How To Navigate Working With Difficult Clients In Your Practice

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Working with difficult clients, in any industry, is just a reality of the world we live in.

Or is it?

You didn’t choose a career in financial planning because you wanted to do tasks that you don’t enjoy. So, why should your clients be any different?

Choosing to work with the right clients for you will be beneficial for both yourself and your client. Here, we will share options for navigating difficult client relationships and how to start attracting the right client all to help you build the practice you’ve been dreaming of.


Effectively Dealing With Your Difficult Clients

Ok, so, you have a difficult client…or two. We know this because when you first started building your practice, you likely, knowingly or unknowingly, took on any client that fogged a mirror. 

Difficult clients come in all different shapes and sizes – some leave you feeling drained and others just seem to press your buttons. What matters now is how you choose to deal with your difficult client(s). Determining what kind of difficulty you’re willing to work with can help you choose your next step in dealing with them.


#1 Address the elephant in the room

If this is a client-advisor relationship worth saving – whether it’s a friendship or long-term client, you HAVE to address the elephant in the room. When something feels off, addressing the situation head on can be your best bet. The goal in your approach here isn’t to point fingers or place blame but rather offer an opportunity to see what’s really going on. 

Regardless of the outcome, avoiding this conversation isn’t doing anyone any good. By taking initiative and actively listening, clarifying expectations, or offering valuable solutions, you can work towards mending the strained relationship and build a more positive and collaborative partnership.

Better relationship.

Better outcomes.

Better practice.


#2 Endure it

“What you will allow is what will continue” is a saying that, in this perspective, means if you choose not to face it then you are choosing to endure it. Ultimately, your client is paying a fee for the service you’re providing them. And while you may want to provide a consultative experience, maybe your more difficult client(s) is just that. A client. 

Regardless of your clients actions or inactions in the financial planning process, if you choose to endure this client-advisor relationship,  it’s important that you continue to act in their best interest and stay true to your planning philosophy and client service model.


#3 Let the client go

Don’t spend another moment debating what you should or shouldn’t do when it comes to your difficult client. Let them go. Respectfully, of course.

If there is any chance that your difficult client is a roadblock to building your practice or adequately serving your top clients, it’s in your best interest to release them of their contract with you.

If your client’s personality, expectations, and goals might align well with another advisor you know – offer them a referral. Remember, a difficult client to you is not a difficult client to others. Your client will land on their feet with the right advisor for them. And all will be better for it.

So, what can you do to attract more the right clients for YOU?


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Work Towards Attracting The Right Clients For Your Practice

Working to attract the right client for you will save both time and energy as your practice continues to grow.


#1 Set Clear Expectations

Setting clear expectations acts as a filter, attracting clients who resonate with your personality, approach, and experiences and who are prepared to actively engage in the planning process. 

This mutual understanding minimizes misunderstandings, fosters stronger client-advisor relationships, and lays the groundwork for achieving your client’s financial goals more effectively and efficiently.

This simple yet fundamental strategy establishes a foundation of transparency and alignment. By openly communicating your scope of services, investment strategies, potential risks, and anticipated outcomes, you can create a sense of trust and credibility. This practice not only helps clients better understand what to expect from the advisory relationship but also ensures that those who engage are genuinely interested in your planning philosophy.


#2 Build a Referral-Based Practice

As a financial advisor, building a referral-based practice is the most self sustaining way to build your practice. Building a referral-based practice means that the majority of the leads in your practice are coming from people who know you and have recommended you and your services.

Referrals tend to result in clients who are more aligned with your experiences, personality and approach, as they come somewhat pre-qualified by recommendations of your clients who have already benefited from your insights. Building a referral-based financial advising practice not only helps to streamline the client acquisition process but also ensures a client base that has a basis of knowledge on what they can expect with you as an advisor, fostering long-term relationships based on mutual respect and trust.


Retain Your Ideal Clients And Start Being More Selective With New Clients

Part of being a good financial advisor means building strong client-advisor relationships. However, when relationships are strained over time due to miscommunication, unmet expectations, or differing viewpoints or personalities, an advisor can be left working with clients that might not be their ideal client.

Taking time to understand and find the ideal client for your practice can lead to:

  • Enhanced client satisfaction
  • Higher retention rates
  • More efficient marketing,
  • And an enhanced professional reputation

If you’re ready to be more selective with your clients all while improving your client retention rates, start the conversation with a team member today.


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2023-159819 Exp. 8/2025

Published:  August 29, 2023