Tuesday, September 8, 2020
Be personal and personable when providing financial advice.
In the medical profession they talk about bedside manner as something that greatly enhances the patient experience. Two different doctors might give the same prognosis but how they give it makes a world of difference in how the patient perceives their situation. Whether they leave the room optimistic or filled with dread depends on the words the doctor uses. That is true for personal finances as well.
For financial wellness coaching, bedside manner is just as important. I think of it as a series of steps:
Actively listen to a participant as they explain what their personal financial state is, what they believe their problems to be, and what their goals are.
Ask questions about the decisions they have made and why they made them. Ask the questions in an empathetic tone.It is important to understand why they are where they are today before prescribing any changes.
Offer advice in the context of their goals rather than trying to fix their problems. Make their next actions something positive (progress towards a goal such as being debt free) rather than lessening a negative (reducing debt).
When offering advice go over different options even if only one makes sense for them. When you only offer one option it can come across a bit as “I am the professional–trust me”. When you talk through the pros and cons of a series of options you are helping them achieve greater understanding of the problem and the prescribed action as well as empowering them –they are “making the decision”.
Use common language and analogies if necessary. A lot of participants aren’t going to understand financial industry jargon so have a set of easy-to-understand explanations and analogies ready to help explain the concepts.
Often financial wellness coaching is part relationship coaching. Finances are a major source of household disagreements and it is important for you to remain a neutral third party. Help them find common ground with both parties making sacrifices.
When you leave the doctor they have you schedule your next appointment before you leave. With your participants schedule a follow up meeting, call, check-in then and there. You might consider getting business cards or a pad of paper to write down when the next meeting is and give that to them so they can add it to their calendar when they get back to their desk.
Always try to have them leave each meeting on a positive note where they feel like they have accomplished something and hopefully excited about taking their next step. That next step is one step closer towards achieving their goals.
Have a system in place to send reminders about upcoming meetings. People procrastinate and they might not take action until they get that reminder email or text that they have a meeting coming up soon.
Be proactive about reaching out and act as their accountability partner. It means a lot when someone reaches out and checks in on how they are doing. You can use email templates (one of the many features of our Participant Engagement Platform) to quickly follow-up with your participants and a phone call once or twice a year provides a reminder that you are there to help.
These are a few of the things that a financial wellness coach can do to greatly enhance the experience the participant has. These qualitative improvements will help participants, no matter their income level or background, to know that their goals are achievable and motivate them to take steps towards achieving them.
Personal finances are personal with everyone having their own circumstances and responsibilities. The quality of your personal touch matters.