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How About a Tutu?

Anika Hedstrom

AS ANYONE WHO HAS spent time around kids can attest, emotions often run high when things don’t go according to plan. Recently, my three-year-old daughter, Carter Rose, refused to brush her teeth, wear clothes or go to school.

Rather than going head-to-head with an emotional toddler, I took the approach of listening, compassion and empathy to get things back on track. What was wrong—and what could make things better?

We could all use a little more empathy these days. With continued worries about the direction of the economy, house-buying dreams on pause indefinitely because of higher mortgage rates, and investment portfolios continuing to reflect red numbers, it’s understandable if folks feel frustrated and uncertain.

It’s times like these when my financial-planning clients turn to me to feel heard. They want me to provide reassurances that, despite life not always going as expected, we can still work together to make sure everything turns out okay.

For instance, I recently met with a client who’s a few years from retirement. He was curious how the current market may influence his planned retirement date and the timing of other spending, including a home remodeling. He wanted to know if he’d still be okay.

I first acknowledged his feelings and let him know he isn’t alone. I then punted on other items I’d planned to discuss, instead spending the majority of our meeting talking through his concerns and questions. Knowing he appreciates a visual approach, I shared my computer screen so we could revisit his plan. This allowed him to see how I was adjusting inputs and assumptions to make the plan more conservative and to play with some “what ifs.” This provided him with a dose of needed confidence.

Ditto for Carter Rose. Once I crouched down to her three-foot level, looked her in the eye, and showed her warmth and validation, a creative and effective solution became possible. The post-meltdown result can be seen in the accompanying photo.

Okay, maybe red cowboy boots, a tutu and a fourth of July headband aren’t what you need to turn your feelings of uncertainty into confidence. Still, we all stand to benefit from creative solutions—and finding those solutions often begins with giving folks a chance to be heard.

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DrLefty
DrLefty
2 months ago

Oh, does that bring back memories. One of my daughters had red cowboy boots that looked just like that when she was three, and for awhile she wore them to preschool EVERY day, along with whatever frilly outfit she picked out. It turned out to be a foreshadowing of her, uh, persistent personality!

Anika Hedstrom
Anika Hedstrom
1 month ago
Reply to  DrLefty

Thanks for sharing. I’m glad it brought back some fun memories. Time will tell if this, too, is foreshadowing of a persistent personality! Wish me luck!

Edmund Marsh
Edmund Marsh
2 months ago

Anika, when my daughter was that age she didn’t want to wear shoes. My wife worked every other weekend, so I was responsible for getting her dressed for church. I exhausted all my skills of persuasion and coercion. I never thought of red cowboy boots!

Anika Hedstrom
Anika Hedstrom
1 month ago
Reply to  Edmund Marsh

Edmund – great story. I’ve resorted to allowing her creative freedom and expression to shine through, so perhaps giving her some control has been my saving grace?! Or the boots were pure luck….

Ben Rodriguez
Ben Rodriguez
2 months ago

I have two little girls myself. A diversity of tactics is called for. If I figure out what works maybe I’ll write an article (or book) about it.

Anika Hedstrom
Anika Hedstrom
1 month ago
Reply to  Ben Rodriguez

Ben – please tell me when your book is out, I could use all the help I can get with twin girls!

R Quinn
R Quinn
2 months ago

It must be a tough job trying to reassure people about their finances these days. What is the most difficult thing to explain to most people?

Derek R. Austin
Derek R. Austin
1 month ago
Reply to  R Quinn

In fairness, for the financially literate, the biggest retirement risk is sequence of return risk. When the market’s in the tank, with this year being the worst-ever for a 60/40 portfolio, then the probability increases that near-term returns (5 years) will be normal or good. In other words, sequence of return risk is lessened.

And there’s a reason I would never try to be a financial advisor, because I lack empathy and would just tell them the above 😉

Derek R. Austin
Derek R. Austin
1 month ago

I’d also probably show them this chart, and they’d promptly sell all of their stock for cash during a 51% drawdown.

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Anika Hedstrom
Anika Hedstrom
1 month ago
Reply to  R Quinn

Thanks for the question. I think the most difficult thing for some folks to grasp is continuing to adhere to a sound strategy and choosing not to go to cash or time the market is still a decision. Taking action, for the sake of doing something, may not be the best long term move.

Last edited 1 month ago by Anika Hedstrom

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