How To Help Women Face Financial Fears
|By Sarah Carlson, CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®|
Sarah Carlson was a guest on Matt Halloran's Top Advisor Marketing Podcast. In this episode, Sarah dissects the common anxiety issues and challenges that women face when dealing with their financial situation.
Listen to the podcast, How To Help Women Face Financial Fears — And Live Their Best Lives With Sarah Carlson, on ProudMouth.
MATT: Welcome to the Top Advisor Marketing Podcast, brought to you by Proudmouth.
I'm your host, Matt Halloran. Being your own loud is not new to marketing, but the mindset, strategies and resources to help you get there are evolving faster than this industry is keeping up. It is time to find new perspective on what works, why, and how to move your business forward. Listen as I interview guests to help you learn from them how to be your own loud. Let's get to the show.
Hello, and welcome to another Top Advisor marketing Podcast. I'm your host, Matt Halloran. Many of you have heard the name Sheryl Hickerson. She runs Females in Finance, which is the largest female focus group in financial services, really, I think, in the world.
And when she refers somebody to me, I pretty much just jump at it because Sheryl is an unbelievable human being and I just have an enormous amount of respect for her, which in turn, I had the opportunity to meet Sarah.
Now, Sarah is a financial services professional and that's an understatement. We're going to dive into that a little bit more. But what she has built, and most importantly, what she wrote, I believe, is a game changer, not just for the industry, because it's a level of transparency in the book that a lot of you who've written books before didn't really attack.
You kind of surfacely talked about issues where Sarah really dove I think that's the right word diving into it and really explored some very, very important topics.
And we're going to talk about all of that. So, Sarah, welcome to the show.
SARAH: Hey, thank you so much, Matt. I'm so honored to be here. And you're a really big deal too. I, too, am a big fan of Sheryl, and we're really lucky in our industry to have such great leaders like yourselves. Thank you.
MATT: She's phenomenal and being a leader. So you wrote a book, right? Now, we had authors on before, but I wanted you on for a couple of reasons. Number one, because I think, again, the reality of the book that you wrote and really the feeling that went into it, I think is out of the ordinary, but it's right.
Number two, you did this while still running a very, very successful financial services practice. And you're also asked a lot because people want to emulate what you've done. And you actually have some good opinions about if people want to do basically what you want to do, that they should be realistic.
So that's kind of what we're going to talk about today. So why don't we start there? Why don't we start with why in the hell did you write a book?
SARAH: Yes. The book I wrote is called Facing Financial Fears–Eight Steps to Financial Freedom for Women.
And I focused on women I've had over a 30 year career. I'm affiliated I'm in independent space. I'm affiliated with LPL Financial, and I have seen so many ordinary people live extraordinary lives.
Financial holistic planning and wealth management so many times commonality, regardless of the size of paycheck or amount in the bank. I feel like I'm a psychologist helping people deal with their fears.
Not just fear of their money, but fear of the next step, the unknown. And that's where we as financial professionals, I mean, a lot of is asked of us, and that's one of the reason why very few people can do well in this industry, is that we juggle so much.
But where we can be really helpful is where we help clients look beyond the corner, you know, the unknown, by using history and using our information and giving them a different perspective.
MATT: I'm sorry, elaborate on that. That was a very interesting statement. For those of you who are listening this, you need to rewind 30 seconds and listen to that again.
How do you do that? How do you help people understand where they're going by focusing on history and experience like that?
SARAH: Well, let's use the current market climb situation, right? The market's in Pullback. Some would argue we're in a market meltdown. I really think it's more of a mental meltdown. If you look historically at economic data, at probably I've been through 50 of these in my career.
I personally, I don't think this is so special. I mean, honestly, when the government pumps out much cash into the system, inflation is an expected result. And recession is not a bad word.
A recession is a normal economic cycle. But when you have a portfolio and certainly if you just retired or you're just starting out and suddenly your accounts that you're looking at that's offering you stability is suddenly down 20% for most people we deal with, that's pretty scary.
And so rather than ignore it, I think it's important to talk about it and then bring color to that story and help them understand why it's happening, but also help them understand how they can benefit from it at any stage or age.
MATT: Talking about the fear, talking about people's worries, do you think that's something new? And I know that you've been in the business for quite a while, but do you think that that's something that because of the CFP and because of advanced designations and because of holistic financial planning, do you think that that is something that more advisers are embracing as the reality of what they need to offer?
