Part 2 of 5: Responding to Financial Stress in the Moment

Discovering the Real Causes of Financial Anxiety

“Clients can ride a downturn if they can master their money energy and channel the flow to the right places.”

Regardless of how (apparently) financially wealthy a person is, it is reasonable to expect they may have some financial anxiety when the world becomes unsafe. When uncertainty arises, the energy of money will surface in dissatisfaction or disappointment in some area of their life. Or, it will expose past mistakes or black holes covered by unprecedented good times.

Do you have the pinpointed behavioral and money insights on each client? Do you know how they will instinctively react to the market’s mood?

The DNA Behavior insights in the Financial DNA® reports will give you insights into the areas that may be causing financial stress. These insights may help you see whether the anxiety is about future growth challenges, disruption to continued lifestyle expectations, a threat to family or relationship stability, or disruption to a long-planned retirement from full-time work. Nevertheless, you will need to use these insights as a starting point to ask the client deeper questions about what is causing stress at a deeper level.

In addition, the Financial DNA “Market Mood” app will give you some objective insight into the client’s level of financial anxiety as the market gyrates up and down, and some insights on how to interact with them.

Do you have the requisite facilitation skills to potentially go deep with your clients to identify the root cause of what is causing them real distress?

Financial Anxiety Threatens Identity and Self-Worth

“Your energy goes where your mind goes.” – Joe Dispenza, author of Becoming Supernatural.

The root cause of anxiety may not be investments but something far more serious to do with a career, business, a spouse, or a family member. Maybe it resurrects historical issues; as an advisor/coach, you need to go deeper to ensure their identity and self-worth remain unharmed.

Anxiety can cause a person to change how they see the world and themselves in it, leading to a damaged self-image when facing an unplanned transition.

Manifestation of anxiety is a real thing. Anxiety in your clients can manifest in the form of negativity; this could lead to bad outcomes. Your job is to help re-route them to the “right path” that starts with their attitude, as without correction, this could be the starting point for where a person gets in their own way.

Do you have the composure to compassionately ask your clients the right questions till you get to “why” they have financial anxiety? Can you help your clients see their world through a new lens and change their energy?

Identify and Resolve Your Own Money Stories

Advisors often fail because they have not resolved their own money baggage, and through their lack of awareness, the clients are left “eating” the advisor’s behavior somehow.”

As a mentor to many coaches, advisors, and leaders worldwide during the past twenty-five years, I have always said you cannot guide a client where you have not been yourself. Of course, one cannot have experiences you have not had yet.

But regardless of your stage of life, reflect on the experiences you (and your family) have had and how you dealt with the resulting financial anxiety and stress. It would be a good idea to be open and transparent with your team and get them to share. To demonstrate authenticity and build trust, it would be a good idea for you to lead this exercise off by sharing some of your own money stories. Consult your coach or sounding board to help facilitate the discussion if that will help.

Through these reflective discussions, you will build some relationship capital that can be transferred to your clients so they see you have walked the journey. Although, you must be behaviorally aware not to impute your baggage onto the clients. Sometimes you may need to rethink your personal money stories; you can always resurrect them to help clients on their journey when you have a deeper insight into their anxiety.

Have you got your own money stories ready to share with your team and clients? Are you aware of how your stories may impact the clients?

Falling Asset Values May Not Be the Biggest Problem

“Falling asset prices do not mean there is yet a financial loss.”

For many people, the first reaction to falling asset prices is that they have lost money even though no crystalizing sale has occurred. Of course, the loss is temporary until the asset has to be sold for cash or otherwise exchanged. Consider whether the paper loss impacts the situation and whether the asset is fundamentally sound to keep holding. Does action need to be taken?

The generic wisdom is that the crisis itself is not the primary problem, but how you respond is. Your clients’ mindset will drive success in embracing the situation at hand. The last thing you want to happen is that the client makes rash decisions that wipe out the wins of the last ten to thirty years.

The major risk that must be managed is not necessarily the client selling off some equity positions because they panic or think they can outsmart the market. Although, the wisdom is that clients should not be completely out of the market as they could miss out on the re-bound and overall be worse off. Instead, the even bigger risk is that they emotionally make another seemingly unrelated decision in another area of their life that has far more costly ramifications.

Addressing such high-stakes decisions can be quite confronting for both the client and you as the coach or the advisor. However, it is essential to do so because one wrong decision can lead to a cascade of bad decisions leading to a more significant long-term problem.

I have learned that in a crisis, exercise your intuition when you have seventy percent of the correct information gathered, analyzed, and digested. Enough of the right information can be obtained by getting in touch with their internal guides and through some education via independent information sources.

So get your client to slow down, delay their intuition for a moment and do a three-sixty cognitive reflection to gauge how best to override the client’s incorrect “gut” response and engage them in further reflection to find a correct answer.

Can you help your clients transform their perspectives and mindsets?

 

Whatever high-stakes decision your client may be considering, ask them what Pastor Andy Stanley from Northpoint Church in Atlanta says is the best question ever: Is it the wise thing to do?

Manage Your Stress Collaboratively with the Children

“Parental stress can be reduced with a family conversation about it.”

If you are like me, I am sure you will want to keep stability in the household even in the bad times. My general approach has been to maintain a reasonable standard of living for the family and leave the problems at the front door (or since the pandemic in the home office). Being somewhat reserved and less outwardly emotional, this is more natural for me to do than others.

Providing stability is a wonderful thing to be able to do. Although, it could be a good learning lesson for later in life if the children experience some of what a downturn means.

I believe it would be misguided for the children not to feel anything when you and your clients deal with stressful times. They are like cats and will know the energy has changed in the room. Do you think the children know that you are less patient when your mood is down and you have less time for them? Also, don’t forget they also go to school or college and will hear others talking about it. So, you may be asked how we are dealing with the downturn? Will we be okay?

As family members, they are part of the ups and downs of the journey too. They deserve to know something. But, my experience is that it is better to discuss what is going on with them. It will reduce their anxiety and yours, which keeps the overall energy calm.

Ultimately, if a high-stakes family decision must be made, openness and transparency will mean more love and support. Then, when the good times return, there will be more appreciation for the benefits.

Have you ever discussed how the children are impacted by their financial stress with your clients? Would they see the potential benefits of such conversations with their children?

Hugh Massie

Hugh Massie - Chairman and CEO of DNA Behavior International

As an Identity Trailblazer and Behavioral Finance Insights Pioneer, Hugh Massie empowers advisers, business leaders, families and individuals to unlock their identity for accelerating dramatic change and discover how unknown behaviors which intensify through un-managed differences, money attitudes, pressure and emotions - derail performance.

Hugh helps advisers, leaders, families, and individuals adopt an “understanding people before numbers” approach to making Behaviorally SMART decisions based on their identity, thus customizing experiences for accelerating human performance.

Hugh’s real-world practical applications of behavioral insights and the mastery of the energy of money, blended with strong financial skills, gives him the unique capability to design a wide variety of universally applicable human performance apps. The tech Hugh has developed with his team benefits 1.5 million+ people annually in 125 countries & 11 languages.)