TTU completes novel research in virtual financial planning

Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 8:04 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Over the past year, the pandemic has pushed personal finances to the forefront of many minds. At the same time, lockdowns and life changes prevented many from visiting their advisors.

COVID-19 forced virtual meetings to become common in many fields. While researchers have studied the effectiveness of online meetings in counseling and medicine, the subject’s been practically untouched in personal financial planning, according to researchers at Texas Tech University.

“We’re working with clients around changing financial behavior and that’s not about numbers. That’s about behavior. It’s about relationships. It’s about emotions and how you think about and feel about money,” Sarah Asebedo, certified financial planner and assistant professor in Texas Tech University’s Department of Personal Financial Planning, said.

Asebedo says some may think personal finance is just about numbers, but in reality, a lot of it’s psychological and therapeutic. She and other Texas Tech faculty in the Personal Financial Planning Program teamed up with faculty in the Couples, Marriage and Family Therapy Program to find how teletherapy tools can be used in virtual conversations about money. The work resulted in a set of best practices for financial planners to meet clients’ needs without sacrificing the engagement of a face-to-face interaction.

The pioneering research comes as the pandemic has forced many to rethink their finances.

“I think it’s been a period of time of just shock to the system, which often causes people to reflect and evaluate what their values are, what their goals are, what they want their life to look like,” Asebedo said.

Asabedo says these practices can help professionals use online meetings as an active resource, not a fallback.

“It saves you commute time to travel to an office. You can maybe call in from home when it’s more convenient. So, the virtual modality is something to be leveraged, not something to be added as sort of this second option to face-to-face,” Asebedo said.

For Asebedo, the next step in the research would be to do an experiment comparing in-person and virtual meetings and how they affect relationships and financial outcomes.

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