Seeing Money Behaviors Through My Clients’ Eyes

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As a financial planner, I don't get paid just to develop financial strategies for clients. I get paid to help them put sound advice into action. Advice without action accomplishes nothing.

While my education and earning the CFP® certification taught me how to create financial plans, I did not become truly effective in this profession until I developed the skills to understand money behaviors through my clients’ eyes and to communicate my advice in a way that led to action. I needed to become better at the art of communication, and that starts with understanding my clients’ perspectives.

When clients are making decisions about how to spend money, save towards their goals and navigate turbulent markets, they pull from their experiences. They're using their brains. It made sense to learn about the brain, why we consciously or subconsciously act and react the way we do. We all have personal triggers, and our unique experiences create biases that matter in those decision-making processes. If my clients need that level of guidance, that is not going to come from an algorithm, calculation, or any amount of historical research.

It’s going to come from learning about behavioral finance and developing better communication skills.

We all saw how this pandemic has changed perspectives in our lives and affected people emotionally. It is more socially acceptable to talk about mental health and our emotions and show when we need to seek help and support each other with big decisions in life. It’s no different in finance. That realization motivated me to improve the space and environment for clients to feel comfortable sharing the truths about their lives that may prevent progress or skew decision-making. That’s why financial professionals should be trained in recognizing biases or fractured decision-making patterns and be ready to counsel when called upon.