Over the past few years, I enjoyed attending a number of Jimmy Barnes concerts. Up front I should declare my personal bias – he is an Aussie legend, right? But a couple of weeks ago at Sydney’s beautiful Town Hall, I saw another side to the great man. He presented what was essentially a reading of his latest book Working Class Man – a biography of his time from age 17, when he formed what was to become Australia’s iconic rock band Cold Chisel. He shared his life’s journey, sang songs which were important to him and ended with a powerful message about mental health (why men don’t talk about it). Wonderfully genuine, entertaining and, at times, highly moving.

As I subsequently reflected, it occurred to me that Jimmy also offers us, in the financial advice industry, a number of learnings…

  1. Evolution

Jimmy always surrounds himself with very talented, professional and young musicians, with whom he is very encouraging, and more than happy to share the stage with. His legacy seems set to continue.

Turning to financial services – given the ‘greying’ (much better than ‘aging’) of Australia’s advisers and the ever evolving marketplace in which they’re working, if ever there was a time to start to bring new people into the practice, then surely it’s now!

Consider; 61% of practices have no written succession plan or buy sell agreement in place at all, while only 9% are currently operating with what we view as an ‘effective’ plan (financing and a successor in place). And yet we know that the average age of principals is around 60 (as is Jimmy by the way), the majority are single principal businesses and only 48% actually have any key person protection in place.

  1. Experience

Every Barnesy’s event is an ‘experience’. He always delivers a full on and passionate performance in an up close and personal venue, which these days seems to be chosen to best accommodate his audience. The venues are well serviced by public transport (easy to get to) and surrounded by hotels and restaurants. Jimmy certainly knows what his audience is looking for.

As many of you will know, it’s a long held mantra within Business Health that ‘value is in the eye of the beholder’ – as is continually borne out by our CATScan client satisfaction surveys. It therefore remains a great disappointment to us, that only one in three practices have sought feedback from their clients over the past two years. For those who haven’t, we wonder how they could possibly be aware of whether their clients feel they’re receiving value or not.

  1. Enterprise

The business that is ‘Barnesy’ fully leveraged the experience. He has clearly expanded his ‘range of services’ to include a pre-concert ‘sound check’ opportunity, upselling merchandise on the night (will that be a t-shirt, coffee mug or CD sir?), leveraging the performance by recording it for a soon to be released DVD, two autobiographical books released in the past several years and so on.

I believe that it’s paramount for Australian advisers to consider expanding their service offer to meet the changing needs of their clients, who are quickly transitioning from ‘accumulator’ to ‘retiree’. Aged care, estate planning, philanthropy and ethical investing for example, are all high on their priority list. And yet, our consolidated CATScan analysis shows, ‘range of services’ is now the third lowest of the nine KPIs assessed by the diagnostic.

And to the really good news:

His concerts are always sell outs. Proof positive that people will pay for what they deem as ‘value’.

His audiences today seem almost evenly split between the expected traditional baby boomer demographic, who have grown up with Jimmy and Cold Chisel and a much younger set of people, who, for the record (excuse the pun!), seemed to be enjoying the experience as much as the grey hairs.

If a greying rocker can retain and grow his fan base, surely Australian advisers can follow suit with their own clientele?

For your consideration,

Terry Bell

Business Health Pty Ltd