As one of the cornerstones of the M.Q. Financial Life Planning toolkit, the Financial Satisfaction Survey (FSS) is likely part of your client meeting process, but are you using it to its full potential? The Financial Satisfaction Survey addresses both the emotional and rational realms of an individual’s financial life and provides a means for identifying areas that need strengthening. In addition, the survey provides you with a wonderful opportunity to facilitate important and meaningful financial conversations by focusing attention on the critical components of financial well-being. Here are a few tips to guide your discussions around the completed FSS:
- When possible, ask your clients and prospective clients to return their completed Financial Satisfaction Surveys prior to meeting with you. This allows time to review responses and formulate questions.
- When meeting with a couple, make sure the dominant spouse/partner does not monopolize the conversation or your attention. Allow time and space for each spouse/partner to feel heard, respected, and validated.
- In your initial discussion with an individual about his/her FSS responses, strive to be non-judgmental. Resist the temptation to state conclusions and offer solutions. Remember, the FSS is primarily a discovery and awareness tool.
- When initiating a conversation with an individual about his/her FSS responses, ask, “Were there any surprises?” “What did you learn about yourself from completing this exercise?”
- Next, discuss areas of greatest satisfaction (survey items scored 4 or 5). Because, many people have a sense of guilt or shame about their financial lives, it is helpful to focus first on areas they feel good about. This approach will help clients to relax and to reflect on their successes. Ask, “What factors, actions, or circumstances have contributed to feeling good about these areas of your financial life?” This exploration will help you to learn about the skills and attributes that can be applied to areas that need strengthening.
- From a discussion of areas of high satisfaction, move the conversation to areas of moderate financial satisfaction (survey items scored a 3). Ask, “What factors, actions, or circumstances have contributed to a moderate level of satisfaction in these areas of your financial life?” “What improvements in these areas of your financial life would increase your level of satisfaction?” “Was there a time in the past when you would have scored a 4 or 5 in any of these areas? If so, tell me about that.” “What would have to change in order to increase your level of satisfaction to a 4 or 5 in these areas?” These questions will stimulate possibility thinking and help your client to build a clearer vision of a financial life that is successful and satisfying.
- Lastly, discuss areas where clients are least satisfied (survey items scored 1 or 2). Ask, “What factors, actions, or circumstances have contributed to your dissatisfaction in these areas of your financial life?” “What improvements in these areas of your financial life would increase your level of satisfaction?” “Was there a time in your past when you would have given any of these areas a higher score? If so, tell me about those occasions or situations.” “What would have to change in order to increase your level of satisfaction in any of these areas by a point or two?” These questions will help your clients to engage in creative thinking in areas of least satisfaction and to identify some specific ways to make improvements.
- The FSS will help you to initiate meaningful dialogue with your clients and to focus your conversations effectively. Allow your innate interest and curiosity to guide you in framing additional inquiry.
- Make notes of key points that surface in your conversation with your client—do not try to rely on your memory alone. Use your notes to focus your thinking on your client and increase your understanding of his/her perspective, needs, circumstances, values, priorities, and aspirations. Also use your notes to guide future meetings and to create an action plan.
Editor’s Note: The Financial Satisfaction Survey is included in all Money Quotient Licensing Levels. For information about becoming an M.Q. Licensee, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.