When it comes to politically charged discussions, financial advisors generally try to stay neutral and focus on providing clients with objective financial advice. Yet, while they seek to remain apolitical in their financial advice, the shifting political environment has made it increasingly common for more clients to express their political concerns and feelings with their financial advisors. While many advisors want to remain neutral, the recurring conversations about politics can be stressful, especially when the client and advisor have opposing political viewpoints. This can make it increasingly difficult for the advisor to work with these clients.
In our 96th episode of Kitces & Carl, Michael Kitces and client communication expert Carl Richards discuss how to approach politically charged clients who may be difficult to work with, how to determine if a client’s fixation on their particular views interferes with the planning process, and, if needed, how to smoothly separate from clients and help them find a financial advisor that may be better suited for them.
As a starting point, it’s important to understand that for many clients who bring up politics, their concerns are often fleeting. If a client expresses serious concerns about politics and the potential effects it can have on their financial plan, the advisor may find it helpful to ask the client whether the subject can be put off until a later time so that the meeting can focus on the agenda at hand. If a client is adamant about their concerns, it may be a good idea for the advisor to perform a check-in to determine where their feelings are coming from. Some clients may be internalizing fears arising from what they see and hear in the media. These clients may just need someone to talk to, and the advisor can help by providing reassurance on the status of their financial plan.
However, there are other clients who may have a harder time letting go of their concerns, which can interfere with the work that needs to be done during the client-advisor meeting. If the advisor finds that working with these clients becomes increasingly difficult or stressful, it may be a good idea for the advisor to check in with their own emotional stress to understand whether the impact of the relationship is creating a strain on the advisor’s own mental health, and whether the strain is enough to warrant ending the engagement with the client. Importantly, if an advisor does determine that a client is not a good fit because of conflicting views, they can still approach the separation with compassion and empathy and part on good terms with the client by offering to find an advisor that is truly a better fit for them.
Ultimately, the key point is that not all clients may be a good fit for the advisor, and by understanding how to assess when they should terminate a client relationship, advisors can focus on giving all of their clients the best service possible – whether that means strengthening relationships with current clients or terminating relationships with unviable clients and guiding them to other resources that will support them. Because in the end, maintaining positive relationships is key to the financial advisor’s own success and mental health!
***Editor’s Note: Can’t get enough of Kitces & Carl? Neither can we, which is why we’ve released it as a podcast as well! Check it out on all the usual podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts (iTunes), Spotify, and Stitcher.
Kitces & Carl Podcast Transcript
Michael: Well greetings, Carl.
Carl: Hello, Michael… Okay, what’s your middle name?
Carl: Michael Ernest Kitces. Let’s go.
Michael: Let’s go? You are fired up and ready to go. Literally, fired up. For anybody who’s watching the video, Carl has sparks, lightning bolts on his shoulders, bringing the energy. This is a really cool shirt. Literally. This is not a graphic overlay. There are lightning bolts on your shoulders.
Carl: Yes. I think we all need to go on Twitter and tell Howler Brothers that I need to be sponsored because all my shirts these days, the ones with the sun thing, and the pelicans I wore one time. This is their new lightning bolts one, which I was super jazzed to get. So…
Michael: So, Howler Brothers, like howl…
Carl: Yeah, H-O-W-L-E-R. Like the Howler monkey. Howler Brothers.
Michael: Okay. All right. Now, I do have to know, while I appreciate the lightning bolts, there is something missing today.
Carl: Yeah, I know. I’m working on it. I’m working on the blue couch. It’s still in my wife’s office at home. We just haven’t had time. So, we’ll see. I brought the bolts today.
Michael: All right. You brought the bolts? So, I appreciate the bolts. I do appreciate the bolts.
Carl: Yes. Thank you. Thank you.
Offering Financial Advice In A Politically Charged Environment [01:25]
Michael: So, watch this one. So being in a very charged environment these days, very politically charged environment these days…
Carl: Brought the bolts.
Michael: I didn’t know you were going to bring the lightning bolt shirt when we were going to talk about politically charged environments.
