“Don’t chase people. Be yourself, do your own thing and work hard. The right people-the ones who really belong in your life-will come to you. And stay.”

-Will Smith

Are you constantly dealing with PITAs in your financial planning business? No, I’m not talking about the animal rights’ group and I’m not talking about the tasty crackers that go great with hummus (though we could all use a few more delicious snacks in our lives). When I say PITA, I mean the dreaded Pains In The Ass. Those clients who suck up your time and your energy and never seem to be happy.

No matter what industry you’re in, you will undoubtedly have to deal with a few PITAs. However, if your business becomes overloaded with them, you start losing faith in yourself and joy in your career. No one wants to feel like they’re failing all the time, and that’s exactly how PITAs make you feel.


image of man yelling at phone

The good news? When you start your own financial planning business, you have complete control over who you work with. You know what that means? Yep, it means you can start limiting those PITAs and finding ways to attract the clients you actually enjoy and who appreciate what you do for them.

I boil down the way to avoid PITAs to a simple formula I call the 3 Ps:

·      Personality. Do you and the client like each other? Have you meshed well on a personal level during your meetings? Or are you butting heads on every detail from their retirement to politics to the weather?

·      Participation. Does the client actively participate in the process? When you ask them to fill out surveys or personality assessments, are they willing to do so? Do they provide statements, documents, and other necessary information when you ask for it? If you have to constantly bug them for things, they are a PITA to you and your staff.

·      Profitability. Are you and the client valuable to each other? By this I mean, do they have funds to work with? Will you be able to provide value to them through your advice and counsel? The relationship needs to make sense from both sides of the equation.

So what do you do when you realize a potential (or worse yet, current) client does not fit one or more of your 3 Ps and that they are a PITA? I have a few ways of dealing with it:

·      Refer them to someone else. This usually happens when I realize the client does not have the funds needed to be a profitable client of mine. I have plenty of colleagues who can knock it out of the park for those with smaller portfolios, and I’m always happy to give them business.

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·      Be honest. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I really don’t think this is a good fit for either of us.” Some will understand and thank you for the honesty. Others, of course, will be angry, but that’s just further evidence they would have been a PITA.

·      Give them some free advice and send them on their way. Giving away a few tips on funding a retirement plan on diversifying their portfolio will cost you a lot less in the end than dealing with a PITA for the long-term. It should also leave them with a good impression of your integrity.

The best part about eliminating PITAs from your business is that you will naturally start to attract the clients you want to work with. I think of my business like an ark: there’s only room for so many clients until the whole thing sinks. When you view it this way, you’ll realize the importance of limiting those people to the ones who will not only help you succeed but also make it a joy to come into the office every day.


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