Dealing With Clients Who Are Emotional About Money

Have you ever had a client who treated every suggestion like an accusation? Who reacted emotionally whenever you asked questions about their budget or made observations about their financial goals?

It can be an incredibly frustrating experience for a financial planner, but chances are you’ll have to work with clients like this throughout your career. Many people are emotional about money, and they often lash out at those who are trying to help them. 

So how should you handle clients who react emotionally to every suggestion you offer? It really boils down to perspective, flexibility, and patience.

Perspective: Recognize the source of the emotions

When you’re working with emotional clients, the first thing to understand is the underlying cause of their reactions. Your clients might be arguing with (and even yelling at) you, but you must be able to look beyond that and recognize that it’s not really about you

People who are emotional about money usually have a lot of internalized misconceptions about finances. They might have grown up with parents who managed money poorly. They may have spent a lot of time listening to popular financial experts who take a “blame and shame” approach, constantly harping on the “evils” of debt and implying that all money problems are self-caused.

When clients internalize that guilt and shame, they tend to be extremely defensive. They automatically assume that financial advice is really just a way to tell them what they did wrong. When clients lash out at you, especially over basic things like making a budget, take a minute to remind yourself that there’s something bigger going on.

Flexibility: Be patient but firm

As a financial planner, you have to figure out how to adapt your approach and support each client’s unique goals, strengths, and weaknesses. Before you can give customized advice, however, you may need to help a client work through their emotions and misconceptions.

The main thing to focus on is consistency. Avoid the temptation to react or fight back when your clients get emotional or argumentative. Be encouraging, and offer advice from a positive viewpoint: not telling your clients to “fix their mistakes,” but giving them the tools to reach their goals. 

Patience: Commit to the long haul

It can take a long time for clients to work through money shame and guilt. You might have to spend months, or even years, working with clients to help them overcome those emotions. But the end result is worth it. 

You get to watch your clients move from fear to confidence. It’s extremely satisfying to see someone find the freedom to make logical financial decisions without guilt and shame.

With emotional clients, a slow-and-steady approach is key

It’s not uncommon for people to get emotional about money. But as a financial planner, your job is to help your clients move beyond that emotion-based decision-making. By continuing to take an objective, logic-based approach to financial conversations, you can help your clients get off the emotional roller coaster and work toward a solid financial plan.

Have you dealt with an overly emotional client before? How did you help them take a logical approach to their finances instead? Add your thoughts in the comments!

Every client is different and requires a unique approach. Want to learn exactly how to modify your planning sessions to address each client’s specific needs? Join Amplified Planning CORE, our one-of-a-kind training program. 

With CORE, you aren’t stuck reading textbooks or filling out worksheets. Instead, you get to watch recordings of real-life client sessions with behind-the-scenes commentary from expert planners. You’ll get a peek into their thought processes and see exactly how they interact with their clients – even the difficult ones. Get all the details on CORE (and COMMUNITY) to see if it’s right for you.