An Ethical Dilemma – What Would You Do?

An Ethical Dilemma – What Would You Do?

The story below is true. Some key facts have been altered to protect all parties involved.

What would you do?

We all encounter times in our business life when we have to make a decision about what’s most important to us, making money from a good customer or adhering to our beliefs and honoring a commitment made.

I’m going to describe a situation and I’m going to ask you what you would do if you were in the same situation. Please share your comments or feel free to respond to this blog.

Imagine for a moment that you have a customer that’s paying you a lot of money (high five-figures) to conduct training. Let’s further assume the customer is large financial planning firm and they’re paying you to train all of their financial planners. The training topic is leadership.

Prior to the sale, there was no discussion about where you put your money or who would manage your money in the event you were to receive a large sum of money. Six-months into the engagement the company finds out that you’re looking for financial planner because you have a large amount of money to invest. You don’t select someone from their company. You also did not try to hide this from the firm.

They are upset because you did not invest with them. In fact, you committed to a long time friend that when this happened they could invest the money on your behalf. Your customer feels like there should be a quid pro quo: we pay you, you invest with us.

Here is the question. Do you break your commitment to your friend and invest with the firm that is your client and paying you a lot of money or do you honor your commitment to your fiend knowing you could lose the account?

Assuming this is all the information you have, what do you do and how do you make that decision?

Ron Finklestein
330 990 0788



  1. David murrell

    Stay with your friend. If the other company has your best interest in mind they will be ok with your decision.

  2. Mike Miller

    I would explain to the customer that honoring a commitment to a longtime friend that was made previously to their contract is something you have to honor! You could offer to invest a small portion of the windfall with them if you wanted. If they are a good company they will understand honoring a commitment, if they don’t do you really want to work with them? Integrity means more than money!

    • ron finklestein

      That is the way I feel. It is interesting I am getting two response: 1. Honor your commitment, 2. Take care of family.

  3. I would explain that I had made a previous commitment. I would ask, “When you make commitments, do you typically honor them, or break them if a better opportunity comes along?” I would explain how much I respect their company and value their business. If they still wanted to fire me, I might point out that I had not tried to hide my decision to invest elsewhere, and that we had no commitments that I would invest with them. And if they fired me anyway, I would try to part as friends, but think, “Good riddance.”

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