HomePrivate WealthArticlesOptimal Health And Optimal Wealth Are Not Inseparable

Optimal Health And Optimal Wealth Are Not Inseparable

After 30 years of national recognition in thought leadership and innovation in financial services for women and families and as a proven leader of multiple businesses, Heather Ettinger specializes in helping families align their resources around their family values to live an abundant and well life. Using practical tools and resources, she teaches women, their families, and their advisors, how to deepen their connections and ultimately transform clients’ lives. Heather has a bestselling book entitled, Lumination: Shining a Light on A Woman’s Journey to Financial Wellness and co-authored two significant Women of Wealth studies.

Russ Alan Prince: In what ways does Hightower champion mental health and overall well-being?

Heather Ettinger: If you look at the future of the industry, advisors will have to offer more than financial advice to remain relevant, let alone competitive. 

According to Headspace Health’s Annual Workforce Attitudes Toward Mental Health Report (2022), most CEOs (80%) and employees (75%) say they’ve missed work due to stress, anxiety or another emotional/mental health challenge. Meanwhile, an April 2022 report from the CDC—the Adolescent Behaviors and Experiences Survey—shows that 44% of teens feel “persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness,” an increase from around 26% in 2009 and 37% in 2019. 

These are astonishing figures that depict the tremendous need for us at Hightower to become champions for our clients by providing vetted resources they can utilize to address well-being overall, including what we call mental well-th.

Our advisors meet with individual clients and families to discuss planned-for and unplanned-for-life transitions, helping them navigate any challenges with as much grace as possible. Our mission is to elevate the importance of mental well-th and overall well-being across our advisory practices and create a sense of urgency among the wealth management community to bring these conversations to the forefront.  

Prince: The role of the advisor has changed; beyond important conversations around financial planning, what other resources and benefits are advisors being asked to provide? 

Ettinger: According to a survey from PIMCO, 78% of women say they would be more interested in talking to a financial advisor if they focused on improving their quality of life, versus just beating the market. 

To strengthen and deepen our relationships with clients who value our expertise and guidance across all aspects of their life, advisors need to look beyond market performance and provide resources in different formats. At Hightower, we use articles, podcasts and/or webinars as educational tools for clients because we realize people learn differently. 

For example, Lisa Damour, who’s a highly regarded expert on the emotional lives of teenagers—and someone I know personally—answered questions directly from our advisors and their clients. In addition, Motivity Care, which offers concierge caregiving management services, is a resource the Hightower team has vetted that advisors can point clients to when they are in need of that type of support. 

Prince: What are some tips you would give advisors in having those hard conversations with clients to address mental health?

Ettinger: At Hightower, we identify areas that cause the most stress and anxiety among clients, including mental and emotional health battles; caregiving challenges with regard to both kids and elder care; work-life balance and career transitions; and financial stresses. It’s important to understand when meeting with clients they need extra support to navigate these life stressors. 

And when it comes to life’s most difficult topics, whether that is a family member with addiction issues, or dealing with the loss of a spouse—advisors need to feel prepared to have these difficult conversations. It is important to assess your own comfortability in discussing these topics with clients and see what resources may be useful to you before tackling them face-to-face or over the phone. 

According to a report from Fidelity, only a third of advisors say they have a process for facilitating intimate family conversations around health, care, and end-of-life service offerings. These topics will only become harder to address over time. 

What clients are looking for is someone who gets what they’re going through. For example, when I talked to clients about caregiving in the past, I often thought I was a really good advisor in that space until I started living it. And then I realized how much I didn’t know. And Hightower’s Chairman and CEO Bob Oros, said the same thing when his mom moved into an assisted living facility. 

We are working to give advisors tools to have these conversations, as well as access to a network of professionals and specialists to guide their clients in challenging times. We’re introducing those resources through podcasts, written materials and additional formats so advisors can prepare themselves before calls with clients. 

Prince: For the Well-th and Well-being initiative at Hightower, where do you draw inspiration and ideas? 

Ettinger: We draw inspiration and ideas from our advisors and their clients. I’ve been doing this for 35 years, and I’ve had a front-row seat to what has been creating the greatest threats to mental well-th for individuals and their families. There is such an enormous need for these resources that it made sense for us to roll out these initiatives on a national scale. 

We have implemented a steering committee at Hightower where we tap into our network of holistic advisors to ask them what they are seeing and what else we should be thinking about; this helps us get a pulse on what the driving forces are behind many of their conversations. We want advisors to feel like they’ve had a role in creating these resources based on their clients’ experiences.

Barbara Archer of Hightower, for example, is a huge inspirational asset to us. Her podcast, “Keeping the Well in Well-thy,” provides incredible material for advisors. It is available across all major podcast platforms.

Russ Alan Prince is the executive director of Private Wealth magazine and chief content officer for High-Net-Worth Genius. He consults with family offices, the wealthy, fast-tracking entrepreneurs and select professionals.


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