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Empowering Financial Wellness: How Client Portals Reduce Financial Anxiety and Transform Client Relationships

Emily Koochel April 18, 2024

empowered client shopping with mobile client portal

Feelings of financial insecurity have surged to an all-time high among Americans, with one-third (33 percent) reporting that they do not feel financially secure, according to Northwestern Mutual’s 2024 Planning & Progress survey1. This has led to heightened feelings of financial anxiety, leaving many individuals worried about their financial future.

Financial professionals are well-positioned to address this issue. Our 2023 Beyond the Plan research shows that financial advisors who address a client’s financial anxiety through incorporating actions based on financial psychology (finpsych) see greater client satisfaction. Furthermore, tech-forward advisors—those who embrace technology and believe it’s an important part of the client experience—see remarkably better outcomes than tech-averse advisors in multiple categories, including lessened client financial anxiety and increased client satisfaction, trust, and loyalty.2

Why Are Americans Stressed?

One of the most prevalent and enduring types of stress is financial stress. When it comes to managing our money, we often encounter stressors on a regular basis—such as unexpected car repairs, childcare expenses, and more. Although worrying about not having enough money to cover unexpected expenses can cause financial uneasiness, financial anxiety runs deeper. It can involve obsessing over where every dollar is spent or imagining situations where you lose all of your money.

Despite the growth in wealth and income for U.S. households in 2022 and 2023, the Federal Reserve’s Report on Economic Well-being of U.S. Households revealed a concerning trend: the percentage of adults who reported being at least financially stable in 2022 decreased by 5 percent compared to 2021, standing at 73 percent. Additionally, in February 2023, a Gallup survey found that 50 percent of U.S. adults felt they were financially worse off than the previous year, while only 35 percent believed they were better off. Building the case for why helping people ‘feel’ financially well is just as important, if not more so, than showing them they are financially well.

The Link Between Financial Anxiety and Client Satisfaction

Our research demonstrates that client satisfaction increases significantly—by 61 points—when clients feel their advisor has helped to reduce their financial anxiety.

Graph showing major client satisfaction increase with lessened financial anxiety

While advisors are certainly not therapists, adopting best practices in financial psychology can help reduce clients’ financial stress, boosting their confidence, financial success, and satisfaction with your services.

Our research identifies the top five most effective finpsych actions in reducing financial anxiety:

  1. Assist clients in identifying meaningful personal and financial goals
  2. Prioritize understanding clients’ values before offering financial advice
  3. Always consider what clients value most in life
  4. Make an effort to learn about clients’ money behaviors and attitudes
  5. Communicate recommendations in terms clients can understand

In essence, advisors who practice active listening, dig into client values, address financial concerns, and communicate effectively can mitigate financial anxiety and significantly improve client satisfaction.

To learn more about implementing these five finpsych actions, take a deeper dive into our eBook The New Advisor Value Proposition: How Combining Technology and Financial Psychology Transforms Client Outcomes.

Why Client Portals Are an Advisor’s Best Tool Against Financial Anxiety

When financial anxiety decreases, trust, loyalty, and overall client satisfaction increase. Technology, specifically a client portal, is a helpful tool to accomplish this.

This is because the use of a client portal helps advisors meet key client priorities. Clients report that a portal increases their collaboration with their advisor, deepens their knowledge of personal finance, and ultimately strengthens their relationship with their advisor through better communication.

Portals meet these client priorities by:

  • Consolidating all accounts in one location, offering peace of mind and security
  • Automating data gathering and offering a consistent, up-to-date financial picture saves clients time and lowers barriers to engagement
  • Providing a holistic view of a client’s financial life, linking current plans to goals, values, and motivations
  • Facilitating efficient communication with their advisor
  • Allowing clients to self-serve and explore their finances independently

In fact, frequent client portal use kickstarts a whole technology benefit hierarchy.

Through these features, the client portal can help lessen clients’ financial anxiety, which fosters trust in their relationship with their advisor. That trust breeds loyalty, which ultimately creates overall satisfaction.

In this way, client portal use is strongly associated with far superior client outcomes in the financial planning process. The key to realizing these outcomes is getting clients to use their portal frequently.

How You Can Engage Clients with Their Portal

To maximize the benefits of a client portal, encourage your clients to adopt it and become frequent users. It can take some upfront work to get your clients interested and coming back time and again.

Here is a five-step workflow to encourage portal adoption among your clients.

  1. Communicate the Value: Start by explaining the portal’s benefits related to your client’s specific financial goals and concerns and how it will help them best achieve their “why”—why they need financial advice in the first place.
  2. Demonstrate Features: In initial client meetings, showcase the portal’s features to generate interest and accountability, demonstrate how easy and intuitive it is to use, and highlight how it will make their lives easier.
  3. Highlight the Holistic View: The most desired portal feature for clients and advisors is the ability to view a client’s holistic financial picture. Encourage your clients to link all their accounts, emphasizing the portal as a one-stop resource for financial information regarding their current finances and progress toward future goals.
  4. Encourage Portal Communication: Maintain client engagement by using the portal for communication and collaboration. Sending information, assigning tasks, and tailoring communication through the portal keeps everything in one place for the client and enhances the value of the portal.
  5. Educate on Self-service: Another one of clients’ most desired portal features is the ability to self-direct and explore their finances on their own. Show clients how to use the portal to navigate and manage their finances independently, empowering them to take an active role in their financial planning.

As clients become more accustomed to their portal, introduce additional features to further ease their journey toward their financial goals. By doing so, you not only showcase the portal’s capabilities but also emphasize your role as a trusted advisor.

Technology Leads to the Best Client Outcomes

The advisors who achieve the best client outcomes are those who can integrate financial psychology techniques and a commitment to technology within their practice. Client portals are optimal for implementing this dual approach, having been proven to enhance client satisfaction, loyalty, and referrals. In fact, 56 percent of frequent portal users refer their advisor twice as often as non-users and 70 percent feel strongly committed to their advisor relationship.1

Employing a strategy that combines financial technology with psychological insights not only improves your bottom line but also enriches the client engagement and planning experience.

To learn how to do this at your firm, watch our webinar, where I’m joined by my colleague Chris Mauriello, Senior Financial Planning Practice Management Consultant at eMoney, to walk you through how to use a client portal in a way that aligns with the finpsych best practices laid out in this post.


1. “Planning & Progress Study 2024.” Northwestern Mutual, 2024. March 11.

2. eMoney, “Beyond the Plan” Research, July 2023

Image of Emily Koochel
About the Author

Dr. Emily Koochel is an experienced financial professional, academic, and researcher. She currently serves as a leader for eMoney Advisor’s Financial Education and Wellness initiatives in her role as Manager of Financial Wellness. Dr. Koochel’s PhD in Applied Family Science and Master’s in Financial Planning provide a multidisciplinary lens to inform her work where she focuses on understanding the effect of financial behaviors and financial decision making on personal and financial wellness. She serves as a subject matter expert in the field, reviewing and authoring peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and contributing to public scholarship. Most notably, she served as a co-author for the CFP Board’s book – The Psychology of Financial Planning - and was awarded 2020 Outstanding Research Journal Article of the Year by the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education. She holds the Certified Financial Therapist – I designation and is an Accredited Financial Counselor and Behavioral Financial Advisor.

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