I need to tell a friend that I don't want him to be my financial advisor
December 6, 2022 9:44 AM   Subscribe

How do I tell a family friend that I have changed my mind and do not want him to be our financial advisor? He's being very persistent and I need to let him easy but firmly.

The son of my parents' friends started calling me over summer out the absolute blue, and I was initially quite taken aback. We see each other every so often around the holidays and we are friendly during such occasions, but we're not friends. His parents live next door to my parents, so we grew up together, but we never had interactions outside of pleasantries. In fact, I assumed his account had been hacked when he reached out over social media "to see how [I've] been." When I confirmed it was actually him messaging me and eventually called him back, it took him a while to clarify his intentions: he was in the process of getting certified through Edward Jones, and wanted to see if we were in the market for a financial advisor. We actually were, but I think I was caught off-balance by the entire interaction. To my eternal regret, my response was "oh yeah sure, we've been meaning to get our money in order and have never hired a FA before, so let's talk when you're officially certified in October." I did mean it in the moment, but as time went on I began having reservations.

Fast forward to 2.5 months and 4 voicemails from this guy later, I now must deal with letting him down easy.

My reservations are as follows:

1. What if something goes badly? Even if this guy and I aren't close, our parents really are. Seems bad to mix money this way.

2. He works for Edward Jones, and as such he makes money for EJ first. I have a rec for a FA who works independently and came highly recommended from other colleagues in my specific line of work (private practice). I should have emailed *that guy* years ago and, silver lining, I finally did.

3. Family friend is based in LA, I live in NYC. I'm not sure if this is entirely rational, but I want to work with someone familiar with NYC-level concerns.

4. Family friend is a brand new FA, which makes me nervous.

5. I am, perhaps somewhat pettily, annoyed that he cold called me and was not especially upfront after a 30-minute chat about his intentions. I'm sure part of this is just how some people do business but it didn't sit right with me.


Ok so obviously I can't bring up 4, 5, and 5a. But I've made up my mind to not work with this guy and I feel like I need to formulate a short, concise, kind response. Normally I wouldn't have much problem telling someone I decided to go with another person's services, but I want to be tactful and reasonable with this person. Avoiding him has made everything worse, and that's on me.

I'm hoping to get insights from people who are more familiar with the process of hiring a FA, because clearly I'm not, and who know about the basic concerns and parameters of that relationship.
posted by zoomorphic to Human Relations (15 answers total)
Best answer: You can always just say, "We thought it about it further and decided that it just wasn't what we need right now" End of discussion. If he persists, and he will, just repeat, "Sorry but it's not what we need right now" No elaboration. Nothing he can argue back with. Polite and firm.

Absolutely support your decision not to use him - so many good reasons including, at the core, he is not someone that you would feel comfortable trusting.

If he is going to succeed in this business, he will need to learn to handle rejection - many, many, many people will tell him no. So hopefully, once it is clear that you aren't going to hire him, he will just move on. Worst case, he complains to his parents who might possibly complain to your parents who might possibly put pressure on you. You know your family - is that likely? What do you know about how to manage their parents when they interfere and offer bad advice? In any case, I wouldn't give control of your money to someone you don't trust just because you think maybe it might cause some unknown about of discomfort. If it does happen, you can come back here and get some really good advice on how to manage your parents.
posted by metahawk at 9:53 AM on December 6, 2022 [18 favorites]

What if something goes badly? Even if this guy and I aren't close, our parents really are. Seems bad to mix money this way.

That's all you need. "We've given it some thought and decided that given our parents' friendship, it's best not to mix our financial life with our social life. But we wish you the best of luck."

If he applies pressure, repeat that over and over until he stops. And if he doesn't ever stop, just say it one last time and then say "I have to take another call, best of luck, later!"

Then don't answer any more of his calls.
posted by invincible summer at 9:55 AM on December 6, 2022 [14 favorites]

First of all, I don't think you're under any obligation to let this guy down easy. All of your concerns are valid. I wouldn't share ANY of those concerns with him, though - they just give him things to argue about with you (and I assure he has had to do lots of training on how to overcome these exact concerns). I would avoid saying "it's not what we need *right now*" because then he's just going to say, "Great, I'll loop back in six months!" or something.

I think you *could* say you've decided to go with someone else, especially if it is a done deal or you are comfortable making it sound like a done deal. That's a bit harder for him to argue with - someone else already has your money.

You will continue getting phone calls and emails from this guy for a while, and you are allowed to ignore them!
posted by mskyle at 9:57 AM on December 6, 2022 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Text or email him (he does not deserve your time on the phone):

"Hey there! Wanted to let you know that I'm no longer interested in hiring an FA. Have a good holiday season." That's it. And NEVER RESPOND AGAIN if he keeps on you about it.

If it makes you feel better, this person is doing this same thing to dozens — if not hundreds — of contacts right now. He clearly thinks of you as income; not a human being he can connect with, help, and form a long-lasting business relationship.

