Beyond the Claim
Beyond the Claim

Episode 4 · 6 months ago

What to do about the Financial Stress Impacting your Employees and Claims w/ Erika Wasserman

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

If an employee is out for a while with an illness or is distracted by a messy divorce…

You’d want them to feel safe sharing — especially if it’s affecting their job — right?

Financial struggles can have an equally enormous impact on anyone’s life, but it’s something most of us get too squeamish to discuss.

That needs to change. Your employees deserve empathy — and if they don’t feel safe discussing finances, it could hurt your bottom line.

Today’s guest, Erika Wasserman, Financial Therapist at Your Financial Therapist, is one of the pioneers of Financial Therapy. Through this exciting new field, she’s creating a space where it’s safe for people to discuss, learn about and set goals for their money — and her approach is something every leader who cares about their employees’ well-being could learn from.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The problem of financial literacy in our culture
  • How a financial therapist can help build financial literacy
  • Erika’s 4 most important money tips anyone can use today

And be sure to take Erika’s Money Relationship Quiz to learn more about yo ur relationship with money and how it may be impacting you.

Need more claims strategy in your life? Check us out on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on our website.

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Beyond the Claim on your favorite podcast player.

And you learned in your home. Some people talk about money openly around the kitchen table, other people don't talk about it at all, and other people hear their parents yelling about money or fighting. So you build a relationship with money based on people who were taught either and they're passage down their traits to you. You're listening to beyond the claim, the show for forward thinking risk and claims professionals curious about the latest industry trends, winning strategies and stories from influential leaders. Let's dive in. Hello and welcome to this episode of beyond the claim. I'm mark cunning him, your host, chief sales and marketing officer for brass bar. Today I have with me Erico lossman. She is CEO and founder of your financial therapist. Although Erica, thanks for joining us. Thanks, Mark. I'm so excited to be here with you today, excited to have you so Erica. You founded your financial therapist in two thousand and nineteen. You're a certified financial therapist, one of only fifteen in the world, which is impressive when we definitely have to hear more about that. You're educated in finance, international economics and you have a passion fathers, powering individuals and couples and companies to reshape the way they think about money. I'm not going to hold this against you, but you earned your Batchel's degree from the University of Florida and you have a certificate of financial therapy from Kansas State University. Very impressive. Thank you. I'm glad you say that. My University of Florida degrees impressive, like it is recorded. Yes, yes, so its aeric. Before we jump into the deep end of everything financial therapy related, let's define that right, because I think maning an audience aren't necessarily aware of what a professional, certified financial therapist is and why they're only fifteen in the in the world. So please share. It's a growing profession. The number has actually increased since then, so I think twenty or twenty five, so we're growing. But a financial therapist is somebody that you could talk to about money. So the first time I interact with people they say whoa...

...what's the financial therapist, kind of like what you just did. My question back to them is, well, who do you talk to about money? And I get a blank stare and then I'll get HMM, my account it once in a while a financial advisor, if I have one, but there's nobody that you talk to on a regular basis. And financial wellness is so important because it fits into the whole wellness wheel. Your spiritual, your relational, your job, you know, everything that we do, money plays a part of but yeah, it's the one topic that's so tabooed that we don't talk to anybody about. Well, here comes financial therapy. It's a platform and a safe place to talk about money and your feelings towards it and with it and with family members, with yourself. It's a relationship that literally is everywhere, from a cup of coffee to buying a house. And what do you before I went, do want to hear about your journey. It's an impressive one and, full disclosure for the audience, Erica is a family friend. I actually coach Erica's daughter and have daughters, excuse me, firm for many years. Impressive Group of women there and I think the audience will really appreciate hearing your journey. But before we get to that, are you touched on some things around you know, the conversations that we're not having in the connection with our friends, that that we're not having? Do you think that there's a void of maybe financial literacy at a young age? Is it not an intimate part of kind of defining who we are at what's leading to this disconnect that in something that's so critical to our life? Mark, you hit the nail on the head on that one. When you talk about Financial Literacy, my question back is, well, we're supposed to learn about it. We don't really teach our kids finances in school. We teach them math in geometry, but we don't teach them how to spend money and has it feel to receive money. So where do you learn it? You learn it in your home and some people talk about money openly around the kitchen table, other people don't talk about it at all and other people hear their parents yelling about...

