Financial Planning: Helping Clients Overcome Fears

Oct 29, 2019 Share This 

Financial Planning FearsWhat’s going to scare you during Halloween, other than that creepy kid down the block who dresses up as Chucky every year? Getting a good (and temporary) scare can be invigorating and fun each fall. Some fears, however, linger all year long, and some are debilitating.

Phobias — unreasonable and overwhelming fears of an object or situation — affect approximately 10% of all Americans.1 Dentophobia, no surprise, is the fear of going to the dentist. And for some, the fear of seeing you, a financial advisor, can be as strong as going to the dentist. No one wants to get bad news about their finances when they talk to an advisor, so they just refuse.

You’re here to help, so why the fear?

You know the numerous benefits you bring to your clients (without using needles or drills or anything remotely frightening). Yet, it’s the emotional aspect of comprehensive financial planning that can be so scary. Having to create strategies for different life scenarios is not pleasant for some people. Yet, in reality, NOT having a plan may be far scarier.

Your clients likely understand that financial planning is important,2 so what fear is holding them back?

  • Discovering an unpleasant issue that requires immediate attention
  • Being shamed about procrastinating so long
  • Feeling embarrassed about discussing “taboo” topics
  • Realizing there is a combination of issues to be tackled

How can you nudge them to action?

An advisor may feel handcuffed when a client refuses to begin financial planning. It’s challenging to convince some clients to overcome their apprehensions and begin strategizing for the long-term.

People are people, and some only take action when it’s absolutely necessary.2 So, presenting financial planning as both important and urgent could help your cause. Here are some options to consider:

Proactive Crisis Avoidance

Bring up an important issue in a client’s life and present it as an inevitable financial “problem” with immediate financial planning being the proper strategy. College tuition isn’t a problem for parents of a 2-year-old, yet it will be without a long-term strategy of saving, investing, and patience.

Small, Smart Savings

If a client doubts the power of financial planning, run through a cost-cutting exercise. Discuss their spending habits and find an obvious opportunity to cut expenses. Describe how painlessly saving now means a reward later; a luxury item of some sort. Then, explain how a comprehensive financial review is similar.

A Future Gift

Clients may find financial planning well worth their time if they see it as improving the upcoming financial health and happiness of their loved ones. Give an example of how planning can be specifically structured to benefit someone special. When love is the focus of proactive financial planning, clients can get motivated.

Today Is Great; Tomorrow Can Be Better

Many clients believe in living in the moment, even if it includes loose spending habits. Let them know that “bigger and better” could be just around the corner with increased planning and reduced consumption. Share financial tools that work quietly to accrue benefits (automatic retirement contributions, insurance policy rewards, cash-back credit cards).

You’re not going to give up, are you?!

Encouraging clients to address important issues before they become crises is part of our responsibility as financial advisors. Remember and use these powerful techniques that can help shift fearful clients to a more prosperous path:

  • Reframing inevitable issues as solvable problems
  • Presenting painless, “low hanging fruit” wins
  • Acting now for the future benefit of loved ones
  • Adjusting tactics to address different personality types

Although the celebration of October as “Financial Planning Month”3 is coming to an end, feel free to extend that into November, December…heck, every month! Embrace the fact that financial advisors may be feared — 47% of Americans find the prospect of financial planning scary4 — and continue your mission to improve clients’ lives.

Speaking of fear, when a client realizes that he/she could spend up to ⅓ of life in retirement, being scared is a natural response. The Step by Step Guide to Helping Your Clients Achieve Financial Security and Satisfaction in Retirement provides seven ways advisors can help clients alleviate concerns and confidently embrace the future. Simply click the link below to access your copy.

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1VeryWellMind, Prevalence of Phobias in the United States, September 19, 2019

2ThinkAdvisor, How to Conquer the Fear of Financial Planning, April 18, 2019

3National Day Calendar, FINANCIAL PLANNING MONTH – October, no publish date, Financial Planning Month: 5 Things You Can Do to Take the Fear Out of Your Finances, November 5, 2018 


Topics: Client Relationships, Advanced Planning