Frequently Asked Questions

What is the research behind Money Languages?

We created a large-scale nationally representative sample of more than 1500 people ages 18 and older, with a special focus on married individuals from the same household. Using a combination of factor analysis using principal axis factoring with promax rotation, we identified latent constructs in the data followed by cluster analysis to identify meaningful and homogenous subgroups of respondents. Money Languages drew from this research and the findings of sociology, psychology and statistics to identify five financial languages (i.e.: types): the planner, the worrier, the believer, the seeker and the tracker.

Who are the people behind Money Languages?

Money Languages was created by interdisciplinary academic researchers and practitioners of consumer science, financial security and marketing, Our team includes:

1. What is Money Languages?

Money Languages is a scientifically validated psychometric assessment test and proprietary set of client reports that enables financial professionals to understand how their clients think, feel and behave with regard to money and finances. Our assessments and reports give financial advisors the tools to understand their client’s money language and a roadmap for how to work with them much more productively.

2. Why is Money Languages an essential tool for advisors?

Approximately 70% of people don’t follow the professional recommendations their financial advisors propose (this is true in other industries such as medicine as well). Why is the good advice that financial planners are offering only appealing to a small percentage of their clients? Clearly something is getting lost in translation. Money Languages’ research has determined that–regardless of income, age, gender or ethnicity–people’s feelings and behavior regarding money can be divided into five distinct types (languages). Generally speaking, people only speak/understand their own language. Linguistic sociologists study how to deliver bad news in a manner that is likely to be most readily accepted and understood. But few people have studied the successful delivery of good news or forward-looking plans, especially not in the field of finance. Until now.

3. How does using Money Languages impact an advisor’s bottom line?

I. Know Your Client

Research published in the “Journal of Financial Planningshows that advisors having a high Know Your Client (KYC) proficiency correlated to higher growth and better-quality client relationships.

  • 73% of clients are willing to recommend planners with high KYC proficiency, versus 47% who are willing to recommend planners with low KYC proficiency
  • 14% net client growth rate (experienced by planners with high KYC proficiency), versus 6% (experienced by planners with low KYC proficiency)
  • 74% of client relationships were defined as “personally fulfilling” by planners with high KYC proficiency, versus 48% by planners with low KYC proficiency.

II. Rise of the Behavioralists

The same research also shows an emerging, very high-performing segment of planners deemed the “behavioralists.” They are early tech adopters who provoke their clients in particular ways. Only one in seven planners in the survey was classified as a behavioralist. These planners outpaced their non-behavioralist peers in these ways:

  • 30% net growth rate, versus 11%;
  • 18% referrals (per 100 clients), versus 9%;
  • 73% of clients willing to recommend, versus 60%; and
  • 75% of client relationships defined as “personally fulfilling,” versus 60%.

Behavioralists excel at balancing the human and the technical. They are taking greater advantage of cutting-edge science and technology (such as data aggregation and revealed preferences tools) to get a more evidence-based, holistic picture of client’s actual financial behaviors and underlying values and preferences.

4. How does Money Languages work?

Just like there’s more than one way to live the good life, there’s more than one way to write a successful money story. Money Languages helps financial planners identify the strengths of a wider spectrum of the population, recognizing how to best harness the tendencies and rhythms of different personalities.

Money Languages doesn’t change the financial plans you create, our assessment tool identifies the money language your client speaks. It then gives you a brief proprietary assessment report on the best way to deliver your plans in your client’s money language. This increases the likelihood that your clients will follow through and put your plans into action. Our proprietary reports reveal:

  • Areas of strength and opportunities for growth in terms of the client’s feelings/behavior surrounding money
  • Conversation prompts in terms of what to say and what NOT to say to clients depending on their money language
  • Strategies moving forward for building a lasting financial relationship with clients who speak different languages
5. What is the research behind Money Languages?

We created a large-scale nationally representative sample of more than 1500 people ages 18 and older, with a special focus on married individuals from the same household. Using a combination of factor analysis using principal axis factoring with promax rotation, we identified latent constructs in the data followed by cluster analysis to identify meaningful and homogenous subgroups of respondents. Money Languages drew from this research and the findings of sociology, psychology and statistics to identify five financial languages (i.e.: types): the planner, the worrier, the believer, the seeker and the tracker.

