How Financial Counselors Are Like Doctors…for Your Money

By Alicia Kellebrew
NFCC Certified Financial Professional
Village Financial Resource Center

I am curious at exactly what point talking about money became taboo. We all grew up with the understanding (whether spoken or not) that this topic was NOT considered “polite dinner conversation.” Well, anyone that knows me knows that while I do understand and appreciate social etiquette, the phrase “inquiring minds want to know” is one of my personal mantras so money topics are not hands-off for me.

In speaking with many diverse populations through my position as a financial counselor, I find that a large percentage of the population didn’t grow up talking about money and how to manage it. Without this knowledge being passed down and with everyone feeling like it is inappropriate to talk about money, it doesn’t surprise me that people have a hard time seeking out financial advice when they need it.

We don’t hesitate to seek out a doctor or dentist when we are having those types of difficulties. So why shouldn’t we be proactive in seeking out assistance when we are having financial troubles? That is the exact reason my position exists, and, truth be told, financial counselors are pretty similar to doctors – except the treatment is for your money. Think about these points:

  1. We Have Seen and Heard It All Before – Many people get concerned that we’re going to fall off our chairs when we learn about their situation. But we have seen both ends of the spectrum: people who are just starting to struggle and feel uncomfortable and those who have been struggling for years and feel like there is no way out. We will meet you wherever you are financially and go from there. Doctors know about physical health and problems; we understand financial health and problems.
  1. What You Share With Us is Confidential – No matter how many times we say this in our disclosures and tell clients this directly, they are afraid of someone they know finding out what their situation is. We are professionals that respect and protect the privacy of each and every one of our clients – you know, like a doctor!
  1. We Are a Non-Judgmental Objective Resource For Information – When you come in to meet with us, we won’t judge you based on your situation or mistakes you’ve made. We are just glad that you are taking some proactive steps in the right direction. We are there to provide information and resources so you can make the best decision for you and your circumstances.
  1. Experience Guides Us – We have the benefit of not only our formal training, but also hearing from others like you regarding what works. We have been trained in financial topics, have had our own personal experiences with finances throughout our lives, and have heard directly from other clients about areas where they struggle and ways they overcame those struggles. This is beneficial because what works best for one person may not work best for another. The more ideas and suggestions we can provide, the more likely you are to find one that will click for you. Like a doctor improves through years of practice, so do financial counselors.
  1. Our Ultimate Goal is to Help You Get on Track to be Healthier (Financially)- We are here to listen, help identify patterns (both those that are holding you back and those that will help you), offer advice, provide information on resources available, and cheer you on as you work towards your financial goals. There is nothing we love more than to see our clients get back on track and meet their financial goals because we know that financial difficulties can have a major impact on other aspects of health.

Bottom Line: Just as you wouldn’t hesitate to make an appointment with your doctor or dentist for physical health concerns, you shouldn’t hesitate to reach out for financial advice as needed. The sooner you seek help, the more likely it is that there will be workable options to get you where you want to be in a timely manner. After all, we are here to help and would love nothing more than to see you succeed!