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Portfolio > Economy & Markets

Just admit you don't know

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Our friend and former columnist Christine Benz has a simple client strategy we seriously hope you’re already employing. In the face of uncertainty, just admit you don’t know. Of course, it doesn’t end there, since your clients are specifically paying you to know. Make every effort to then go out and get what you — and they — need to know. But a simple, “Good question. I’ll find out and get back to you” goes a long way in solidifying trust and respect; far further then a need to correct the record at a later date, or worse, providing blatantly false information.

“Investing, at its heart, entails a lot of uncertainty,” she writes for Morningstar. “Part of the uncertainty stems from investors’ own tendency to act on their emotions rather than on the cold, hard facts. Scores of studies of investor behavior have shown that individual investors often become overly exuberant and exhibit risk-tolerant behavior in up markets only to pull in their horns when the markets are in the dumps.”

In response to many of the key questions facing clients today, she suggests you split the difference. Active vs. passive? Do both. Same when it comes to paying down a mortgage vs. investing in stocks and bonds. We know what you’re thinking; simple asset allocation issues. If so, why are we all where we now find ourselves?


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