6. Who are the people behind Money Languages?

Money Languages was created by interdisciplinary academic researchers and practitioners of consumer science, financial security and marketing, Our team includes:

7. How can I take the assessment test & what does it cost?

Similar diagnostic instruments used in the world of financial planning are licensed at approximately $200 per use, which is the price point Money Languages has also targeted. We are currently piloting Money Languages with large institutions and individual advisors at discounted rates. If you would like to take our assessment test and discuss using Money Languages in your financial planning practice, we are willing to offer an initial 10 client assessments on a trial basis for free. We invite you to contact us here.

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Christine B. Whelan, Ph.D.

Christine B. Whelan is a clinical professor in the Department of Consumer Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the director of the Money, Relationships & Equality Initiative at Wisconsin’s School of Human Ecology. In partnership with the Center for Financial Security, Dr. Whelan teaches and researches on topics of self-improvement, gender, relationships formation and purpose throughout the life course. Prior to joining the School of Human Ecology, Dr. Whelan was a visiting assistant professor in the sociology departments at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Iowa.

Dr. Whelan received a doctorate from the University of Oxford for her research on the quest for self-control and self-improvement in American since the 1950s. She continues to research behavioral change literature and programs, incorporating aspects of applied sociology into her teaching. As a nationally recognized expert in the field of self-improvement, Dr. Whelan has authored two books on best practices for emerging adults — Generation WTF (Templeton Press, 2011) and The Big Picture (Templeton Press, forthcoming) — and has published op-eds in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post , USA Today, Chronicle of Higher Education, and quoted as an expert on self-improvement in Forbes, SELF, City Journal and many others.

Dr. Whelan, who graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University, also researches and writes on changing dating and marriage patterns in the United States. She has authored two books shattering myths of hypergamy – Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women (Simon & Schuster, 2006) and Marry Smart (Simon & Schuster, 2009) — and academic articles on mate preferences. Dr. Whelan has been published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and the New York Post and has been cited and reviewed in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan and The Washington Post, among others.

Dee Warmath, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Principal Research Scientist, College of Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Georgia-Athens

From my 28-year career in consumer insights and retail strategy, I developed a strong interest in the outcomes of decisions for consumers. One area of particular interest for me is financial well-being, specifically the ability of consumers to achieve high levels of well-being and to discern those levels accurately. Consumption is one economically important consumer activity that has the potential to foster or derail one’s sense of financial well-being. Materialism has long been blamed for low levels of well-being, and yet is a key ingredient of our standard of living. Reconciling these divergent views of materialism to understand how material acquisition can both raise and lower well-being is another area of research for me. Finally, my belief is that well-being does not have to be a zero-sum game in which only consumers or brands can win. Use value can be designed into products via a true, empathetic understanding of consumer needs and how to meet them. To examine this belief, my research explores the reaction instance or how the value consumers realize from the adoption and continued use of new products in turn creates long-term value for the brand.

Anthony J. Cernera, Ph.D.

Dr. Cernera has been involved in higher education for over three decades. As the president of Sacred Heart University (1988-2010) he led the University from financial bankruptcy to being the second largest of the 25 Catholic universities in New England. He served as president of the International Federation of Catholic Universities (2006-2012), the largest and oldest association of Catholic universities in the world. He has edited 7 books and numerous articles and written extensively on higher education and interreligious understanding.

Bill McGarvey

Bill McGarvey is the author of The Freshman Survival Guide: Soulful Advice for Studying, Socializing, and Everything in Between, (Hachette Book Group), which has sold over 100,000 copies and is used in colleges and high schools across the country. The book has been first in Amazon’s “College Guides” and “Student Life” categories and has been featured in media outlets ranging from the Washington Post to the Late Show with David Letterman.

McGarvey has written and commented on cultural issues for NPR, BBC, New York Times, Commonweal, America, The Tablet (London), Factual (Spain) and Time Out New York.  As a musician, his award-winning animated short “Broken Lullaby” was selected to screen in over 25 film festivals stretching from Los Angeles and New York to Liverpool (UK) and Milan. His songs have received critical acclaim from the New York Times, New Yorker, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Billboard and Performing Songwriter and have been featured in network television and in feature films.