March 2019

25 Secrets That Should Be Obvious About How To Value And Treat Clients

Last month, we shared with you our simple advice that every one of us must take the time to fully listen to and understand the challenges, fears, goals and aspirations of each of our clients and only then give them our best advice.  We repeat it now because we ask each of you to internalize this and live it every day. If we truly listen before we think, advise or act, we will do an even better job serving our clients.

Now that we all know this “simple secret formula” for best assisting in our client’s success, we would like to share some observations on how else to best understand and serve our clients.  These thoughts are based on more decades of experience than we would like to admit of working with all of you in a variety of settings, market environments, regions and sectors.  The list below may appear long, but it comes from our experience in seeing and participating in the good, the bad, the ugly, the non-consequential and the incredibly fulfilling experience of client interactions and relationship development.  We are going to keep the list broad and the comments brief, but hopefully there will be one or two themes that each of you will wish to better embrace as you join us on our constant quest to be better partners with our clients:

  1. Junior clients become senior clients – we have watched people only pay attention to the person or people with gray/no hair in the room.  Big mistake.
  2. Everyone prioritizes their and their family’s well-being first – why would our clients be any different from you and us?
  3. Trust is everything – if you only remember one thing, it is that “integrity” is non-negotiable in a relationship.
  4. Everyone is your best friend when you are on top of the world – relationships are cemented in times of uncertainty and pain because that is when true character is shown.
  5. Everyone wants to look good and smart in front of their boss — you are either helping your client in this regard or you are hurting...and every one of us has a boss (could be a Board, shareholders, spouse/significant other, etc…).
  6. There are defining important moments when you cement or destroy a relationship — understand when you are in one of those moments and act accordingly.
  7. Warm introductions can save years/decades — a good reference from a respected third party is worth its weight in gold...also never take one for granted.
  8. People like people who can laugh at themselves — it is more than ok to have a personality and show it can and should be fun.
  9. Nobody likes to be lectured — if you are so smart, why aren’t you the client?
  10. These are not companies, these are our clients’ babies — “transactions” or “trades” do not exist to a CEO or CFO or Board and nobody should have a goal to be a “counterparty.”
  11. Don’t waste people’s time — seriously, we need to say this?
  12. Never talk about our competitors or where you used to work — Why would a client ever care?  Why would you care?  If it was so great, why did you leave?
  13. Immediate sense of urgency — is there any other way?
  14. Empathy is everything — if you can’t honestly put yourself in your client’s shoes, a competitor will figure out a way to lace them onto their feet.
  15. A Board is made up of human beings — they are individuals who think uniquely and must be addressed collectively and independently.
  16. Every victory is the client’s — we don’t make client’s “rich.” We help them execute their plans, which result in great outcomes. Then we celebrate THEIR victories.
  17. Share bad news immediately — somehow, it never seems to get better or disappear, so procrastination only makes it worse.
  18. Ask for the order — a great presentation is only great if you politely ask for and receive the order.
  19. Have other people brag for you — self-praise is worthless, but the right remarks at the right time from someone the client respects can be priceless.  But only if it is real.
  20. Don’t ignore anyone in the pitch — assume the decision is made by the sponsor, the CEO, the CFO, the junior, the receptionist and the person serving lunch.  You never know and it costs nothing to treat everyone with respect.  It is also the right way to go through life.
  21. It’s usually over before the pitch ever starts...the preparation BEFORE you enter the room full of clients is usually even more important than the meeting itself.
  22. Bring the right people to the pitch — if you are not surrounded by all the key people at Jefferies who are needed to optimize the client’s result, you deserve to come in 2nd or 3rd place or perhaps, never finish the race.
  23. Ask for help immediately and often — it really isn’t fun being a martyr, especially in failure.  People who try to be individual heroes usually fail.
  24. Understand nobody needs to hire Jefferies — every mandate is a remarkable achievement.  The only celebration comes after successful execution.  Let the other firms believe the client “owes” them business.  We are humble and know we need to earn it every day.
  25. Have fun and enjoy — if you like your clients, build true relationships and become friends/family, it is always more fun and rewarding.  Nothing is better than helping people you care about avoid big problems and achieve their dreams.

Thank you for choosing to be our employee-partners at Jefferies.  If we continue to build our firm based on the success of our clients, we will continue to grow and thrive.  The day we take our clients for granted is our last.  We have come so far over the decades and the remarkable truth is that if we continue to follow the simple formula of “client first, always,” there will be no limit to what we achieve together.

Onward together with all our clients,

Rich and Brian


CEO, Jefferies Financial Group

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@handlerrich Twitter | Instagram
President, Jefferies Financial Group

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