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Are you still sweating over pricing?

Quarterly Newsletter Issue 6, March 23

Everyone loves Lead Adviser until we have to price it!
~ John Woodley, Co-Founder

Regardless of what business model you’re operating under, the entirety of it, including your first meeting with a new client, comes together at the pricing conversation.

The question is, are you still sweating over it, or have you nailed it?

At a recent Lead Adviser mastermind group together with John Woodley and six other advice leaders, most participants called out pricing as a persistent challenge. Talk to any number of seasoned practice principals, and the reason why, from a Lead Adviser lens, becomes clear:

Pricing is not a hard pitch. It is an inviting conversation.

The days of the “hard sell” are over. Demonstrating the value you provide as an executive on equal status with your successful clients is the future, but why do so many advisers and their staff still struggle with this? Contributing factors can include any number of variables, such as:

– Lack of confidence
– Poor staff buy-in
– Business numbers issue
– Giving advice away for free
– Not understanding how to charge
– Unidentified ideal client segments
– Lack of positioning and market differentiation

This article will discuss how these problems can be addressed using Lead Adviser concepts you have already learned and some more advanced concepts that emerged from the recent Lead Adviser Mentorship group session.

Lack of confidence

At the first meeting, it’s easy to fall back into promoting your technical skills, especially when sitting in front of a potential HNW and astute client. However, in this scenario and in building confidence in your offering, remember your role is that of facilitator.

Think about why the client is sitting across from you! It’s not your investment picking or an SOA they’re after. It’s to solve life’s complexity and grow their wealth. Your technical skills will not facilitate that peace of mind outcome, but your confident ability to draw on years of expertise will.

Your role is to facilitate their outcome. “Mr and Mrs Client, how would it feel to experience the life you envision in 10 years? Would you like me to help you get there as efficiently as possible, with appropriate and managed risk exposure?”

This confident facilitation elevates the discussion and helps invite the pricing conversation.

Re-establish your role at all client meetings, and the value you provide to clients will remain consistently clear to you both.

Poor staff buy-in

Pricing is a skill. In time it will become a process to document and build into a model; however, first, it’s a skill set that you need to master and then regularly coach your team on.

Why not hold regular training sessions until the team gets it right and monitor your profits as an indicator of success?

Business numbers issues

Adjusting for inflation is an excellent example of a business numbers issue around pricing. When was the last time you increased your prices? Particularly in these times where the impact of an inflationary environment can rip value out of your business.

You can adjust for inflation in three ways:

1. get more clients
2. run more efficiently or
3. improve your pricing

By far, the most significant impact will be from the latter. Embedding pricing increases in the expectations of your clients from the start will drive your profit and EBIT more than anything else. Moreover, you don’t have to win any new clients with this approach, so it’s worth investing in getting the message right.

Giving advice away for free

John Woodley once took on a complicated client with multiple entities and family dysfunction throughout all three family generations. The process took ages to sort out with charters, estate planning and entity structures, with the final completed project marked a success. With this new level of expertise, John secured his next complex case but failed to charge appropriately on the basis that it was now easy or simple to execute.

It can feel awkward when you have been giving your expertise away for free, valuing only the transactional ‘content’ you bring and doing lead adviser for free. The Lead Adviser approach gives you a platform to value that expertise (the ‘context’) and therefore shifts the perception of value to sit where it belongs, with the client – not you, the adviser. Your role is to facilitate the vision of a life well organised; the client controls whether they pay your fee as an admission of perceived value.

By way of a reminder, below is the Perception of Value outline from the Lead Adviser Handbook:

Perception of Value – Lead Adviser Handbook p. 4

Not understanding how to charge

To understand how to charge, first assess if you are in a margin or scale-based business model. In other words, are you positioned in the market to do more for fewer clients (margin business)? Or to do less for more clients (scale business)?

