What is integrative financial coaching?


For a few years now, I’ve offered what I call “integrative financial coaching“. You may be wondering what this means. What exactly are we integrating?

The two types of traditional financial advisors

Financial advisors assist you in your financial goals. From paying down debt to planning for retirement to investing strategies, a financial advisor can help you in all areas of your financial life.

There are two main types of financial advisors, distinguished by how they make their money: fee-based and commission-based advisors. Fee-based advisors make their money solely based on what you pay them, so their advice is unbiased and without any conflict of interest. Commission-based advisors, on the other hand, make their money partially or primarily based on what you choose to spend money on.

I have the utmost respect for fee-based advisors, and very little respect for commission-based advisors, as conflict of interest seems to be built into the model. (For example, would a fee-based advisor recommend investing in loaded mutual funds?)

But both types of advisors tend to share one trait: their advice starts and stops at the ledger. They will not delve into any other details of one’s life. Just the facts, ma’am. The problem with this is that this has the effect of treating the person as a wealth-making automaton, rather than the complex, multifaceted, neurotic being that we all know we are.

You are not a spreadsheet

I believe that we sometimes make poor financial choices, not because we don’t know the best course of action, but because of unresolved issues elsewhere in our lives. And vice versa: poor financial choices can cause unresolved issues.

Money is a very intense emotional issue. It brings up feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, envy, resentment, worry, hopes, dreams, desires, and everything in between. It can be a reflection of every other aspect of our lives.

I love spreadsheets for the ability to organize my financial information. But you know what you can’t fit into a spreadsheet? You.

So to me, the idea of treating financial issues without taking into account the larger person is kind of like treating a sunburn while on the beach: you’re missing some important context.

Dr. Weil’s idea

I want to give a hat tip to Andrew Weil and his Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, who first turned me on to the idea of integrating multiple disciplines where one is typically favored. As he explains:

Integrative medicine is healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person (body, mind, and spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative.

I just love this. As someone who is skeptical not only of conventional medicine as much as alternative medicine, I like a balanced approach that takes into account the best of all possible worlds.

And so to integrative financial coaching. At its heart, integrative financial coaching creates a focus on the individual, specifically the emotional self, as just as fundamental as the finances.

Some sessions may involve a conversation that may resemble more like that of a therapist than a financial planner. And actually, in my experience, this is actually quite common. I find that once people are able to open up to issues they may be hiding, they will be in a place to make better choices.

I have seen some amazing transformations, and in not too long a period of time. People who started lost and not feeling in control have uncovered strength that led them to a new sense of grounding, and much more certain of their path. It is some of the most satisfying work I have ever done in my life. You can’t put that in a spreadsheet.

If this sounds like something that you are ready to benefit from, contact me. But even if you’re not ready for a one-on-one experience, keep coming back here (and subscribe to my mailing list) as we’ll talk more about ways that you can start this process on your own.

But enough about me: Do you see a connection between the emotional and the financial in your life?

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