The Best New Year’s Resolution: Say Goodbye to Toxic Clients

By Dr. Jack Singer

A few weeks ago I featured two blog posts on the topic of “toxic” personality types that financial advisors encounter in their careers. Step one is recognizing these toxic personalities, and step two involves avoiding them, or transferring them out of your practice if needed. In these blog posts I discussed the first six personalities; today we will continue on to talk about the last four.

As the New Year is upon us, we all make resolutions.  Some want to lose weight, exercise more, or change a behavior.  For financial advisors, the best resolution you can make is to FINALLY get rid of toxic clients, who weigh you down with stress, anger, frustration, etc.

In my book, “The Financial Advisor’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” I describe 10 toxic personality types you are likely to encounter, and whom you should consider avoiding or eliminating from your practice.  In my past blog posts, I described six of my top ten toxic personalities to avoid or eliminate from your practice.  They include “ The Abusive or Abrasive Alan,” The Controlling Connie,” “The Eddie Haskell,” “The Gloom-and-Doom Debbie,” “The High-Maintenance Marty,” and The Histrionic Harriet.”

Here are the final four:

The Narcissistic Ned

This client is an elitist and has a high need to be admired and adored. He is so wrapped up in himself that he believes he is your most important client, insisting on your attention whenever he wants it.  Since he feels entitled (perhaps because of the amount of fees he pays you), he may insist that your assistant should interrupt you to take his call.

These people spend most of their time looking for attention and accolades from everyone they meet.  Do you have the patience and wherewithal to give this energy-zapping client the time and consistent praise he demands?

The OCD Olivia

These clients are constantly anxious and attempt to moderate that anxiety by controlling every possible detail in their lives. This affects their interpersonal skills as they try to control conversations.  Having difficulty giving up control to anyone, they cannot delegate decisions and must be in on every decision that you make on their behalf.

What is really frustrating is that they are so concerned with being perfect and not making mistakes that they ruminate for hours over even little decisions.  This client is very difficult to work with and take a tremendous amount of your time, as you have great difficulty getting her to make timely decisions. You may even have to go into excruciating detail with her because of her underlying fear of making a mistake.

Can you afford the frustration that comes with this kind of client?

The Type A Ted

You are very familiar with Type A personality traits since it is highly likely that you possess many of them yourself. Since so many successful people possess Type A characteristics, it is highly likely that many of your clients fit this pattern. Type A traits are not a problem, per se.  It is only when the traits of having to be in total control and be perfect come into the equation, that they can be quite toxic.  Fearing the loss of control, such clients are easily angered and aggressive. They go way beyond assertiveness in dealing with everyone who they perceive as a threat.

With both of you having the need to be in control, can you see how keeping this client in your practice will ramp up your stress?

The Wishy-Washy Wanda

Constantly worrying about making a mistake, this client vacillates back and forth regarding any financial decision you need her to make.  Indecisiveness is the key to her sad existence. An extreme people pleaser, she tries to determine what YOU want her to say, rather than tell you how she really feels.  She doesn’t want to offend you or have you judge her negatively.

These clients are chronically unhappy people because they rarely get their needs taken care of; instead, they spend all of their energy pleasing others, including you. Although she may be easy to manage because she wants to please you, you will never really know her true feelings and fears regarding her financial situation.

Sadly, this is a client you can’t really trust.  Can you afford to retain such a client?

So, begin the New Year by eliminating a few of your most toxic clients and I promise you that 2016 will be much less stressful for you than 2015 was!