Why Clients Resist Financial Advice

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“When you meet resistance, you are moving too fast.” This is a truism that I hold to when it comes to relationships, especially in my capacity as a financial advisor.

The illusion is that people come to financial planners for financial advice. Planners assume that when they give advice that would seem an obvious solution to a problem, the client will take it, act on it, and profusely thank the planner for their wisdom.

That is magical thinking.

Providing “the solution” is often met with resistance rather than acceptance. Clients may interrupt, argue, or defensively list all the reasons the solution is not right for them. They can also appear to agree with the recommendations, then ignore everything and never take action.

Often the planner will assume the client’s resistance is a sign they have failed to communicate well, so the planner “doubles down” and becomes more direct and confrontive. This can escalate, with both parties becoming locked in a cycle of resistance and confrontation. Research finds that client resistance leads to increased confrontational behaviors on the part of the advisor, while confrontation from the advisor leads to client resistance, which decreases the likelihood that change will ever happen.