It’s very important that clients have an advisor they can trust, and trust is always built upon honesty. It would be difficult to have a relationship with a client without trust – at least, that wouldn’t be the right sort of client relationship for me. That’s because I like to have a dynamic with my clients where we can talk about anything that they’re concerned about – nothing should be off limits.
As advisors we want to be honest through the good times and the bad times. If there is something we identify that may cause a level of discomfort, and the client isn’t yet aware of it, then we sometimes need to have difficult conversations. While these are hard, my clients know I have their back – I’m going to let them know if there’s something that I’m worried about. While it may not be the easiest thing to bring up, in the end, I know they’ll thank me for it.
Clients react differently to difficult news. They’re not in a place of comfort in the moment, so they can be angry and upset, and this will often be directed towards me. My job is to work through that with them and acknowledge their feelings, while reminding them that they need me to tell them what I think. It’s not my role to just take orders that may not be in their best interests, my role is to work for their benefit and that requires honesty.
I recall one client who came from a large family with a lot of complex tax issues. This involved having difficult conversations with other family members, conversations that had never been had before. It was a long process, but they were very thankful at the end that they’d done it, because it educated and helped them work out a strategy for how to deal with those sorts of issues in the future.
For me, working through those uncomfortable situations is what builds trust. It’’s not easy for me either, but it deepens our relationship and my clients understand that they can trust me to bring up difficult conversations with them in the future. They know that I’m always looking to make things work better in their world.
Virginnia Hottes is an Executive Advisor at Viridian Advisory
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