Or do you still think that there's people who just quickly advisers who quickly deflect that and like, I don't want to talk about that. I want to talk about whatever pie charts and bar graphs.
SARAH: Well, I think as a society, it's a huge issue in our industry. So many times, it's so focused on moving forward and being technical, and it's easy to get lost. Like you have someone's dreams.
I mean, think about it. So many people, especially women, have more anxiety going in and talking, being real about their financial situation. They carry a lot of shame with that.
They'd be more willing to get naked in front of a new doctor than they would talk about their income and maybe the debt they might be dealing with or how big their 401K is as a society, especially for women. And I want to help the reader muster, be curious enough to muster the courage to be honest about their situation.
And then I do scare them and encourage them to take steps to then seek out advice and do something about it. So that's the big feedback I'm getting from the readers of the book is they're like, wow, you scared me.
And I'm totally taking action because the most valuable thing people have is time and energy and how you choose to spend that is so important.
So circling back to the psychology of it, I think everything starts with what's our perception, what's between our ears and how we choose to make decisions.
MATT: Let's explore that a little bit more. How do you begin that conversation, but most importantly, how do you set the expectations with clients and prospects that you are willing to have those conversations? Because I do believe that that's still somewhat out of the ordinary.
SARAH; Okay, well, certainly if you consume any of my content, I started after I went through a really contentious divorce and I started blogging, and it was through my blogging and surprisingly through channels like LinkedIn, I had people that weren't clients, didn't comment, but they'd come up to me and say, wow, you addressed this issue, which was more psychology.
They said, you were talking to me, you made a big impact. And that's when I started to realize, OK, this is interesting. There's a lot of people that consume information, but they're not vocal about it and they don't necessarily take action right away.
I want to live in a world that people with our skills and talents help everyone get a push forward. I don't want to just be an industry that helped the rich get richer. And so in my practice, we're into diversity and inclusion.
We don't have minimums, but the common thing we do have among our clients is that they're nice and they're willing to be coachable. And so I feel that by through words and writing, I can touch more people.
And that's why I wrote this book. And it's actually a book that would help other financial advisers, because my hope is that it would drive traffic to them.
MATT: And prepare them for those conversations. I think a lot of advisers want these real conversations, but I don't necessarily always think that they have the tools like your book to initiate that conversation.
And Sarah, you just said something that I want to screen. From the mountaintop sits people consuming my content. You started being very consistent with your content. It was thoughtful, meaningful, it was very Sarah right, which is really really important.
But there are so many people who you don't know that they saw your stuff because they're not liking, sharing or commenting on your posts, and all of a sudden they show up. I can't tell you, and I know this happens to you all the time. People are like, yeah, I've been following you for years. I didn't know you even existed.
SARAH: Exactly. So when people walk in the door and they come now from all different sources, they may get referred from someone, may come from a client.
A lot of them are starting to find us online because the content we produce is resonating with them. And it's not just in my geographical area. I live in Spokane, Washington. We actually have clients that live all over the world.
And so when someone comes in, I know that they have a certain level of seriousness that they are bringing to the table. And before I even meet with them, I have them do some homework.
So during that first meeting, we can really make it productive because that first complimentary meeting we give is really to make sure we're a good fit, because we're not going to be everyone's cup of tea.
Not everyone wants to get real about where their money is and why it's important to them or the challenges and the goals that they have. So in that first meeting, it allows us to really gather enough information, give some meaningful direction to the potential client. And usually at the first meeting, people know whether or not they want to engage with us.
MATT: And again, this is by design. You put out enough content that is very transparent with who you are, what you do, and why you do it. That people opt in. I want everybody to understand that marketing has fundamentally changed. People want to opt into your services. They don't want to be sold to.
And you are the living embodiment of the success of this. But let's talk about so as we were preparing for the call, I wanted I say this to everybody, I want some warts too, right? I mean, this isn't just all sunshine and rainbows. What would you have done differently?
So in your career, would you have how would you have navigated your career any differently than you did now in order to, I don't know, help more people, accelerate your process, learn more? I don't help us understand that.
SARAH: I wish I would have consumed more content like you put out, learning from people that have done it. I've grown all my book of business, all organically. I do it one person at a time.
I have made every mistake I think you can possibly make in this business. I wish I would have had a mentor and been able to talk through some of those hurdles and challenges. I think that's an opportunity today for people.
And I realize we're all really busy, and so to get someone's attention with a lot of experience might not be opportunistic, but usually there's ways to understand what they're doing by consuming what kind of information they're putting out.
