Broker Check
The Fine Art of No.

The Fine Art of No.

| May 15, 2024

There was a time in my career where I happily chased every dollar. And if the dollar was nailed down, I would show up with a hammer. There was a certain logic to this.

Back then, my bills were showing up with alarming regularity. My income was variable to say the least. My willingness to pursue any and all clients could also be traced to my lack of experience (Everyone is right for me!) and perhaps a bit of bravado (I can help anyone!). Fast forward to today, and I am equally grateful for the clients I have as well as the ones who I have helped by directing them to solutions that are a better fit.

What Green Retirement does is highly specialized. We focus on advising corporate and non-profit retirement plans with special emphasis on sustainable investing. Our alphabet soup includes 401k, 403b, 457b, and 457f, and 409a plans. While I can offer college savings plans, annuities, and financial planning, that is not my wheelhouse. The seven credentials in my Linkedin profile relate to the retirement plan industry.

I often explain it like this. Two of my sister-in-laws are doctors. One is the head of Internal Medicine at her hospital and one runs her own pediatric practice. When Dr. Internal Medicine had a question about her young baby's health, she would call Dr. Pediatrician for advice. Yep, a doctor calling a doctor. In the same fashion, the world of retirement plans is quite different from that of wealth management.

Even within the retirement plan arena, I am happy to direct prospective clients to other channels. I can sense when a prospective client may be a good fit in that they resonate with our work and understand the fee we charge for our service. Much in the vein (!) of the medical field example, we charge a fee commensurate with our experience.

By the same token, it is also easy to see who won't be a good fit. I would encourage my fellow retirement plan advisors not to force a fit. Be fine with saying "No". You do not mean it in a rude or inappropriate fashion though.

A DIY plan sponsor and/ or one who is only focused on low fees may not see the value in what you bring to the table. This can lead to confusion and possibly endless (and at times, frustrating for both sides) conversations. No amount of money is worth an unhappy client. It is better that they be served by a channel that honors their needs.

So what do I say when a prospective plan sponsor calls me and asks if I can help them? I will invariably answer, "Possibly. Please tell me what's going on". Practice the fine art of "No but here is an alternative to me" and you can rest easier.