The head scientist for Weight Watchers says financial planning works a lot like getting someone to get in physical shape. Maybe, maybe not.
The FPA brought in Karen Miller-Kovach, chief scientific officer of Weight Watchers, to address "obvious parallels" between what she does and what financial planners do.
The problem is that her behavioral perspective is interesting when it comes to getting at-risk Americans to get out of debt and stop saving -- all the touchstones of mass market personal finance -- but doesn't have much in common with most modern financial planning.
Financial planners tend to work with mass affluent to high-net-worth people. These clients are already wealthy or, to use the health analogy, in pretty athletic shape.
The typical planning practice doesn't work through any of the stages of resistance and mourning that she talks about. And clients don't have to radically modify their behavior. They just need to modify their asset allocations.
Still, if you have a lot of at-risk clients who could benefit from this kind of "tough love approach" -- or if you do a lot of public relations work aimed at the mass market -- these motivational tips could help.
But I don't know if many advisors working today need them in their day-to-day practice.