Michael: But I want to talk a little bit about politically charged environments. It seems like part of the world these days, we’re coming up on midterm election season, which pretty much just ramps all the discussion up further, regardless of which side of the political aisle you’re on, all things are amplified. And I find there’s a particular challenge for us in the advisor community that, look, there’s some subset of advisors that I think have sort of consciously gotten political. It is part of their identity, it is part of how they show up in their firm, and it is part of what they do. All of their clients know it, the marketplace knows it. And just for better or worse, they tend to work with people who are politically aligned to them and others don’t. And so, they’re sort of naturally aligned to their clients.
Most of us, I think, by numbers, don’t go that route. We try to stay neutral. We try to stay in the middle. We try to stay apolitical. “I’m just here to give you the financial advice and help your hopes, dreams, goals, and wishes. I’m not here to have a political discussion.” And to me, for the focus thing, I’m not here to have a political discussion for our podcast either, but clients show up with this, and we still have to deal with that.
And that’s the moment that I think would be helpful to talk about. And this kind of queued up for me because we had a Twitter exchange a little ways back with an advisor who had said it, as he framed it like, “When is it officially appropriate for me to send out a mass email to clients that just says, “Stop with your political lunatic fringe?” Whatever side of the fringe you’re on. We’re not going to get the sides here. Both sides have some of this going on. But as this advisor said, “It’s affecting my time dealing with this. It’s affecting my mental health.”
And so, I think it raises an interesting discussion that, do you know what I mean? Just even as I look at this over my career, it wasn’t that long ago, that just look, if you didn’t bring up politics, clients really didn’t bring up politics much unless that was their thing or job. If they did, they might put something lightly out there, and then you just kind of don’t take the bait and you can get the conversation back pretty quickly to the advisory stuff.
And that just doesn’t seem to happen in the same way now. Clients go there. They stay there. They don’t want to leave that conversation. You get forwards from your clients about the thing, whatever the thing is on whatever side of the political aisle they’re on that like, “Oh my gosh, have you seen this?” And I really felt for Brian, the advisor that had posted this, that I think this is representative of what a lot of us are going through. Not necessarily with every single client, but this subset of clients. I was going to say, they want to open the door for a more political conversation, but they don’t necessarily want to actually open the door. It’s not a conversation. They’re sharing some views from a certain place that may not be your place. And it’s not as easy as it once was to just try to stay apolitical because sometimes the client just won’t let it go the way that at least I feel like they did more often in the past. So, when you get that client and they just keep being political and won’t let it go, what do you do?
Carl: Yeah. The same thing you do to your mother-in-law. Get out. I’m just kidding. I’m just kidding. I’m just kidding. I have a great mother-in-law, by the way. That was just metaphorically.
Michael: I was going to say you have to be careful about sharing this with Corey or anything.
Carl: No, I have a great mother-in-law. That’s why I can pick on her a little bit. That was just purely a metaphor. But I think it’s a really interesting point and it’s an important point to make. I used to say all the time, “Keep your values off your clients’ financial plans.” But that almost feels quaint now, because what I was referring to was do the clients want to pay for education and you worked your way through school and so you’re trying to say, “No, your kids should work their way through school.” That was what I was talking about. Cute little things like education planning. And I mean cute like quaint, nice.
And we used to be able to have discussions about this, right? Well, we didn’t used to, but it seemed like this is more… Obviously, I’m not stating anything that people don’t know. It’s far more polarizing now. And there’s not room… I mean, I just recently had a conversation about this with somebody super close to me, and we literally can’t… I feel like I’m a very reasonable person and we can’t talk because it’s every… We’re at dinner and I just said, “Hey…” It was a Sunday night, I was tired. It’d been a long weekend. And I said, “Could we just pick a less sensitive subject for dinner?” That’s the last time we’ve spoken in two or three weeks because of… So, this is the problem.
The good news is despite what we see on the political pornography networks, most people are still moderate. That’s the good news. Most of America’s in the middle. So, this isn’t going to be a problem for most people, but let’s just talk about it because I bet most advisors have had at least one opportunity for growth in this area. One problem. And to me, I think it’s pretty simple, right? And we should talk real quickly. I’m not talking about a client who says, “Hey, I’m really concerned about this particular polarizing issue. And I would like to figure out in my planning a way that I could fund this.” Insert political issue. And that to me is an example of, you’ve got a decision to make there, but it’s a different decision. It’s like…
Michael: Yeah. I feel like I know how to handle that. Just like plenty of the things that clients have done over the years of, “I want to pursue this goal or put my money here.” I’m like, “Not really where I would’ve put my money, but that’s your goal and your values. Okay, I’ll show you how to get there.”
