Get around common deal-breakers

By Bryce Sanders | January 27, 2014 | Last updated on September 21, 2023
3 min read

You’ve heard it before: the prospect likes your proposal and recommendations and has no issues with fees; then the potential deal-breaker rears its ugly head.

“I Already Have An Advisor”

The issue: The prospect already has an established relationship in place, and the advisor isn’t doing a bad job. And it’s his sister-in-law, so he fears a conflict if he breaks it off.

Read: Doing business with friends

Why it’s a concern: He assumes people only work with one advisor at a time, so working with you means firing his sister-in-law.

What not to say: “Of course you already have an advisor. Who doesn’t? Why should that stop you from working with me? What does she have that I don’t?”

Message to convey: In their book, The Millionaire’s Advisor, Russ Alan Prince and Brett Van Bortal make the point that the wealthy have multiple advisors—three or more, on average. You follow the same logic when you diversify across several mutual funds or money managers.

What to say: “I expected that. Successful people often have multiple advisory relationships. You’re obviously successful. How many do you have?”

You Can’t Fire Friends

The issue: She knows you well. Your families socialize and connections go back a generation. And you serve on the same volunteer committees. What if the business relationship doesn’t work out?

Why it’s a concern: Money’s very personal—people get attached to it. If investing together didn’t work out she would want to cut her losses. This would involve having a difficult conversation. How do she unwind the investing relationship while maintaining the friendship?

What not to say: “Like that’s going to happen! After all we’ve been through together, our friendship can survive anything. Let’s just get started and see how it goes. Just leave everything to me.”

Read: When clients complain about good news

Message to convey: We followed a procedure when we entered into the relationship and we need a procedure to end the relationship if necessary. Periodic portfolio reviews and agreed standards are an important part.

Words to use: “If you become my client and take my advice, you should get a report card. If I’m doing a lousy job, you should be able to fire me.” The portfolio reviews using appropriate blended indices for comparison are the report cards. Her anxiety level is lowered because she understands how she can unwind the relationship guilt-free because it was your idea.

What Happens When You Retire?

The issue: You’re older, experienced and good at your job. Your friend can’t wait to retire and assumes you want to get out, too. He’ll have an ongoing need for your skills but you won’t be there.

Why it’s a concern: He has a relationship with you—he wants your skills and expertise. He assumes he’ll get extra attention because of your shared friendship. If you retire, he’ll get reassigned to another advisor who doesn’t know him.

What not to say: “Everything changed when we moved to a fee-based business model. Most of my revenue arrives whether I come into the office or not. I’ll never retire because it’s such a good deal. They’ll have to carry me out feet first.”

Message to convey: You enjoy your job because you help other people. You intend to continue working for the next 10 years — at least. And you have a succession plan.

Words to use: “I understand your concern. Our business is different than most: We don’t have a mandatory retirement age and many advisors continue into their late 70s because we enjoy what we do. Health permitting, I’m planning on working at least 10 more years. I’m also bringing my daughter into my practice. If anything happens to me, she, along with our team would continue to provide excellent service.”

Read: How to improve portfolio reviews

Bryce Sanders

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