When Financial Planning Becomes Therapy

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.

If you’re a fan of the television show Friends, you know the opening line of its theme song: “So no one told you life was going to be this way….”

The same can be said for your career as a financial advisor. When you were preparing for it during your college days, odds are no one ever told you you would need to be a therapist as well as a wealth manager.

Maybe “therapist” is a bit strong.

But there is truth to that claim. You’re more than a clerk taking an order at a McDonald’s drive-thru window in our profession.

We do far more than placing buy and sell orders for our clients. A good advisor – someone who cares not only about providing top-quality service to the people who entrust you with their wealth but who genuinely wants to see them achieve their personal goals – invests the time necessary to know their clients on a one-to-one level. As the client-advisor bond grows more intimate, sensitive information is revealed.

For example, let’s say the client tells you they want to be able to pay for their child’s college education. You naturally follow up by asking questions about that child, like, “Tell me what they are like. What are their interests? Do they play any sports?” In no time, the client confides in you. She may tell you the child is experimenting with alcohol and other drugs, that they’re worried the child lacks a sense of direction, and that the child may not be able to get into a good college. Or the parents frown on the child’s romantic relationship.