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Financial Paralysis

Freezing up isn’t the way to financial success.

Here at Family Financial Partners, we are proud to be able to say that the majority – nine out of 10 – of new clients who come in to have initial conversations with us do end up choosing to work with us. To be perfectly honest however, we’d prefer to bat a thousand. We’ll always keep striving for perfection, even if we know we’ll never get there. 

Part of our efforts at perfection mean we do some analysis on those who did say no to working with our team, or never got back to us after that initial meeting, to try and understand why. We have found a couple of patterns in those folks that I want to point out. 

First, sometimes there’s just not a personality fit. We have, intentionally, a very diverse group in our office with lots of completely different personalities. This is by design, so we can best serve and match the needs of our clients. But, sometimes there’s not a match. 

Second, sometimes we simply can’t do what the family would like us to do, either from an investment standpoint or due to our philosophy. With these folks, we typically refer them to another professional who can better meet their needs. 

Lastly, and most common, the individual or couple is simply experiencing financial paralysis due to a variety of issues that can be at play, and so they never move forward with our team. Sometimes, only one spouse comes in to the initial meeting, but this person is the information-gatherer, not the decision maker. Then, the gatherer goes home with all of the notes from our meeting and tries to convince the decision-maker that they should come in together for a family meeting. This usually fails from the get-go, because if the information-gatherer was that good at expressing and explaining financial ideas, well, they’d be on our team as an advisor! 

Another form of paralysis we see is when both spouses do come in for that meeting, but it quickly becomes apparent that they can’t agree on money at all – even from a 30,000-foot view. We’re not talking about whether to take or buy lunch at work, I’m talking about whether to pay off the house, when to stop a renovation project, when to downsize, whether to send kids to private or public school, when to buy a new car and whether they need life insurance. These are just a few of the disagreements I’ve seen happen in our conference room during initial conversations. This causes financial paralysis simply because the couple can’t see eye-to-eye. On anything. We are well aware that part of our job is serving as financial therapists, but we don’t wear stripes. We aren’t referees, folks. 

The third financial paralysis we see happens when people come in and they’re completely disorganized, to the point of not having one financial document with them, even though they have a lot going on in their financial lives. The issue that plays out here is that neither party has taken a lead role within the finances, and no one is keeping up with anything. This leads to us having to pull teeth to get any financial documents, rendering our job impossible. The good news is that sometimes, as financial therapists, we are able to get past some sticking points. 

Everyone has to start somewhere, and it’s okay to have problems. But staying on that path only leads to more financial paralysis. As the years tick by, and you fail to take action, opportunities will pass you by and dreams will fade away, until there’s nothing anyone can do to help you. We can’t save everyone, but we do want the best for you and your family. 

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