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Is it Okay for Financial Advisors to Swear in Front of Clients?

Swearing is high risk, but it does the trick like nothing else can.

Several years ago I attended a 3 day long workshop about sales training. Now very few people know this about me but I’m not the world’s biggest technology person but nonetheless I found myself in a seminar given by a technology CEO about how to sell IT support services. It was an afternoon session, right after lunch, and so I found myself slipping into a coma.

I was about three seconds from dozing off and so wasn’t everybody else. The speaker sensed this and when somebody asked a question about how to suggest a server upgrade he retorted:

“Just tell him to get rid of the [explicit] thing! The whole [explicit] thing. Just tell him to throw that [explicit] piece of [explicit] in the [explicit] trash can!”

Needless to say I snapped out of my food coma. Unprofessional? Yes. But highly entertaining.

The point of this anecdote is that I wouldn’t suggest swearing all the time but once in a while you can use it to:

  • Get somebody’s attention when you’re being ignored
  • Add emphasis to a point
  • Make people laugh
  • Come across as real and authentic
  • Portray high conviction
  • Be a little edgy

Some guidelines for swearing:

  • Only use it selectively and in the right circumstances
  • You always run the risk that it will offend some people so chose the audience wisely
  • Never use swear directly when speaking about a person, (e.g. “he’s a—.”)
  • Keep in mind that once you do this, there’s no going back. If you write it in a blog or say it on a recorded line or a podcast, it’s out there forever. If you think this is not going to align with the future of your brand then it’s best to refrain.
  • Don’t assume that just because they swear, you can swear.

Sara’s Upshot

Swearing is a big no-no for advisors to do in front of clients, but if done correctly (and that’s a big “if”), swearing can set you apart from other brands that may not have the courage to be so raw. Just as the famous financial disclaimer goes: higher risk, higher potential reward.

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