...money or fighting. So you build a relationship with money based on people who weren't taught either and they're passing down their traits to you. So financial literacy is is a big part of this, because we're learning habits from people who are qualified to teach us. Is really when it comes out to, and so it's we start socializing things like when you learn a new hobby, are you go to the gym and you want to start working at more, you get an accountability partner, you get a coach, you get somebody to train you. We don't do that with money, you know. You don't sit and ask your buddy, Hey, what did you call to reduce your bills? or I need to get a new mortgage. Where do I go? You don't ask those questions. Instead, you sit inside and most people just suffer. Yes, that's definitely let's definitely go there. So, before we do them, I have a personal connection to at least part of your story. So, so Erica is a single mother of three. I am a son to a single mother of three. I know that that presents many challenges at times, one of which can be your financial health right and so I've been a great supporter of yours, probably behind the scenes, for a long time now, and I truly I know that your path has not been linear and I think that, like many of us, that often is the case. But we think that, you know, it means that we can't get to the vision, to end point where that we had maybe in our younger years. So Erica, what was what's your journey? How did you get to this point of a I know you didn't go to the University of Florida to become a financial therapist. So how did you how this come to be? Yeah, like everything in life, it's not linear. Your career paths not linear, your personal life's not linear, and mine wasn't I there. So you're right. I got a finance degree, I went and worked for IBM and I worked for I bm for a decade. I was fortunate enough to get an assignment overseas, so I lived in Japan for a few years and I lived in China. I was married. During this time frame.

I had my first daughter, who started under your leadership in football for playing flag football. Marks a great coach both on the in the workplace and on the football field. So I appreciate him. I had my daughter and realize that when I came back to the US that that wasn't working for me to work in corporate America anymore. I needed something and more flexibility. My husband at the time was working a ton of hours. And yes, I said at the time, because I left Corporate America and I left the marriage and before that I had a few more kids. So with three kids together and I we went separate ways and all along that path. I went to work with entrepreneurs and growing brands, with more flexibility for my time to be that single mom with the girls and follow my passions. And when I found out about financial therapy, at this big Aha moment, because that's what I'd been doing behind the scenes with so many family and friends, and what I realized is there really isn't a safe place to talk about money and to build confidence with money. One of the number one things that people have is Shane when it comes to money and embarrassment. And I'll give you a quick example. My father passed away a few years ago and my parents were in a very traditional marriage and but ye, my dad and I bonded over money, because I love money right, I love finance, I love math like that was our thing and in fact, when I was a little in sid on his lap and we look at the stock market together and it was just our thing. My mom had no interest. So, unfortunately, you got praatic cancer. was very quick. I knew exactly where that lend of life, well, excuse me, the end of life folder was. I knew where the binder was with all the information, but, more importantly, I knew the why behind all of that my mom did it. So when he passed, I pulled out the binder and I had to start going through things, but not only that, I had to start guiding my mom through the process and take her through all these finances that she had never seen before. She didn't have a relationship with money because she had been avoiding it for fifty years. When they were married, and at the same time, financial therapy came into...

...my life and it was it was the right match for me and I've been enjoying this journey ever since, working with both individuals, with couples in with corporations, because it's such a void in the HR global wellness programming that's out there. So and I want to I was going to say let's before we shift to corporate wellness, but it's probably counter to your rod turn point. Right. So you're quoted as saying money impact your overall wellness. Yet the topic that it's a topic that isn't addressed openly or often enough. In turn, avoiding the conversation can impact your relationship, sleeping patterns, workplace productivity and overall joy. I think you've touched on that personally, but then also professionally, and there seems to be that disconnect. Right. So you gave the example of your mother and her approach to the the financials and I think that that theme is consistent through for many relationships, personally but also professionally. So when you have a corporate wellness approach or agenda, what does that consist of? Who are you targeting? Where do you see the opportunities? Where do you see that the gaps and opportunity? The gaps today? What's your approach? What's your model? Yeah, so first let's talk about what's happening in the workplace. Did you know employees on average spending an hour day on the personal finances? Did Not know that? That's an hour a day each employee that you have. Do the math right. So what our day? Twice, twenty hours a month times employees that you have. Times are hourly rate. It's actually affecting your bottom line. Now, what are they doing in that hour? They're checking their bank account, creditors are calling them, you know, it's a variety of things that they're doing in that hour. So financial wellness is important. Now HR is important with salary. How much people are getting total compensation and they think, okay, we did our part as a corporation and they're out the door. What's happening is those issues at home are coming back into the office place. Do you know that stress shows up...

