Certified Financial Counselor Course

Financial Counseling: Introduction and Overview
1 CE Credit

Certified Financial Counselor

Trust, The Foundation of Relationships
1 CE Credit
Investor Emotions Part 1 – Fear and Anxiety
1 CE Credit
Investor Emotions Part 2 – Anger, Grief and “Greed”
1 CE Credit
Counseling Strategies and Techniques
1 CE Credit
Investor Identity
1 CE Credit

Investor Behavioral
Coach Certificate

Investor Personality – Part 1
1 CE Credit
Investor Personality – Part 2
1 CE Credit
Applied Financial Psychology In Current Conditions
1 CE Credit
Mental Health Issues
1 CE Credit
Working with Couples and Families
1 CE Credit
Review and Implementation
1 CE Credit

The Investor Behavioral Coach Certificate is a four-credit element of the 12-hour Certified Financial Counselor™ CE Course and Certificate.




Class 1. Financial Counseling Introduction and Overview (1 Hour)
Financial advising, planning, and management have undergone a steady evolution over the last several decades. The field has gone from  a relationship model that was transactional (broker) to technical (advisor) to collaborative, holistic, and personal (counselor).  This course is designed to impart knowledge, skills, and techniques for professionals to fulfill the role of a financial counselor.   


  • Introduction to Financial Counseling Overview (25 Minutes)
    • The evolution of the field
    • The professional landscape
    • Theoretical Foundations
      • Traditional Finance
      • Behavioral Finance
      • Counseling Psychology
  • The Value Proposition (10 Minutes)
    • Everybody talks the talk
    • Advisor Alpha
    • Misconceptions
  • Highlights Of Major Topics In The Course Outline (25 minutes)
    • Key Concepts in the next 11 classes


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Class 2:  Trust, The Foundation of Relationships (1 Credit)

Trust is a widely invoked though often misunderstood concept. It is the foundation of the counselor-client relationship. Moreover, it is prerequisite in retaining clients, gathering assets, and gaining referrals. This class dissects trust into easily understood components, and prescribes practical steps to building and maintaining this critical professional trait.

Trust: How important is it? How does it fit in? (12 Minutes)

  • Maslow vs. Investor “Hierarchy of Needs”
  • The foundation of the pyramid

Type 1: Technical Competence/Expertise (12 Minutes)

  • “Most important” client motivation
  • The heart of FA value
  • Ways to convey that trust
  • Conversations
  • Physical representations.

Type 2: Ethical Trust (12 minutes)

  • Not to be taken for granted – client psychology, famous cases
  • Best-interest (fiduciary standard)
  • Ways to earn trust
  • Communications about fees
  • Consistency of words and actions
  • Transparency

Type 3: Interpersonal Trust (12 minutes)

  • Personal in personal finance is underrated
  • Communication preferences
  • Keys to a productive counselor-client relationship.
  • Caring, Understanding, Respect and Empathy (CURE)
  • Carl Rogers Humanistic Psychology

A comprehensive strategy for building and keeping trust – The Newsletter. (7 Minutes)

  • Critical components of a good newsletter
  • Recommendations for format

Wrap up/Questions (5 Minutes)


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Class 3: Investor Emotions Part 1 – Fear and Anxiety (1 Credit)

Investing evokes the entire spectrum of human emotions, from positive to negative, and the emotion that stands out as the most influential is fear.  The ability to recognize, understand, and constructively react to client fear is key to successful client management.  Fear manifests itself in different forms, from the most latent (e.g., worrying) to the most acute (e.g., panicking).  This class examines where fear comes from and what it looks like from the perspective of a client. It enables a financial professional to better fulfill the role of counselor by helping clients identify and manage their financial fears.   


