Every client I work with is part of a collaboration. Since I don’t have a client facing practice, my work comes from other professionals, which means collaboration is a requirement, not an option. After many years of utilizing this business model, I’ve had enough experience to know how collaboration can work and, why it sometimes doesn’t. What I’ve also learned is that sometimes it pays to be firm and not let the client become their own worst enemy.
Recently, I helped a client implement a multi-generational pooled income fund utilizing a hard to value illiquid asset. Because the gift was over $5,000.00, it required a qualified appraisal. I have knowledge and experience with a wonderful appraisal firm and happily made the recommendation to my client. Instead, he hired an appraiser recommended by his accountant. Six or eight weeks later, we received a preliminary appraisal report and the numbers looked spot on what we anticipated. However, when I asked the appraiser to fulfill the IRS requirements for a qualified appraisal for charitable purposes, he balked. In fact, he admitted he knew nothing about the process and wasn’t willing to sign anything that would possibly put him in front of the tax court. Of course, this has upset the client who thought he’d hired the right professional and now is facing an additional fee to repeat the work. It has delayed the process and the filing of a tax return and it’s just downright irritating.
What I ask myself is how strongly should I have insisted to the client that he engage with my trusted resource? This is a difficult position of gently suggesting and pushing too hard and it’s one all of us face at some point. If we’re to collaborate successfully, everyone must understand the others’ roles and capabilities and, often, bringing in a wild card can cause a setback. Chalk it up to a learning experience for me and an expensive learning experience for my client.
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