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Making Financial Planning Classes Relevant and Engaging

financial planning classesThe Issue: How to get participants in financial planning classes to look at how and why they spend and save. Also, how to talk about money in a fun, non-threatening and engaging way.
Who: Robert Cain is an investment advisor in Scottsdale, AZ with Arque Capital Ltd.
What: Cain has used Money Habitudes cards in financial planning seminars and individual client meetings.

  • Cain runs a two-part financial planning seminar for prospective clients. Each of the financial planning classes is two hours. Class size is about a dozen. The fee for the class only covers per-person expenses.
  • Cain begins his financial planning classes by putting retirement in a life planning context. “When we think about retirement planning, we often think about saving money but the non-financial aspects are often overlooked,” he says.
  • In lieu of examining finances right off, participants evaluate their satisfaction and effort across 12 lifestyle dimensions. These include community/charity, family/relatives, spirituality/religion, spouse/romance, etc. Participants look for a gap that shows someone wants to do something but isn’t doing it.
  • Following the lifestyle evaluation exercise, Cain used to devote time to telling attendees about various opportunities available to them (such as which community organizations to seek out for volunteering, etc.). However, he replaced this section of his financial planning seminar – about 20 PowerPoint slides – with the Money Habitudes conversation starter. “I said in lieu of that, we’re going to play a card game,” he says. He still made the other information available to attendees to look at on their own.
  • Attendees had time to sort their own deck of the financial conversation starter cards and then go through the money personality self-assessment process. Cain allowed about 30 minutes for the ice breaker activity. “I explained to them that this kind of thing can help them understand why they behave the way they do with their money and it also helps me understand where their heads are when they meet with me. I get an idea of what kind of thinker they are. I thought it was definitely meaningful for them,” he says. He watched the instructional DVD to prepare for this portion of his financial planning classes.
  • Where attendees had no cards, Cain had them pay attention to the advantages of adding in benefits of that money personality category. As a financial planner, Cain knows part of his job is helping clients feel comfortable with their finances. This might mean showing them that they can take that trip or buy that new car.
  • Attendees got to take home their own deck of cards after the financial workshop to revisit the money personality profile. “They kept the cards so they could use them later on their own and maybe pull them out and do them with their kids or grandkids.”


  • Using Money Habitudes cards provides an energizing, interactive break from lecture-and-PowerPoint presentations typical of financial planning classes.
  • The financial conversation starter makes it easier and more natural to get to know a client. “It’s a good way to open up a conversation as opposed to just doing the interrogation, the fact-finding. It opens up a different category of thinking versus just ‘stocks and bonds,'” says Cain.
  • As a money ice breaker, the cards are non-threatening. “It’s like you’re not making a judgment. You’re letting the cards speak for them.”