What to Do When You Make a Mistake as a CFP® Professional

How do you handle things when you make a mistake with one of your clients? You may not have dealt with this situation yet, but it will happen at some point in your career. We’re all human, and there’s no amount of CFP® training or experience that will overcome that. 

However, a mistake doesn’t have to be the end of your career, as long as you learn how to handle it the right way. The way you approach your clients, address the issue, and move toward a solution will determine the outcome: keeping your client or losing them.

Handling a mistake well is all about your attitude and problem-solving skills. You need to make sure you’re communicating with your clients well, so they regain confidence in your dedication. Then, you need to provide an effective solution to the issue so they feel secure in your ability to meet their needs. Ultimately, making a mistake is just another opportunity to serve your clients well

Maintain realistic expectations 

Unfortunately, there’s never going to be a time when you’ve gotten enough training and experience to be a perfect financial planner. Hopefully, you’ll make fewer mistakes as your career continues, but you’re never going to be perfect. 

It’s vital to be pragmatic about mistakes. You must plan on them occasionally happening so you’re ready to handle them when they do occur. When you have realistic expectations for yourself, it’s easier to manage your client’s expectations as well. 

Don’t panic

A big part of handling mistakes is having the right perspective. Realizing you made an error with a client might cause immediate feelings of panic, but you can’t stay in that emotional state forever. You can acknowledge your feelings, but then you need to put them aside and get to work fixing the issue.

You might approach that initial client call with dread, but chances are it won’t be as bad as you think. Most clients are decent people who understand that everyone makes mistakes. As long as you are willing to own up and provide a solution, your client will probably be quick to forgive and move forward.

Take responsibility

It’s never fun to be in a place where you have to admit you were wrong, but it’s a key skill to have. Having the ability to look at your own work objectively and critically makes it easier to recognize errors, fix them, and prevent them in the future.

No one likes dealing with an upset client. But being a financial planner means that sometimes you’ll have to communicate with clients who are upset and figure out how to repair the relationship. And how you talk to your clients will affect how they treat you in return.

You have to strike a balance between confidence and humility. You need to be humble enough to acknowledge your mistakes and accept negative feedback from your client. But you can’t be so humble that you allow your clients to treat you disrespectfully – you also have to project confidence in your ability to make things right.

Provide a solution

The final part of the process is taking ownership of the issue and fixing your mistake. Allow your clients to discuss their concerns, and really listen to what they need. Make sure your client knows you’re ready and excited to fix things and move forward. 

Then, figure out an effective solution. Taking care of the issue as quickly as possible will remind your clients why they trust you with their finances. It shows your commitment to them and gives them the opportunity to react with grace, accept your apology, and continue your working relationship.

Turn mistakes into opportunities

Understanding how to recover from a mistake can be just as important as developing your skills to prevent mistakes in the first place. You have the chance to be humble, accept your client’s feedback, and provide a solution. It’s an opportunity to remind them that you’re human, but you have their best interest at heart, and you’re working hard to serve them.

How do you react when you realize you’ve messed up with a client? What do you do to fix things? Add your thoughts in the comments!

Even the most seasoned financial planners screw up sometimes, but they’re successful because they know how to fix their mistakes with the right attitude. It’s all about maintaining that client relationship, and one of the best ways to figure out how to do that is to learn from the best. 

With Amplified Planning CORE, that’s exactly what you get to do. Our training intensive lets you virtually sit in on real client sessions and see how expert planners offer advice, develop solutions, and accept feedback. Find out more about CORE and how you can earn CFP® standard pathway or continuing education credits.