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Friday, July 19, 2013

Three Types of People

In my early years as a financial advisor I had a mentor who gave me probably some of the most valuable information and advice ever in my life.  It was meant in the context of being a financial advisor and how to deal with people with whom you are going to be trying to help achieve their goals in life.  A financial advisor doesn't just deal with people's money, although that is the main function.  Help people invest and become wealthy.  We also are to help them achieve their long term goals.  Do you want to retire at 58 and move to Costa Rica?  Is your goal to put your children through college? Is the goal to pay off your home and live a quiet life painting the landscapes in your part of the world?  Travel the world in your retirement years?  Write a book?  Start a new business?  Give an endowment to your favorite charity.   Our job is (was... now that I am retired) to find out what it IS that you want to do and to help you achieve it.   In order to help, it is a two way relationship.  The advisor ......advises and the client follows the advice.  Working together to help the clients live the dream.

So it is in this context that I got this advice and found that it is applicable to every aspect of my life. 

There are basically three types of people that you will meet as an advisor (and in all of your life as well)

The first is People You Can't Help.   You want to help them. They want to be helped. They know they need help.  But, they don't have the means or ability to achieve what they want or what you would like to do for them.  Instead of wasting a great deal  your time on them, give them what advice you can and refer them to another agency to get help.  Do what you can and sadly.....move on.

The second is People You Can Help:  This is the bread and butter of your practice (and in your life).  These people also want to be helped. They know you can help them and you can work with them.  They have the means. They have the desire. They will take your advice and give you useful feedback.  They will know that the path forward is not a straight one and will have some potholes and bumps.  The People You Can Help are a joy to work with and the feeling of pride and satisfaction in spending your time and energy to achieve their goals is immeasurable.  Spend your time with these people and your business will thrive and you, as the advisor, will have a wonderful life.

The third category is People Too Stupid to Help:   Here is where an advisor can go wrong, ruin their practice and develop ulcers.  These people are just too stupid to help.  Don't be fooled or sucked in because often they have a lot of means (money) and it is tempting to try to court them as clients.  They won't listen to you. Refuse to take your advice and when things go wrong will blame you.  They will suck up all of your time asking you to explain over and over and over the most simple concepts.  And still won't listen. They expect to be treated special if they are the ones with the deep pockets.  These people just cannot be helped because they are TOO STUPID TO HELP.   Run away from these folks.  Refer them to someone else.  Refuse to take them as clients and if you have taken them on as clients before you recognized that they are the third category.....nicely fire them and refer them to some other advisor.  

My stock phrasing, was something along these lines.   

"Mr. and Mrs. Client.  We have been working together now for some time (no we haven't because you just won't get your head out of your ass and pay attention or follow my advice....and you argue with everything I say), unfortunately I just don't think that we are compatible as a team. My philosophy as an advisor doesn't seem to be compatible with yours (I want to make you money and you seem to want to lose it and ignore all of my professional advice.)  So, I believe that it might be for the best if you found an advisor that can give you the time and attention that you deserve.  So I regretfully think that you should search for another advisor as I can't service your account any longer. (Find some other poor schumck who has more patience that I do and don't let the door hit you and your fat portfolio on the way out.)   Followed by a letter stating similar concepts.  

The three types of people concept has been invaluable in my personal life and in my time spent commenting on various blogs and chat rooms in the internet.  I thank my long ago mentor mentally all of the time for giving to me this pearl of wisdom.  Just realize that some people are just......Too Stupid To Help and distance yourself from them.  Time is too precious to waste on the stupid.


  1. Perfect. I will share this with my sons.

  2. Too bad you are retired, because I think you could help me. I have some stuff, so I'm not type 1, and I'm pretty eager to learn so I'm not type 3.

    BTW, I've always loved your commenting, first at Althouse, and now at Lem's.

  3. Why, thank you Gentlemen. I do miss my clients and the work sometimes.

    Bags. Don't buy individual bonds at this time. They are dead bang losers when interest rates go up you are guaranteed to have sub par bonds and a crappy interest rate that you can't get out of.

  4. And I agree with the comments above, those 3 categories are spot on. The 4th type of person is toxic and should be avoided at all costs.

  5. How about piss off until we use "quite" as quite and quiet as quiet?

    You financial advisors get on my case about a decimal or two off, so how about proper terminology or you give back all you earned as a good faith gesture.

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  8. Dust Bunny Queen,

    I hope you are alerted to new comments on an apparently defunct blog, but this was the only option I see in your profile to contact you.

    We have a Discord blog set up for Althouse Refugees. You can get an invitation by e-mailing myself at or better the last one since Pants is the Discord owner. We have about 50 or so former Althouse commenters there so far.

  9. DBQ,

    Reaching out again- Mockturtle was wondering if you were still with us. This is the only way I can think of to contact you.

    My e-mail is