CHAPTER 9Politeness and Sensitivity in Communicating with a Broad Range of Clients

The financial planning profession has sometimes been accused of being exclusionary in the way planning services are delivered in practice. Whether this accusation is true or false, the reality is that many perceive that financial planning, as a profession, is less diverse than the general population and less sensitive to the needs of a broad spectrum of potential clients. One obvious strategy for the financial planning profession to overcome stereotypes and issues related to sensitivity and diversity is to facilitate the hiring of a more diverse workforce. The value of having diverse financial planning professionals—broadly defined and based on gender, age, racial or ethnic, religious, and sexual background—is inarguable high. However, ensuring that financial planning professionals, regardless of their background, can effectively engage people different from themselves may be of even more importance in helping additional households benefit from engaging in the financial planning process.

Although some clients will prefer to work with a financial planner who shares the same cultural background, it is likely that even more will not have this preference. Although published research on this topic, from a financial planning perspective, is lacking, research from other disciplines suggests this to be the case. For example, one study examining racial preferences for physicians found that about one-third ...

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