Back in the day, Dr. Victor Hugo Lindlahr was an American health food and weight loss pioneer. In the 1930s, he hosted a popular radio show about nutrition; and in 1942, he wrote the book, You Are What You Eat:  How to Win and Keep Health with Diet. His book sold over half a million copies and is credited for popularizing the expression.

What does this have to do with you? If you’re in the financial service or advising business, I think that you are your client list. You can’t be all things to all people, and maybe — just maybe — you don’t need to accept just anyone as a client.

Over the course of owning my business, I’ve developed a four-part checklist of the types of clients that are the best fit for us. It’s pretty basic. It’s employers who:

  • ·         Want to do things the right way.
  • ·         Understand the value we add.
  • ·         Are willing to pay for our expertise to accomplish their objectives.
  • ·         Care about their employees.

So why not work with people who you enjoy, are not toxic, and reflect your values. You’ll be more effective and have a better quality of life as a result; so will your employees, which will be reflected in staff morale.
How do I know? Because I fired a client who committed the cardinal sin — abusive treatment of my staff. The income didn't matter. The prestigious nature of the client didn’t matter. Because I learned long before the MasterCard commercials that staff morale is priceless!

It’s easier said than done, of course, particularly in this economy, but stop and think about it. What’s on your plate? Anyone you need to get rid of in the new year?

Jerry Kalish is an EBA Advisory Board member and President of National Benefit Services, Inc., a Chicago-based third party administrator. He is a Guest Lecturer at John Marshall School of Law LLM Program in Employee Benefits and serves on the Great Lakes IRS Advisory Council for Tax Exempt and Government Entity Plans. Jerry has been publishing The Retirement Plan Blog since 2006. He can be reached by email at and followed on Twitter.

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