Once you identify your proposition, you can underpin its value in the market and focus only on the people you create that value for – as opposed to people who consider your offering expensive. This allows you to price for the client you generate value for, and pricing becomes about sharing value with that particular client – not extracting from the client. From a commercial view, it’s about creating super amounts of value for the client and sharing it!

The old adage that “you just add up your cost and add a margin on top” is unconvincing in the modern context. This approach in its simplicity seems to leave the client value out of the equation, i.e. how much total “value” is the client benefiting from, what is that value worth and what is a fair price for its exchange? The simplistic approach focuses on the adviser ‘getting’, the other approach focuses on ‘sharing’ in the value generated. A good question to ask is how much value does my offer create?


Unidentified ideal client segments

Over time, business creep can lead to losing sight of your ideal client and serving anyone that comes through the door, outgrowing your previous ideal client or needing a new direction – all of which impact a tight pricing design. In the recent Issue #5 of Lead Adviser Alumni, Warrick Hanley discusses why it’s vital for you and your team to stay on top of that natural evolution and shares insights on value, building confidence and pricing. Click to read “A blueprint for identifying your ideal client“.

Lack of positioning and market differentiation

There are multiple ways to stand out from the crowd, from niche markets, technical specialties and local presence, but the true leaders in positioning and differentiation don’t focus on the market; they focus only on the people they serve. When you can align your business to what drives your ideal client, the competition becomes irrelevant, and you position yourself as the most desirable option and significant to that client.

To elevate those desirability levels in your ideal client and eliminate competitors, ask yourself the following questions:

– Whom do I need to be?
– Whom do I need to employ?
– What office do I need to have? and
– What data do I need to access?

Your answers will curate the perception of value inherent in a differentiation strategy fit for your ideal client and give you the ability to more effortlessly price on that value.

Next steps

These strategies are designed to lead you into that conversation aspect of pricing and move away from pricing as a sale or a pitch. Having well-thought-out Lead Adviser values-based concepts underpinning your pricing model will lead to more natural conversations with your clients and give you the confidence to charge on that value.

As with many of the concepts shared in Lead Adviser, tackling everything at once isn’t necessary. Depending on where your business is, there may be one or two areas discussed that you could select to go away and work on to improve your pricing. You could block out time and grab a blank sheet of paper to think strategically, then discuss the ideas with your team, reach out to your community for support and inspiration and access resources on the Lead Adviser Virtual site to continue the journey of elevating your advice, offering immense value and charging appropriately.

This content is from a recent mastermind group with John Woodley and six other advice leaders bringing advanced Lead Adviser concepts into practice.

John Woodley is the Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Fitzpatricks Private Wealth he is also Co-Founder of Lead Adviser. John has over 25 years’ experience in financial services having run a successful high-net-worth practice in Brisbane. He is passionate about leading people to achieve their dreams and thrives on building communities. He brings sound ethics, a high degree of strategy and advisory smarts together with human connection, constantly in service of the client.

Guided by the philosophy:
– Culture worth belonging to
– Leaders worth following
– Work worth doing

To connect with John, reach out via LinkedIn.

Connect with me on Linkedin John Woodley is an authorised representative of Fitzpatricks Private Wealth Pty Ltd.

Useful Resources

Comfort to zone

Garry Symonds discusses his trials, tribulations and wins three years into building his Lead Adviser business.

Past newsletters

See our previous Lead Adviser newsletters here.


Community, giving back and elevating advice is at the core of why Lead Adviser exists and continues to deliver a high value coaching program. Which is why we value the feedback from past attendees in our follow up anonymous surveys. Some of the most common feedback we get is expressed below and if you have feedback or a question we would love to hear from you.

“Very impressed with Scott, Brian and John, the amount they give and their honesty.”

“I liked the frameworks, multiple presenters, role plays, time for questions, willingness to share information and experience.”

A lot of content, may require a refresher / followup after a period of time to ensure we are on the right track and implementing concepts effectively.”

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