10 things to never say in front of clients

By Bryce Sanders | June 3, 2013 | Last updated on September 21, 2023
3 min read

Last week we looked at 10 expressions you should never use with clients. Here are 10 more:

#1: “My firm is wrong”

Also, “Our analyst says buy but I say sell.”

Why: Investors work with major firms for many reasons. Access to analysis from award winning professionals usually makes the list. Unless you have a stellar track record they want the firm’s advice.

Instead: “Based on our analysts’ most recent reports, here’s what we think. Let’s consider this in the context of your investment objectives…”

Read: Mass affluent investors need advice, unlikely to get it

#2: “I have no clue where the market is going.”

Also “No one can predict the stock market.”

Why: Clients want an advisor who acts, not reacts. They want opinions. Those opinions may prove right or wrong, but they seek direction.

Instead: “The stock market is often considered a leading indicator for the economy’s performance. Let’s look at the trends we’ve been seeing…”

#3: “If you don’t like it, I’ll take it back”

Now we’re getting into illegal behavior.

Why: Before a new issue comes out or a product makes it’s debut, there’s often a period where early orders are taken as Indications of Interest (IOI’s). They are still orders. The client isn’t given the opportunity to turn it back if the new issue slumps instead of soars.

Instead: “We want to place orders early while there’s availability…”

#4: “He’s a jerk”

Also, “(Firm name) – are they still in business?” and “He did what to you?!

Why? Advisors are expected to treat each other with respect. It’s considered poor manners to bad mouth another person’s advisor. You don’t know all the facts.

Instead: “Yes, I’m familiar with (firm). They are a fine firm. Here’s what we offer….”

#5: “You’re not my biggest client”

Also, “You’ar not my most important client.”

Why: It’s belittling. Everyone wants to be considered an important client. No one wants to hear, “You’re too small.” It might be said if you feel a client is calling too often or being demanding.

Instead: “You are an important client to me. That’s why I feel we should set a scheduled series of contacts so we keep in touch.”

Read: Send prospects the right signals

#6: “You wouldn’t understand”

Also, “It’s complicated.”

Why: It implies the client is idiot or you are smarter than him. If something goes wrong down the road, it sows the seeds for claiming he didn’t understand what he was buying.

Instead: “Here’s what I have in mind. This explanation is going to take some time. I would like both of you on the phone…”

#7: “I don’t pay attention to the stock market”

Often followed by, “Because my clients work with professional money managers.”

Why: It sounds dumb that you don’t pay attention to things happening around you. It’s your business. Every client isn’t involved in managed money. Don’t their investments get attention?

Instead: Have a firm or mainstream professional financial resource on hand. Check periodically. “The market is down today because the technology sector has declined, primarily because of poorer-than-expected earnings from (firm) and (firm).”

#8: “I don’t invest”

Why not? It’s your profession!

Why: It sounds like you have no faith in your own advice.

Instead: Even if you don’t have funds to invest, it’s likely you have assets in a retirement plan utilizing mutual funds. Maybe you own funds directly. “I leave the management of my personal investments to other professionals. This allows me to focus my attention on my clients.”

#9: “You’re on your own”

A client is investing contrary to your recommendations or following their own hunches.

Why: It implies you aren’t going to offer them advice going forward because they aren’t following your instructions. They are still paying fees.

Instead: “It’s important to understand the actions you are taking are contrary to your risk profile and investment objectives. Has something changed? Should we be updating it?”

Read: 7 ways to demonstrate your value

#10: “So sue me”

A dumb thing to say in any situation.

Why: You’re baiting them or issuing a challenge. You don’t care about their opinions or feelings.

Instead: “Let’s put the issue on the table and find common ground. I would also like you to share your concerns with my manager…”

Bryce Sanders

Bryce Sanders is President of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. in New Hope, PA. His book “Captivating the Wealthy Investor” is available on Amazon.com.