Embracing the Financial Wellness Journey: Here’s Where to Start
• Mac Gardner • July 20, 2021
For a long time, financial planning was viewed as a sprint—to retirement, to homeownership, to the greatest accumulation of wealth. But this view is changing. Instead, financial professionals are looking at economic preparedness through a new lens where wealth management is seen as a lifelong marathon that helps people maintain financial, spiritual, and physical balance. Enter, financial wellness.
Rather than seeing the financial plan as a static document, we need to think about how the guidance we give extends beyond our clients’ financial lives and look for ways to connect their money goals back to their hopes and aspirations for the future. Here’s how to get started.
Prioritize Financial Literacy
Before digging into the solution, it’s important to first understand the depth of the problem. These startling statistics tell us a lot about the state of financial literacy in the U.S.:
- Two-thirds of American families do not have an emergency fund1
- 78 percent of workers live paycheck to paycheck2
- Three out of five adults do not consciously maintain a budget3
Although having access to a financial professional or automated planning platform is a critical part of reaching financial wellness, it’s difficult for clients to achieve without also having an understanding of financial best practices and the role money plays in all aspects of their lives.
The lack of financial literacy has a trickle-down effect on our clients’ lives and financial professionals can help by expanding their traditional scope of services to take on the role of educator, helping their book of business become more financially savvy.
To help clients embrace the path to financial wellness, financial professionals must position themselves as trusted sources of education dedicated to guiding clients through their financial plans every step of the way.
Think Broader, Think Bigger
Recent global events, a growing wealth gap, inflation, and other financial obstacles have demonstrated that financial professionals can help clients by trading in transactional relationships for deep-rooted connections. Getting that broad-based view of clients means zooming out and asking the right questions—to your clients, but also to yourself as a professional.
Ask yourself: ‘Why are we doing financial planning? What’s the benefit of financial planning for my practice? For my clients? How do my clients’ goals connect—laddering up to long-term goals and down to short-term milestones?’ Addressing these questions forces financial professionals to consider their role and responsibilities in a new light, bringing in the holistic view they need to forge meaningful relationships with each and every client they engage.
Next, look at the full picture. Talk to your client about their family, their finances, and their future. Maintain an open, honest dialogue about their expectations. Always seek to peel back additional layers that make them consider where they are in life and where they want to go, asking:
- How do finances impact the other aspects of your life?
- Are finances impacting your overall level of stress? Your health?
- What does the future look like for your family?
- Where do you want to be five years from now? Ten? Thirty?
Stay Elastic to Change
The overarching goal of financial wellness is to have feelings of satisfaction and peace of mind throughout one’s lifetime, not just as an end goal; there’s no clear start or finish—it’s a journey that requires continual adjustments.
To provide the best support to clients on their quest for financial wellness, financial professionals must make two commitments:
- Meet people where they are in life, no matter what social status, wealth class, or community they belong to.
- Stay agile and adjust their plans as life events happen and their financials ebb and flow.
The key to delivering on these commitments? Actively seeking, embracing, and integrating new technologies and tools into your workflow. In an increasingly digital world, clients are accustomed to using mobile and cloud-based applications that support an on-the-go lifestyle. We know this is how people prefer to communicate, so why not create a financial planning experience that fits their current lifestyle?
Financial professionals can implement intelligent financial wellness tools to serve as the intermediary between them and their clients—a meeting ground that offers anytime, anywhere accessibility. This way, clients can learn about and adjust their money habits as they progress through their lives. As clients gain greater insights into their financial lives, financial professionals can work with them to update and revise their plan parameters to ensure their newfound financial understanding continues to benefit them on their journey to financial wellness.
DISCLAIMER: The eMoney Advisor Blog is meant as an educational and informative resource for financial professionals and individuals alike. It is not meant to be, and should not be taken as financial, legal, tax or other professional advice. Those seeking professional advice may do so by consulting with a professional advisor. eMoney Advisor will not be liable for any actions you may take based on the content of this blog.
The views and opinions expressed by this blog post guest are solely those of the guest and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of eMoney Advisor, LLC. eMoney Advisor is not responsible for the content, views or opinions presented by our guest, nor may eMoney Advisor be held liable for any actions taken by you based on the content, views or opinions of the guest.
1 Carrns, Ann. “Even in Strong Economy, Most Families Don’t Have Enough Emergency Savings.” New York Times, October 26, 2019.
2 Friedman, Zack. “78% Of Workers Live Paycheck To Paycheck.” Forbes, January, 2019.
3 NFCC. “2019 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey,” March, 2019.
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