Do You Need Financial Therapy?

It’s my favorite time of year.

You may be wondering if that has anything to do with spring. Perhaps partially… I do enjoy the cleaning and de-cluttering that traditionally happens this time of year.

No, today marks the first day of the high school lacrosse season, which for me is also ‘coaching season.’ Even though there is likely to be snow on the ground for some time here in Michigan, we are just a few days away from our first competitions, and there is precious little time for coalescing and getting on track.

Recently, I’ve been considering an emerging topic in the area of personal finances – that of the financial therapist. Anything that may advance financial wellness has always been of interest, and this profession could potentially be a great new area of growth for the financial planning industry.

But, I wonder, how many individuals truly need ‘financial therapy’?

Many do, for sure. Our mistaken beliefs on money can be deeply engrained to the point of needing counseling. We see this statistic in how money affects relationships, most notably being the main cause for failed marriages.

But, are mistaken ideas ‘always’ best corrected by counseling, or could there be another way? Are most dysfunctions best helped by talking, or by a more ‘physical’ push in the right direction?

It is my belief the vast majority of individuals in the country could be best served through the use of a financial planner with the mentality of a coach. And it is here that another interesting area of our profession is emerging – that of a ‘financial coach’ who is not necessarily (though they may also be) the adviser preparing the reports and the advice for a long-term game plan. This individual is the drill master; the educator; and the one holding you accountable for the actions needed to raise your financial game.

Are you like the majority of Americans with a ‘savings dysfunction’? It may be that a lack of understanding of the appropriate amount you need to save; or, it could be that you would benefit from being held accountable to a savings game plan. To my mind, this is the role of a coach, or perhaps even a ‘personal financial trainer.’

Not, lest you think I am in agreement with Tom Cruise and Charlie Sheen over the usefulness of therapy… not so fast. There is a place for therapy – and not the least among those needs being financial therapy.

But, the reality is that many, if not most financial worries, could be better solved by a coach. Many traditional ‘dysfunctions’ can be best cured by knowledge and action – depression is often helped by volunteering; the lack of physical health by exercise and having a better knowledge of what to eat.

The financial coach performs these activities, and their role in an individual’s financial life would involve:

  • Providing motivation, education, and instruction on financial areas

  • Creating and reviewing the game plan

  • Being an independent and guiding voice

  • Encouraging drills for fiscal health

  • Holding individuals accountable for action and follow-through

Perhaps I am biased in my opinion as a coach. But, I wonder if the idea of financial therapy doesn’t leave the largest group of individuals who can benefit from changing money habits behind. While advisers wear many hats – and at times that hat is of an amateur therapist – I believe the most fitting for many is that of a coach.

As I consider the first few days of the coaching season and the upcoming scrimmages, there will be dysfunctions with pulling a team together. Even the most committed and talented players need a coach on the sideline to raise their level of play. For that reason I encourage everyone to find a financial adviser with the mentality of a coach to assist in raising your financial wellbeing. One place to start your search is here at the FPA, with the help of the PlannerSearch tool.

The preceding blog was originally published by the Financial Planning Association®(FPA®). To view the original blog please visit the FPA Web site.


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