Financial Health Game
Have You Had an Honest Conversation About Your Money? Two local advisers offer offer a holistic approach to your finances
by Lawrence Ineno
When it comes to managing your finances, it’s never about the money. At least that’s the perspective of Chris Battreall and Terry Swehla, two financial advisers based in Modesto. According to them, it’s how we feel about our money that matters. In fact, they’re convinced that money, by itself, is good for very little. Rather, it’s our personal views and our relationship with money that gives it the power to create happiness or cause suffering. This arguably anti-money viewpoint challenges long-held assumptions. And it may sound odd coming from professionals whose job is to manage their clients’ money. But it represents the holistic and cutting-edge approach of their financial advisory, United Capital.
The truth is that most of us were raised without talking about or learning how to make decisions involving money. As a result, figuring out what money means to each of us often seems like an impossible task. And more importantly, our uncertainty has forced many of us to find our own way, which has most likely led us to make many mistakes.
For Chris and Terry, both CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals (CFP®), empowering their clients to have complete control over their financial lives is their goal. A core part of how the two advisers meet this objective lies in Honest Conversations®, which is United Capital’s proprietary exercise.
“Before we dive into providing financial advice, we must first learn about our clients’ hopes, dreams and fears, and Honest Conversations is a fast and powerful way to do this,” says Chris. In the activity, the two CFP’s use a deck of color-coded cards to guide their clients through a series of exercises that identify their Money Mind®, of which there are three: Fear, Happiness, and Commitment. Each has a primary concern and a typical frustration.
One of the three dominates over the others, and all have strengths and weaknesses. “Think of your Money Mind like a lens you’d find in glasses. You’ve probably heard the expression about wearing rose-colored glasses,” says Terry. He explained that just as pink glasses would tint everything you saw pink, your primary Money Mind does the same for your financial life by influencing every major money decision you’ll ever make.
Terry, a former Lutheran minister, compares his experience counseling individuals and families as a parish pastor with his work as a wealth adviser. “My previous career taught me empathy and how to listen—especially during the most difficult times in people’s lives. And I use that skill set every day to meet my client’s needs,” Swehla says.
For Chris and Terry, Honest Conversations deepens their relationship with their clients. The exercise also facilitates a healthy dialogue between couples. “I’ve witnessed wives tear up as a result of sharing their greatest concerns with their husbands…things they’d never disclosed before. As a result, we were able to get to the bottom of our clients’ feelings about money and their bigger concerns,” says Chris.
From the moment we can understand language, we’re presented with conflicting views about money. If we love money, we’re greedy and if we hate it, we’re irresponsible. In fact, survey after survey reinforces the same fact: People feel that they are not well trained when it comes to making financial decisions. In addition, many feel that the only winners are the big financial institutions selling investment solutions.
Chris and Terry are convinced that Honest Conversations can play a powerful role in bringing insight into how people make decisions. They’ve witnessed how understanding one’s Money Mind has helped their clients, as their company says, “Lead their One Best Financial Life®.” To try the free online Money Mind Analyzer, visit www.honestconversations.com.