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Delivering Bad News: A Financial Planner’s Role

Sometimes we have to deliver bad news to clients. This is an inevitable part of any Financial Planners job, whether it is to let them know of a loading on insurance premiums due to health history, unable to get preferential pricing, delays in withdrawals or discussing disappointing returns with investments.

At a recent team meeting we talked about how best to handle these conversations.  We are an experienced team, but a team member pointed out that although we are used to delivering bad news, our clients may not be used to hearing it.

This was a gentle reminder that even our most experienced clients, will be hearing this piece of news for the first time and this time, the news may not be well received.   While we strive to maintain close relationships with our clients, we don’t always know what’s happening in their lives. Some days, disappointing news is taken in their stride.  Other days it could well be the straw that broke the camels back.

One thing we all agreed with when delivering bad news, is that it’s not about us.

Our job is to deliver the message in a calm manner ensuring our clients fully understand the implications and the options available to them. Our job is to actively listen to our clients concerns and, in some cases, their frustrations.

Our job is not to be defensive.

It is never easy to deliver bad news, it is however easier, when we leave our egos at the door.