Carl: But I do think we’re in a stage now though where that may even introduce a problem. And that’s a similar discussion of “I find that thing so repulsive that I can’t help here. It feels like an inherent conflict of interest. If it’s that important, I’ll find somebody who can help you.” That seems less likely, but it’s a possibility now because these things are so charged. So, let’s set that one aside and just be like, yeah, I’m getting this crazy stuff forwarded to me. And it’s so hard not to use words, but I think it’s important that we stay away from the actual topic because that will be a distraction. The actual specific topics on both sides.
Michael: Yeah, yeah. Too many topics on both sides. Not trying to go to either side here. So, to me, there’s at least two or three different scenarios. I’d really love to hear just how would you literally start talking through this? But I’m thinking of three versions. So, there’s one that’s just, “I need this client to dial it down.” There’s a second version that’s probably, “This relationship just needs to end. And how do I say that without becoming a pariah?” And then there’s sort of Brian’s version that’s, “Can I just send this out to all my clients and tell them to tone it down?”
But let me just start with the first one that I think gets most on point. It’s some version of I’m in the client meeting. It keeps coming back to some political thing. It’s your version of what you are going through with your friends. It just kept coming back to the political thing. But I find for a lot of us, we don’t even necessarily get to the point of, “Hey, can we talk about a less sensitive topic over dinner?” It’s the financial planning meeting. They at least believe it affects their money and their plan. So, it feels topic du jour for them. So how would you respond to this in the moment when the client just keeps wooding one political thing after another on the table to the point that it’s making you uncomfortable, draining your mental health, trying to talk through this?
Getting A Client Meeting Back On Track When They Are Distracted [11:13]
Carl: I’ve thought a lot about this ever since Brian’s tweet, and even before. I was trying to think, “Would I treat it like any other…” First of all, if we understand what’s behind these concerns, independent of your belief, for your ability to empathize, you can empathize with the human who is in pain, right? Underneath this is fear, uncertainties, all those human things. So, I think if we can start, and I’m not saying you even use those words at all, I’m not suggesting that, but I think from a mindset perspective, it’s helpful just to go, “Gosh, man, this…” Just from a mindset, it’s helpful for me to always remember that must be a scary place to be with that person talking about that, and talking about that, and talking about that. And if I can just get there, it doesn’t change the direction I’m going to go next at all, but it might just interject a little humanist into the experience maybe. And again, if your goal is to maybe have a chance for just a teeny opening for change, having somebody do it empathetically… And again, I’m saying, we’re still going to fire this person. It’s probably a relationship that’s not going to last. But if it’s done with some empathy, maybe, maybe…
Michael: Well, I’m not even at fire yet. Can we just…
Carl: Yeah. Yeah. So, here’s what I think is going to happen.
Michael: …we may get there, but can we just…
Carl: Yeah, here’s the problem.
Michael: How do you tone them down in the moment? How do you tone them down in the moment?
Carl: Yeah, and again, I think we’ll do a whole ‘nother episode on the reality of this affecting planning and forecasting and decision making and fear about the markets and the economy. But in the moment, if somebody brings that up, I think it’s pretty simple to say, “Hey, that sounds really important to you,” right? “From what you’ve just said, it sounds that’s really important to you.” And the question I have is can we set this aside as a discussion that doesn’t need… To be honest, I would be most interested in just saying, “Look, it sounds really important to you. Is this something that we can set aside to get the work done that we need to get done? Because if it is, that would be my preference.” Right? That’s how I would start. Because if…
Michael: Are we promising to come back to it? Because I don’t really actually want to come back to it maybe, but my promise is, “This sounds really important to you, but can we set this aside for a moment because we need to get through this…”
Carl: We’ve got work to do.
Michael: “We’ve got work to do.” That’s a good way to frame it.
