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Advisers warned against 'client blaming'

Advisers warned against 'client blaming'

Advisers should not blame their clients if they fail to stick to the financial plan laid out for them, a psychologist has said.

Speaking at the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment financial planning conference yesterday (2 October), Dr Moira Somers said clients were no different to their advisers in this respect and pointed to the fact many people failed to follow advice, such as cycling without a helmet, speeding or drinking too much.

She said advisers should reconsider their practices to encourage their clients to stick to the advice they provide and warned that hectoring clients about this could only lead to them becoming embarrassed and the problem becoming worse.

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Dr Somers said: "Financial professionals follow advice as well as all other human beings on the planet, which is not very well at all, but it is easier to get angry about it when it is in your domain.

"I totally understand why client blaming happens but the tendency to default to client blaming flies in the face of the science."

Dr Somers said clients will adhere to advice depending on their financial literacy, their history with money, whether the advice is complicated or not and whether it is unpleasant to implement.

She said advisers needed to acknowledge the fact they had a role to play in making sure their clients stuck to the advice they provided.

Dr Somers said: "Step one is accepting the job which you may have never fully accepted was yours, namely to help the client behave.

"Assuming the client understands and accepts your recommendation is what gets a lot of us in trouble. When advisers simply assume readiness rather than assessing it they can end up really off target."

Dr Somers said advisers can overcome this by asking clients if they agree with the proposed course of action and asking them how it would benefit them to follow through with it.

damian.fantato@ft.com