Handling a difference of opinion between a client and their child 

A good client of mine wanted me to start working with his son, who was getting ready to graduate from medical school and had basically graduated debt-free because of his mom and dad’s contributions toward college. I knew the client had a path in mind for his son, and his son basically said, “I’m thinking about going into medical mission work.” That was an immediate red flag to me because while I am in favor of medical mission work, and I believe the client probably is at a global level, that wasn’t what he had envisioned for his son. And the son was preparing to get married and was talking about going to some places that were going to be hard to raise a family in, and the client essentially said to me, “I need you to tell him he is not allowed to do that.”

That was an incredibly difficult conversation.

Because on one side, I’ve got a very good client who is asking me to essentially parent his child. On the other hand, you have someone who is mission-minded and altruistic, ready to save the world, and I’m trying to balance that. So, I think I found a happy medium in that I said to the client, “I’m a big fan of how you’ve raised your children, and personally, I believe the same thing. I believe in capitalism, and I would want my son to go out and get a great job in the medical field. With that being said, your son is now a grown man, and it’s not for any of us to decide where he is going to go with his life because the direction he’s heading in isn’t going to hurt anybody.”  


Then I did sit down with the son. I said, “You need to know this is where your dad in particular is coming from. Your parents sacrificed to make sure you graduated debt-free, and so to go into the mission side of medicine is not what they had envisioned. But it’s your decision in the end.” 


I don’t know if this is a happy ending, but COVID made that mission unavailable, so he got a great-paying job in Chicago and is working there as a physician. He will probably pursue mission work eventually because I think that’s what’s in his heart, but that was a difficult conversation because I was trying to find balance between keeping a very good client happy and delivering news that probably wasn’t in my area of expertise.   

Adam Thomas Rex, CFP, AIF, is a 14-year MDRT member from Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA. Hear more in the MDRT Podcast: 

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