Much of the same self-control and behavioral aspects are in play when it comes to both financial and physical health.
That’s why when reading the Fitness Journal, the publication for ACE-certified professionals, we find resources that could be helpful for CFP® professionals. One such article in the June issue was “Four Corners of Quality Coaching,” which offered information that translates to financial planning.
Knowing the information doesn’t mean clients will change. Just because a client has the information you want them to act on, it doesn’t mean they know what to do with it. For instance, personal trainers oftentimes have clients who do the workouts, but then eat sweet treats endlessly, leading to no improvement or even weight gain. You probably have clients who continue to put big expenses on credit cards, not save enough, or make bad money choices. They know better, they just don’t do better.
“Find ways to personalize it so that clients can successfully integrate new skills,” the article read. Translating this to financial advice, try to give clients examples of the concepts you’re presenting that relate to their lives. Make it personal.
Don’t lecture. Revisit a 10 Questions interview the Journal published in July 2016 with Eric Maddox, the interrogator who was the mastermind behind Saddam Hussein’s capture, who underscored the importance of listening and making your clients feel valued and heard.
The Fitness Journal article reiterated the point. “Clients often struggle with lecture-style instruction,” the article read. “Create teaching tools that allow clients to demonstrate acquisition of a skill or concept.”
Another element of this is using non-technical jargon to make clients feel more comfortable. Not all clients are as familiar with the financial vernacular that comes so naturally to planners, so be cognizant that this could be a barrier and make the information more accessible.
Listen to understand. Bradley T. Klontz, Psy.D., CFP®; and Ted Klontz, Ph.D., wrote in the November 2016 issue of the Journal that listening to understand, and not to respond, is critical to helping clients feel successful.
Seek clarification, ask for expansion, and seek confirmation that you are hearing and understanding correctly so clients have the opportunity to correct you if you’ve misunderstood something. Frame questions like a statement so that clients are less stressed.
“Research has shown that sentences that end in a question mark increase a client’s level of stress and can actually shut a client down,” Klontz and Klontz wrote.
Have clients take a financial inventory. The Fitness Journal article suggested having clients take stock of what life elements are causing their behavior. A similar exercise with your clients could be helpful to determine what could be causing detrimental habits. Brad Klontz has several resources at occamllc.net, including the Klontz Money Script Inventory, which could help you determine and understand your clients’ money beliefs to better guide them.
Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AnaT_Edits.