So whether it's subscribing to someone's newsletter, following them on LinkedIn, checking out other social media when you're at a conference, if you have an opportunity to meet them, speaking up and making that connection, because there are lots of younger advisers that I follow and consistently connect with, and it ends up we end up learning from each other. So it's very helpful. That's the big thing I would have done differently.
MATT: Well, I hope that those of us who've been around for a bit are creating a more hospitable environment because, you know, and when both of us got into financial services, it wasn't that hospitable. It was fiercely competitive. And everybody was like, mind my mind.
And I think that the world is starting to open up a little bit where people realize that there's more than enough business to go around and we all don't have to be stabbing each other in the back. And with that, I hear often, Matt, I don't understand why women look at things so differently than men. And as a male financial services professional, which still is the massive majority in our industry, right.
How do you communicate to your fellow advisers that you do need to have a different kind of conversation with women and especially with the book? Right. So let's try to bring this back to the book and how a male financial advisor who is an advocate and wants to truly be an ally and truly help more women more successfully, how could they use your book to do a better job?
SARAH: Okay, that's a great question. And so the reason why I wrote it for women in particular, in part because I know that we get stretched so thin, I don't know if it's genetic code or certainly social norms, but we will take care of our kids, our spouses, our clients, our employers, and we always think we're going to have more time, more energy to do things for ourselves.
So as women, we tend to give ourselves away. And I myself, I have two sets of twins, I've built my business, had the success while raising all these children.
So I have a lot of empathy because I know it's a big juggle. It's very hard, and I know how easy it is to put yourself last, get lost in the shuffle. So my approach is one that strikes that emotion, helps the reader become curious.
I believe the way to go from fear to joy is through some curious steps understanding self empathy, getting some organization around it, being real about your goals, doing the financials, the balance sheet, the cash flow, the net worth, and then charting your course and also having systems in place of talking to your significant other if you're in a relationship.
I've seen so many people that have been paralyzed take some of my systems, and some of them are pretty simple in old school, but they're focused on action and their lives are transformed. I've seen people that have been so freaked out every time they come in because there's a lot of shame, and now when they come in, it's very pleasurable.
And some of the people that have been the most stuck are suddenly free, and their success gives me lift and helps me want to do more. I'm not an interesting part of my life where my children are now adulting, my youngest ones are in college and really looking forward to make a really positive impact at this stage in my career.
MATT: Hence well, let's dive into the life transition component because not only have you been a mother of multiples, which as a father of twins, as we had talked about previously, it's a lot of work. You have two sets of them.
You had a contentious divorce, as you had said earlier, but you also had a very substantial, life altering, life threatening experience. You can share whatever you want on that. And I don't necessarily mean to open a wound or anything, but because you have really lived, is that also part of this substantial desire to give back and to provide this guidance to not just your clients but the general public a little bit more?
SARAH: Absolutely. And to help your listeners understand. So when I was a young mother, I was on a due diligence trip and I was in a crosswalk in New York City, and I had a hit and run. A hit and run. The car struck me going over 20 miles an hour. I'm really lucky I lived. I had really substantial catastrophic injuries at that time. My children were all under the age of five. My younger set of twins just turned two the week before.
So anyone knows, I mean, you have one child, that's a lot of work. To have multiples, it can be a circus, it can be a real juggle. So going from suddenly being the breadwinner and the one that made everything happen to them, being an invalid and being a special needs person was very humbling.
It took a lot of through the grace of God and some amazing surgeon and a good support system, I certainly had support from my family. It took three years to get rebuilt, about eleven surgeries. I had my pelvis in over 40 pieces. So yeah, I couldn't walk for a very long time. And so chasing toddlers, my kids, when I was like, hobbling along, that was kind of a fun thing to like, to do, is run away from me because I couldn't get them right.
So I learned a lot, and through that certainly learned a lot about the industry. Who has your back? Clients were incredibly supportive. Surprisingly, I didn't lose any clients and was able to have some office staff to help me service them. I certainly wasn't growing as I was being rebuilt because I was on disability for a period of time, actually qualified for Social Security disability.
So absolutely. That was such a life learning process. What's as awful as it was, it's strange now as I look back, I realized I was so lucky to have that experience because it helped me understand and appreciate how precious life is. And at any moment, things can radically change. And for me, I had no idea that car was coming on me and hitting me until it was too late.