Carl: Yeah, I think maybe “set aside” is not the right word. Maybe it’s, “Hey, I’m not sure that this…” Now, here’s the dilemma. Right? Is the next words. I’m not sure these words are true. “I’m not sure this impacts the decisions we’re focused on today.” That would be what I wanted.
Michael: Because sometimes then it is, this thing is going to happen, and that thing is going to happen, and this thing is going to spiral off. And, “No, we have to deal with this.”
Carl: Yeah. So that’s the question I would be asking is, “Look, this sounds really important to you. I’m not sure it applies to the work we’re doing right now. Is it okay if we set that aside so we can move forward here?” I’m just trying to open the door here because if they’re saying, “No, this is really important,” we’ve got a whole other dis… And we’re going to get to the people who are sending the emails and asking them to stop, but I’m not so sure that there is a way to pull… And again, I think we’re talking about isolated clients. This isn’t going to happen very often. I’m not sure there’s a way to pull people back from this brink has been my experience. It’s like once they get so focused on this being so important, of course they think it affects their planning.
How could it not? “The world is on fire. What do you mean this doesn’t affect my planning? Have you seen, dah, dah, dah…” We can go in any direction with this. Right?
Carl: So, I’m just trying to open the door to find out maybe this was just a random comment, and we can say, “Cool, I hear you. That sounds like it’s really important to you. Do you think it affects the work we’re doing here? Because I’m not so sure it does. And I’d like to just stay focused on getting this work done.” And if they’re like, “Of course, it does,” well, you’ve got yourself a problem. And the problem is you’ve got to listen a bit.
Michael: Well, I think that’s an interesting litmus test. Just thinking through it of, okay to start with, “This sounds really important to you, but I’m wondering if it’s okay if we set this aside for a moment to get through the work at hand for the meeting today.” And they will or will not go with you down that path, but that’s actually really helpful to know right there if they do, if they say, “Okay, all right, sorry, we’ll talk about it more. What’s the thing that we got to get done today?” Okay, then you know you’re at least one place with the client. And for better or worse, the client says, “What do you mean? This is the center of what we’ve got to talk about.” As you said, “Everything’s happening and it’s going to change everything.” Then for better or worse it’s, okay, then apparently, we’re there. So, I just have to decide, am I okay to stay there or not? Am I okay to stay in that space with this client or not?
Carl: I totally agree. And it could just be, “Oh no, no, no. I just read that on the way to… I heard that on the radio. Not a big deal.” It could be that they’re one of these sort of lunatic fringe folks on either side that are so obsessed about something that it’s going to cloud everything you do. And then we’re to the point of, well, almost to Brian’s tweet, which is, “I’m not sure I can handle planning for that person so we can talk about how to handle that.” Right?
Michael: Yeah. So, well, so I think that’s a good crossroads because if you put this conversation out, “This sounds really important to you, and I want to come back to this, but can we set it aside for a moment to cover some of the things that we need to work on today?” And they’ll go with you or not. And you’ll see whether they actually want to come back to it at the end or not. And that will tell you something. If they’re not that amped up, they may create the space for you there.
Carl: Yeah. Can I just quickly, let’s just insert an alternate version, which is…
Carl: “This sounds really important to you. Do you think it affects the work that we’re doing here? Because I’m not so sure it does. And I’d like to just stay focused.” That leaves the, “Hey, we’ll come back to this idea.” I think either way is an interesting direction to go, but I kind of like my second revised version, which is, “Hey, this sounds really important to you. Do you think it affects the work we’re doing here? Because I’m not so sure it does. Would it be okay if we just stayed focused on the agenda?” Right? That still opens that same door without the promise of coming back to it. So, either way, I think you’re getting a sense of where are we?
Understanding When It Is Time To ‘Fire’ A Client [18:36]
Michael: Okay. So, if they dial down a bit from that, okay. Then like…
Carl: “Oh, I just read that. I just heard that on the radio on the way over. It’s no big deal. Never mind. It’s not a big deal.” Boom, we’re right back.
Michael: Or they don’t. “Carl, you don’t understand. This is going to change everything.” And so now they’re all in and they’re not letting go. So, the first thing I feel just that has to be acknowledged, and it’s a version of what Brian had commented as well, I feel like we have to, as advisors, take a moment and get clear of just, is this actually affecting your mental health?
