WHY you pay for Initial ADVICE


I was sitting down with a new client on Thursday and thoroughly enjoyed a strong, direct, upfront interviewing questions that he put me through. I am an open, honest, upfront person who loves this type of chat and he did a great job putting me on the spot around what is true independence, my relationship with the client who referred him on and generally the industry after he opened up about his frustrations with seeking advice.

“I do not know where to go for advice I can trust” “I’m afraid of getting bad advice so I haven’t done anything for years”. “I need a model (referring to a forecasted life map)” all were his words and fundamentally “he needs to get his families life on track”.

He did try to get advice last year from a very large, once independently owned firm that most would know and they sent him a bunch of forms to complete before a meeting. If anything they treated him and he felt like just another number. Just one of my frustrations with other firms and love for someone to tell me truly how any sane person would want to spend their valuable time writing down and divulging all their confidential precious information to someone they haven’t met. Anyway, excuse the tangent – this is not about that!

I cannot wait for the first meeting with this client in the coming weeks to hear their story in more detail and help them begin to build their stories of the future. FUN!

Anyway; what this conversation got me thinking about is how there are many families all around Australia grappling with this problem. The failures of our industry are stopping people from getting advice when they would benefit so greatly from it.

One question he wanted to be very clear on is how am I paid and rightly so. I’m a devil for this personally whenever I am purchasing something. I always want to know and with cheek ask who is getting what from where and how it all works – not just from a curiosity sense but I always want to know I am getting a fair deal. That is undoubtedly my analytical brain being nosey but also what people should and need to know I feel.

I love this question (actually all questions) as I have decided to make it very clear to everyone how I am paid, it’s actually very simple.

I currently charge on this basis – these will likely change in time as all pricing does but the fundamental reasons will not. This article will cover my First Two Meetingsand in the interest of time, I’ll cover the rest in others.

To make it very clear I am against the grain of the industry if you could not tell. I understand that professionals add value and they charge for value. Sales people do not charge fees, they sell and when they sell they get paid. I am a professional and provide advice that is valuable, so I charge fees based on my advice. That’s the first mind shift clients and other advisers may need to take or make. Not hard right?

Obviously I do not know every business in Australia, but unfortunately very few I know charge for the first meetings – “complimentary” “first meeting is on us” “No obligation FREE meeting”. I’m sorry but there’s no free lunch, there’s an agenda to sell there and busy professionals do not have and should not give their time away for free… unless it’s to help people who cannot afford advice and really need advice- another point altogether.

Secondly, most advisers will aim to do everything in one meeting

  • Initial rapport - Hopefully not asking “did you get here ok?” A horrible question
  • Bit of background about the business – This meeting isn’t about the business it’s about you!
  • Bit of chat about the ways the business can help you – How do they even know yet
  • Why they are so special – This isn’t about the business it’s about you
  • You – Finally they will get to know your facts – Maybe touch on some “Goals”
  • Find a solution or as many as they can think of right now
  • Suggest a price
  • “So should we get this going”… ”I can see you’re ready to get started”…”Lets start the paperwork” Cringe!
  • Close the deal in silence with a dotted line and a pen nicely placed next to it.
  • Walk you out
  • High Five themselves

Total time around 60-90 minutes and sign, sealed, delivered.

I definitely would not want to commit to a long term relationship potentially with someone I have known for 60 minutes and also to make that decision after JUST 60 minutes. Crazy behaivour in my eyes. Sleep does us wonders when making decisions. I would prefer to make that decision over a week or so and at very least do the required due diligence and have the discussion with my partner.

The Canopy way

First Meeting – Exploration – “Questions Only, No Answers”

In reality, there’s no set agenda and I let the power of great discussion lead the way

  • Smile, make you a tasty beverage and make sure you are comfortable
    • Hopefully you have noticed how excited we are to be meeting you
  • Ask about you
  • Listen to you
  • Find out all about you – your family, where you grew up and how you go to where you are
  • Go deep in to your values and financial beliefs
  • Listen to your passions, hobbies and dreams
  • Visualise your aspirations
  • Talk about your challenges, choices and changes
  • Put your financial world on a whiteboard
  • Ask you questions you’ve never put on paper before
  • Listen to you
  • End the meeting and walk you to the door
  • Start clarifying all your thoughts and making sure all notes are taken.

Usually around 90 minutes but sometimes there’s questions we still need to ask.

Second meeting – Examination

  • This meeting it is about you but also where the answers start to come
  • Present “The Canopy Plan” a 40 odd page document – See Front Page Below
  • Your Current Plan
  • Your Current Position – Traffic
  • Your Advice ** What our advice will look to cover if we go ahead **
  • Your Financial World
  • The Fees
  • Our Investment Philosophy and how we mange your treasured savings
  • Our Advice Philosophy
  • Our Values
  • Our Difference
  • Our Partners
  • The Process
  • You decide if we are the right people to help you
  • Sign off on a terms of agreement and all the areas of advice
  • Take the initial commitment payment
  • Begin our work

This meeting is usually around 60 minutes and we know at this point exactly where the value is for you and if we are the right fit.

So people ask me why $360 and not more. The reason is I do not want this fee to turn people away from getting advice when they need it and a fee higher may do that.

Secondly, simply I like the sound of $360 for 360 degrees.