Teletherapy Offers Best Practices For Financial Planners Troubled By COVID-19 | KLBK | KAMC
“Facilitating Virtual Client Meetings for Financial Conversations: A Multidisciplinary Perspective on Skills and Strategies for Financial Planners,” was recently published in the Journal of Financial Planning. Among its 10 co-authors, six from TTU.
LUBBOCK, Texas (press release) – The following is a press release from Texas Tech University:
Over the past few decades, personal finance has become an increasingly virtual business. With the proliferation of mobile banking services, smartphone apps and debit cards, fewer and fewer money transactions are done face-to-face. And yet, last year, when COVID-19 shut down businesses and sent most of the world online, the financial planning industry found itself in the same chaos as most other industries.
Some firms, particularly large firms and those that specialize in younger clients, were already virtually established. Many others were not. When they found themselves forced to communicate only online, sometimes with older clients who prefer to operate face-to-face, they struggled. It wasn’t just about how to plan and participate in virtual meetings, of course. There were also questions such as whether a virtual platform allowed planners and clients to enjoy the same quality of interaction, whether they understood each other, and whether those interactions actually led to the desired outcomes for the client.
Academically, this was virtually uncharted territory – almost no research had been done on virtual client meetings in personal financial planning. However, virtual meetings with clients have been studied in other areas, particularly in therapy and counseling.
“The COVID-19 environment has propelled the virtual platform to the forefront as the primary means of connecting with customers – with the recognition that we really know very little about how business interaction works – client and affects client outcomes when the relationship is primarily lived through this modality, ”said Sarah Asebedo, Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) and Assistant Professor in the Department of Personal Financial Planning at Texas Tech University. “This lack of research, this significant change in modality and the need for expert advice motivated a collaborative research project.”
So she began to reach out to colleagues at the College of Humanities. The resulting collaborative and interdisciplinary research has the potential to draw lessons learned in one area and adapt them for success in another. Their article “Facilitating Virtual Client Meetings for Financial Conversations: A Multidisciplinary Perspective on Skills and Strategies for Financial Planners” was recently published in the Journal of Financial Planning. Among his 10 co-authors, six from Texas Tech:
- Asebedo, director of the Graduate Certificate in Life-Centered Financial Planning at Texas Tech, past president of the Financial Therapy Association and editor of the Journal of Financial Therapy;
- Dorothy B. Durband, Certified Financial Advisor (AFC®), Professor of Personal Financial Planning and Associate Dean for Academics and Faculty at the College of the Humanities and Social Sciences;
- Stephen Fife, Certified Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), Associate Professor and Director of the Couples, Marriage and Family Therapy Program and co-developer of the Therapeutic Pyramid, an innovative and award-winning model of psychotherapy;
- Blake T. Gray, CFP®️, doctoral student and research assistant in personal financial planning who has already spent eight years virtually serving Vanguard clients;
- Jaclyn Cravens Pickens, LMFT, associate professor in the Couples, Marriage and Family Therapy program who specializes in the influence of technology on relationships and the practice of relational teletherapy; and
- Gerald “Jerry” Sheridan, Certificate graduate in Life-Centered Financial Planning from Texas Tech, who now focuses on retirement preparation, planning and lifestyle pursuit as a Registered Investment Advisor.
“Financial planners have great relationships with clients and know a lot about their health, mindset, family, etc.,” Gray said. “Suddenly planners and clients were disconnected from each other and both parties from their typical social networks. For this reason, there was general concern about our customers. We wanted to help both the client and the planner overcome the barriers to effective virtual communication in a way that preserves the human relationship. The fact that we didn’t have to step outside of Texas Tech to access so many experts is quite indicative of the university’s research capacity and reputation.
“It also speaks to the collaborative nature of the faculty at the College of Humanities,” Asebedo added. “During a busy and troubling time, we have come together to produce a timely and important document. More generally still, the authors were primarily from leading humanities financial planning programs at Texas Tech, University of Georgia, and Kansas State University. This indicates that humanities financial planning programs are well positioned with research and practice experts in personal finance, therapy, psychology and counseling to address important issues related to client relationships and behaviors in the field. the financial field.
The work resulted in a set of best practices that financial planners can use in virtual meetings to meet client needs without sacrificing the commitment of face-to-face interaction.
“Sometimes we see technology as suboptimal when compared to face-to-face, but there is some evidence to suggest that the virtual modality – when done right and adopted by the professional – can play a vital role in strengthening relationships with clients and giving them more flexibility and choice in how and where they meet their professional advisor, ”said Asebedo. “Seeing virtual interaction this way, as opposed to a secondary option when face-to-face isn’t possible, is a subtle but impactful shift in perspective. “
Much research remains to be done on the role of virtual meetings in financial planning, but Asebedo believes this study could serve as a starting point.
“We hope this paper will initiate more research on virtual services,” said Asebedo, “and help finance professionals adopt it as a viable modality to connect with clients more regularly.”
(Texas Tech University press release)