Last week, I attended the Financial Therapy Association conference in Denver, Colorado. This group consisted of a powerful trifecta; financial planners, therapists and well-being coaches with the common mission to improve the lives of individuals we serve by identifying their relationship with money. The event was mostly sponsored by academia as well as several financial planning associations.
My favorite word right now is “curiosity”. In recent years, I have been curious about finding new and exciting ways to grow, learn and explore new angles through my financial advising practice. I am naturally a connector and relationship builder. I also happen to know how to navigate the world of finance and investments, however the link between the two has been for the most part missing in our industry.
I have come to understand that mental and emotional wellbeing is key to financial health. The financial planning industry is now incorporating this into the practice. The CFP ® board added Psychology of Money as a module to the 8 part curriculum. I attended last week’s conference curious to know why and how I could apply the concepts in my practice.
I have always loved hearing stories. I believe we all do. The words of your story have so much power. Brandi Carslisle performed at the Peace Center Saturday evening. My mom and I were on the edge of our seats listening to her stories told through her songwriting and music. Not only is her voice beautiful and passionate, but she is able to connect with every person in the audience, not because her specific stories are the same as ours, but because you can hear the emotion behind her songwriting. That emotion – pain, shame, love or joy is universal to us all.
To understand and connect with others, we have to listen to their story. Like on the edge of our seat kind of listening, curious for meaning. We all have a money story; how our parents used money as a tool or a weapon, how we felt money was scarce or abundant growing up, how we took risk, lost money to theft or life change…I could name hundreds of stories and scenarios I have heard over the years. And believe me, we have real big emotions tied to those stories.
Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman says in his book, How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market, that 95 percent of our purchase decision-making takes place in the subconscious mind. That means we are making most of our decisions based on emotions. Thomas Haladner, a Jungian Analyst that spoke at last week’s conference said that financial advisors are “emotional custodians” and it is our job to also understand and anticipate a client’s conscious and unconscious risk profile.
Most common financial tools like monte carlo cannot access the unconscious nor measure these emotions. The numbers on the page are meaningful and we need them to measure where we are and where we need to go to reach our nominal goals, but the real ingredients in life success are our values and our purpose which is found in the stories that drive our emotions and thus our decision making.
If you are curious to know more, I am too. I will be learning more about financial psychology and bringing this concept to local events and the content that I share. I hope you will follow and learn more about the merging fields of economics and mental health! Maybe tell your own money story! It may just help you make sense of your money behaviors and thus improve your bottom line!
Brandon R. Cabaniss, CFP ®
Private Wealth Manager