According to a recent Securities Industry Association survey, only 10 percent of investors view the financial services industry in a favorable light, but that isn't necessarily bad news for financial advisors.

In fact, for those who can convince clients of their professional honesty, the industry's recent troubles can be a positive boon. After all, the vast majority of investors need help making sense of their increasingly complex financial lives.

Still, with roughly 43 percent of investors citing “dishonesty” as the biggest issue facing the securities industry (again, according to the SIA), winning client trust is an uphill battle. Here are a dozen statements you can make to your clients to let them know where you stand on the honesty issue.

  1. “I don't know everything.” But you do know more than the clients, and whatever gaps may exist in your knowledge can be filled by specialists in your firm or community.

  2. “You should pay off your student loan/credit card/car loan instead of investing it with me.” This is especially true if you can't guarantee that the after-tax rate of return you will earn for them will exceed the interest rate charged on their debt.

  3. “Here are some local banks that may offer higher-yielding CDs than the ones at my firm.” Since certificates of deposit are generally a commodity, yield is the only yardstick. But you can discuss why CDs may not be right for the client, and show alternatives.

  4. “Putting money back in your business will probably give you a better return on investment than if you were to send it to me.” This is true for any business owner worth having as a client. You can still help by offering tax-advantaged retirement planning, insurance protection and investment diversification.

  5. “There are several ways for you to cut your commission expenses and still work with me.” Whether it is A-share breakpoints, C-shares or a fee-based account, you will find that half of something is better than all of nothing.

  6. “Here's how I get paid.” Everyone wants to know this, but many are afraid to ask. If you can't justify your fees, you should cut your costs, boost your expertise or find another line of work.

  7. “When you invest with me, I guarantee that bad things will happen in the world, and it will affect your financial well-being.” But you will earn your money by reducing the potential damage, and guiding clients through the storms when they occur.

  8. “I work for you, not my firm.” Want proof? If you have many clients, many firms want you. No clients? No job.

  9. “You should maximize the contributions to your retirement plan at work before sending any money to me.” This is especially true if their employer offers a matching contribution. High-net-worth investors should still have extra money for you, and your candor will earn you a future rollover and several referrals from those that don't.

  10. “Here's why many people like working with me — and here's why some don't.” You can't be all things to all clients. Explaining your strengths and weaknesses lets clients decide in advance if you are right for them.

  11. “These are the advantages, disadvantages and costs of your options. My recommendation is ________, and here's why.” Information and advice is all we have to offer clients. A detailed proposal shows you've done your due diligence.

  12. “Term life insurance may be more appropriate for your situation than a cash-value policy.” Saying otherwise to every prospect puts you on the losing side in a battle against the financial media, common sense and real-life examples.

True, several of these statements might cost you commission dollars in the short term. But trust is the lubricant of the capitalist machine. With a good grease job, your practice will run fast and smooth; without it, it can seize up altogether. Is it worth the risk?

Writer's BIO:
Kevin McKinley
is a CFP and vice president of investments at a regional brokerage and author of Make Your Kid a Millionaire — 11 Easy Ways Anyone Can Secure a Child's Financial Future. kevinmckinley.com