10 Questions for Brent Kessel

Below is an email interview with Brent Kessel, author of It’s Not About the Money: Unlock Your Money Type to Achieve Spiritual and Financial Abundance*, a book that I reviewed earlier this week.

Why did you decide to write a book?

Without wanting to sound cliché, I never really feel like a made the decision. I had observed so many people suffering around financial issues, and barking up the wrong tree, as it were, that I felt compelled to write it. It was one of the easiest things I’ve ever done professionally.

What do you think is the number one reason people fail financially?

They don’t understand what payoff their financial habits are giving them. If they’re chronic overspenders, there’s a need that their purchases are filling, an emotional need, and buying purses or cars or new furniture allows them to feel good about themselves for some time. In order to change the financial habit, they have to replace the payoff with some other payoff that fills the same need. But most people never question what’s motivating their financial habits.

You say in your book that the ideal person would be balanced among the eight financial archetypes. How do you recommend a person obtain that balance?

It’s very difficult work, but very rewarding. It’s very hard to answer this question in a generalized way, which is why there are about 60 highly customized exercises in the book, so that each archetype can create the balance that they need. One way to say it, is that we often need to cultivate the positive attributes of the archetype which is most dormant in us. So for me, that’s mostly been the Innocent. Being willing to have faith and trust that things will work out, without putting quite so much focus on the numbers, given that I’m a Guardian/Saver/Empire Builder predominantly.

Which of the eight archetypes do you think is most prevalent in today’s society?

Pleasure Seeker and Innocent were prevalent until Summer 2008, which is why we’re in this mess. Today, it’s much more Guardian and Saver. People seem to be returning to the values of the ‘30’s – 50’s, but we’ll see how long that lasts.

How do you explain the archetypes to your clients?

I usually don’t. This is part of why I wrote the book, so that they could read the complete story about each archetype in there. As an example, I’ll more intuitively give a client ‘homework’ to spend more money on things which bring sensory pleasure, in the case of an overly frugal Saver, or have an Innocent hire a bookkeeper or sign up for an internet-based service like mint.com which shows them where the money’s all going.

What is the typical response from your clients once they learn about the different archetypes?

“Wow, I had no idea you had me so pegged.”

Do you ever have clients who deny the findings?

“Not really. The most I’ve had is someone who felt they couldn’t find themselves in any of them, which is usually a sign of the Innocent. Some people feel that they’re a balance of many, or that it’s constantly changing. Both of these are good signs.”

Once you know a client’s financial archetype, how do you cater your financial advice to fit the archetype?

Again, this is very customized. The Appendix of the book has specific financial planning recommendations tailored to each archetype, and it’s many pages, so it’s hard to summarize. But one example might be to have a Pleasure Seeker sell their vacation home and art collection and deploy that money in more income-producing assets (which don’t produce sensory pleasure), like stocks, bonds, or income properties.

Since writing the book, do you find yourself trying to figure out the archetypes of the people you meet?

Sometimes. It’s mostly intuitive though. If you go to my first MSN story, there’s a video of me walking around Central Park interviewing people and guessing their archetypes. Kind of humorous. The other stories there may give you some good blogging ideas too.

Finally, is it natural for a person’s archetype to change over the years or do people tend to stay the same throughout their lifetimes?

The healthiest people I’ve met with money are able to express different ones at different times. But there’s a whole class of people who, especially when the going gets tough, go back to their tried and true archetypes. Financial habits are hard to break, because unless we very intentionally try to cultivate those which have been dormant, they’ll stay dormant.

Thanks, Brent!

Also, I want to go ahead and announce the winner of the “It’s Not About the Money” book giveaway. There were forty-nine entries and the randomly-selected winner was commenter #31, Walter. Congrats, Walter. I hope you enjoy your book!

I have another giveaway coming up soon. Stay tuned…

One thought on “10 Questions for Brent Kessel”

  1. I had a hard time taking his quiz. It appears he assumes everyone has money.

    For example, this question:

    3. Over the last five years, my financial net worth has:
    (Select up to three answers)
    grown, primarily due to good saving and investing habits
    declined, primarily due to lack of focus or gifts to family/friends
    grown, primarily due to job-related promotions, bonuses, or stock options, or growth in the value of home(s), a business or investment portfolio
    declined, primarily due to overspending
    not kept me from feeling nervous
    I have no idea or don’t think it’s important

    NONE of those answers really fits me. I know what my net worth is, and I definitely think it’s important.

    It has ‘increased’ from minus $8,200 to minus $6,000, but can you really say that it has ‘grown’?

    And good saving and investing habits have had nothing to do with it – it is due exclusively to a student loan garnishment of wages and tax refunds (including the ‘stimulus’ payment).

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