What Should You Do When Clients Ignore Your Advice?

Picture this: You work hard creating a financial plan for a client, and then they ignore it or do the opposite of what you recommended.

What should you do if a client ignores your advice? How do you handle this situation?

Honestly, this can be one of the most frustrating and disheartening circumstances for a financial planner. But with the right mindset, you can maintain your relationship with your client and work together to build a more successful financial plan.

Even the best financial plan isn’t foolproof

When a client doesn’t follow your advice, it’s usually because there is a misalignment between their personal values and the financial plan you’ve created for them. 

For example, let’s say you have a client who is considering dropping some serious cash into a home renovation. You think it’s an unwise expense right now and advise your client to wait and save the money instead. But your client decides to remodel their home anyway. 

What happened? Your advice was sound. Maybe your client even verbally agreed with you when you had the conversation with them. 

But in reality, your client made the decision that felt right to them. And the fact that it was the opposite of what you recommended means there was some disconnect between your advice and your client’s goals. 

You probably didn’t realize that this particular client values having a safe and comfortable home more than having $50,000 in the bank. They didn’t ignore your advice because it was wrong, they just made a decision that was more consistent with their personal goals and priorities. 

Check your ego

The first step toward reacting properly in this type of situation is reminding yourself that you are operating on incomplete information. 

That doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. In reality, when it comes to interacting with other people, we’re all working with incomplete information all the time. You can’t know exactly what’s going on in your client’s mind and emotions. Even if you communicate well with them, it’s impossible to predict what they are thinking and feeling all the time. And it’s good to remind yourself of this before you become frustrated.

When a client ignores your advice, it’s easy to feel angry because your pride is wounded. As financial planners, we often let our egos get out of control. But we have to fight against the temptation to believe that our advice is 100% correct all the time.

Focus on the big picture

When a client ignores your advice, it’s best to take a step back and look at the big picture. Ask the most important question: Will this decision destroy your client’s financial stability or their long-term goals? 

If so, then you should definitely speak up and help them understand the consequences of their spending. Remember to be constructive, though. The goal isn’t to make your client feel guilty, but to remind them of what they need to do now to have success in the future.

But if this decision isn’t catastrophic, it’s better to simply treat it as a bump in the road and help your client move on. Find a way to help them reach their goals from this new starting point. Bring your knowledge and skills to the table in support of your client and their unique goals and values.

Put your pride aside to serve your clients better

When a client ignores our advice, the problem is usually with us, not them. That means it’s our responsibility to communicate better and to really listen when they tell us what matters to them. And then we need to prioritize our clients’ plans even if they don’t match our own values or priorities. 

It’s not always easy to advocate for your clients, especially when they don’t follow your advice. But being a good financial planner is about supporting your clients’ goals, even when they’re different from your own. 

Have you had a client ignore your advice and do exactly what you advised against? How did you react? Let me know in the comments! 

Dealing with frustrating client situations is one of those things that’s hard to learn from a textbook. Most financial advisors get better through practice on the job. If you want to get a jumpstart on that real-world experience, join Amplified Planning CORE. This in-depth training program gives you the chance to watch real planning sessions and hear an expert advisor describe exactly what they did to help the client. It’s a fantastic opportunity to see how an experienced planner handles all types of client interactions. Get more information about this innovative program