Finance jobs are often ranked by the public among the least-reputable professions -- barely above politicians and used-car salesmen.
That's a shame because while the industry has its share of bad eggs (and which industry doesn't ?), there's a whole world of professionals out there looking to do what's right for their clients and not get overtaken by greed.
Yet we've found that being both honest and transparent with our clients can produce both good and bad results.
When we meet and assess a client, we're upfront about the odds of landing a positive financing outcome. That means we might tell them there's a 90 percent chance things will turn out as the client anticipates. Sometimes, we suggest it's a coin flip. And other times we might say the odds are low for success.
We recently told an established client that we were pessimistic that financing was the right choice for them -- and they promptly fired us, especially after hearing that some loan officers said they could get the job done. They were quick to go elsewhere.
That gave me pause: Did I do something wrong?
I decided I hadn't. Our job is to provide fair, impartial advice and we did that. I could have told the client what he wanted to hear, made some money off him and not really worried about his fate. After all, he wanted me to provide a service, right?
It just wouldn't have felt proper. I sleep better at night doing the right thing, not to mention having a client base that's generally happy that results match expectations.
Have our assessments ever been wrong? Have we ever failed to properly understand a client's situation?
Well, sure, nobody's perfect, but having done this a long time, more often than not we're at least in the ballpark. Remember that financial valuations and other assessment techniques are both an art and a science. Cold, hard numbers are considered, but you have to trust your gut, too. Mix the two and chances are high that your opinion is the correct one.
As for any client (ours or someone else's), don't take it as an affront when you receive a less-than-rosy forecast. You're paying for impartial advice from an outside source; do you really only want to hear from sycophants kissing up to you? That's a surefire way to get in trouble.
Of course, you're always free to get second and third opinions and perhaps they'll be more favorable, but if more than one opinion opposes yours, it's best to heed the flashing red lights. Remember that a consensus is more likely to be accurate than a single, insular opinion.