...in crazy ways? It can show up in two days headaches, irritability. So what's happening in that calm workplace where you're happing is people calling out six to go to doctor's appointments because they have migraines or muscle tension. Or you have people who are causing distruction within, you know, that safe, quiet environment that you're trying to create, because they're financially stressed and have no place to talk about it. So it's rolling into your workplace. So what I come in is we do workshops and we have that safe place for free people to talk about money. And it could be done in small groups, which we find is nice, manager groups versus non manager groups. Right, so you're not sitting with your manager having a financial discussion and there's so many things we could talk about. One is the intersection of money, one is how to you meet your goals. So that mindset from I'm always going to be in debt to I am in debt, and if I follow the five hours that you're a financial therapist, is set in place. I will be added debt in twenty four months. Right. It goes from that fixed mindset of like I'll never do it to coming up with action plans. So you're saying the you know corporations that focused on, whether it be pensions, which have are fading away entirely soon enough to for in case, or other retirement type plans, to your annual pay reviews. You're saying that's not enough. So that's that's not necessarily financial wellbeing in itself. Right. That's that's more static and there's a broader focus or constant, concentrated effort that needs to be implemented for you to really live a healthy lifestyle with money. You got that, and that's exactly it. Those are important aspects to offer your employees. What's happening is, and you can see by your statistics of how people are opting into these programs, they don't even know how to get started, and so by has starting the conversation that it's a safe place to have these conversations. And some people don't even nursing what matching can do for them. So for...

...them to sign up for a matching a k. They first have to understand that they have money enough to save for retirement and that mindset shift up. I can do this, versus it's overwhelming and I don't want to even open the bill or look at what I have. And that's what a lot of people feel, is they just feel overwhelmed right now with money because they work. Talk to tools. Think about it. VI centil on the football field. Will talk football for a minute, right. I sent you on the Football Field Championship game and gave you no plays and gave you didn't give you, you know, put your quarterback and didn't give you any support. What's going to happen in the same thing here is is we're asking people to go on the field for Super Bowl your life, to go live it big, with no support. So I'll add to that by saying so a lot of what we deal with as an organization are individuals that are going through a physical or emotional, you know, disability and life, whether it be a work related event or something that occurred in their prost life. And in some cases they get to the add on claim and they're, you know, they're receiving what they were as an individual producing in their job in other cases they received they reduced income, and so now you have an additional hardship. You have a physical or mental hardship from that disabling event, but then now you also have a financial hardship that just exacerbates some of the the gap and the problems that you're describing. So if you're if you're having that individual coaching session or even speaking with an organization that's maybe divining or redesigning their their their benefits, their or their approach to advocacy, what do you say that? How do you get to that individual to because it's not just it. In addition to making them keeping them financially whole, I would say it's also improving their ability to return to a physical or mental wholeness. So what do you say would be the approach to either developing a program at a corporate benefits level or dealing...

