September 2021: Starting Thoughts

Journal of Financial Planning: September 2021


Building Connections in Trying Times

The more we learn about behavioral finance, the more planners have come to realize that their interactions with clients often look more like those between a counselor or therapist and their patients. Clients may recognize that, on paper, a financial plan makes perfect sense, but still insist on inappropriate cash allocations or avoiding spending retirement assets. Their reasons may be complex or even unclear, and uncovering these truths is an important step in getting clients to positive outcomes.

We’ve made the most of virtual tools to maintain relationships ever since COVID-19 drove us into remote offices, and have even found ways to integrate some of them into businesses that help us be more efficient than before. However, connection and community are critical to building social bonds. For the work that planners do, those bonds help clients open up about their fears and find solutions. In fact, McKinsey and Co. predicts that jobs requiring social and emotional skills will increase 29 percent by 2030.

Beyond the client connection, interacting with a community of like-minded peers is a powerful tool in professional development. The dynamic learning that happens when people come together improves engagement and retention. Sharing your concerns and triumphs with colleagues shows us that we’re not alone—a sorely needed balm after the last year and a half of varying periods of isolation.

People are starting to get comfortable with in-person interactions again, but things aren’t back to normal. I’m looking forward to the day when we can shake hands again. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what you’re doing to build your communities in these uncertain times.

Danielle Andrus