How to Tell if Your Clients' Need Financial Therapy

A question I’m often asked is, “how do I know if my clients need Financial Therapy?” It’s pretty easy to tell for me, but I’ve also been doing this for over a decade. It may not be as simple for others to tell. Usually, I respond with a question, “are your clients making emotional decisions that cost them, and you, money?" Surprisingly, the answer is usually a resounding "yes." But there are times when that question may be too vague. 

If you don’t know when your clients need Financial Therapy, they may not either. Which means they continue to do the same things that keep costing them and you money. That’s why I’m sharing 5-signs you can look for to determine if your clients need Financial Therapy. Later we can discuss how to guide them to Financial Therapy, but for now let’s start with gaining awareness as the trusted advisor. 

I recently asked a colleague this question and he answered no. Which made me believe that he may not have understood the question. In my professional experience it’s rare for me to meet someone who doesn’t make emotional money decisions. However, they may not understand that’s what they’re doing. So I’ve created five more key indicators that might suggest your clients could benefit from financial therapy. 

  1.  Acting First and Thinking Later: A common trait I’ve observed, particularly those new to wealth, is the tendency to act impulsively without considering the consequences. This could result from an overconfidence in their financial safety net. Often when people have new money they think it’s more than it actually is or that it will last longer than it actually does. Pressure to prove themselves to others may also spark an impulsive, poorly thought out decision. 

Even long-standing wealthy clients may fall prey to this behavior, especially if they lack clear goals or purpose. When money becomes a commodity that they no longer see as valuable, they can make decisions that feel good in the moment without thinking about the long term implications. The results can be disastrous, leading to poor investment decisions, financial mistakes, or regrettable transactions and purchases. This brings me to number two.

  1.  Regret and Second-Guessing: Clients who act impulsively often experience regret and second-guess their decisions later on. They might compare themselves to others, like family members or colleagues, leading to feelings of inadequacy. When they look back on how they made the decision they may look down on themselves and be disappointed. 

However, they may not want to own the mistake so they will shift the blame to someone else. That could be you. As their trusted advisor, understanding this pattern can help you better navigate their financial journey and build stronger trust. After they’ve regretted a few of their decisions they will lose trust in themselves. If you aren’t able to talk them out of their patterns they will start to second guess you too and question the authority they’ve given you over their assets or life.

  1.  Getting Stuck or Refusing to Take Action: A telltale sign that financial therapy might be necessary is when clients get stuck in a decision-making process or avoid taking action altogether. They could say yes and then a few minutes later say no. They could ask for more information and hesitate even more after receiving the new information.

This paralysis could stem from various emotional factors, such as anxiety or confusion. Some clients even get depressed if they have to make too many decisions at one time. This overwhelm triggers the fight or flight response. As their financial professional, you can provide gentle support and encouragement, helping them work through their emotions and move forward slowly by breaking things down into smaller decisions.

  1.  People-Pleasing and Playing the Victim: Clients who constantly seek approval from others, or "people please," often find themselves feeling victimized when their generosity is taken advantage of. Setting clear boundaries is essential, and this is where financial therapy can play a pivotal role in helping clients build self-awareness and assertiveness.

Finding your clients' generosity lines is key to helping them understand how and when to say no. Many wealthy people are generous, despite society's program that rich people are greedy. They may have a high desire to accumulate wealth, but that desire isn’t mutually exclusive from being generous. 

If your clients have foundations they donate to and they are clear as to what causes are important to them, they can say no with ease. If they are asked to support a charity that isn’t aligned with their charitable plan the decision is clear. When clients have a set amount of money, time, or energy that they are willing to share each week, month, or year they can set clear boundaries in their head so their heart doesn’t get them in the way.

  1.  Ignoring Your Calls and Seeking Immediate Attention: You’ve heard the phrase; “hurry up and wait,” right? Well some clients force you to wait and then hurry up. If your clients start avoiding your calls but then contact you frantically expecting an immediate responses this has Financial Therapy written all over it. It’s usually not a cry for help asking for assistance to change their behavior, it’s more likely an indication of emotional distress or an urgent need for guidance in the moment because they’ve already made the wrong choice. 

Understanding this behavior can help you strike a balance between accountability and patience, tailoring your approach to best support them. If their maladaptive behavior is rewarded with you jumping to their rescue, they are likely to repeat the behavior. The worst feedback loop a client can get caught in is one when they make a poor choice and then rewarded for the behavior. I see this with my young adults that have always had money or my athletes and entertainers who make other people rich so nobody wants to hold them accountable. 

Everyone is afraid that if they call them out on their stuff, they will be casted out and the money will be cut off, so they support the behavior even though they know it’s detrimental to the client. I’ve seen this with athletes like Johnny Menziel and Dennis Rodman. 

If you'd like to explore further resources and expert guidance, consider joining The Presidential Lifestyle community, where we focus on providing professionals that work with wealthy clients FREE Financial Therapy tools. I do this because there’s a lot of misinformation out there. My goal is to support you while you grow and preserve your clients wealth.

Recognizing these five signs in your clients could be the key to enhancing your services and also your relationship with them. Remember, as their trusted advisor, your role extends beyond just crunching numbers, offering legal advice, providing nutrition guidance, or recommending a property purchase. Embracing financial therapy principles can help you forge deeper connections with your clients, build trust, and guide them towards making more mindful and informed decisions.


Get Access to Valuable Resources Sign-up to receive the Prosperity Report.