No Excuse for Excuses

Have you ever forgotten to do something—or did the wrong thing—and needed a way out? We’d like to believe that most financial professionals in the wrong respond by doing right. They own up to their mistakes, apologize, and try not to repeat them. But that was before the advent of the Alibi Network, an Illinois company that provides excuses for a fee.

This company sells ways to justify absences from home, work, and family events. Their “alibuys” take the form of telephone calls simulating you had a work emergency or car accident, a letter proving you attended a conference, or a ticket stub to a concert. It even provides phony corporate locations and jobs for people who want to convey a better, though false, impression.

The point of mentioning this reprehensible business (which we suspect will have no shortage of customers) is that insurance and investment professionals who fulfill their ethical obligations to their customers—who deliver on their promises and who fix their mistakes when they don’t—don’t need alibis. Today’s ethically enlightened professionals commit to doing their jobs and don’t make excuses, period.

Furthermore, they understand that excuses are a slippery slope. Once you start making them, you get sloppier, make more mistakes, and need even more excuses. It’s hard to feel good about your work and your life when you don’t take responsibility for your actions.

The solution? Get competent! The vast majority of client problems result from ignorance, sloppiness, forgetfulness, or procrastination. If you want to avoid client complaints, regulator scrutiny, and E&O insurance claims, just follow through on your promises. Here’s how:

  • Pick up the phone and communicate. The breakdown of client communication is the mother of all E&O mistakes and client lawsuits.
  • Know your products inside and out. It’s better to know a lot about a few products than to know a little about many. If you aren’t sure of a product detail, research the issue and get back to the client.
  • Stay on top of your administrative work. Don’t procrastinate. Unfinished tasks will only pile up and breed chaos. Chaos generates mistakes, lawsuits, and E&O insurance claims.
  • Hire the administrative help you need. Because if you don’t, you almost certainly will cut corners and make mistakes.
  • Eradicate excuses from your business and your life. Financial professionals who make excuses fool no one but themselves. Plus they weaken their moral fiber, along with their professional and personal relationships. And yes, they get sued more often.

Finally, when you do make a mistake, ‘fess up and make it right. Ethical insurance and investment professionals make mistakes, but fix them. Unethical ones buy excuses from the Alibi Network.

Visit our Ethics Headqurters for more tips.