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How Much Do Your Clients Trust You?

“Trust” is a word thrown around quite often around the accounting profession, but what does it really mean?

I recently had my annual physical – my doctor is only a few years older than me and we sort of grew up together, so we’ve known each other a long time. He knows what I do for a living, so we got into a discussion about retirement, specifically money management via a financial planner. Even though I started saving in my 20s for retirement, I realized just last year that I had not saved nearly enough because of poor financial planning on my part and that of the person I had used at the time to guide me. I have since switched planners.

My doctor confessed that he had a problem with “trust.” Now, coming from my internist who was examining every part of my body (cough, cough), I was a bit surprised that he had trust issues. After all, his patients trust him to give them the best medical advice possible, right?

He said his issue emanated from childhood due to his parents’ lack of trust. We resolved the discussion by me telling him he simply had to put his trust in someone to guide him – and he agreed, although I’m not so sure he’ll act on this very quickly.

That got me to thinking … how much do your clients trust you? Have you asked them, or discussed the issue with them? Accounting professionals, attorneys, doctors and anyone else working in professional services may think their clients trust them, but do you really know this for a fact?

Sure, I realize this may be a difficult conversation to have. After all, your clients (hopefully) tell you they “like” your work, and also, hopefully, pay you on a regular basis. So, what’s the big deal about trust?

Everything. If your clients don’t trust you, they don’t appreciate your integrity, guidance or decisions made on their behalf. Ok, so they “like” your work … I like the work my own accountant did when she helped me understand how to use QuickBooks Online, but do I actually trust her? More than once over the years, I’ve consulted with other accountants for second opinions when it comes to my finances.

I trusted a financial advisor in my 20s that I was accumulating enough cash value in a life insurance policy to fund my son’s college education – and boy, was I wrong! Today, however, I’m much older, and hopefully, much wiser. I completely vetted my current planner and even discussed the “trust” issue with him before we started doing business. I’m not sure he had gotten that question very often before then, but I felt it was important to know how he felt about the issue. He reassured me I could trust him – and I did, very much to my satisfaction.

Try discussing this topic with a few clients and see what reaction you get. I promise you it will be an eye opener.

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