Firing a Client?


I run a financial consulting group where we work with many small businesses. Generally we work on a retainer, and provide both specific financial services as well as counsel for the businesses. One particular client has been on a “death spiral” for a couple of years. We have laid out some specific things they need to do as a business to survive, and the client has been unwilling to follow the advice we have provided. With no change, they will be out of business within five years. It is difficult to take their money and know they don’t accept our recommendations. Since they do not follow our advice, would it be appropriate for us to “fire” this client?

Looking for the Bottom Line


Dear Looking,
It’s very honorable of you to feel as though you are not earning your fees since your client will not act upon your recommendations. I’m not sure you need to feel this way. You are putting in the work and, ultimately, it’s the client’s choice whether or not to accept your advice. That said, I think its fine to “fire the client,” especially since the demise of the company will bother you and may come back to haunt you in other ways too. Perhaps, your act will be a statement that serves to command the client’s attention to the point of initiating some real changes.
Kenman Wong
Professor of Ethics, School of Business and Economics
Seattle Pacific University

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