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Market Demand Increases for Financial Planning That Goes Beyond Just Money

Equitable announces unique partnership with Columbia University that teaches advisors to connect clients’ life goals and dreams to long-term financial planning

Equitable, a leading financial services company and subsidiary of Equitable Holdings (NYSE: EQH), has launched a unique partnership and program curriculum with Columbia University. The program invites financial professionals to study specific curriculum focused on holistic financial planning and coaching clients on fulfilling their life goals and dreams. Upon completion of the program, financial professionals gain a qualification called the Columbia University Holistic Financial Coach Credential.

Coaching inspires positive financial behavioral change, which is often the missing piece in financial education. There is a growing need for individuals to understand and address the emotional and social components of their financial planning. By better understanding who and what is most important to clients, financial professionals can help them as they design the habits and strategies toward pursuing their best future.

This year, more than 1,500 Equitable Advisors financial professionals opted into a foundational personal development curriculum Equitable built that serves as a precursor to the coaching credential. This initial program is focused on the financial professional’s personal growth and activating their unique gifts in service to clients. Financial professionals may then proceed to invest in the advanced coaching credential—an immersive training that involves one-on-one coaching and requires over 40 hours to complete. More than 100 financial professionals have graduated from the program, with another 100 expected to be credentialed by the end of 2022.

“This program was formed to meet a growing demand in the market for financial planning to go beyond the numbers and data,” said Dave Karr, Chairman of Equitable Advisors. “Holistic Life Planning is part of Equitable’s differentiated advice model—meeting people where they are on life’s journey in order to pursue their best future through finances that enable their purpose and lifestyle goals. By combining a personal development program for financial professionals who can continue on to complete the coaching program, we’re investing in our people and their future which results in stronger client relationships.”

“Columbia's Coaching Center of Excellence is excited to partner with Equitable to offer the first of its kind credential that integrates high-impact coaching capabilities with the art of the relationship in advisory to help clients realize their financial goals and lifestyle needs,” said Dr. Terrence E. Maltbia Faculty Director, Columbia Coaching Center of Excellence, Columbia University.

The need for holistic life planning reflects a number of social and demographic trends. One is that people increasingly want advice and input from a trusted ally who knows and understands their situation fully. According to research from Equitable, the average person is not satisfied with the financial advice they’re getting. Nearly three quarters (72 percent) say it is “very or extremely beneficial for financial services companies to address needs beyond just finances.”

Linked to these trends is the fact that people are living so much longer, the very definition of retirement is changing, and every person’s definition is unique. Financial planning for life isn’t a one-size-fits-all or a one-time thing—clients’ lives change and so do their goals. Financial professionals must understand their clients’ ever-changing long-term vision and this program teaches financial professionals and eventually coaches to lead with thoughtful, selfless questions versus outlining or prescribing preformed strategies which often leads to a much more informed understanding of the client’s situation.

The program is also based on psychographics and prepares financial professionals to coach through life milestones, but also according to clients’ thinking-style preferences. For example, if a financial professional is more left-brained and focused on financial analysis, this program teaches them how to flex more to be able to work well with clients who have right-brain preferences, which may require more empathy and possibility exploration, as well as a broader understanding of the ‘why’ behind the plan.

Samantha Curtin, an Equitable Advisors Financial Professional and graduate of the program shared, “I have always thought of myself as more than just a financial professional to my clients. They trust me, and often come to me for advice in financial areas beyond traditional investments. This program gives me the tools to address challenges and opportunities that are top of mind for my clients, but also to be able to continue to help clients think bigger picture. In other words, I’m able to have more meaningful conversations with my clients.”

Chief Sales Officer Jim Mellin explains, “Our clients place their trust in us to help them build financial security for life. We don’t take that for granted and therefore are committed to supporting our financial professionals with learning opportunities that keep them motivated, at the forefront of the industry, and prepared to meet clients where they are as concerns arise and goals change.”

This program extends the relationship that Equitable and AllianceBerstein have built with Columbia University. AllianceBerstein has had a Climate Change Collaboration with the Earth Institute and Columbia Climate School since 2019 that has provided education on climate change and investing to over 300 AllianceBerstein investors and 1,000 global asset owners.

About Equitable

Equitable, a principal franchise of Equitable Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: EQH), has been one of America’s leading financial services providers since 1859. With the mission to help clients secure their financial well-being, Equitable provides advice, protection and retirement strategies to individuals, families and small businesses. Equitable has more than 8,000 employees and Equitable Advisors financial professionals and serves 2.8 million clients across the country. Please visit for more information. Reference to the 1859 founding applies specifically and exclusively to Equitable Financial Life Insurance Company (Equitable Financial) (NY, NY).

Samantha Curtin is a registered representative of Equitable Advisors, LLC (NY, NY 212-314-4600), member FINRA, SIPC (Equitable Financial Advisors in MI & TN), an investment adviser representative of Equitable Advisors, LLC, an SEC-registered investment advisor, and an agent (CA Insurance Lic. #: 0E88954) of Equitable Network Insurance Agency of California, LLC (Equitable Network, LLC outside of California). GE-4720836.1(05/22)(exp.05/24)


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