How To Tell Who Cares?

Hiring a professional can be frustrating. In hiring an expert, there are three c’s to look for. If well-educated and experienced, the first two, credentials and competence, are easy to measure. But it can be hard to tell the third “c” – caring: the ones who actually care about their clients as much as themselves. Once, I thought I had found the right physician. She didn’t take insurance, but came highly recommended. She took plenty of time with me, although she tended to interrupt. Over time, I noticed she usually found something wrong that involved more office visits. At first, I trusted her, and was concerned at the change in my health. Besides, I didn’t want to look for another doctor. Then I got a second opinion, and found out I was healthy as ever, so I switched.

Sometimes we are attracted by an expert’s friendliness, warmth, or maternalistic/paternalistic nature, so we settle, even when we sense that something is not right. How can you tell whether someone has your best interests at heart? Here are a few tests to try:

*Do they keep appointments? Do they ask what times are convenient for you first?
*What percentage of the time are they doing the talking? (If it’s more than 30%, they may not be taking enough interest in you.) 
* Do you feel heard and listened to…do they “get” you/understand you? 
*Do they have a process that is customizable? Or are they stuck on one way of doing everything for everyone?
*How clear are the expectations on both sides? What exactly are you paying them to do? Do you know what they need from you in order to do it to the best of their ability?
*Do they respect that there may be others involved? Are they asking about who else is important to you that might be affected by the professional relationship?

These are just a few of the objective ways to get to a subjective decision. Competence and credentials might get you a professional who knows what they are doing; but without the third c – caring – knowing what they are doing might not get you exactly the professional relationship you were looking for. Don’t settle for two out of three.

Holly Donaldson

Holly Donaldson, CFP® runs an hourly and fee-for-service financial planning practice virtually from her Tampa Bay, Florida office. She also works with clients throughout the U.S. (except Texas) interested in retirement and tax planning advice without product sales or investment management. Holly is the author of The Mindful Money Mentality: How to Find Balance in Your Financial Future (Porchview Publishing, 2013) and publisher of the award-winning monthly e-letter, "The View From the Porch."

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