MATT: Let's pull from the book, right? So you said there's eight things, right? Is that the number that we had? I did my research. I just want to make sure because we get halfway into the show and I'm like, I don't remember the number. So there's eight. So if you were able to like extrapolate one or two and just say for our audience, hey, here's what those are, here's how you could use them. Could you give some people a little bit some actionable stuff from the book so that when they do buy it, they can dive into like they know where this is and they know what they want to use?
SARAH: Yeah. The first part is being curious, kind of getting over that, like having the courage, mustering the courage to be real about what your situation is through a series of stories and then some different exercises. But helping people come to grips, like, what is the motivation behind those choices, those purchases that you're making, and help them understand that there's a difference between being rich or looking rich and being wealthy. And wealth is money and resources that haven't been deployed and looking rich.
You may make a lot of money, but if you're buying a lot of stuff to impress other people you don't know and probably wouldn't like if you did, you're going to end up with a lot of stuff that you have to take care of instead of having options. So helping the reader understand it doesn't take much, and helping them understand the different options of setting money aside and helping them understand that also tying it to emotional goals that they have.
I'm big on helping people save for different time periods. I think all your listeners would be very much in tune with that. So many times people take long term money to solve short term money problems and end up paying a lot of penalties and not having a future.
And I'm not a big advocate of debt, helping people understand the different types of debt and helping them reconcile and get real about it. I've met so many people and even really wealthy people that won't even look at their bank statements.
I mean, how do you know if you're not being taken advantage of if you don't look at your credit card statement? How do you know if you're paying for two Netflix accounts unless you're like looking at that data. So also having a post and planning or setting aside time and whether you use technology or you do it old school, like an accordion file.
I'm big on journaling, mainly because of the neuroscience behind it and how it activates different parts of your brain. A big thing I talk about is a lot of things that any psychologist would talk to patients about is when you're having certain impulse feelings, triggering events to understand, tying it back where that's coming from, and realizing that's the primitive part of your brain and helping people activate their frontal lobe and more executive function so they can think on it, especially with impulse shoppers. So those are some of those topics and some different things I address in.
MATT: The book, you said something I want you to expand on just a little bit, though, which is you tie the goals to emotion. Elaborate on that because that's, by the way, as an ex-recovering therapist, we used to do that all the time. Right? I mean, that's such a motivator. But how do you do that? Or could you give us tell us a story or an example of doing that?
SARAH: Yeah, so a lot of times I work with women in transition, and they have certain things that are so important to them and they end up making decisions that then end up creating challenges in other parts of their lives. And so one woman that I met at the first meeting was so proud of coming out of a divorce, she was able to keep the family home.
This home was beautiful, a very successful, professional woman providing for her kids. And the home was a trophy. And when we really dialed down, realizing that this trophy is costing you another job of income from maintaining this incredible yard, the property taxes, the upkeep was huge, but it was all her ego. And at that first meeting, I told her, you're going to have to sell the house.
And you would have thought she took a bullet. She physically responded because her house was so much her ego and it was so much of her yes, her trophy. And it was interesting. So then we talked about a strategy, how her kids were still at home, and talked about how she came out of this divorce.
She's at a different phase in life. Like, what about the opportunity of selling the home, helping her understand financially how the tax benefits of doing that, other homes she could buy. What was interesting is from that first meeting, this was our first appointment, she went in short order and did all that.
Within a month, she sold the house. She talked to her kids. Apparently her kids were thrilled at the opportunity to be in a new place, a new nest for them to grow. The mother could cut back on some work that she was doing.
She had a second job to help make everything go. So she was able to cut back on that job, have more time. And as a result of that one move, she had more discretionary income. But then she was able to take the children on some family experiences, go back to skiing, do some yoga retreats.
And I still, to this day, every time I meet with her, it's such a thrill to know this rich, colorful, beautiful life she has, because she's not harnessed with a huge mortgage and huge expenses so that's one emotionally based people can keep themselves small. They don't realize it.
MATT: What a magnificent story. And I'm hoping that our listeners realize that if you're honest, that's actually what they're paying you for. Or not necessarily, because at this point, they might not even be paying you, but the more open and honest you are, I think people really crave that realism.
That I'm going to tell you something, and it might sting just a little bit, but I'm telling you this out of love, out of concern, out of experience. I think that really changes it. And again, Sarah, you and I talked about this on our precall a little bit.
I know that you don't necessarily resonate with everybody. Right. We talked about that. And that's okay, right? It's okay. Because what you're doing is you're attracting. But part of attraction is also repelling.
