It’s a familiar refrain, but always doing the right thing by the client is not only the ethical thing to do—it can also end up paying some surprisingly big dividends down the road.
A perfect example of this was shared recently by Chris Dixon during a presentation at the Advisor Network Summit in Las Vegas. Dixon, one of Retirement Advisor magazine’s Advisor of the Year finalists, is the CEO and Partner of Black Harbor Wealth Management in Seneca, S.C., where he topped $15 million in total sales in 2014.
As part of the Advisor of the Year finalist panel discussion at the conference, Dixon, when asked about one of his “success stories,” told the audience about a time when turning away an opportunity for an easy sale—because it wouldn’t have been the ethical way under the circumstances–ended up leading to a much bigger sale down the road.
At one of his seminars, a prospective client who had recently purchased an annuity from another advisor and was still within the “free look” period, was impressed with the presentation and afterword had asked about Dixon replacing the annuity as part of starting to work with Dixon.
After looking at the annuity the prospective client had been sold, Dixon advised the person to keep that annuity as he found it to be an appropriate product. “I just said the advisor has done a good job and he put you with a good company.”
Surprised, the person asked Dixon, “Don’t you like to make money?” Dixon responded that of course he liked to make money, but told the person flat out that if he switched the person to a different annuity, it would be a very similar product and while he would make a commission and the new client would not be significantly impacted, it would cause the original advisor to lose money through no fault of his own. “I just don’t feel right about this,” Dixon told him.
Impressed with his ethical standards, the person said he wanted Dixon to talk to his son, who happened to be a doctor in Ohio.
The dad actually died not too long after, but Dixon said he was able to roll the spouse into something that filled a void for her and turned on an income stream. And, after becoming licensed in Ohio, Dixon also earned the son’s business and before long that of all 60 doctors in his group.
A huge success story, all spawned from doing the right thing in the first place without considering his own direct personal consequences.
“Be 100% honest with everything you do with everybody. That pays dividends,” Dixon said.
He adds that he finds it frustrating when he hears of advisors being less than forthcoming when talking to clients and prospective clients about annuity products— a product category he believes strongly in as a valuable resource for many clients.
“So many advisors don’t tell the whole story when it comes to annuities. They should,” Dixon said. “They can be so good. They fill a niche; they fill a void.”
Always putting the client’s best interest first doesn’t always mean an advisor will experience similar good karma. Sometimes it may indeed cost you business without it paying obvious dividends down the road, as it did in this case.
But there’s no doubt it’s the right thing to do, and you never know when it might send a little good karma your way.