Heal Your Own Relationship With Money to Better Help Clients

by Certified Coach Alissa Gauger, MBA

Let's be honest. If you went to your first personal training session and your trainer was extremely out of shape you would be concerned. I'm betting you wouldn't want to hire a life coach who was run down and burnt out on life, or a CPA who hasn't filed taxes in years—right?

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Despite this, I think that it is common to find people who are in professions that naturally provide the healing, focus, training, teaching and the chance to master something that is needed within.

You might characterize your relationship with money as "it's complicated." Just like the rest of Americans, financial advisors are often in debt and out of balance with their own finances. I have met advisors who could not afford the gas to fill their own luxury cars. Unlike the rest of the population though, as advisors themselves, they may carry a heavier burden of guilt and shame related to financial problems. This internal shame will subconsciously or consciously limit your confidence, growth and ability to challenge your clients in your practice.

In my experience as a coach, I believe that continuous personal and professional development is absolutely vital to serving my clients well. In the coaching industry we believe that you can only take your clients as far as you have gone yourself. It is called being in a "live it to give it" profession. Of course no one is perfect! The point is that we are no different than anyone else in needing to be self-aware and work on ourselves.

I think this concept also directly applies to financial advisors. Did you know you are in a live it to give it profession? This requires that you get right with your relationship with money. This may be a very vulnerable process. Consider working with a therapist or coach if necessary. While your long-term financial goals will take time to work toward, you can clean up your money story right now. Doing so will radically change and improve your practice and empower you in your life.

Money is an energy that you can work with in many ways. You can come at it from a place of scarcity and fear or generosity and abundance. It can be a constant source of pain, shame, fear and regret or a conduit to joy, generosity, gratitude and possibility. You can experience money either way no matter what the balance in your bank account. The actual amount of money you have (or do not have) is a separate issue entirely.

Just as you try to gently uncover your client's feelings, history, and beliefs about money in the Fact Finder, you can do so for yourself.

Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • What scary things does your inner critic/lizard whisper in your ear about money?
  • How do you believe that money treats you?
  • What are your beliefs about deserving money?
  • What thoughts about money do you have that are not serving you?
  • What do you fear your clients might "find out" about you and money?
  • Do you use a separate financial advisor than yourself for your own financial plan? (If not, why not?)
  • Do you believe that money defines you? If so, how?
  • What are your greatest fears about money?
  • What excuses do you use about your financial choices?
  • Does your financial situation ever compromise you as an advisor? How so?
  • What would your attraction power be if you had a healthy relationship with money?
  • Are you black and white in your thinking about money? What would the gray area look like?
  • What is a symbol of your relationship with money?

In my experience it really doesn't matter how much money you have or do not have. Mostly everyone has some type of money issue because it is simply a perceived representation of our worth, beliefs and how we present ourselves in the world. Taking the time to heal your relationship with money will allow you to better challenge your own clients' beliefs and actions. Do it before you're ready. Do it before you're wealthy. Do it because that's how you become ready and wealthy!

Coaching Tip A software called You Need A Budget (YNAB) and its corresponding app might be one tool you could play with. (It’s free to try for the first month. I have no relationship with YNAB other than I use it.) If you can master your own budget I'm betting that you can better teach your clients how to manage their own budgets and empower them to take a more active role in their finances.