Teaching the Basics Helps Move People toward Financial Health, Experts Say

As today’s financial landscape gets more and more complex, it’s become essential for people of all ages to learn personal money management, even if only at the most basic level. Recently we asked some financial experts to tell us if they spend professional time educating their clients about basic financial education topics – or financial literacy 101, as it were.

Most experts we spoke with agreed that people often need basic or refresher courses. For instance, Chase Cawyer of Navigo Wealth is a full-time physician who helps manage investment accounts for clients in the healthcare field. “A great majority of my clients do not understand basic finances much less good financial behavior,” Cawyer says. “They wouldn’t be able to meet their goals without the education.” Similarly, Rochelle Odesser of Madison Planning Group considers herself an educator. “I see first-hand how uninformed people are about money matters,” Odesser explains. “Providing educational seminars and focus on general principles of financial planning…is critical to the general population.”

Other professionals, like Priyanka Prakash of FitBiz Loans, say that basic financial literacy-programs are essential to their own bottom line. “One of our main philosophies is that educated borrowers are our best clients,” Prakash tells us. “A big part of how we close deals is by educating the client on their finances.” Debbi King, Personal Finance Coach at The ABC’s of Personal Finance, takes this notion a step further. “My goal is to not only find out the reason they are making the choices they have made and continue to make, but also to empower them with the tools they need to make positive financial decisions in the future,” she mentions. King also says many clients are looking for a “quick fix,” when there really is no quick fix for most money problems.

“They need to master the basics first,” adds Rosemary Frank of Dollars of Divorce. Frank believes in meeting people where they are, and starting from there. “If they cannot budget, they cannot save; subsequently they have nothing to invest.” Knowing the basics is part of the financial literacy definition, according to Wesley Sharp with North Star Resource Group. In Sharp’s opinion, “It is naive to start discussing the intricacies of wealth accumulation or investing without taking care of the basics first. You wouldn’t build a great house without ensuring you have a proper foundation in place first, right?”And Mission Wealth’s Jenna Rogers, who works with a lot of female business owners, dedicates an entire first meeting with a new client to financial education. “We brainstorm future life goals and map out strategies for reaching those goals from a financial standpoint,” Rogers states.

How do financial professionals go about conducting financial literacy 101? COO of Advisor Research Group, Inc. Ted Collins favors a multi-pronged approach. He offers to educate clients’ children, typically when kids are old enough to have their own money. “Walk the fine line between explaining everything, but not assuming that they know terms, definitions, practices,” Collins recommends. “Start with the underlying principles and work toward the detail…In the end, a knowledgeable client is a valuable client.”

To become prepared to face the financial future, people need to grasp the basics. That forms the first step toward financial health and wellbeing.

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