As the profession evolves, practitioners are recognizing the financial planning process involves understanding how and why people think, feel and behave in a way to achieve optimal financial well-being.
The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards recently added psychology of financial planning as a knowledge topic to its educational requirements, recognizing the need for financial planners to understand the human aspects of money.
To address this need, UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences department of financial planning, housing and consumer economics, and UGA Online have launched a new Online Graduate Certificate in Behavioral Financial Planning and Financial Therapy.
“This graduate certificate takes a deep dive into not only understanding why people do what they do with money, but also teaches skills, techniques, and tools to help clients get to where they want to be,” said Kristy Archuleta, FACS professor, and instructor in the certificate program.
In a world where technology is rapidly advancing and replacing technical aspects of the financial planning process, it’s more important than ever for advisors to connect to their clients in more meaningful ways, Archuleta added.
“Financial technology has quickly developed to help professionals with the technical aspects of creating a plan,” she said. “In this way, technology has created opportunities for financial planners, but has augmented the opportunities in which planners need to develop better relationships with their clients and help clients change behaviors, mindsets and relationships around money that get in the way of people meeting their financial and life goals.”
Here, Archuleta answers some questions about the new program.
Can you elaborate on “behavioral financial planning” and “financial therapy”? How is this relatively new field distinct from traditional approaches?
“These are two different areas of study and practice that overlap in many ways. Behavioral financial planning is something we coined here in the financial planning program at UGA to represent the human aspects of financial planning across a variety of domains like financial counseling, financial psychology and financial literacy. Human aspects refer to the psychological (thinking, feeling, behaving) and relational aspects that influence what people do with their money and how they make decisions. Traditionally, financial planning among other financial service fields has assumed people make rational decisions based on financial information, but research increasingly shows that we do not. The Financial Therapy Association refers to financial therapy helping people change how they think, feel, behave, and/or relate to others around money to meet goals using therapeutic modalities and interventions.”
What should students expect when pursuing this certificate?
“Students should expect an engaging experience that complements but is also different from, the traditional financial planning program. Students can expect self-exploration as a way to understand their own clients and work with their own clients more effectively. This is a rigorous
program that involves immersive writing and group discussions to help students dive deeper into their own stories and how these stories impact and show up for others.”
How would this program benefit or complement a student’s experience in the FACS financial planning program?
“Our financial planning program is designed to teach the technical skills of creating a financial plan along with communication skills to build strong planner-client relationships. This certificate allows students to understand the people they are working with and how to help them move their clients from where they are at the current moment to where they want to be in the future.”
Visit the Graduate Certificate in Behavioral Financial Planning and Financial Therapy program page to learn more.