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When Is Financial Wellness Not Just About Finances?

Celeste Revelli November 12, 2021

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Clients and financial professionals alike are often striving for the same thing—the achievement of financial wellness for the client. And while this shared purpose can keep both groups aligned in our increasingly value-driven world, a too narrow definition of financial wellness could lead to the client feeling like their goals aren’t actually being met.

At eMoney, we define financial wellness as a positive state of being resulting from a healthy relationship with money and the impact it has on other aspects of life. By educating, supporting, and advising clients on traditional financial planning decisions like saving, budgeting, and investing, financial professionals can help clients feel secure with their money.

But we’re increasingly discovering that clients want more than just budgeting and investing help. Where financial professionals focus on the “healthy relationship with money” part of the definition, clients are often focused on the portion that refers to other aspects of their life. In some instances, the benefits reaped from financial wellness aren’t about finances at all.

The Broader Picture of Financial Wellness

It may seem like a client’s well-being outside of their savings accounts or investment portfolio shouldn’t be a major concern to financial professionals. But our clients’ relationship with money is deeply personal. How they spend, save, and make money is unique to them—and because money is connected to so many aspects of life, it’s nearly impossible to truly separate financial wellness from a client’s physical, mental, spiritual, and relational health.

As they become increasingly aware of how their financial well-being impacts other parts of their lives—clients seek relationships with financial professionals who can provide guidance on a broader aspect of their lives. About 80 percent of Millennials and Gen Z said they’d be willing to give financial professionals more business in return for advice on physical and mental health topics.1

While the expectation for financial professionals isn’t to moonlight as a personal trainer or therapist, it’s becoming increasingly important that those who provide financial advice understand their clients’ expectations around wellness goals and how financial decisions contribute to improved well-being in other areas of life.

Planning with Purpose Infographic

(Click to view the entire infographic outlining our recent Planning with Purpose research)

What does Financial Wellness Mean to Clients?

Almost half (47 percent) of financial professionals defined financial wellness as meeting plans, goals, and investment targets. But for clients, the definition was less of a box to check and more a sense of peace or security—financial independence, ability to cover expenses, and stability or freedom were among the top definitions.2

Clients also viewed negative life events, such as losing a job or separating from a spouse, differently than financial professionals in both how it impacted their financial health and their overall well-being.

What we found is that clients are less likely to see changes in their lives as strictly negative or positive, even when we might expect them to. Losing a stressful job could mean new opportunities to pursue a career that is ultimately a better fit, the death of a sick spouse or elderly parent could mean that person is no longer suffering, leaving a bad marriage could result in a better quality of life.

On the other hand, financial professionals tended to perceive these life events as far more negative than clients perceive them, suggesting a hesitance to reach out at crucial times even though that’s when clients need them the most. To get through these various life changes, clients expect their financial professionals to listen, understand, and guide them through options for following the best path to financial wellness.

Broaden the Conversation on Financial Wellness

Just as every client’s financial goals will be different, their definition of financial wellness will also be deeply personal. As financial professionals, it’s our responsibility to understand what our clients want to achieve—both financially and beyond—to ensure we’re providing the best advice possible. That starts with communication.

Having frequent, open conversations about financial wellness, stress caused by financial burdens, and client goals outside of the traditional scope of financial advice can help financial professionals provide more personalized guidance and recommendations. By meeting clients where they are and having genuine conversations—particularly ones that might feel difficult—can help financial professionals gain the necessary alignment to guide clients to create a financial plan with purpose at its core.

For an in-depth look at the alignment of advisor and client fulfillment, read our Planning with Purpose eBook.


1 eMoney Power to the Plan Research, July 2020, Advisors n=420, End clients n=403

2 eMoney Planning with Purpose Research, July 2021, Advisors n=393, End clients n=391

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.

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About the Author

Celeste Revelli is currently Director of Digital Planning at Fidelity Investments, where she works on digital financial planning experiences for Fidelity advisors and clients. Starting her career as a registered advisor for a few years, Celeste has been in the financial services industry since 2009. She worked at eMoney Advisor for almost 11 years, where she led advanced planning support escalation, product research support, and eMoney’s financial wellness and financial education strategy as Director of Financial Planning. Celeste received her bachelor’s degree in communications and marketing from Loyola University Maryland and her certificate in financial planning from Boston University. She is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and is currently pursuing her MBA specializing in financial psychology and behavioral finance from Creighton University. Celeste dedicates time to serving her community in the areas of pro bono financial planning and financial literacy, and she also serves the industry through her support of next generation planners, diversity and inclusion efforts, and exam and technology committees for the CFP Board. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and son.

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