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Practice Management

How to help your clients deal with financial stress

Money can be a source of stress for many Americans. For instance, 73% of Americans say money is their biggest stressor, ahead of politics, work and family life. Student loan debt, a lack of savings and uncertainty over retirement add additional stress for millennials who are entering their prime earning and saving years.

In talking with clients, you have an opportunity to address the most common sources of financial stress and help develop solutions to counter them.

Here are some practical tips for helping clients feel confident during stressful or uncertain times.

1. Identify their pain points.

When talking with clients about financial concerns, it helps to ask the right questions. For example, younger clients may be worried about balancing student loan debt repayment with saving for retirement or planning for the birth of a second child. Older clients may be worried about having enough life insurance coverage or how long their savings will last in retirement.

2. Check their foundation.

A budget and spending plan are some of the most important financial tools clients can have. If clients don't have a budget in place, encouraging them to create one could help alleviate financial stress.

This may be especially important in situations where a client has undergone a major lifestyle change, such as the loss of a spouse. Getting organized and taking stock of financial accounts, spending and saving could help eliminate some of the worries clients have about their money situation. It can also help them determine where weak spots in their plan reside, such as overspending or a lack of emergency savings.

3. Prioritize for the short term.

Tackling financial stress may be challenging for clients when there are competing issues or goals. If clients are overwhelmed by different aspects of their financial situation, prioritizing can help them get perspective on what they should be addressing first.

4. Remind clients about the bigger picture.

Clients can feel stressed if they don't have a clear idea of what they want to achieve with their money. With clear goals, it becomes easier to formulate a plan for following through. Having that plan in place can help ease uncertainty about the future because the next steps are already mapped out. Continue to remind your clients about what they hope to achieve and why their goals are important.

5. Highlight the positive.

Your clients may have mixed feelings about their finances, but it's important for them to be able to pick out the positives. Tracking the progress they've made so far can be a reminder of how far they've come when they're feeling stressed about what they haven't yet been able to achieve with their money.

6. Provide support when needed.

The role financial professionals play in the lives of their clients continues to evolve. Clients may share personal information with their advisor beyond basic financial data. If you notice financial stress may be interfering with your client's daily life, you may consider asking if they have a trusted support system or guide them toward resources that can help such as this infographic from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Keeping these things in mind can help reduce stress for your clients. And, more importantly, it can help keep them motivated and working toward improving their financial future.

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