Carl: As an advisor?
Michael: As an advisor.
Carl: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Michael: And look, I think there are some of us where it does and some of us where it doesn’t. As I think out to my advisor peers and friends, there are some that are, they are just unflappable. It rolls off them like water off the back of a duck. They’re just fine. They just let the client do their thing. They find some way to put themselves in their happy place. And then they come back, and they wrap up the meeting or whatever was going on. And they’re fine. It’s more power to you if that’s just how you’re wired, it works for you. But I know for a lot of us, it doesn’t. It grinds on us. It grates on us. It’s frustrating. It can get exhausting. We do that long enough. In today’s political environment it becomes damaging to mental health.
And so, at least from my end, I feel like the first thing that just has to be acknowledged or inserted here is take a moment for the self-check of, is it affecting your mental health that much as an advisor? And if the answer is yes, look, I don’t know how big this client really is for you, but I can almost guarantee, it can’t be big enough. It can’t be big enough for sacrificing your mental health.
So, Carl, I will call on you because you are the one with the wands that does the wish-granting.
Carl: Where is the wand? Yeah, I got it over there…
Michael: I feel like we need the wand here of just…
Carl: Permission granted to…
Michael: Permission granted. It’s okay to let go of a client over this. And not just to be magnanimous about, “Hey, you got enough clients, some revenue, you’ll get another client to make it up.” Although you probably will. You’ll be okay. But just at a more rooted level, your mental health isn’t worth that sacrifice. If it’s grating on you that much. If it’s really grating on you that much, this isn’t acceptable. You’re not firing them for political reasons. You’re firing them for your personal mental health reasons. It’s okay to let go of a client for your personal mental health.
Carl: Yeah. I’d take it a step further. We just treat it like any other reason. Look, if…
Michael: Well, any other client I let go for my mental health.
Carl: Yeah. If you have…
Michael: I’ve had clients that are awful for a lot of reasons besides politics.
Carl: I think it’s even before mental health. If you continually find a client to be an energy suck and a bummer and you don’t want to call them back. And I don’t really like… That’s on the little spreadsheet that you built. You’ve only got 100 seats, whatever, it’s 250, or 75, or 20. I don’t care what the number is. And one of the things on the spreadsheet you built was a qualitative decision about, “Do I like working with this person?” And it’s okay to think that way. “This is just not a good fit.” I wouldn’t treat it any other way. And so yes, absolutely. The wand is in the drawer over there, but I can use it remotely. Permission granted to gen… And I would prefer… You can do it Nick Murray style. It’s not a problem. Hit the road if you want to. But I would prefer that we always treat those people with as much kindness as possible if we’re letting them go for any reason. And that’s like, “Hey, it’s clearly not a good fit here.” Now, let’s talk about this real quick. This is important.
Michael: Yeah. So, how do you do this conversation, right? I mean, we’re always worried about rejecting and turning away clients because they’ve got friends, they’ve got family. Some of us are in smaller towns where it gets around. The relationship is already not good because I’m suffering mental health. This can go further south.
Carl: Yeah, I think this is really important to think about. And I’ve thought a lot about this. And it’s around feedback. It turns out that most people don’t want feedback, even the people who ask for it. And so, you have to make a decision here about what the goal is. The goal is not to fix or change the client. I think you really hear, especially politically, I would not make this into a political stand where you’re like, “Since you believe that kind of stuff, we can no longer…” The goal is not to change the client. The goal at this point is not to salvage the relationship. The goal is to unwind this relationship as smoothly and as quickly as possible.
And so, I think if you have that goal in mind, as much as you may want to try to change or make statements or make a protest or any of those things, as much as you, and that’s natural. I think if you keep the goal in mind, the goal is, “How quickly can I get away from this person who’s causing me this damage?” And be honest and ethical and kind, and do it in a way that I’m going to feel okay about looking back on.
So, to me, I would probably stay away from… I think you could easily say, “Look, it sounds like those political views are so important to you and they affect your planning to a degree that you consider to be vital. And that’s not something that’s a good fit for me.” I don’t have to even say, “I’m not sure I agree…” You can say, “I’m not sure I agree that they’re really important for your planning,” but if you’ve heard them talk about why it’s really important to them, of course, it’s important to the planning.
