Most planners want to know what you're thinking as far as your money is concerned, but Rick Kahler also wants to know what's on your mind.
Kahler, 55, president of Kahler Financial Group, works out of Rapid City, S.D., his hometown. About half of his clients are local. Others are often referrals from therapists, who know him from his workshops with psychologists teaching advisors about money and emotion.
Kahler says the next planner he hires will be a therapist who's a CFP. "I would want someone who likes relationships best, but who also went through the pain of learning the numbers."
He hasn't always thought that way. In 1989, Kahler walked out when a psychologist spoke at a financial planning retreat. "I said, 'We're not psychologists, we're numbers crunchers.' "
But his interest began after he was divorced in 1992 and entered group therapy. He stayed with his therapist for 12 years. "I was called his 'annuity,' " he jokes.
Over the years, Kahler has adopted new tools to work with clients. When prospects sign on, he sends them to a website where they're asked to draw pictures representing the attitudes about money in their families.
Most of his clients come to him looking for help with investments or retirement planning, so Kahler deals with the issues on their minds. After that, "We'll get to the more important things that are killing them financially and that they may have no idea exist." At a second meeting with new clients, Kahler brings in a counselor he pays by the hour. "A lot of clients say, 'We didn't know you were this complete.' Most people are receptive."
The fee-only planner manages $150 million for 78 clients who have an average net worth of $2 million. "My firm is growing, and my client attrition is extremely low," he says. "Mostly, I lose clients because they die."
A member of the founding board of the Financial Therapy Association, which aims to establish professional credentials, Kahler notes, "We don't even know what financial therapy is. Ask 10 people, you get 10 answers." His short answer? "Financial therapy is when a financial planner and a therapist partner to help clients improve their emotional and financial health.