Learn Competence or Face Litigation – It’s that Simple

The advice business we are in is no different to walking on a tightrope and for anyone who has tried that, you know how much not-fun that is. Whether we are advising on an SMSF, bloodline planning, asset protection, farm succession, family trust strategies or estate planning, we have to show our competence every step of the way. And that can be tough. Look at SMSFs for example, where there are over 2,000 pages of laws, regulations, regulatory guidelines and rulings. And if you miss one little thing, that can end up blowing into a huge, huge drama. No one wants professional drama or litigation.

But to be honest, dramas are great for Abbott & Mourly lawyers. The Abbott & Mourly claim to fame is that we are “fixers” and exceptionally good at getting advisers and their clients out of tough and sticky situations. Plus, we are great at standing up to bullies and we use innovative tools including provisions in the SIS Act and other Commonwealth laws, to seek full retribution for a client. Professionally, I love the Commonwealth laws as they run with the Commonwealth Cod 1975 which also destroys Professional Indemnity insurance – so it gets advisers and lawyers attention very quickly. As I said we are very innovative, so the other side has no idea what hit them. In fact, we are currently running a few “fixers” and a couple of bully matters at the moment. Our goal is to sort things out and get a result in record time. But I have to warn you here that when we go after bullies, we bring all of the client’s advisers, auditors and even lawyers in personally as part of the action. Joint and several liability is a given under the SIS Act with no mitigation and criminal referral.

So, a word of advice, make sure you use our LightYear strategy support service, which is included as part of our affordable subscription package to not get into trouble and if you or a client has made a mistake or they are being bullied contact us at Abbott & Mourly lawyers to arrange a quick call to see what can be done. We don’t open a file unless we can guarantee a result.

So Know Your Stuff
If you have been to one of my workshops, completed a specialist SMSF adviser course with me or our two-day Succession, Asset Protection and Estate Planning adviser workshop you would have heard me talk about the Four Stages of Competence. And competence is the first port of call for any legal or negligence proceeding. Which stage are you for SMSFs? For Succession, Asset Protection and Estate Planning? For taxation?

There are four stages of competence according to one of my favourite psychologists Abraham Maslow[1]

[1] I love Maslow and his hierarchy of needs plus values. It inspired me to build Values Based Consulting which enables an adviser to find out what is really important to a client. For example, try this the next time you are on the phone, zoom or talking to a client – How important is to you that your family wealth is left for and only ever able to be used by your direct bloodline?

1. Unconscious incompetence
The adviser does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognise the deficit. They may deny the usefulness of the skill. The adviser must recognize their own incompetence, and the value of the new skill, before moving on to the next stage. The length of time an adviser spends in this stage depends on the strength of the stimulus to learn.

2. Conscious incompetence
Though the adviser does not understand or know how to do something, they recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit. The making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage.

3. Conscious competence
The adviser understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration. It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.

4. Unconscious competence
The adviser has had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The adviser may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.

How do you Learn?

Covid has and will continue to create disruption. The learning industry which starts with our children has been severely impacted as has adult learning. The OECD in a report on online learning in the times of Covid, dated 20 September 2020 had this to say:

“there are still concerns that online learning may have been a sub-optimal substitute for face-to-face instruction, especially so in the absence of universal access to infrastructure (hardware and software) and lack of adequate preparation among teachers and students for the unique demands that online teaching-learning pose.”

Let me ask you one very important question. On a scale of skills learning leading to professional competence with 1 – no learning to 10 – skills perfection where do you personally rate:

  1. Webinars and online learning
  2. Face to face workshops

For me, I like to sign up for webinars by some of the best speakers around. Look at this link to a Tony Robbins event by Zoom: https://fb.watch/2TsqybCRHu/ Now I have been to a few of his live events and I can tell you the delivery of and the learning online, for Tony at least, is about 10% of the energy of his live events – no matter how much he jumps around. It’s the same with me and any other teacher.

What about you. Do you learn more, get excited more and are more focused face to face, online or is there no difference?

Now don’t get me wrong I have spent a lot of time perfecting how to run a successful webinar from keeping things moving on the screen to using different voice modulations and energies. But it is not and never will be the king of learning. That is reserved for, my part at least, with face-to-face learning.

The Challenge
You know me I love to innovate and have been using Zoom, Go to Webinar and before that Brightcove teleconferencing for 15 years to bring super affordable CPD learning to advisers offices. It works well as the sessions are recorded, it is often free but I agree with the OECD, it is no substitute for face to face (F2F) learning. The one missing thing that no one talks about in teaching is the energy of learning. In F2F learning there is an energy, a motivation, a desire that permeates the attendees. It is a group learning think or energy and it cannot be replicated online by Tony Robbins, Grant Abbott or anyone. It is the missing link.

So how do I achieve a F2F model in a Covid world?

One solution is that I run pop up workshops when I see the coast is clear in say Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane plus the regional centres. I would give three weeks’ notice and an early bird of three days so we can go ahead or not. Working with venues can be demanding which is why we need a short early bird. But if we can get enough learners in the room to cover costs and get to that optimal energy level learning then I will happily give my time for the cause. I certainly have plenty of material. We did one in the Gold Coast in December 2020 and we had some great feedback and everyone really liked to be back in a learning energy environment.

And I am sure that many of you have your own ideas and solutions that might crack the code. Let us know at support@lightyeardocs.com.au and also whether you would support a pop-up F2F in your city (let us know which city it is).

Finally, let me leave with you a quote from the great GE CEO Jack Welch:

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