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Better Understanding Yourself And Your Clients Regarding Money


Alan Frank is a financial educator and planner, serving as Financial Services Lead Instructor at Bow Valley College in Calgary, Canada


He teaches college students who are studying to become financial planners and clients who attend the classes and workshops he offers.


College students, adults attending financial education or planning classes, and private clients.


  • Prepare college students (who are studying financial planning) to understand how they see money and how that may influence the advice they offer.
  • Prepare college students to understand how and why people look at money differently.
  • To make it easier for individuals and couples to open up and talk about money.


  • One to two-hour seminars/workshops using Money Habitudes cards to help people focus on how they see money and how they use it.
  • A typical seminar/workshop has 30 people, although he prefers the intimacy of smaller groups.
  • Often students/attendees keep their decks of Money Habitudes cards so they can share this very meaningful exercise with a partner.
  • Working with private clients.


  • The cards create a fun environment and provide a very engaging, relevant format so people open up without being threatened by talking about money.
  • Provide a non-judgmental way to find out clients’ attitudes about money.
  • Enable couples to see the others’ point of view about money and more easily discuss any differences they may have.
  • After gaining such newfound clarity about their finances and relationships in classes some attendees later asked him to work with them on an individualized coaching basis.
  • People seek small incremental changes in how they view and handle money after going through the Money Habitudes card process.
  • I’ve had people come up to me after class and say, ‘You know I need to go home now and have a discussion with a spouse or a partner because this says a lot! This can be why we’re not talking or why there’s this divergence between what I think and what they think.
  • Realizing that individuals are not going to radically change how they view and handle money, I use the action tips from the Money Habitudes cards to help them make small, incremental changes. It may help savers loosen up their grip on money a bit and go out for a dinner or it may help spenders pass up a sale…

Observations and Comments:

  • This activity was “an epiphany” for many.
  • Probably the strongest personal growth part of me doing those cards myself was to understand that I can’t transfer my thoughts, ideas, and beliefs as a financial planner over to my clients. Just because I am geared and wired this way and believe this is important does not necessarily mean that my clients are wrong in the way they approach things. It was a great learning experience for me in a fun sort of way.
  • With couples, I think you have to start the discussion by talking about what’s important to one another and to understand where each person is coming from. If you don’t do that, a budget’s not going to work.
  • We use the cards to get people to open up. It is a fun environment so they’re very open in the classroom, probably more open than you would sometimes expect.
  • After doing the cards myself, I don’t find that I judge as much as I used to. I just understand where the client is coming from.