The One Question Your Financial Advisor Should be Asking You – But Rarely Does

Financial Coaching and consulting in Tampa

During your typical visit with your financial advisor or just a strategy session on your own, you anticipate answering questions about your desired income during your retirement, protecting your assets and fulfilling your current financial obligations including mortgage, credit card debt or children education. However, there is one important financial-related inquiry your financial advisor should ask but rarely or never does. It is a simple question but it has a profound impact: “What is your mindset?”

I am not suggesting you or your advisor become psychologist or a therapist but consider this statement: Financial Advisors’ obligations include performing a comprehensive “discovery session” to determine your needs, risk tolerance and financial objectives. It is a standard industry practice to determine suitable investment strategies, which should lead to the desired outcomes; yet, your financial advisor should also consider including to this routine approach the fact that studies and research show that it is the mindset that is guiding your life. Your belief system determines your feelings, actions and outcomes and it is the mindset that allows people to thrive during the times trouble and overcome challenges more easily. 

For instance, key literature, including the Harvard Business Review, society influencers and recent studies have shown that growth mindset avoids a narrowed focus and is open to overcome challenges, welcomes innovative ideas and opportunities, which in turn have an immensely beneficial effect on our ability to succeed. How does it work? It has been proposed that a growth mindset results in greater enjoyment of life, improvement of self-insight and self-esteem, improves our personal and professional relationships, helps us manage stress, lowers the risk of depression, increases resiliency and makes us better at taking the responsibility for our lives. The result is consistently better earnings, higher savings, and overall, more pleasant lifestyle. More importantly, however, the growth mindset results in better overall outcomes because investors understand their limitations, take the responsibility for their lives and have the resiliency of overcoming deficiencies.

How can financial advisors approach the subject of mindset in ways that lend themselves to a practical, productive discussion and discovery with their client? A useful, and relevant guide can be found in the Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.” Dr. Dweck approach provides a checklist to assess how a particular mindset can affect all areas of your client’s life, from business to sports and love. A wise financial advisor needs to know and understand the comprehensive picture of his or her client’s life. The good news, says Dweck, is that mindsets are not set: at any time, you can learn to use a growth mindset to achieve success and greater prosperity. Clients that adapt a growth mindset will believe that intelligence can be developed and finances can be improved, and your brain is like a muscle that can be trained. In turn, this leads to the desire to improve personally and financially. You improve by firstly starting to embrace challenges, and viewing failure not as a setback but an opportunity to learn, while applying efforts to master your skillset. Someone with a growth mindset will do whatever it takes to reach the goal, and will put in as much effort as it takes to achieve the desired outcome.  What kind of mindset do you have?


·         I can accomplish any financial goal I have

·         When I am frustrated financially, I know I will persevere

·         I want to challenge myself to improve my personal and financial wellbeing

·         When I fail, I learn

·         If someone else succeeds, I feel inspired and motivated

·         My efforts and attitude determine everything, including where I am at financially


·         I am either good at managing my money or I am not

·         When I am frustrated, I give up and will do something else

·         I don’t like to be challenged

·         When I fail, I am wrong and no good

·         Tell me I am smart

·         If someone else succeeds, I feel threatened

·         My abilities and talents determine how well off I am financially

In this inventory, our mindset is determined by the degree and quality of our thoughts and beliefs as well as the meaning we attribute to them, in relation to our past and present circumstances. This mindset is reflected in daily work, relationships, and assessment of what we have accomplished in life and what we want our legacy to be. Although these factors may appear to be deep issues that most Financial Advisors are not trained to investigate, they can be assessed very simply.

Imagine your financial advisor asking you these three questions:

·         How do you feel about your own ability to manage money?

·         What is your approach dealing with challenges and how do you feel about setbacks?

·         How do you view and define success?

Our answers indicate the type of mindset we have, which can be translated into financial benefits. Additionally, the very act of being asked these questions can create a unique bond between ourselves and our financial advisor, communicating not just our financial dreams but also teaching them about how our mind works and what would be the most suitable approach and the investment strategy.

If you are so fortunate as to be asked about how do you think and about your mindset but find yourself searching for further answers, take it as an opportunity to reflect, and improve upon your mind as you might improve your body through exercise. There are myriad possibilities – reading, networking, connecting with others, traveling, praying, creating, etc. it is an endless list. Cultivating your growth mindset creates prosperity and your financial advisor may say so, one day, as well.