I would not respect a doctor who would hand me three phone numbers of his/her patients, who just had a recent surgery, as “references”.
While it’s true that highest degree of confidentiality is a fiduciary duty, and WA has statutory vs. fiduciary duties, I just can’t honor the request of people who want me to “use” my past clients as “references”. Using your client for your own benefit is such an anti-fiduciary concept.
Some time ago I received an email from a total stranger seeking to hire me as his buyer’s agent. He asked for a complete list of all of my client’s names, addresses, email addresses and phone numbers prior to our meeting. I responded that he should think very hard about hiring anyone to represent him in a client relationship, who would acquiesce to that request. The issue has come up again, and while I fully appreciate a person’s need to “check references”, I still won’t give out personal info of my past or present clients.
Once I connected two of my clients by asking a former client to have lunch with a current client. The former client was a whiz at hunting down the absolute best loan available. They worked for the same Company. They were about the same age and neither had extensive local contacts, both having relocated here and away from their family and friends. I was careful to not give out any info of either party until they both agreed to the lunch, which I did not attend so as to be absolutely certain I would not reveal anything about one to the other. Asking one client to help another client is not the same as asking my clients to help me GET new clients. I just cannot get my brain around that concept.
I turned 55 the other day and Craig Blackmon’s recent remark that I am “an old war horse” is reverberating in my ears at high volume. I became “a fiduciary” for the first time back in 1974. We were constantly warned about never going out to lunch with a colleague and discussing a client by name in a restaurant. It was the blackest of mortal sins to use a client’s last name in public, and if they had an unusual first name like mine, no first names either. To this day even when my partner Kim and I speak of clients, we never use last names even to one another. Clearly my age is having an impact, as we seem to be treating all of our clients as if they are our children. “Honey, the kids are coming over to sign the papers in an hour!” [I yell up the stairs]
In many ways, people reveal more about their personal lives to me, than they do their doctor or lawyer. Regardless of whether or not the State views me as a “salesperson” or holds me to a fiduciary standard, I’ve just been a fiduciary for way too long to erase that concept from Who I Am. Fiduciary = “without regard to self interest”. So while it is perfectly acceptable and understandable for someone to “want references”, it is just not possible for me to accommodate that request. Many agents have argued with me that I am wrong, old school, old fashioned, etc… Well, maybe turning 55 comes with the convenience of being allowed to be “an old war horse”.