Slideshow Clients say the darndest things

Published
  • June 05 2018, 4:56pm EDT
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If there is one thing that can be said about financial advisors, it’s that they truly enjoy what they do. Many planners have said that one of the reasons they chose their profession is due to the joy they feel when helping others.

“I love being an advisor because I love working with people, I love helping them find ways to save money and take their planning to a level that is hard to find on the internet via a Google search,” says advisor Breanna Reish of Wealth of Confidence. “Overall I just love helping people and showing them that our industry is not just about investing, it is about real-life scenarios, hopes and dreams. There are people out there that focus on that — not just the ticker running across the screen or an annuity.”

Advisors tend to make strong connections with their clients, often referring to them as family and forging a bond that goes beyond offering financial advice.

“I think we can agree that life is about more than money, but it takes money to live life,” says advisor Michael Palazzolo of Fintentional. “I feel fortunate to work with individuals on such a personal topic as where their life and money intersect. They trust me with intimate details of their life and finances so that I can help them achieve their personal goals. I also get a chance to meet such interesting and wonderful individuals.”

While the relationship between advisor and client is often a rewarding one, that doesn’t mean it is always smooth sailing. Sometimes advisors and clients have trouble communicating, which can make the planning process difficult.

Dealing with a variety of people every day, advisors can encounter some interesting characters. Sometimes the things clients say can make the advisor step back and say “huh?”

Scroll through to see a list of advisor anecdotes about the surprising things clients have said or done.

I did a financial plan for a middle-aged doctor and his wife many years back.

The doctor was a big spender and it concerned his wife that they would never save enough to have financial security. For example, if they took a vacation, he always wanted to stay in a five-star hotel with the kids. His wife felt it was too extravagant for little kids to appreciate.

The retirement analysis showed that they would run out of money at age 75 with the amount they were saving and if his spending continued. To have a more secure retirement, he would need to begin spending less. The doctor thought for a long while and then said “I will take it”.

I said “take what”? He responded, “I take dying at 75 rather than spend less… I’m working to enjoy myself.” His wife said, “what about me?” The doctor turned to me and said “what can we do for her?”

I said you would need to buy life insurance on you. He said “buy it” and we purchased the life insurance.

Margaret Starner, the Starner Group of Raymond James, Coral Gables, Florida.

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My client asked about the prospects for the market.

Meanwhile, I’d dropped my pen under my desk and bent down to retrieve it while responding, “I wish I had a crystal ball.”

She looked stunned and replied, “I thought you were grabbing your crystal ball.”

Sandra McPeak, managing director of investments, Wells Fargo Advisors, Rolling Hills Estates, California.

A while ago a client wrote a check for their IRA contribution. It was the last minute, and they mailed it directly to the custodian, which was Charles Schwab.

Then the client called me in a panic and said "I think I made a terrible mistake!"

I asked what happened.

The client said, "Well I made the check payable to Charles Schwab!"

"Right," I said, "that's what I told you to do."

The client said, "Well I was thinking — what if there is actually someone named Charles Schwab and then he takes my check and cashes it?"

I said, “Well, there is actually someone named Charles Schwab and believe me, he is not at all interested in your IRA contribution."

My colleagues and I have laughed about that for a long time.

Karen Van Voorhis, vice president in the wealth management group, Sapers & Wallack, Newton, Massachusetts.

I thought I took adequate time to educate clients about their investments but obviously failed miserably in this case.

Mrs. L. was a longtime investor in tax-free mutual funds, probably 50% of her portfolio. One day she came in for a review meeting with an article she had clipped from a local paper, which described the merits of municipal bonds and asked me "Do you think that these bonds would make sense in my portfolio?"

I casually responded (to not make her feel uncomfortable), that she already owned a few hundred thousand dollars’ worth of muni bonds in her tax-free funds.

She was pleased to learn this.

Richard Bergen, founder and president of RLB Wealth Planning, Garden City, New York.

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The craziest thing that I ever heard a client say was during a financial plan review session. We were discussing insurance coverage and I asked the husband and wife if they had long-term care insurance.

The husband nodded and said that they had long-term coverage. I asked if he knew the insurance carrier, to which he replied, "Smith & Wesson".

It took me a few seconds to process what I had just heard.

He then grinned and said, "The premium is real cheap... 25 cents."

When they left the office I asked my colleague (who is also my wife) if we needed to report them to the authorities.

That experience stands out as something that I will never forget. It really made me step back and go "huh".

John Gugle, principal, CIO, Alpha Financial Advisors, Charlotte, North Carolina.

The biggest shock that I received was from a client who challenged me on performance every month, who finally told me that his son thought that they were paying too much for management advice and he wanted dad to manage it himself.

When I asked why, he said that he told each of his kids they would inherit $1 million (he had three adult children and net worth of about $2.6 million.) The reason he challenged me each month was because his son thought he could do better with his future inheritance. After uncovering this, he never challenged me again. (I did point out that it was still his money.)

Monica Dwyer, Harvest Financial Advisors, West Chester, Ohio.

I had a client around 2011 take a risk tolerance questionnaire, and they checked all the boxes for an "aggressive" investor.

After I give the survey I like to talk about past investing experiences, so I asked how they felt during 2008 and 2009 and if they handled it pretty easily and maybe invested more since they were aggressive during these downturns.

The guy looked at me, laughed and said “what are you crazy? I couldn't sleep and had multiple panic attacks. I sold everything and just got back in.”

This led to a couple hours of client education, going through why he wasn't in fact an aggressive investor.

Charles Weeks, founder, Barrister Wealth Management, Philadelphia.

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A client had us consolidate her 95-year-old mother's accounts and plan for her beneficiaries. The client asked if we could name her 75-year son-in-law to do the distributions because she didn't trust her daughter.

David Demming, Demming Financial, Aurora, Ohio.