...within individual that maybe going through those struggles and hardships? Yeah, so there's four tips right here that I'm going to give you. The first one is sharing. So I would encourage the people that you work with, that you're working with, it a waiting on this claim or getting a claim or to reduce claim is sharing reduces the shame. So if you share a matter of reduced rate right now, therefore, I can't come to your birthday party or you know there's a reason. And so when you share, you reduce the shame that goes along with it. And again that comes to talking about money, people are going to be some more supportive of you and maybe all of a sudden they're going to be able to drop off a meal. If they don't know what's what you're going on, then they can't help you. So sharing is important and with that sharing is getting an accountability partner. And what that is? Just what is an accountability partner? How do I become one, sir? Yes, well, you're only an accountability partner for your wife, I'm going to assume, knowing both of you. But you know, for me my accountability partner is my best friend and you know we keep each other and in check when we want to brainstorm and idea or she knows we're all my financial information is God forbid something happens to me. Here's an interesting fact. So your accountability partner helps you guide you through this. But if you just set a goal, granted, you just said you have a claim now, right, so your claim might be. Your goal might be is to get through the next few months without going into debt. Just by setting that goal, you have a ten percent chance of taining it. By setting a goal with an accountability partner, it was sixty five percent chance of a take of obtaining it. Now I'm going to throw you a curveball because sixty five percent sounds pretty good, but I'm a high achiever. So if you set uple with an accountability partner and set up appointments, so just like you would as a when you're at work right set up monthly check ins, you have a ninety five percent chance of meeting your goal. So take this on like you would a project at work. Yeah, let's say that I'm going...

...to have a child and I'm going to take some time off related to that shot and I know that I need to shift maybe how I spend during that period of time so that I'm fully available, maybe beyond the period of time that my employer may pay me at a hundred percent of my, you know, my pre divisability earnings that I won. I mean, obviously that's scenario where I'm going to be communicating with others, but the sharing part is critical. You're saying in the visuals needs to know that I may not be able to kind of operate, to live as I would be in a normal, everyday life setting, and I would imagine, given the influence of social media is having in our lives and now, that that's probably easier to do now than it ever was. Would you agree with that? And folks are more vocal with their the in and outs of where they are, or do you think that they're still pressure? We are only conerant. You know, people are still embarrassed when it comes to money and we want to look at the social media, we want to look fancy. So people rent a house or rent a boat and be like, Oh, look at by, you know, look at me out on the boat. You know that's not reality. So when you get your accountability partner, get somebody who knows your reality and who's also invested in you. So that's going to be the important peace, and I do a wope worship of finding your accountability partner, because it's important. I had a client who was like, Oh, my brother inlaw's my accountability partner. He says he's a traitor, he knows a lot about money. Well, guess what, it took her two years and he never sat down with her. He wasn't the right accountability partner. So having that right person is really important. And then you touched on planning, which is a budget. Now, when you say budget like that hair back. That exists anymore. With the excess, with the access to credit, we even know what a budget is anymore the country. So please expand them. Yeah, so it's funny because you're runner. I know your run a right, I hate running. I do run, but I do hate it. It's I...

...decided. You know, I'm suck, I should say stuck at home. I'm at home working with three children, homeschooling. I pretty much ran out my door and and I look around and I'm like this is hard. I don't like it, you know, my heads down, my body language is just not feeling good. And I turned the corner and I look across the street and there's mark now and there's Zellable, woman jogging in her cute little outfit and the visor and the music going and and I was like, Oh my God, this is how people feel when I talk about money. Right. So we all have a different spectrum when it comes to money and when it comes to the budgeting. But if you are planning on taking excessive leave, you need the budget to meet your goal to go run that marathon. The start with some smaller steps and I don't I rephrase budget to call it a yes plan. So again, if you're looking for corporate workshops, I've a workshop on this. Like build your yes plan. Yes, I can stay home for an extended period of time, and it's that mindset shift that will help you get there and say it will be easier to say no to other things like, Hey, you know, we have concert tickets for next weekend. Do you want to go? No, because it doesn't match my yes plan. Like that a lot. So get past the stigma of sharing and share, find an accountability partner and create a plan. Last one is empathy. I mean self empathy or out to let's go swell, okay, there's a difference between sympathy and empathy. Think about that for a second. So sympathy is like poor you. Empathy is I understand what you're going through. It's a very different conversation and when people feel that you're in in your...

