On Mindfulness for Financial Planners

In “Integrating Interpersonal Neurobiology into Financial Planning: Practical Applications to Facilitate Well-Being” in May’s Journal of Financial Planning, Julie Fortin, CFP®, FBS®, CeFT®; Marlis Jansen, LMFT, FBS®; and Bradley T. Klontz, Psy.D., CFP® write about the intersection of Interpersonal Neurobiology and financial planning, and the increasing importance of the emotional intelligence of planners.
“Client satisfaction and retention will likely become increasingly dependent on a planner’s ability to increase their own self-awareness, foster deeper interpersonal relationships, and understand how clients make decisions.”

FTI and Interpersonal Neurobiology

Interpersonal Neurobiology was founded by Daniel Siegel, MD, whose work is featured in the curriculum of our yearlong course in Financial Transitions Planning here at FTI (we call it CORE). CORE also includes specific practices for many of the recommendations in this article, from listening to normalizing to creating narratives. We understand the critical part the mind and the emotions play in the relationship between planner and client.   However, we also understand that a balanced nervous system isn’t just for planner-client relationships. Planners need to learn how their own minds and nervous systems work, as well. To that end, we offer both Mindfulness for Financial Planners and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) courses, taught by yours truly. I am qualified to teach MBSR, the original 8-week course created by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979, by Brown University’s Mindfulness Center. I am also a Certified Mindful Schools Instructor, and I know no better way than daily mindfulness practice to cultivate the qualities recommended in this article. And its authors come to a similar conclusion.
“Planners who practice mindfulness can encourage clients to use mindful techniques to gain awareness of their emotions and behavior around money. When clients are stressed, they are less likely to make behavioral changes that could positively influence their financial and overall well-being (Britt, Lawson, and Haselwood 2016). When approached skillfully, the client-planner relationship can provide an optimal environment for both intrapersonal and interpersonal awareness.”

MBSR vs. Mindfulness for Financial Planners

MBSR is an 8-week, highly experiential course that requires a deep commitment to exploring the nature of the entire range of one’s human experience. Participation is in the form of daily practice of at least 45 minutes, and attendance, ideally, at all 8 classes as well as an all-day silent retreat. And yes, all of that can be done online. Most people aren’t up for that level of self-examination, though. And many who are cannot attend the classes as scheduled. Furthermore, MBSR isn’t a course that spoonfeeds its participants. You learn what you need to learn. There are pros and cons to MBSR for everyone.   For these reasons and others, I created Mindfulness for Financial Planners. It’s based on the MBSR curriculum, but it isn’t MBSR. This customized course is 6 weeks long, there is no daylong retreat, the classes are shorter (75 minutes), and the content is more specific to financial planners. It also costs $100 more. There are always pros and cons! I’m thrilled to see the financial services industry grasp the value of self-awareness, presence, and emotional agility. And I’m always happy to continue to bring MBSR and mindfulness to whoever wants it. Join me for the next MBSR course, beginning on June 4 from 6-8:30pm, ET, or for Mindfulness for Financial Planners, beginning on Thursday, June 18, from 10am-11:15am, ET. If you have any questions about either course, feel free to contact me at mary@suddenmoney.com.