“How to have sensitive conversations with clients”

What messages about money did you learn from your parents?  Imagine the importance of this question if you’re a financial planner working with clients who have problems with over-spending.

I was delighted to facilitate a workshop on practice management for the Mass. chapter of the NAPFA (National Association of Personal Finance Advisors), on the topic of “How to have sensitive conversations with clients”.  While I’m not an expert on FP, my expertise is in coaching and behavior change, which I applied to the context of FP advising their clients.

From my coaching experience, I’m aware that I’m dealing with my client’s mindset – their assumptions and beliefs, which influence how they approach their life and work.  In this case, I was dealing with two mindsets – the clients and the financial planners themselves.  If the advisors are trying to help their clients on their spending habits,  it might/would be useful to inquire into their own mindset – because whatever messages they inherited from their parents and family might impact how they engage with their clients on their financial behaviors.  They might be judgmental, or feel a sense of shame – or they might be accepting of spending behaviors.

Two of the powerful questions that I asked them were:

  1. We know that $ is symbolic. What does $ represent to you?  Do you ask what it represents to your clients?
  2. What messages about $$ did you learn from your parents? How do those impact your interaction with your clients?  What is your relationship with over-spending?

The beauty of this session was the financial advisors shared their best practices with each other without being competitive , which speaks to the collaborative culture of this group.  Together we generated strategies to help the advisors have difficult conversations with their clients.  I had a lot of fun facilitating this session – and I’ve already been invited back! (smile)

Here’s their feedback:  Thank you again so much for being such a good facilitator yesterday!  I mentioned that we are generally an interactive group, but I’ve never seen so much ‘interactivity’ as I did yesterday.  It underlines for me how thirsty we all are for connection around issues of practice management, so thank you for being incredibly relevant.

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