Adrian Klenz, AFC® is a financial counselor, educator and certified housing counselor. He’s also one of AFCPE’s AFC® Review Course instructors. When people ask what he does, he usually has to explain how his work differs from a financial advisor or a financial planner. 

Adrian: Usually people hear the word “financial” and think investment and retirement planning. I explain to them that I focus more on financial behaviors. 

AFCPE: What inspired you to enter the personal finance field?

 Unemployment! I was laid off at the height of the “great recession” and I answered a job ad for an Americorps position for a local community action agency (Western Dairyland). They wanted me to create a financial literacy program. I had been working for a decade in the mental health field so it was quite a transition. Fortunately, I have been able to use my mental health experience to help clients make changes to financial behaviors. I taught for a time at UW-Eau Claire teaching students how to be financial mentors. Then I began teaching for several national organizations. In 2015 I started my own business providing financial counseling, housing counseling and financial education. 

AFCPE: Tell us how you are “meeting people where they are.”

I find that sharing my own trouble with money from my younger days helps put people at ease. They realize that I am not going to judge them because I have experienced many of the same issues they are facing. That has helped me meet people where they are. 

AFCPE: What’s on the horizon? What’s got you most excited in your work?

I have been thinking a lot about how to stay “relevant.”  It is important not to be complacent. I am contemplating getting my certification as a financial coach (FFC®). I have some experience with coaching but I am considering taking that to the next level. I am exploring certification in financial therapy. Given my mental health background, that might be enjoyable. I am also working on a book about my experiences with money and how I was able to climb out of that hole. Since I teach all over the country I get to chat with non-profit professionals everywhere and that helps me keep my finger on the pulse. 

Adrian answers the Friday 5:

My Why: Helping people climb out from under the rock of fear. Money issues create a significant amount of stress and emotional anguish. I lived that. So, helping people take control of their money issues and helping them find peace is my why. 

My Favorite Quote: “I have often been adrift but I have always remained afloat.”

My Hero (who inspires you): My biggest historical hero is Robert Kennedy. In the financial realm, I really admire Elizabeth Warren.

My Favorite Personal Finance Resource: I have several Google alerts set for topics like “financial literacy, financial counseling, financial coaching, financial capability, and budgeting.” I get daily notices from all over the internet with many wonderful articles. I usually find this helpful. 

My best advice: Try to keep things in perspective. Nothing is as good or bad as it seems. We often get so worked up that we lose perspective and focus. 

  • For someone starting the journey to financial well-ness: Knowledge is power. Most clients don’t know how much they owe, who they owe money to, or have never looked at their credit report. They have no idea how much money they spend. I tell clients they need to get out of the dark and into the light, so I have them track spending and get their credit reports. Once they know how much they are spending and once they have a clear picture of their debts, a lot of the fear of the unknown melts away. That new perspective makes it easier to start climbing out of the hole they are in. 
  • For a new professional entering this field: Check your judgments. We all have different values and we have to make sure we are not pushing our beliefs and our values on our clients. That is the quickest way to scare clients off. You can’t build trust if you are making a client feel judged. 

Follow me: Facebook under Klenz Financial Counseling or at

June 01, 2018
Interview with Adrian Klenz, AFC®, AFCPE® Member

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