  • Introduction to Fear (10 Minutes)
    • Evolution
    • Neurobiology
    • Role of Personality
    • Prospect Theory
  • Deeper Look into Financial Fear:  Critical Factors (15 Minutes)
    • The role of trust
    •  Limits of Reason
    • The power of short-term
    • The power of verbalization
    • The difference between fear, loss, and pain.
  • Practical Strategies for Dispelling Client Fear (20 Minutes)
    • Strategic Emotional Communication
      • IDEAS Script
      • Two Part Process
    • Slide Show Method
      • Reframing
      • Future Focus
      • Regret
  • Crisis/Stress Management Plan (15 Minutes)


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Class 4: Investor Emotions: Anger, Grief, And Greed (1 Credit)

While fear is the dominant investing emotion, it is far from the only one.  Any emotional reaction that distorts judgment presents problems.  This Class explores the other common emotions that influence client investment decisions and suggests ways to help clients make decisions.

  • Introduction to Emotions Overview (10 Minutes)
    • Emotions – an obstacle/agent of change
  • Anger (20 minutes)
    • The nature of anger
    • “Reactive” emotion, operational definition
    • Personality factors
    • Neural Re-routing- Four step process to moving clients past anger
  • Grief  (20 minutes)
    • Grief as loss, sadness
    • Personality Factors
    • Kubler-Ross 5 Stages
  • Greed  (10 minutes)
    • Greed is often exuberant FOMO
    • Personality factors
    • Tips for moving people past greedy traits
      • Curiosity > Criticism
      • Facts > Fantasy



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Class 5: Counseling Strategies And Techniques (1 Credit)

This class teaches how to employ financial counseling strategies and techniques with clients, particularly those who are the most emotional. How to move clients past fear, greed, anger and other emotions and how to maximize your influence as a professional to help clients make better decisions.


  • Introduction to Communication Strategies (10 Minutes)
    • FAs traditionally do not get training in this skill set
    • Communication preferences
  • Client Resistance (10 Minutes)
    • The head vs the heart
    • Client defenses
      • Investor Hierarchy of Needs
      • Psychoanalytic defense strategies
  • Listening (10 Minutes)
    • Nancy Kline’s techniques and training
    • Listening Environment
  • Strategic Emotional Communication (30 Minutes)
    • IDEAS acronym
    • Two stage process 
      • Emotional
      • Rational
    • Personality factors
    • C.U.R.E. Method Revisited


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Class 6: Investor Identity (1 Credit)

Knowing yourself is a key step in successful investing.  Financial traumas or successes you and your family experienced predispose certain financial personality types to different investment and financial planning mistakes.  The way you are wired hinges on your financial personality traits.  Financial Identity –  an understanding of how and why investors think, feel and behave is a major component of financial counseling, as is the ability to assess an investor’s financial personality traits. - This class introduces the concept of Financial Identity and presents a systematic way of identifying financial personality traits to better serve clients.


  • Introduction to Investor Identity (15 Minutes)
    • Why investing is like Junior High School
    • Erickson and Psycho-Social Development
    • Benefits of helping clients develop a strong sense of their investor identity
    • Components
      • Needs
      • Values
      • Beliefs
      • Goals
      • Strengths/Weaknesses
      • Personality
  • Investor Needs (15 Minutes)
    • The Hierarchy of Investor Needs
      • Trust
      • Self-Approval
      • Safety
      • Happiness
      • Purpose
  • Values and Beliefs (10 minutes)
    • How values influence financial decision-making
      • Risk Taker/Avoider
      • Self-approval
    • Beliefs
      • Important Investing Beliefs
      • Belief Questionnaire
  • Goals (10 Minutes)
    • Client goal-setting
      • Must haves
      • Targets
      • Aspirations
  • Strengths and Weaknesses (10 Minutes)
    • What do clients see as strengths?
    • What do clients see as potential weaknesses?


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Class 7: Investor Personality (1 Credit)

The most comprehensive component of Financial identity is Investor Personality.  Using the NEO Personality Inventory Five-Factor Model and referencing data from Market Psych Insights (MPI) Investor Personality Assessment, this class addresses the concept of Investor Personality and how it affects client decision-making.  It will explore such concepts as emotional reactiveness, planning-orientation, communication preferences and preferred investment vehicles.