So, I think I would just say, “Look, that’s not a good fit for me. So, I would be doing you a disservice to keep you as a client with something this important that’s not a good fit for me. So, can I help you find someone else? Or maybe you can ask some of your friends who share those political views for a planner that’s a better fit. And listen, Mr. or Mrs. Client, I will pledge to you that I will do my absolute best to make that the smoothest transition possible ever so we can part friends. The next time I see you, I want high fives and hugs.” That’s how I would prefer to handle that. Now, I know some people are like, “I’m so ethically or morally upset about their beliefs that I’d have to make a statement.” Well, the question is, what are you doing that for? In a client relationship, it’s just going to cause you more problems.
Michael: So I hear you if we’re in the middle of the meeting and they’re so fixated in the meeting that I’m going to just cut the cord right here in the meeting. “Wow, we’ve been talking about this for an hour and a half into this meeting. It sounds like these political views are really important to you and they really affect your planning in a way that you consider vital, but I don’t know that I can help you at this point. This kind of planning isn’t a good fit for me. Can I find a way to try to get you to another advisor that can help you with this?”
Carl: Yeah. The only word I would remove from there is can.
Michael: Can, not a choice. I’m going to.
Carl: Yeah. Yeah. “Why don’t we work together to find a planner that will be a better fit?”
Finding The Right Words To Separate From A Client Smoothly [26:54]
Michael: So, I get that in the moment. So how do I do this because I’m never this good in the presence of mind in the moment? Well, after the meeting, eating dinner or getting down for the evening, I’m like, “Oh, I just thought of how I should’ve done that with the client.” But what I probably didn’t at the time, at the time, I was probably like, “Let’s just get to the end of this fricking meeting and we’re going to…”
Carl: Yeah, get me out of here.
Michael: Yeah. “Get me out of here” was not getting me out of the relationship. I was like, “I just need to get to the end of the meeting.” So now, I’m where I suspect a lot of us are and where Brian is, like, I know who this problem client is. Not in the meeting right now. I have to get off my duff tomorrow morning and call them or send them an email or whatever it is to start this outreach, well, to say, “I’m terminating you for your political views,” without saying “I’m terminating you for political views.” So, how do I kick this off tomorrow morning?
Carl: I think it’s easier afterwards. It’s probably even better. It’s probably like, just let the whole thing settle, and walk away. I personally, and Dan Solan actually taught me this, that these kind of conversations, hey, you may disagree. And I can see the benefit to emailing so that you can carefully write it out. But I find these conversations much better over the phone because there’s an emotional context that can be communicated. And so, I would simply just call someone. Or email. I would call or email and say, “Now, let’s keep it about what it’s about.” If there was a political view that you didn’t agree with, but you all agreed that it wasn’t affecting the planning, that’s a different discussion. And let’s spend a few minutes on that at the end, or next. But here it’s about planning. You’re not a good fit for this client. I think you could almost in your head pretend like it’s another niche, right? I’m an ankle surgeon, you need a shoulder surgeon.
And so, I think if you keep it that way in the phrasing, like, “Hey, it’s really clear in the discussion we had yesterday, you brought up some concerns about political issues that you think are going to have a real impact on your planning. That’s not a good fit for me. Let’s work together to find you a planner that’s a better fit. And I’ll pledge to you, maybe you want to talk to some of your friends, and look, I’ll make a few phone calls, but off the top of my head, I can’t think of anyone.” Because I don’t hang out with people that have that… “I can’t think of anyone. Why don’t you ask some of your friends and let’s just agree that in the next two weeks we’ll find a new home? And I pledge to you,” dah, dah, dah. “I pledge to you that I’ll make that as smooth as possible.”
Michael: So, am I overthinking this? Probably…Am I overthinking this that my worry hearing this is that as soon as I say, “That’s not a good fit for me,” that I’m turning this back into a political discussion? I’m basically saying, “I’m on the other side of the aisle from you,” whatever the other side is. And that now this is ending out in a more political realm. Am I reading too far into that?”
Carl: No, it’s a good point. The problem is I’ve been thinking very carefully about this. I don’t know how to do it. Okay, we could just say, “Hey, in the meeting the other day, it became clear that there are some planning needs that you have that I’m not fit…” And of course, that’s going to lead to, “Like what?”
