Most people might agree on what $100 can buy. But the value of that $100 can vary from person to person.
That proposition is at the heart of finology, the study of the internal relationship people have with money. The concept is now being taught in continuing education courses for certified financial planners.
Four CE classes were held Dec. 8, marking the first time that continuing education has been offered in the category of the psychology of financial planning, said Jacob Wagner, chief executive of Digital Marketing 4P.
The focus of finology is not the accumulation of wealth but rather the way people use money to find joy in life.
“Wealth as well-being would be the bottom line, rather than maximizing profit,” Wagner said.
Wagner has been working with his sister, Natalie Wagner Willis, to create the CE courses and promote the field of finology. They’re continuing the work of their late father, Richard B. “Dick” Wagner, who was a financial planning pioneer.
The elder Wagner was instrumental in the development of holistic financial planning, a concept he introduced in a paper published in the January 1990 edition of the Journal of Financial Planning. He continued to write until his sudden death in 2017 at 68.
Dick Wagner stressed that understanding a client’s life is the foundation for providing financial advice. The life planning theme continues in finology CE courses.
“We’re looking at how a hard, quantifiable $100 means something different to every human being,” said Wagner Willis, owner of VitalFinancials and a money wellness coach. That approach “is how we’re going to get to the heart of things.”
Charlotte Mabry, chief executive of Delphi Wealth Management, took the finology CE classes last month.
“I enjoyed it a great deal,” Mabry said.
She embraces finology because it enables her to work with clients on a deeper level beyond focusing on the growth of their accounts.
“Anybody can spit out metrics,” Mabry said. “[Finology] addresses the human side of money. How you feel about money has a lot to do with your cultural values and beliefs. What is sacred to one person doesn’t matter at all to another.”
Finology emphasizes lateral, or creative thinking, rather than vertical, or linear, thinking, Jacob Wagner said. That approach encourages advisers to ask their clients a series of questions in order to peel back the layers of their relationship to money.
“You say ‘yes and’ to things,” Wagner said.
That kind of training can strengthen the adviser-client bond.
“They’re looking for that planner to bring human skills to the relationship,” Wagner Willis said. “Their value offer is the human skills that are finology.”
Jacob Wagner added: “Robo-advisers can’t do this work.”
The December finology workshop was the first of many, the Wagner siblings said.
“Our intention is to create numerous life planning-focused CE events to train financial planners in their real value, the value that they provide to their clients’ lives on a personal level,” Jacob Wagner said.
That’s what their dad would have wanted.
“I feel we’ve inherited this calling,” Wagner Willis said.
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