Puzzle Financial Advice Pty Ltd - What makes us different?

We are very different from most other financial planning firms?

  • Alignment between your needs and our compensation leads to WIN-WIN relationships.
  • Our research.
  • Our very analytical approach. This comes from our background.
  • Our very personal service.
  • Our focus on SUBSTANCE over FORM and PROCESS.

    Alignment between your needs and our compensation leads to a WIN-WIN relationship.

    Do you want an advisor who plays on your team rather than advisor who is always looking to sell you something? If so, you may have come to the right place. We are interested in long-term relationships with clients where we feel there is a high probability of a WIN-WIN outcome, a win for you the client, and a win for us by being fairly compensated for providing you with valuable good advice. We not only expect this sort of relationship, we require it of our clients. A good long-term relationship between client and advisor must be build on respect and trust and yes it might take us a couple of years to get to that place, but that is the journey we seek.
  • We are just paid to give you good advice. No kick-backs. There is no incentive for us to sell you a product an we do not need to sell you a product to ensure we get paid. (In fact we are paid the same regardless of whether any product is involved. With Puzzle, you just get the advice you are looking for. Any brokerage received is credited to your account as per Terms and Conditions.
  • Win-Win relationship between client and advisor through alignment of interests.
  • Conflicts of interest largely eliminated. If you want good investment advice, we believe you need to reject the conflicts of interest caused by commissions. Conflicts of interest can taint advice and we do not want such conflicts interfering with you getting the best result.
  • Fairer fee structure. Clients who need less service, have lower fees. Clients who require a lot of service can be readily accommodated.

    Our research including our very-long-term research which defines our basic investment parameters:

    My feeling is that our long-term research should not differentiate us, but it does. Maybe it is because some advisors don't want to let the facts get in the way of a good story and a simple sales pitch.
  • Our very long-term research has forced us to reject many mainstream views about investing.
  • Timing is important (very important at times). It never makes sense to invest during a bubble (unless you are a very good market timer). We reject the dogma of "time-in-the-market over timing" because history tells us that for example share markets deliver super-normal returns for about 20 years followed by about 15 years of poor or bad returns. If you are a long-term buy-and-hold investor at the beginning of a long-bad period, you have often have to wait a very long time waiting for those good times to come, and most investors do not have that degree of patience nor should they.
  • Gearing is massively over-sold. Our very long-term research (modelling data back to the 1930s) tells us that you should not gear unless you are a good market timer. If we ignore taxes and fees (including transaction fees), half the time gearing accelerates you forward and half the time gearing accelerates you backward. Over the long-term, if gearing does not wipe you out, gearing does not help. Now, I am not rejecting the potential for certain combinations of circumstances including tax, gearing might make sense. However, if you are thinking of gearing, you need to make a strong case about why it will help. Unfortunately, most people do not do that. Remember: As investors, we do not want to be gamblers. Rather, we want the odds stacked in our favour.
  • How much cash & fixed interest would you have in your portfolio? Our long-term historical research suggests that if you are a long-term buy-and-hold investor, every 20 years or so, the share part of the portfolio will fall by about 50% and some times much more. (eg Australian shares down 65% in the 1970s, US shares down 89% in the Great Depression). When a big crash occurs, there is no certainty that the average share price will rise to the previous peak for 20 year or more, particularly in real terms. So if you are a long-term invest & forget investor, when you are deciding on your level of exposure to cash & fixed interest, just consider how you will feel in the next crash if it happens tomorrow.
  • In long-term history, the big crashes in shares and property happen together - and falls can be of a similar order of magnitude.
  • Economic depressions are just a normal part of the cycle. J.K. Galbraith. I encourage you to read JK Galbraith's book "The Great Crash 1929"
  • Economic recessions tend to occur every 5-10 years, but there is a fair bit of variation of the interval between recessions. The economic cycle is alive and well. Recessions are an important part of the economic cycle in that they kill off the less resilient and less productive parts of our economy, freeing up resources for the strong elements of our economy. So while recessions cause short-term pain, they can make our economy much stronger into the future and they can contribute to greater wealth for all over the longer term. The last recession for Australia was in 1990, so the next recession is long overdue.
  • We do not believe in diversification for the sake of it. Diversification makes up for ignorance argues Warren Buffett. Why put a stock or a sector in your portfolio, if you believe that stock or that sector will under-perform. It does not make any sense. We very consciously seek to build portfolios that avoid sectors which we think will under-perform. That is for example, why we have had no US share exposure since mid 1998.
  • We believe in long cycles in markets.
  • We are strong believers in behavioural finance and the study of investor herd behaviour which we believe is the cause of some long investment cycles.
  • We believe in the long debt cycle and that it will continue forever because of behavioural reasons.
  • We do not believe in the efficient market theory.
  • Investing is something you will never know everything about. The more you know, the better investor you can become. The more you know about investing, the more you realise you do not know. We live in an incredibly complex global financial system which very few people come close to fully understanding.

    Very analytical:

  • Most financial planners hate having engineer clients because they ask those difficult and penetrating questions.
  • We love engineers because have have done the research to answer most of the tough questions. Analytical clients are a great asset to our business because they keep us on our toes and this imposes a discipline on us to help ensure we do not get lazy with our research and analysis.

    Personal Service:

  • We tailor our advice to your need. We do not treat you like a sausage in a mass-production line.
  • We produce short readable advice. Too often financial planners (mainly product distribution businesses) are accused of producing huge 70+-page undigestible standardised Statements of Advice (product sales proposals) which do not help inform consumers.
  • We seek to provide a flexible service to fit your needs and wants - while seeking to balance this with cost-effectiveness. We need your help in maintaining this balance in a way which suits you.


  • "History may not repeat itself, but it rhymes."
    Mark Twain quoted in “Technology & History” AFR 25/3/00