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How vs. What

When was the last time you focused on the “how” instead of the “what” of your practice?

As financial educators and counselors, we often find our practice revolves around providing answers and information to those we serve. After all, bad advice or inaccurate information could mean financial ruin for someone. We spend hours on research, professional and continuing education, or learning the intricacies of products we might offer and their uses.

But when was the last time you reflected on exactly how you provided that information to its recipient? Who really are those recipients and how can you reach them best (in a knowledge building sense, not marketing)? When was the last time you reflected on your own skills as an educator of adults?

Often it is our expertise and the knowledge of its application to our subject that we measure to determine our proficiency as an educator. Yes, we must deeply know our material, but our knowledge alone it is not sufficient to ensure its successful transference to others. I propose that personal financial education is adult education and we should all dedicate a portion of our efforts to being effective educators of adults and not just subject matter experts.

So as you re-reflect on your new year’s resolutions, please also reflect on your educating. In the ongoing pursuit of excellence I suggest we all consider focusing part of our next continuing education, self-study, or formal training on the how of educating adults vs. the what.

-Ryan Ritter, MBA, AFC
Fort Leavenworth, KS

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6 Comments so far
  1. by Cynthia Crawford

    On February 9, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    To build on Ryan’s excellent thoughts, don’t forget the “why” either. When you know your why, the how and what tend to fall in place more easily.

  2. by Glenn Muske

    On February 10, 2010 at 10:41 am

    A great question and a great first comment. The “how” and “why” are getting at the motivators of the client/audience. Understanding those first will help us provide a more effective message.

  3. by Margaret Ferguson

    On February 10, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Yes, how is a word I am pondering more each day. How do I know that what I am communicating is being understood, or acted on. How do I know they know?

  4. by Heather Seiche

    On February 10, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    As a CPA and Financial Planner:
    Examining the why (because I’m good at it and I don’t want others to have the fears I had growing up) helped me change my how physically (coaching / expecting them to do most of the work instead of me doing it all for them) and my how mentally (not investing emotionally unless they show clear motivation and do their part and “letting go” of the others) and lowered my stress levels!

    I call it my get rich go broke slow, sleep better and worry less business model!

  5. by Andi

    On February 10, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    I have been working with a committee here with our state (Treasury office and Federal Reserve Bank) on just that. “How” do we educate the public so that they really “get it” and can make the changes necessary? It has been great getting together with others working toward the same goal of having the general public more financially stable!

  6. by Donna Taylor

    On February 22, 2010 at 9:37 am

    I’m constantly challenged to “engage” the client or student. I’m working to find new strategies. I use hands-on activities (play money), cartoons, Habitude cards. These seem to help.

    Let the client do the numbers instead of me.

6 Responses to “How vs. What”




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