How do people handle requests for references by prospects? I have started getting more requests lately (people from one particular large employer in my area always seem to ask for references of other employee/clients).
On one hand, I think I should give them something. Every "How to hire an advisor" article you read always says "if they won't give references, don't hire them". While I agree with this, I also don't want to keep asking clients to give references to people they don't know. So, I continue to give them, but I just don't always feel comfortable asking clients to do this(especially repeatedly). On top of that, I obviously don't have a single client with me for more than 2.5 years, so some of my better clients have come to me in the past year.
Just curious how others have handled.
I don't give references and names of other clients. I do give them information on my years in businesses, credentials, philosopy of investing and customer relations.
"Mr. Prospect. Part of that philosophy is that all business with me remains completely confidential. I do not reveal the names of my clients unless they give me specific permission to do so and then only to the specific person that has a need to know. If you should become my client you can be assured that I will protect your confidence in me and not disclose any of your information to others.......including even the information that you are my client. If anyone were to know this it would not come from me or would be at your express permission"
You can also go on to explain that their is an on-line area to check if brokers have had complaints filed against them and that they would be more than welcome to see that you have had no complaints. (we hope this is true)
This is what I would like to do as well. And for the record, I always make it clear that I have to get permission from clients prior to giving their names as references. Maybe it will take some more time in the business before I have the ba!!s to actually say 'no' to a reference request.
"Mr. Client, if I give you names, do you really think you're going to get an UNBIASED opinion of my services? After all, I get to choose which names to give you to call.
My services need to stand on their own, not the opinion of my other happy clients."
That's a great point. Clients normally know that they are getting a biased opinion, but maybe they just feel as thought they are doing their due diligence.