Should I Fire Clients Who Give Off “Negative Energy”?

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

We had a meeting recently and reviewed all our clients, looking at not only their accounts and our relationship with them, but also the tenor of the engagement. By this I mean whether the client respects us and works with us in a proactive and agreeable manner. If they were determined to be “negative tenor,” we put them on an “exit list” to move out of our firm.

As four partners in our 50s and 60s, we’ve decided we no longer want to work with clients who have negative energy. We tallied up the fees from these clients and while substantial, it isn’t enough to harm our practice if we were to lose most of them.

Do you have any suggestions for the best ways to have the conversation with these clients? Should we tell them their energy is negative and give them a chance to improve? Do we find another advisor with a similar negative style to create a new connection? How have you seen advisors handling this separation?