I am a Grief Recovery Specialist, which means that I have been extensively trained in a program called the Grief Recovery Method® to help those process a loss in their lives.  The loss does not have to simply be from the death of a spouse or loved one, it can be from the loss for a relationship through relocation, divorce or separation, career change, or changes in a life-long friendship.  This is not counseling, it is helping someone understand their role in that relationship, the impact of loss, and how to proceed into their new future. It is analytical, which works well for my statistical brain.  During my training in Grief Recovery, one of my biggest takeaways is the process of allowing someone to tell their story.  It is okay for me to ask thoughtful questions, many of times it is helpful for a person to be able to share the details of their loss. I have learned to ask the questions and then be quiet.  (If you don’t know me personally yet, this is hard for me, I loooooove to talk!) By being a good listener after asking a simple question like, “Have you ever experienced anything like this before in your life?” I can understand how someone has dealt with grief in the past.  This bit of knowledge is priceless.

Why am I telling you about the process and how is it relevant to financial advice?

Giving financial advice is personal.  I cannot help guide a family towards their future goals without understanding their relationship with money.  Programs that aggregate accounts and project pie charts are helpful in tools of budgeting, but not for setting goals in long-term financial planning. With online programs there is no one asking about your relationship with money.  For example, “How did you come to save this amount?”  The answer could be the lotto, or simple hardcore savings of 30% of each paycheck since your first job as a dishwasher in high school.  “Why did you accumulate this debt?”  The debt is represented as the pink triangle on an online pie chart, but in reality, there was a story behind it.  Perhaps your wife was sick, so you took a leave of absence to care for her in the final months of life and you used your credit to help support the daily budget after your cash reserve was exhausted. With specific, thoughtful questions we can learn and understand so much more which will result in advice that is specific and thoughtful for each client.

Please know that gathering information is so much more than statements and input of numbers…it is about learning the story surrounding your experiences with money.  As advisors we need to ask the poignant questions and then listen. I am proud to say that my role as a Grief Recovery Specialist has made me a better advisor because I ask myself to be a listener and therefore a blessing in someone’s future.