Money is a taboo subject for many people.
It’s a cause of stress, especially for retired clients and couples and it is the number one cause of male spousal suicide, Rick Kahler of the Kahler Financial Group, said at the Financial Behavior in Retirement Summit in Chicago on Monday.
Money causes people to behave in an irrational manner, he explained.
Some over spend, others under spend. Some use money to rescue, some use it to enable. Some disassociate from money, and others engage in anorexic or binge spending.
Then there is financial infidelity: 44% of all people in couples have a “money secret” they keep from their partner, Kahler said.
When planners discuss money with clients, they have to be careful because when they hit a “fear trigger,” clients may get overwhelmed and shut down without the planner realizing it.
“We need more skills than what we learned in CFP courses,” he said. “We are number crunchers not therapists. So we lack information about how humans change.”
Kahler said that financial planners and advisors need to proceed with caution as they work with clients. For example, instead of reacting when a client resists change, planners might want to back up and explore the resistance rather than shaming or insisting on something.
The solution Kahler uses in his practice is to bring in a psychologist as a member of his team. After all, money is associated with psychological and emotional issues, but planners are not trained to manage those issues.
“We are quarterbacks, yet we never bring in psychologists because we don’t understand them or what they do,” he said.
While some people might refer a client to a psychologist, Kahler prefers to bring the psychologist to meet clients at the initial discovery. If clients are fighting and not communicating, Kahler will stop them and suggest meeting in two weeks. Then, he’ll bring in his psychologist partner and work through the problems.
Only a pscyhologist, he says, can deal with the root issues that created the problems, but a coach can take over from there in exploring future possibilities.
Kahler quoted Financial Planning pundit Bob Veres as saying: The planner/therapist alliance may be the endgame of where the planning profession is going.”
Kahler said: “Partnering with therapists, working in the same room at the same time, brings the right and left brain into the room together with the client. I have seen people make phenomenal progress.”
It can benefit a practice by creating a distinct niche and making the practice more efficient and effective. “No one comes to me seeking financial therapy but everyone can benefit from it,” he said.