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How “No” Leads to Inertia for Financial Advisors

Scenario #1

Two advisors in a good sized practice have been working with the same portfolio manager for nearly fifteen years. The manager has been getting decent returns, but over the recent years the service has been declining, response time to questions have increased and their fees have been increasing faster than its peer group. Another manager with impeccable credentials, a consistent track record in the same category approaches the team and after reviewing their needs, proposes that he can deliver a better platform for less. However, the advisors pass on the proposal.

Scenario #2

A small practice has three equal partners. One partner is continually battling the other two on costs. The staff feels the anxiety, tension while the overall performance for the practice is suffering. Two of the partners find a solution via a professional coach who believes that she can remedy the situation within a short period time and with a modest investment. This is exactly what the partners’ need and a solution is at hand. However, the one partner says NO and goes about his daily routine hoping the issues get resolved on their own.


In each instance, the decision makers had a clear solution available yet they elected to say “NO” to any new initiative choosing to do nothing at all. Why is NO so alluring? NO is easy. NO has inertia and saying NO requires… no action, no changes to the status quo. Point of fact, saying “NO” feels much safer than saying YES.

In the instances above, NO was the “out” and represented the fastest way to avoid conflict or change; regardless, if the change, new initiative or way of thinking may improve their long term situations.

Embracing Change, When it Makes Sense

If there is one constant in the universe, let alone when it comes to financial planning, is that people change, tax laws change, and times change. Using NO as the reason to avoid a change may not be the right way to go when considering long term success. Just ask the Department of Labor.

Change (or YES) does initially create more work and takes time. Change is meant to bring something different to the table and change disturbs automatic behavior while rattling consciousness. By definition, change is a departure from the past.

The methodology, systems, products or even individuals that worked 10 years ago, may just be meant for the past. Yet, change, when done for the right reason, can make a tremendous difference in business and/or life.

Think of how many client relationships or even potential clients have said NO just to get you to move on.

  • “NO… I will stick to using my brother-in-law for this stuff.”
  • “NO… I do my own research on investments and I use an online broker.”
  • “NO… I only talk to my clients about planning at our third quarter client meeting.”
  • “NO… I can’t call my client to talk about this stuff.”
  • “NO… I only work with the Hartford because they sponsor my seminars & they give me golf balls.”
  • “NO… I don’t have time for this stuff now, I am too busy.”
  • “NO… What does she know about our business or clients?”
  • “NO… I never use outside resources; we can do it all by ourselves.”
  • “NO… I don’t have any clients for your services.”

Sometimes a reactive NO is the right response. You don’t have to work with everyone and we can pick and choose our clients. However, in the long run, falling for the allure of NO and resisting a change because NO feels so good can be potentially destructive, prohibit growth, limit opportunities and/or it may inhibit a resolution to a particular problem that is known or unknown.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know…

Every now and then, leaving the comfort zone of saying NO and taking the road not travelled by learning something new, might just be the change that makes all the difference.