“Financial wellness” is an innocuous-sounding phrase that, when you really unpack it, carries a lot more meaning than many people realize.
What does it mean to be financially well? Financial wellness doesn’t just consist of what’s in your bank account or your investment portfolio and can extend to things not everybody thinks about — such as power of attorney or a living will — until a serious life event takes place.
I view financial wellness as a journey. And for many people, becoming financially well involves digging into some tough questions along the way.
What financial wellness means
Financial professionals like myself often assume the role of a “quarterback” with our clients — we know how to assemble the right team of specialists to move clients toward the goal of growing and protecting their assets.
But to achieve true financial wellness, it’s often necessary to go deeper. I see myself almost as a counselor, sitting with my clients to listen and learn about their unique needs and circumstances. Every financial decision has emotions behind it, and it helps me do my job better if I know what those emotions are.
In the work I do with my clients, my own personal widowhood experience helps give me empathy for the situations they’re facing.
Although my husband and I had a will, it had been decades since we last updated it — my daughter, who was 10 when the will was drafted, is 38 now. While I was busy working and raising kids, life just happened. Even as a financial professional working with clients every day to plan their financial futures, I was so focused on helping and serving others, I didn’t help myself.
I was in that position when my husband got sick. And, had I been more prepared, things might have gone much more easily and smoothly after his passing.
Confronting the big questions
I’ve come to realize that as a society, we often avoid talking about the inevitabilities of life, like death or health problems, or even the psychological effects of major milestones like retirement. While we drown in consumerism every day, we often put off the big decisions and long-term planning needed to help us face the events that lie ahead for all of us.
It can be intimidating talking about financial matters, especially if you don’t completely know where things stand or feel embarrassment at having strayed from your original intentions. I want clients to feel comfortable with me and be willing to gradually open up. By establishing trust with each other, we’re able to work together more effectively and put together a realistic plan for their future.
Financial wellness starts by getting a good understanding of one’s financial position — where your money is coming from, how it’s being spent, the amount you have in short- and long-term-savings and other investments. It can be a lot to process at once, and part of my job is to understand what’s most important to address at the moment and what can wait.
I encourage people to look for advisors who, like us at Argent, function as fiduciaries and aren’t compensated based on what financial products they recommend for clients. I don’t believe that a product alone is an answer; any recommendations I make for clients are driven solely by their needs. I’m paid the same amount of money no matter what products clients choose, so I have no personal incentive to sell them on anything.
Every situation is unique
Nobody I’ve worked with has a situation that fits neatly in a box; every situation I’ve worked with has been different. And while nobody is an expert in everything, I’m very tenacious and will find the right person and answer if I can’t provide it myself. My job is to chase down those answers.
Those who take the journey toward financial wellness will find that it’s well worth it. Financial wellness can contribute to a person’s mental health and general peace of mind, knowing that you’re as prepared as you can be for whatever the future holds.
If you’d like to discuss how we at Argent might be able to help you, contact us a call via our main number at (800) 375-4646. We’re glad to assist however we can.