When building a firm or array of clients, it's hard to imagine turning away business. After all, every client in your business is potential revenue for you as their financial advisor. To be most successful, it is tempting to have as many clients as you can manage.
There may be situations where it is most appropriate to decline working with a client. When a new client approaches you, it might be obvious that you do not have capacity to handle their portfolio management. These clients may pose a conflict of interest if there are specific reasons you should not be advising them on financial matters. The client may be forthcoming about the need for certain services that you simply don't have the expertise for.
What if you begin working with a client and overseeing their portfolio only to later realize there are characteristics of your client not worth working with? As a financial advisor, you have the right to choose your clients - and if your client has any of these following traits, consider letting them know.
- Financial advisors may often fear that they will be fired; advisors may also fire their clients.
- Clients that only want to talk about money aren't giving financial advisors the appropriate information needed to build a successful plan.
- Other clients that don't respect your time or distance must be reminded that investing often entails long-term strategy implementation.
- Relationships are difficult, and personalities between advisors and clients can often clash.
- The services you provide are valuable, and you deserve to have clients that acknowledge and respect that.
1. They Only Want to Talk About Money
We’ve all had these clients. They’ve not even sat down at the table before they’re talking about this or that investment, what their bottom line is, and the strengths or weaknesses of their portfolios. You may try to get them to talk about dreams and goals or the concepts of emotional investing, but they want nothing to do with it. They’re interested in only one thing: the bottom line.
The art of wealth management begins with the story of the human being. The entire purpose of planning out a financial goal is to achieve certain goals in life. What is your client's next major purchase? How is their career going? When do they want to retire, and what do they want to do when they are retired? The answers to these questions drive the financial decisions to be made.
It may not be immediately clear that you need to fire a client like this because they technically aren’t arguing with you, wasting your time, or displaying the traditional red flags. Your client's attitude may not even be difficult to work with. However, if your client isn't giving you the information you need, they are not setting you up for success.
2. They Call You Every Day to Check Up on Their Investments
Have you ever wanted to block one of your clients’ numbers on your cell phone? These clients think it’s appropriate to call you on a daily basis to either discuss, analyze, or complain about how their investments are doing.
In their defense, these clients may be financially insecure or highly risk-averse. They may be inexperienced and not used to volatile markets or economic downturns. These clients may have underestimated their risk tolerance and are only now realizing they would have preferred much safer investments.
If you have these types of clients, begin by discussing two things with them. First, investing in a long-term game. It's easy to get caught up in daily or weekly price movement, but the long-term strategy should not change in the short term. If your clients have well-defined long-term goals, it is your job to communicate to them the importance of sticking to that goal and remaining passively at a distance.
Second, your time is valuable, and your client must respectively be told this. It is your job to oversee the high-level portfolio management of your client's portfolio. This oversight does not include daily updates or very short-term assessments of economic conditions. If your client can't respect your boundaries and trust your management capabilities, it might be time to move on to other clients.
3. You Just Can’t Seem to Get Along
Imagine a client who understands behavioral investing, has plenty of money to make your time worthwhile and understands the big picture of the long-term plan. On a financial level, the client may be perfect.
However, personalities clash. For one reason or another, the two of you might just not get along. You may have different interests. You may have different ideologies. Your client may have goals or benchmarks in life that you may disagree with.
For more serious ideological topics like politics or religion, the gap may be too wide if negative emotions are clouding your differences. Otherwise, your client's attitude may simply be belligerent, demanding, rude, or difficult to work with.
Your relationship with your client may naturally be stressful because finances are a serious topic. However, if your relationship is stressful because of how your client is acting, that is a different story. The basis of your relationship is key to the success of the financial plans you set forth - your client must be open and honest about their plans, goals, and worries of the plan. If they can not effectively communicate with you, there are fundamental concerns to be had.
4. They Do Not Understand or Appreciate Your Value
As a fee-only advisor, some financial advisors are selling the value of being a mentor, lifelong learner, and an educator of the soft sciences. If your clients do not understand or appreciate this, you need to fire them so you can free space for those who will.
The act of providing financial advice should also be rewarding for the advisor. When you lay a course of action and see it through, you get to witness individuals obtaining their financial goals and achieving success. You are truly helping others achieve their dreams, and there's substantial value in that.
When working with others from any profession, a certain level of respect should be warranted. If your client doesn't realize how they are fostering their growth and you are providing a heavy level of support, there are plenty of other clients that will happily accept your services and appreciate the value you provide.
Can Financial Advisors Fire Clients?
Yes, financial advisors are allowed to pick which clients they want to work with. If an advisor-client relationship isn't working out, an advisor can choose to no longer work with a client.
How Do Financial Advisors Fire Their Clients?
Financial advisors should give their clients a chance before letting them go. Discuss the issue with your client, and gauge whether your relationship can be repaired. When you believe it can not, your client is owed a honest discussion of why you are parting ways.
How Do Financial Advisors Handle Difficult Clients?
Financial advisors aren't always fortunate enough to get great relationships all the time. Financial advisors must understand their value, realize some unnecessary stress may not be worth it, and realize it may be in their best interest to let the client go.
The Bottom Line
If you’re afraid to fire a client, it might mean you have not properly identified your value to yourself. It may take some soul searching and the help of a good coach or mentor to better establish your true value and to move to a mindset of abundance.
At the end of the day, it's your career and your clients. You get to choose who you work with, and sometimes that means declining to continue a relationship that you've started to foster. Like investing, sometimes it's worth putting in short-term struggle to achieve what is best for your long-term happiness.