This is just another one of those random thoughts that flows through my head every once in a while, so forgive me.
I was thinking back on my old days when I ran a large credit counseling / debt management company and dealt with the balancing act of needing to get new clients versus always doing the right thing. I don’t care what anybody says, if you’ve got an office space, employees, and overhead, the power of the sale is like heroin, you need it to feed your habit, overhead.
At least I can tell you that I never intentionally enrolled someone in a debt management program, or some other solution that I didn’t honestly think, at the time, would be beneficial. Now that doesn’t mean that my employees didn’t. It would be impossible for me to stare inside every single client case when you have 20,000+ clients.
Commonsense would tell me that some employees would probably be more inclined than not to sell someone a credit counseling debt management solution simply because the employee felt like the sale helped to keep them employed. That’s just human nature. “If I do a good job for my boss, they’ll like me more.”
Eventually a time came when I ran into this situation face-to-face and came to the realization, that for me, putting someone into a debt solution that was not right for them was a line that I would never cross to make money. So I did the craziest thing you could imagine, I laid everyone off and closed the company.
So this conversation in my head led to me pondering the Dave Ramsey line of products, seminars, books, etc. And Suze Orman has her own line of stuff for sale as well. I wonder at what point for them does the sale of products and services become more important than the message they are trying to share with the public.
Now this is the point at which their “fans” will take issue with me. They will say things like “Dave rocks”, “You don’t know what you’re talking about”, etc. But I disagree.
In order for Dave or Suze to survive it requires the continuous and ongoing sale of their products and services. They have employees to pay, overhead to meet and profit to make. They are both very lucrative financial enterprises.
So when should a financial guru step away from the addiction to make the sale or is it all reasonable and fair game? Is it okay for Dave Ramsey to sell someone a $3,000 business opportunity that might bury them financially?
While Dave rails against debt collectors for being dumb idiots and less than human, when is it appropriate for him to sell a $3,000 class to someone that isn’t best suited for it? Isn’t that dumb? Or is the person that buys it an idiot if they dreamed of success but instead ran into failure?
What about the employee of Suze or Dave that is focused on the per sale profit, conversion rate or up-sell in order to please their boss? At what point does the organization of a financial adviser become so big and the need to feed their company becomes so great that the adviser is more focused on making sales rather than doing the right thing? And what if they do, does that compromise their value and integrity as an adviser?