So, I think you can say it without saying “I’m on the other side.” You could make it about, “I’m not sure that these things impact your plan,” but of course, they do.
Michael: Or they believe they do and trying to convince them it doesn’t is probably not going to work.
Carl: That’s not going to work. Right? We all know that would be like trying to change your friend that has a difficult political view. It’s not going to happen.
Michael: And so just framing this that, “I’m just not sure I’m a good fit for you for this journey that you’re on.”
Carl: Yeah. And you could change political to, “There are some things going on in the world that you feel really strongly about that clearly affect the way you want to proceed with planning.” And so, you’re not saying, “I think…” You got to be really careful there. I’ve made this mistake so many times in the last five years where I’m passive-aggressive about it, or I’m trying to call them stupid without calling them stupid. I’m trying to help them see the error of their ways. You can’t have any other agenda. Your only agenda here is to get them out of your business and into somebody else who hopefully can help them.
Michael: Well, and I think that’s the biggest point to it, to me, as we come to the end here, is just reinforcing that point. Just, at this point, it’s not about their views. It’s not about your views. It’s not about trying to change their views. If you open the door for them to separate the politics from the planning and they decline, we tried that conversation, we’re past the saving point, we’re really just to the, what’s the most gracious way we can expedite the exit as quickly as possible, and do the right thing for the client and try to find them another place to land that will be a good fit. But just keeping your mind focused on we’re just trying to unwind this relationship as graciously and expeditiously as possible because your mental health is worth more than this.
Carl: Yeah. And the only thing I would just emphasize is, I know it’s silly, but is there any way we can do it with a sense of, I’d love this person to walk to their car confused a little bit by the grace of how we handled it, right? Just like, “That was a lovely guy…” And maybe it doesn’t happen right then, but can you do everything in your power to make this an empathetic human experience, keep your mind on the agenda. What’s the agenda here? Your only agenda is to find them a better home and to get them out of your business. That doesn’t require you making a political statement, it doesn’t mean you need to have a fight. It’s the right thing to do in the right way. That’s how I would think about it.
Michael: Oh, it just comes back to that. I do like how you framed her. It’s like, “In the discussion yesterday, you brought up some political issues that you believe are going to have a real impact in your planning. I’ve realized I’m not a good fit to help you from here. So, I’m going to work with you to find another planner who’s a better fit and you can move forward with your planning.”
Carl: Yeah. “I care enough about you to want you to have a good fit.” Whatever. So, I think that’s perfect framing.
And I think there was one thing we said we should talk about right at the end. What was it? It was…
Michael: I don’t remember.
Carl: Yeah, it was well, let’s just really quickly address the you’re just getting the emails, right? It’s not in a meeting. I think you handle it the same way. “Hey, you keep sending these emails to me. I want to just check in here. Are you sending these because you think it affects your planning work? Because I don’t see the relevance here. I just want to check in.” And then you’re on the same path. And I definitely wouldn’t do this in bulk. We came around that too, with… Who was it? Was it Brian?
Carl: Brian’s email. And maybe this is me just being naively hopeful. I believe this is going to be very isolated incidents. I believe every planner may have this effect, but it’s not going to be the bulk of your clients.
Michael: Right. And so, I think that’s good advice. Just if it’s happening with a subset of clients, address it with the subset of clients. You don’t have to make it broader than it needs to be. Just address the problem clients. And if you can’t find a resolution, then move on from the problem clients and save your mental health.
Carl: Yeah. Type out a template email that you just cut and paste these times, so you don’t have to rethink it. That just says, “Hey, you keep sending these to me. I just want to check in here. Are you sending these because it’s relevant to your planning? Because I don’t believe it is. Unless you believe it’s relevant to your planning, could you do me a favor and take me off this list?” Right? And then if it is relevant to the planning, you already know what to do.
Michael: Yeah. Yeah. All right.
Carl: Cheers, Michael. That was super fun.
Michael: Well, thank you, Carl. Thank you for going down the politically challenging conversation because…
Carl: Look at that. And we’re still friends.
Michael: And we’re still friends. It’s a glorious thing. Thank you, Carl.