Three Situations When You Shouldn’t Advise Clients

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I like my clients.

I know everyone says that, but I really do. They work hard to make a positive impact on the lives of those they serve. I respect what they do.

A particularly rewarding part of my practice is coaching them. My coaching services have expanded from helping convert more prospects into clients to being a sounding board for many other issues relating to their life, practice, goals and aspirations.

I always disclose that, unlike my advice about client conversion, which is soundly based on extensive research, advice outside of this area is more anecdotal. It’s based on my experience having similar discussions with many other advisors, and I caution that it should be taken with that limitation in mind.

Over the years, clients have told me what resonated when I spoke to them. But there have been three situations that go beyond my expertise and ability to be helpful.

Here are three questions I ask when confronted with those situations.

1. Where is that written?

All of us hold sacred beliefs. A sacred belief is defined as: “...those that people hold to be unquestionably true. In fact, the beliefs may be so deep, the person does not realize that they are beliefs, considering them as obvious facts instead.”

We’re generally not excited when others challenge our beliefs, so it’s something that must be done tactfully.

Here’s an example of a sacred belief: You have an obligation to leave a large inheritance to your children.

Advisors often come to me for advice on a decision they are about to make, like a career change, taking their firm in a different direction, or terminating a key employee.

Sometimes they incorporate a sacred belief when explaining the issue to me, like: “I don’t have the ability to work in a team environment,” or, “I can’t work for a [fill in gender or trait].”

My response is often: “Where is that written?”

I understand making a choice about how you want to work, but stating that it’s impossible to make an adjustment is a sacred belief.

Regardless of whether it’s a good idea, you could probably make the necessary adjustment if you were so inclined.