  • Investor Identity Review (10 Minutes)
  • Introduction to Personality Theory (20 minutes)
  • Allport, Fiske, Others – Personality Theory
  • Why it matters
  • MarketPsych research into investing implications
    • Biases
    • Risk profile
    • Animal Avatars
  • The Big Five Traits – CANOE/OCEAN Acronym
  • Conscientiousness vs. Spontaneity (20 minutes)
    • Definition
    • Manifestation
    • Associated Tendencies
    • Investor Implications
  • Discussion (10 Minutes)


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Class 8: Investor Personality Part 2 (1 Credit)

This class is the continuation of our explication of Investor Personality.  In this module we will cover the remaining Four Factors and explore their implication for clients’ investment approach and their relationships with you.  


  • Emotional Stability vs. Emotional Sensitivity (15 minutes)
    • Definition
    • Manifestation
    • Associated Tendencies
    • Investor Implications
  • Extraversion vs. Introversion (15 Minutes)
    • Definition
    • Manifestation
    • Associated Tendencies
    • Investor Implications
  • Openness vs. Traditionalism (15 Minutes)
    • Definition
    • Manifestation
    • Associated Tendencies
    • Investor Implications
  • Agreeableness vs. Self-Interestedness (15 Minutes)
    • Definition
    • Manifestation
    • Associated Tendencies
    • Investor Implications


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Class 9: Applying Financial Psychology In Current Conditions (1 Credit)

This class is the final installment of the Investor Behavioral Coach Certificate.  While the rest of the curriculum is rooted in general theory, knowledge and skills, this module is dedicated to the specific application of class material to client management in the current environment.  It will look at the present investment climate, assess potential client issues, and prescribe best practices for meeting their needs.  This format will also be used as educational “booster shot” to maintain certification once the course is complete.


  • Today’s Environment  (10 Minutes)
    • Geopolitical Issues
    • Financial and tax
    • Market Sentiment
  • Emotional Reactions  (10 Minutes)
    • Fear, Anger, Loss or Greed
  • Investor Identity Factors (10 Minutes)
    • Needs
    • Values
  • Investor Personality Factors (10 Minutes)
    • Relevant Profile Traits
  • Counseling and Behavioral Strategies (10 Minutes)
    • Practical Tips
    • Strategies
  • Wrap Up & Discussion (10 Minutes)


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Class 10: Mental Health Issues (1 Credit)

Financial problems are a leading cause of depression and other mental health issues. This class imparts practical tips for recognizing when to refer clients to other resources for mental health issues and how to handle this delicate subject.  This class examines impactful life events that affect a client’s investment psychology.  Axis 1 and Axis 2 Psychiatric Diagnoses that financial professionals are likely to encounter are also discussed.  


  • Introduction to Mental Health in Financial Counseling (10 Minutes)
    • Overview with stats
  • Life Events (15 Minutes)
    • Holmes Rahe Scale
    • Deaths
    • Divorce
    • Jobs
    • Health
  • Axis 1 Diagnoses (15 Minutes)
    • Definition
    • Manifestation
    • Associated Tendencies
    • Investor Implications
  • Axis 2 Diagnoses (20 Minutes)
    • Personality Disorders            
      • Dependent
      • Narcissistic
      • Borderline


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Class 11: Working With Couples And Families (1 Credit)

Couples – often married, but not always – present a discrete set of dynamics for a financial professional, as do families with intergenerational wealth issues. This class covers key issues, considerations and practices when working with couples and families.


  • Introduction to couples and family psychology (10 Minutes)
    • Overview with stats
    • Implications for client couples
  • Couples financial counseling (25 Minutes)
    • The right approach to client couples
    • Building relationships
    • How to integrate both parties in the process
    • Communication
    • Establishing alignment for couples finances
  • Family/Intergeneration financial counseling (25 Minutes)
    • Family systems theory
    • Family financial values
    • Key issues
    • Family businesses


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Class 12: Review and Implementation (1 Credit)

This class reviews the entire course curriculum, highlighting the most important concepts in financial counseling and how to best implement them in your practice. 


  • Foundations (7 Minutes)
  • Emotions (10 Minutes)
  • Counseling Techniques (10 Minutes)
  • Investor Identity (10 Minutes)
  • Investor Personality (10 Minutes)
  • Mental Health Issues (8 Minutes
  • Couples and Family (5 Minutes)
  • Wrap Up/Goodbye (5 Minutes)


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