There are certain people like, I'm never going to hire her. I don't like her. Okay, great pie. See you later. I'm going to focus on these people. What do you think about that?
SARAH: You're absolutely right. I like to say your vibe attracts your tribe, and life is a journey. And sometimes I believe you have some relationships that serve a purpose, and sometimes then it will fall away.
And if you're in a mode of growth and growing with your clients and evolving because for me, it's not just about building wealth. It's about living your best life. And, you know, so much of living your best life is getting over those fears. And a lot of times, actually, I spend a lot of time helping my clients spend their money, helping them build comfort so they can go on that vacation, they can educate their grandchildren, they can have peace of mind.
People tell me they sleep well, and that's the biggest compliment I can get.
MATT: Yeah, that is the compliment I think most advisers are truly looking for, is that there is a level of peace of mind. All right, so as you know, since there's all of these systems and we've already chatted before this and before we even hit record, I try to Really do my due diligence and make sure that I'm asking really good questions. But I know that I don't know everything back in the grand scheme. I don't know much of anything. What question should I have asked you that I didn't?
SARAH: Probably. Why did I write the book? You know?
The answer is I've been pregnant with this book almost my whole life. You know, I came from a family that was talked openly about money and investing and I thought other people did. When I went to college, Robert Shiller, the economist, he was one of my professors and he has such a whimsical way of making economics seem really interesting.
And so that's how I got in the business and realized that at that time and there still aren't enough women in the business, but I realized I wanted to help people take action and build more courage and confidence in that process. And I wanted to demystify it because we as an industry try to a lot of times impress people. And all it does is it's like talking to different language. So I really strive to try to talk to people at a level that they can understand and help them feel safe, that if what I talk about doesn't make sense, that it's my job to reframe it in a different way so they can understand what I'm trying to tell them if they want to learn. Some people don't want that information.
MATT: All right, so Sarah, thank you very much for being on the show. If somebody wants a copy of the book or wants to know more about you or getting in touch with you, what's the best way for them to do that?
SARAH: Yeah, go to our website, fulcrumfinancialgroup.com. F-U-L-C-R-U-M-F-I-N-A-C-I-A-L group. Group.com. And on there is the book and you can put in your email and you'll be part of the book launch.
It's coming out. As of this recording, it should be out in a month and a half. So I'm in my presale. And for people that do the presale, though, there'll be a lot of swag that goes with it.
MATT: Nice. I'm a big fan of the swag. Well, Sarah Carlson, you are absolutely fantastic. Thank you for writing a book. Thank you for being such a thoughtful financial services professional. And thank you for doing such a good job of giving back and attracting people.
And I think that what you're doing is hopefully going to open the eyes of a lot of people that financial services is something that more people need to get involved in. And on top of that, that we start really attracting a much more diverse and acquittal population that comes into financial services because it's really the right thing.
SARAH:I absolutely agree. And thank you, Matt. Thank you for the service you provide us as an industry, helping me be better professionals. And bottom line is, there's so many people that aren't being served right, there's a lot of opportunity to be of service. So thank you.
MATT: Yeah. And everybody what you give, you get back tenfold. I'm sure that there's all sorts of religious references to that, but I'm just going to leave that with you. The more you give away, the better off, you're going to be not only personally, professionally, but also spiritually.
And with that, listen, if you want to learn how to start your own podcast, if you want to learn how to start creating your own content, join the Podrocket Academy for free, everybody. It's free, okay? There's no strings attached.
Yes, if you want to upgrade, there's some paid levels, but that's not the point. If you want to just find out who we are and what we do and how you can do it yourself, please join the Podrocket Academy at podrocketacademy.com. We would love to have you.
Now, last but not least, if you're thinking about writing a book, sarah and I could have dove deeply into the book writing process, but you know what? I've had a couple of other shows that we've done that, but I am sure that if you follow her content, which you should, by the way, you should really connect with her on LinkedIn, there are a lot of wonderful pieces and little drops of wisdom that she puts in about talking about the book.
And, Sarah, maybe what we do is, after you're officially launched and you get the feedback and all the stuff, I'd love to have you back on the show. Let's talk about that. Let's talk about the book launch.
Let's talk about what you learned from that, if you would do anything differently. So let's make sure I'll make sure that my team reaches out and get you back on the show post taste.
So with that, everybody, for all of us here at ProudMouth, this is Matt Halloran, and we'll see you on the other side of the mic very soon.
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