When / if you do hire a financial advisor, interview at least 3 people. Go with someone who not only checks all the right boxes on paper, but who wants to legitimately connect with people, and who wants to form long-term, positive relationships with their clients.
posted by Uncle Glendinning at 10:02 AM on December 6, 2022 [29 favorites]

"Sorry, since we last talked, I wound up working with someone here in New York and it's working out pretty well, so we aren't in the market these days. I'll let you know if anything changes. Good luck with everything!"
posted by Mid at 10:04 AM on December 6, 2022 [13 favorites]

He keeps calling you because he's drumming up business. Being direct and letting him know you won't need his service will likely stop. There are some great lines here, but if you are trying to keep the peace between parents, go ahead with, "I decided to work with some local. Good luck with your new career!"
posted by bluedaisy at 10:26 AM on December 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

Thank you for your interest. I have made other arrangements and I do not want further sales calls. No matter how he responds, I have made other arrangements and I do not want further calls.

Persistence is a good trait for sales; he'll do fine, just not for you.
posted by theora55 at 10:45 AM on December 6, 2022 [3 favorites]

He may have you on a lead list at his job where he is accountable to his management to show that he's either followed up again, or gotten a firm no. Go ahead and give him that polite-but-firm no, and you can save everyone's time and energy.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 12:09 PM on December 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

It appears that Edward Jones does not act as a fiduciary (does not necessarily act in your best interest).
"A fiduciary is someone who manages money or property for someone else. When you are named a fiduciary, you are required by law to manage the person’s money and property for their benefit, not yours."
From Edward Jones:
"When we do business with you, the firm and our financial advisors benefit from fees, commissions and other
payments from you and our investment providers. These financial incentives may create a conflict between
Edward Jones’ interest, your financial advisor’s interest, and your own."

In my opinion, for now and for future reference, you should go with a fee-only financial advisor. That way they only have incentive to benefit you.
Are you my fiduciary? is the question to ask.
posted by H21 at 2:15 PM on December 6, 2022 [4 favorites]

Just tell him you don't think it's a good idea to mix friendship with money and be clear that this is a final decision that won't ever change. He's likely under pressure to generate new business and has a list of everyone he's ever met to work through. He's not going to let it go if there is any inkling that you might cave in, so be absolutely clear that this lead is a dead end.

I would never use a financial advisor that has the sort of conflicts of interest inherent in working for an organisation like this anyway.
posted by dg at 2:47 PM on December 6, 2022

Number Three is your best option, IMO. Simply tell this person that unfortunately, the distance is a problem and you would prefer to have a FA closer to you and your NYC-area concerns.

Also, I notice you mention a "we" in your post. Perhaps you could tell this person that you shouldn't select a FA without first discussing it with your significant other.
posted by Stuka at 5:45 PM on December 6, 2022

Maybe im getting old but I would simply say "thanks for checking, we went a different direction. Good luck".

When a person uses personal contacts for business past one attempt they should be relegated with all cold call sales people. Block and move on. Because you're family connection concerns you I think you can give him this direct response. Don't lie. Don't say you don't think you need an FA. Don't say you're going do it later. Don't say you think local is better. Don't say you want someone with more experience. All of those get you more hard selling against by whatever he's trained to say. "Thanks for checking. We went a different direction. Good luck" just leaves no room for selling against because you didn't give him anything. It's the equivalent of "it won't be possible." leaves no future ambiguity.

And I hate lying, so there's that.
posted by chasles at 3:51 AM on December 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

Ok so obviously I can't bring up 4, 5, and 5a.

Personally, that's specifically what I would bring up!

I'm a little more direct than you may be, but I might say something like... Your pushiness is really offputting; the hard sell may work on some people, but many more will find it uncomfortable, and some of them will feel that they were bullied into a business relationship rather than coming to one out of trust. I also find myself frustrated in retrospect that you feigned interest in our genuine relationship in order to try and make a business deal. That type of sales behavior feels really disingenuous to me, and it similarly makes me trust you less than I would have if you had been clear about your intentions from the outset. Trust is an important issue for me and frankly anyone, particularly when it comes to finances, and it also makes me recognize that I already feel mistrustful of your strategy though we don't even have a working relationship! As a financial advisor just starting your career, I think it's important for you to know how your tactics are perceived even though it may be hard to hear.
posted by knucklebones at 9:27 AM on December 7, 2022

Surely just a "we decided to go in a different direction, best of luck" and then rinse and repeat. Don't give a reason that anyone can argue with and don't discuss looking for a financial advisor (or your finances) with anyone connected to him.
posted by plonkee at 11:01 AM on December 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Nthing do not give a reason, like "I don't want to mix family and finance" or "I want someone closer." All that will do is prolong the conversation by giving him something to argue. I suppose "we've found someone else but thanks" could work, but the less info you provide the better, if you're hoping to cut off communication.
posted by mediareport at 5:12 AM on December 8, 2022

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