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Love Your Client As Yourself


July 8, 2013

Written by Rick Huff

At HSC Wealth Advisors, we consistently spend time discussing how we serve our clients and what is best for them. We recently became convicted concerning the commandment that Jesus explained to a number of followers. When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is, ‘ love your neighbor as yourself.’ There’s no commandment greater than these.

You probably recognized the second commandment as the ‘golden rule’ that most learn about as young children.

And, on an elementary level, this commandment seems very clear to us as financial advisors and investment managers. We are to love our clients by treating them as we would treat ourselves. Initially this concept seemed very profound and fundamental as a guide to how we treat clients.

However, in thinking about this concept for a bit, don’t most, if not all, financial advisors say they “love their clients?” In fact, I’m convinced most financial advisors probably believe they do. But what does it really mean to an advisor?

Do you love your clients enough to change your compensation system so you don’t have built in conflicts of interest?

Do you love your clients enough to change your business model from using the products your provider says you must use to one where you are free to choose the absolute best product for the client?

Do you love your clients enough to change from a system of loyalty to the product provider and switch to a system of absolute loyalty to the client?

We are convicted that this admonition of “loving your client as yourself” means we must structure our practices so that our services, our opinions, our recommendations and our strategies are all developed in the best interest of the client. This can only be accomplished by the elimination of the monetary conflicts of interest that come from being paid by product providers.

This standard was fundamental when Paul Barringer founded our firm in 1983. I know; I was there. Paul and I talked extensively about eliminating conflicts of interest that come from “selling products.”

It is easy for an advisor to say “I love my client” when that advisor makes a lot of money selling products to that client.

But ‘what if’ the advisor himself was put in a situation where he had to make a decision on a subject matter on which he was not an expert, and he could receive advice from –

  • a totally impartial but knowledgeable individual who would not personally benefit from the recommendation or
  • a biased but knowledgeable individual who would personally benefit if the advisor chose his recommendation

Who would the advisor listen to? Who would you listen to?

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