Don’t Miss Your Clients’ Emotional Threads

Host of Elementality, Jordan Haines, CFP®, discusses the importance of being curious with clients even in the most functional of interactions. It’s often while discussing financial data, presenting the financial plan, or even just chatting with a client that an emotional response will be triggered. But if you’re not looking for it, you may miss an opportunity to change a client’s life.


Welcome to Elementality. Everyone. I’m Jordan Haynes, financial models, expert here. Elements. I’m excited to bring to you a couple thoughts that I’ve been having. I just wrapped up a conversation with Ashley Quamme. Of beyond the plan.

And during the conversation, we addressed a couple of things as it relates to emotions and money and [00:01:00] navigating client relationships on that realm. 

And I remembered an experience I had recently that I wanted to share with you all. 

My wife and I welcomed our third child into the world on leap day. This year. And immediately after I took a few weeks off work so that I could focus on my family. For some reason during that time, the universe spoke and everyone listened. And I had family, family members, friends. People in my community, I’ll reach out to me because they had some financial questions. 

They knew I was a financial advisor at one point, and they wanted to come to me for guidance. One of those was a family friend. Young couple. Two, very young kids, a single income household. Uh, the husband worked in, um, construction. And I would describe him as someone who is a entrepreneur in embryo. They, this is the type of person that was going to run many businesses over their lifetime. 

At this point, though, he had an employer that he worked for made decent money, had been working on building some liquidity so that they could [00:02:00] eventually get to the point where maybe he went out on his own. But the reason they reached out to me is because they had a family friend who, um, called them out of the blue one day and told them they needed life insurance for their girls and for them. 

And he wanted to help pitch them on it. Um, now knowing what I know about this person, I’m pretty agnostic towards most financial products. If they’re, if they make sense for the person in that context, then that’s fine. Um, for this particular person, I knew that liquidity and autonomy was really, really important to them right now. And that signing up for these policies probably was not the best thing for them. But rather than just dismiss it all together, right out of the blue, I asked them if they would be open to doing a financial vitals exercise with me, where we would just review every area of their financial life. 

And they said, yes, So, um, I sent them an invite to elements, obviously. Um, they spent a few minutes doing that. We did some back and forth over the phone and over text. Uh, clarifying and cleaning up the data to make sure it was good enough. And then I asked if I could come over one evening after the kids go to bed. And I went over at about [00:03:00] nine 30 in the evening so that we could talk money and I planned to only spend maybe 30 minutes with them to just kind of review their financial situation, orient them to their situation and answered their questions. And what happened was really interesting. 

And eventually it took about two hours that I was there and we had a really, really meaningful conversation. And how this happened was we sat down. I sat down on the couch, across from them. We opened up their elements app. And I said, let’s just spend 10 minutes orienting you to your comprehensive, your holistic financial situation. I started with total term. 

For those of you who are familiar with helmets. Now that total term is calculated by taking someone’s net worth, dividing it by their spending. And the story behind this score is it tells us how many years a person can live off of their entire net worth. Assuming nothing changes. It’s really good and easy to understand story for the client. So I start with total term, they had a pretty healthy total term score, pretty high for someone in their situation. [00:04:00] Then I went through the rest of that bottom row of elements. For those of you who are familiar with it, you’ll know that these are what I call our term elements or our asset mix. Right. 

Each of these are telling the same story. How many years can I live off of this thing? We started. I started with liquid term for them. That’s the yellow one on the bottom left liquid term. calculated by taking someone’s liquid assets divided by their spending. It tells us how many years they can live off their liquidity. 

In some cases, this is a proxy for their emergency fund. For someone like this. Where they’re very ambitious. They want to open a business. Liquidity is even more important to them beyond just the emergency fund. So I explained what liquid term was. I said, this is a really good situation. I think it was like a one and a half LT score. And for just a fraction of a second, I noticed that they both looked at each other. He raised his eyebrows. She looked at him and tilted her head a little bit. And then they looked back at their phones and it was a really [00:05:00] interesting nonverbal cue that I wanted to double-click on. 

So I pulled that thread and I said, Hey, well, hold on. Before we keep going, what just happened here? 

W why are you guys giving each other that? Look, tell me more about what’s going on here. And what was really, really interesting is this is the best thing that could have happened in this conversation. What was otherwise going to be a very simple, straightforward conversation, turned into be. A conversation that has changed their lives. And what happened, essentially. 

It was this short story is. He works for a company right now, and he does not get along with the superiors. The supervisors don’t. Uh, vibe well with his work, he doesn’t vibe well with them. Uh, he’s been thinking about quitting for some time, they’re having a performance review right now. He is feeling uneasy about what the prospects are. 

And essentially what happened was that very morning he had a performance review. They said they were going to review it over the weekend. And then they were going to talk again on Monday to create like a plan of action. Um, and he said, this is really interesting to me because are [00:06:00] you telling me that like, if I didn’t work for a full year and a half, I would be okay. 

I said, yeah. If you keep your spending on track, continue doing the things you need. Technically you could live for a year and a half on your entire liquidity. So that’s really interesting. I never thought about it that way. We carried on with the conversation. Uh, I ended up opening a can of worms. Well, what happened was on Monday. He got laid off. Unexpectedly. Uh, his wife texted me and let me know. 

I gave him a call. I went over that evening. I asked how he’s feeling and he said, you know what? If we would not have had that conversation on Friday, I would be miserable. Terrified. Anxiety written. Unsure of what my future looks like. But I know I have enough liquidity and I’m doing okay. Just that very thing of pulling that thread. Going down that rabbit hole with them. Help them resolve an emotional burden that was going to happen a few days later. So what’s the point. 

Why do I share this story? Well, in my conversation with Ashley, we talk a lot about the emotional jobs of financial advice. Finances are inherently [00:07:00] emotional. There’s a lot of feelings involved in them. There’s a lot of triggers. The problem is, is we can’t be so sequential. And so, um, process oriented when it comes to understanding someone’s emotions around their money. 

So often the most valuable emotional conversations we have with our clients happen out of the blue. After something happened when they’re viewing something. Now, this is one of the reasons that I personally really, really love elements and why I’ve chosen to do the things that I’m doing right now, which has spent all of my days. Talking about elements. That reason is if I get really good at presenting someone’s financial situation to them. And. And good at asking them questions and turning it back to them. 

What I am doing there is I’m giving myself the opportunity to notice, just to notice and be curious. When the client is triggered from something. In a good way in a negative way. It doesn’t matter. I want to give them the space to [00:08:00] react to things. And for me to capture that reaction, because it’s in those reactions that I’ll be able to build a very deep and meaningful relationship. 

Why. Because people don’t have other people to talk to about their money and you are that person. 

So think about that. Are you being curious in your financial interactions? This does not mean you have to set up an entirely separate conversation just around values, just around emotions. No. In fact, many clients don’t want that many clients just want you to do the job that they hired you to do. But for you then to add additional value would be to be curious. To identify those moments in which you need to step in. And pull those threads. So, if you want to learn more about this stick around because next week. I will show the full conversation I had with Ashley, where we explore this and many other topics related to that. So message me on LinkedIn. 

Let me know what you think. Do you agree? Are there times and experiences where you have sat in front of a client and [00:09:00] just by being curious, You’re able to find that thread, the pole and change that client’s life. I’d love to hear from you. And with that. I’ll see you next week. 

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