about 20% of today’s clients.

Professionally and respectfully say “no” to those that want the trimmings of first class but are only paying economy. Yes, everyone has the potential to become another ‘best’ client, but live today’s reality: today’s best clients, not yesterday’s and not sometime in the future’s ‘best’ clients.

The mindset that reinforced every client was your best client was from a time when you were starting out, or when you had no clients and every client was, in fact, your ‘best’ client.

Gracefully (or not so gracefully) surrender these mindsets. They only belong back in the start-up phase when you were proving to yourself that you could do this work, you were good at it and you could build something from your efforts. As you grow, this mindset of treating everyone with the ‘best you can be’ services is a limiting belief, condemning you and your senior people to longer and longer lonely hours enjoying your ‘success’ of ever increasing activity.

A simple answer is the word “no”.

Give it a go, respectfully. What do you think?


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