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#206: Protecting Confidentiality in a Referral

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, December 28, 2009
Updated: Tuesday, December 29, 2009
A colleague of mine referred one of her clients to me. Now that the engagement is over, my colleague is asking me for details about the engagement and her client. Given that my colleague continues to advise tis client, how much confidentiality about my engagement is warranted?

This is a good question but it has a simple answer. Your role as a consultant and your responsibility to your client is independence, objectivity and absolute confidentiality. Your client should expect that what transpires between consultant and client remains private. Even when you and your colleague are talking and the subject of your (mutual) client comes up, any information you have gleaned from your client is private unless it is already in the public domain.

See the IMC USA Code of Ethics, paragraph 5.0, "I will treat appropriately all confidential client information that is not public knowledge, take reasonable steps to prevent it from access by unauthorized people, and will not take advantage of proprietary or privileged information, either for use by myself, the client's firm, or another client, without the client's permission." Even though your colleague is a friend, with whom you share a client, your colleague is an "unauthorized person."

Tip: Don't even suggest to your client that you share information, or even ask whether you can share information, This will raise doubts with your client about your judgment. If your client brings up sharing information with your colleague, and says it is OK, or even desirable, to share information about your engagement, then you should be extremely conservative about what you share.l

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consultant role  consulting colleagues  ethics  reputation 

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