I was part of a session that a few of the AFCPE Board of Directors participated in about storytelling, “Better Than Fiction: True Stories of Our Money Missteps” with Colin Ryan. Each participant was asked to share a story about something that happened in our lives related to finances. Then Colin helped us shape our stories to add color and depth so it would be more of a real story telling event.

I feel that sharing stories with our clients on our own financial hurdles or successes can really help them to have hope and to identify with us. When we share a time when we learned something we become vulnerable and our client gains trust in us. We trust them with the information we are sharing with them, and that helps deepen the client/counselor relationship. When they feel they can trust you, the client will share more with you. The stories that we share with them can serve as examples of how life can be changed through becoming aware of your own financial story. Through the process of working with Colin he helped me to shape my story to be a true storytelling event. He had me share details that would paint a picture for the listener. It would help them to remember the story through the details shared and emotion involved that touch the listener. Mine and others are likely stories that some will take away from symposium. Here is the story I shared:


When people ask me who has been the biggest influence on my career as an Accredited Financial Counselor, I say Grandpa Madden.

My grandparents didn’t have a lot of stuff, or look like they had money, but they had financial independence that so many strive for. I learned so much through his guidance.


We had a Sears outlet store that was close to his home. Grandpa Madden would walk me through the store and talk to me about percentages and when it was a good time to buy something we needed.

He taught me about being thrifty, and learning how to be a good consumer at a young age. He taught me how to shop sales. He taught me about outlet stores. He took us on adventures instead of buying us a lot of things. He talked about being able to do what you want in life by being careful with your money through your career.

He paid for my college tuition. I was shocked when he told me he was going to pay for college. I changed my plan and went to a community college to help save him money for the first couple years. I think he was proud that I was being careful on how he was investing in me.

But then, when I was a college student, I decided to trade in my reliable, not attractive Dodge Valiant, for a newer Dodge Omni that looked cooler. It then ended up needing a $235 repair shortly after I bought it. As a college student this was expensive. I remembered his guidance to weigh the options and look at the costs involved in a purchase.


My grandpa was good with money because he had grown up during the depression, and learning to live off of less was very important. He continued to live below his means for many years. He had a personal experience with money that made being good with money very important. And now I had had my personal experience too. Since then I have always taken the time to think through big purchases.


I didn’t go into this career field until I was 40. Grandpa Madden would be proud of the work I do helping people to realize their dreams. He would be proud to know that many of the things he taught me are valuable for others to learn through the classes I teach and the clients I work with. The time he put in with me led me to this field and I am so happy to help anyone I am able to.

If you attended the Symposium, I hope that you enjoyed the storytelling session. I most definitely will continue telling stories to my clients to help build the bond and make an impact on the relationship I have with them.

Andi Wrenn, AFC® has had a passion for helping people make sound financial decisions for two decades. She is on the AFCPE® Board of Directors, and recently retired as the Provider Manager for over 700 financial professional working with military families at Zeiders Enterprises in the Personal Financial Counselor (PFC) Program. She continue to mentor and guide financial professionals in their career.

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