Watch out for the word “yes.” Saying “yes” too often can lead you to spend too much money, grow too fast or take too many financial risks. It can even ensnare you in unethical or illegal business practices that get you thrown out of the business — or worse.

But it’s easy to see why so many advisors become yes-men and yes-women. Our culture encourages it. It promotes wanting more than we have and saying yes to stuff we can’t afford. It hypes super-sized food portions and big SUVs, even though our stomachs, budgets and environment are crying “no.”

Well, it’s time to say “no” to “yes,” and in so doing, rediscover the best in ourselves. By just saying “no,” you force yourself to focus on only those activities that drive your business forward. By just saying “no,” you eliminate distractions and become more efficient. Finally, by just saying “no,” you avoid ethical lapses that can ruin your reputation and prevent you from becoming an advisor others seek to emulate.

OK, saying “no” is all well and good … but “no” to what, exactly? Here are three specific examples.

First, say “no” to broker-driven rather than client-driven products. We all know which products those are. They are the ones that ramp up commissions and ramp down benefits, which companies singularly promote with vacation junkets and other pricey merchandise. The more that financial-services companies offer you treats to sell a product, the less likely the product will be truly great for your clients.

Second, say “no” to bad FMOs. These are the marketing organizations that blindly push high-commission, high-expense products that burn through producers as quickly as a wildfire in Southern California, that wink at unethical business practices. For these FMOs, the goals of taking on any advisor regardless of background and mandating one-size-fits-all sales tactics trumps everything, including giving responsible advice or remaining in compliance with current regulations.

Third, say “no” to prospects who fall outside your ideal target niche. According to top IRA educator Mike Reese of Centennial Wealth Advisory, one of the biggest single mistakes you can make is taking on a client with the wrong demographics and psychographics. Doing so will often lead you to inadvertently giving the wrong advice and shirking on service, which creates dissatisfied clients, formal complaints and marks on your record.

Steven McCarty is a director of the National Ethics Bureau. Responses and questions can be sent to feedback@seniormarketadvisor.com.