...corner, there likely to believe in themselves more and use you as a trusted resource. You're building relationships. When you have empathy versus sympathy, they're staying as a community, you know, they as a general community. Let's be more empathetic to individuals and all reciprocate at some point in time and it so that we can all appreciate that individuals are going through, you know, potentially a difficult time or at least something that's not consistent with their normal daily lives, and let's help them through that with empathy. Yeah, I mean, especially if you're in if you're direct with clients that are going through a life shift, you're meeting them probably at a low point and you're not seeing them at their best. So taking a minute, maybe in that's you could do some exercises like a you know, a deep breath before you pick up the phone, some tapping, if that works for you, you know, with your fingers, just to release some stress. Get up and dance, move around, and then you can engage with somebody at their level, you know, and had build that relationship because you're there with them, instead of just saying, Oh, yeah, yeah, you know, and I feel bad for you. You know. No, you know, let's be in this together and we're going to get through. This is a very different approach and one that we see stronger results with. I think you've nailed a few things. I mean we see that one, advocacy is growing General Act of advocacy, right. So you that could touch on everything from EAP type programs to, you know, physical fitness is to but I don't think any really touch on the financial wellbeing. To agree that they could. And so I think one there's an opportunity to educate and to be more planful, especially in the claiming space. You have individuals that, yeah, maybe it's only a couple weeks that they're out of work, maybe doesn't have the hardship that it could. But then give individuals that are out through retirement or that are settling on...

...a financial claim, right. And so now you've gone from having a reoccurring stream of income to a settlement. That seems great because you have a single lump sum of money, but now you don't have a plan, necessarily, of what to do with that money and how to stretch that out for the Long Hal so that you're prepared. As the lottery winner the rate, I mean the bankruptcy reading lottery winners, it's probably very similar to what you see when you some blump sums go out to clients. Yeah, I mean it's it. Initially it's advantageous for everyone, but I think for the individual and being empathetic to their situation, we need to be mindful that they may not be prepared and so that this type of support maybe something that employers may want to offer an addition to that financial settlement to make sure that this person, you know, is whole over the course of their life or that disability. So that's great, good, good stuff, good stuff and more. You say that because somebody might feel worthy of the check that they received. What it bean by that? So it's interesting. So I have clients that they received a large check an inheritance or a claim, where they are like, I didn't earn this, this isn't not my sweat equity, you know, and therefore might even put it away and not look at it, and some don't even cash it. I know that sounds crazy. I can't empathize, but there are people say this is in my money. It doesn't feel good to take and you know, you see that for people who probably don't show up as claims that should. You know, you probably have some valid people that would issues that should be claiming but because they don't feel that they're worthy of it, don't submit the claim. So we all have a relationship with money and it shows up everywhere and while you're waiting for the claim could also be very stressful because of the unknowns that are going to happen and the what if that we tell ourselves. So being mindful and being supportive is going to be important on the journey for both yourself and the client. So you touch...

...on something that I'm I'll throw my own quick curveball here that I think has impacted that relationship over the last not to date myself, but were less definitely twenty years of possibly thirty years, where the access to credit exists in a way that it didn't in prior years and your credit scorts for a degree is it will not even told agree. It's definitely less relevant to your access to credit than it's ever been before. Do you think that that has hurt or helped the financial literacy, the financial health of individuals that the country in general is it is a fact that we can continue to live a decent lifestyle via credit. A good thing or and and probably not one answer. Or does it present a new challenge. Is because now you've potentially created a new problem for yourself and digging yourself deeper into deeper debt while having challenges with, you know, access to income, because either you're out on claim or you're shifting jobs. And what are your thoughts on on credit and its role in, you know, the financial health of our society here? Credit card debt is real and the majority of us have it. So why did we get up into it? Or let's take a look back. That goes back to financial literacy. So if you go to college or university or Trade School, you generally get a student loan. So you're coming out you're starting off not on the right foot with finances. You're starting off already in debt. And you know, Mark All day myself with you is, you know, when I went to school, they you know, they just had tabletops and no free t shirt. Just sign up for a credit card. I still have that card? Actually, yes, I do. It's to day. You just go online and, let boo, a credit card shows up and all of a sudden you don't know what the APR is. You don't understand that when you pay they're like, I pay them inimum amount. Well, that's great, but you're going to pay the minimum ount for twenty yours and pay fortyzero...

