Why Second Opinions Are A Bad Investment


Offering a second opinion can be enticing, but the next step can be more trouble than it’s worth.

Resist the urge to offer people second opinions. It’s an easy, soft way to mention to people how you might be able to help, and it can possibly have you thinking that there’s a potential door opening there, but it leads to potential nightmares. If that person does want a second opinion on just one account of five, how can you possibly—from a fiduciary perspective—offer that, when you don’t know their whole picture? Even if you are prepared to sit down and talk with them about that one account, how much time is that going to take? And how does that set you up in their minds as somebody who works with clients around their total picture, if you’re prepared to pass comments on just one account?

I had an advisor mention to me, “Well, you see doctors do this regularly. Doctors often offer second opinions or mention to patients to get second opinions.” But surgeons generally won’t. Even if they do, ultimately, if it’s talking about surgery that you’re needing—very specific, important surgery—there is a team in place, on-site; one group taking care of everything. It’s not like the surgery is done piecemeal amongst many different hospitals with many different, unconnected surgeons. It’s done with one team, under one roof, right there.

So think about it from your perspective as an advisor, if you had a client come to you, and you were trying to advise them and they said, “Well, I got a second opinion from another advisor, and here’s what I’m thinking.” The first time around, you might be comfortable explaining to them your rationale. But if they come back to you a second time, when you’re looking for them to take action in two months’ time and say, “Hey, I got another second opinion from another advisor,” honestly, what are you going to tell them to do? You’re going to tell them to go. They need to go where they’re happiest and let you get on with working with people who really do appreciate your advice, take it seriously and follow through on what you tell them to do.

Don’t get sucked into offering second opinions.

  1. If you are, stop. Don’t do this.

  2. Have language ready when that opportunity arises. Practice so you know exactly what you’re going to say.

  3. When someone does ask for you to render a second opinion, say something like this: “We actually don’t get into playing that game. We think it’s dangerous. Instead, I’d be more than happy to sit down for 30 minutes with you, learn about your financial aspirations, what your situation is right now and where you want to end up, and see if this is going to be a great fit.”

So don’t rush to offer second opinions, thinking it keeps the door open. It really doesn’t. Instead, you want to be working with people who take you seriously, appreciate your advice and follow through to build a great relationship with you.

Related: What If Someone Offers You Only One Account of Their Several?