...of interest versus paying it out in full. Now a lot of my clients don't understand that because they'ven't been educated on this. They grew up with their parents back to where you learn just a credit card debt. It was the norm. So we have to start communicating with our peer groups, with our social networking groups, of Hey, I just found a low interest a pr or I called my credit card company and reduce that or paid off my debt and celebrate it. Back to the accountability partner. Hey, I'm going to pay off this Tj Max credit card has twozeros on it. Great, next one. Hey, how did that Tj Max Credit Card come along? Hey, we I got the TWOZERO. Awesome, high five. Let's Bo grab a beer for five bucks. You know what I mean. Like it takes that shame away when you're sharing and it gives you an objective. For Myself, I keep an objective of goal setting and I have some clients that do it. You know, like the churches in the schools, they do like a thermometer. Yeah, so we could do the same for your credit card debt. So every time you pay off more of it, market hang it up so you can see it and it's a sense of accomplishment as you move through it. I was just going to say I think you're you're on the verge of my going to copyright it, of a gamification of your financial wellbeing in therapy. I think you may have something there. I actually have cards coming out later this month. See, there you go. I should have known you ahead of the game. We are excellent. All right. So, Erica, last question before we before we close. You have a money relationship quiz available, so tell us about that. What does that consist of? SRE So, on my website you can find a quiz that talks about your money beliefs and it comes with four different scripts. Are you money vigilant? Are you money worshiper your network your net worth equals yourself worth? Are you money status? You know you want to be seen in the right places,...

...or are you money avoider? have an open up, a credit card bill and months. So what it does is it gives you so a snapshot back and great a role combination of these, of where you are today and once you get a snapshot. I look at us like a horsecope. Okay, now you know where to go next or some of your positive and negative traits in which ones you want to work on, and you could get that on my website, at your financial therapistcom and probably something that you're more revealing in the under behind closed door. So it's probably a good thing to have. That's not facetoface, at least for many. I think when you get with a therapist, for sure you need to accept the reality and, to your point, be the open and get move past the stigma of sharing those those prior maybe inhibitions around my financials. That to your point. You know, my bringing was a little bit different, but I think generally speaking and prior generations it was. That is an adults conversation. You know, the kids don't need to be a part of that conversation and probably did some harm. And now to your point again around credit cards and such. Hey, maybe we can't do everything, and here's why, as opposed to just doing it billing it in the kids not understanding and getting a complex of anything can be done at any point in time and yeah, somehow we're paying for it. So we must we must be well off right. It's note. I grow the you know, the the grocery store. My ten year old be like how much money's on that thing? You just keep talking, stupid, but there's not tangible cash. And so from some clients I say take out the cash, freeze the credit cards, put them away in a drawer, you know, and go old school, the little accordion and everything has a budget, and do that for a month and start seeing where you're spending and where you're not. So sometimes, you know, the credit cards does do more damage because we don't even think about it. The other thing the kids can get involved in is setting a goal. At a Klin who wanted to go to Ireland. So again they're the thermometer bull. And so is that...

...good? Girls? We can go to dinner tonight where we could put the twenty towards Ireland. Will Guess what? Everybody had peanut butter and Jelly that night, and that twenty dollars that colored in to go to Ireland. And she's like it worked for being a didn't, because then we'd be out shopping and they'd be like mom, do you really need that family involved and that experience when they did get to go mint so much more to everybody. So don't be afraid to get the family involved in these conversations. Set Goals as a family and as an individual. Erica, I am so glad we did this. I think it's a much needed, you know, opportunity to presenting to your clients and I wish you nothing but success and I will do my best to champion the cause, because we have a void in the space and I think we it starts in our household, but it definitely bleeds into our corporate our work environment. So, Erica, you mentioned your website. So please say again where folks can can reach you and work and they contact me absolutely. I'm available at your financial therapistcom or you can drop me an email at info at your financial therapistcom. All right, Erica, again, everyone, Erico Ossaman, ceeo and founder of your financial therapist. Thank you so much. Thank you. You've been listening to be on the claim a podcast for risk and claims leaders. To ensure you never miss an episode, please subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player, if you use apple podcast. We'd love for you to give us a quick rating for the show. Just tap the number of stars that you think the podcast deserves. Until next time, stay curious and keep innovating.

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