Cate Americano – Values Activity

November 16, 2022

Emily Blanch


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Recently, I had the privilege of speaking with Inspiration Café founder, director, and CEO Cate Americano. We discussed how financial advisers could utilise their values activity to add to their employees’ value proposition.

Cate espouses that advice trends have moved from product-based advice to strategic- or goals-based advice to the values-based advice of today. As such, she proposes incorporating a values activity within the advice process. 


What’s in it for advisers?

A values activity allows advisers to grasp better what their clients value, what they spend their money on, and how aligned those two things are. The more aligned one’s values and spending are, the more naturally happy one will be; Cate believes that happiness is a precursor to success. A values activity can be a tool for advisers to use for themselves, their families, their teams, their business, and their clients. 


Debunking a myth

Cate has done the values activity with her young children since they were eight, and it has proven to benefit a whole gamut of individuals regardless of age. Whether they are couples or corporations, effectively debunking the myth that their values activity is complex and challenging.


How to conduct a values activity

According to Cate, there is no prescribed way to do a values activity. However, one caveat she mentions is that one has to be kind and create a safe and trusted environment with no judgement for the clients to feel comfortable and open. 


What to prepare

One can use cards like those made by Inspiration Café or Lumiant, and one can also use a matrix for clients to complete while waiting for the meeting to start. A deck of cards usually has 50 values, while a matrix has 150. 


What to do 

Lay out the cards on a clean table in front of the client or give them to the client directly; have them make two piles: one “keep” pile and one “chuck” pile. If the client hesitates about any value, it immediately goes to the chuck pile. Let them do this until they reach their top five values. If using a matrix, give them the matrix while waiting for the meeting to start. Have the client pick their values until they can whittle it down to their top five.

Once they have their top five, have them put their values in order of priority. Some of these values may be interests and not that important to the client. At least three of those values could be genuinely valuable to them.

Then let the client ask themselves what those values mean because each individual could attach different meanings to the same values. You do not need to interpret their importance for them. You let them define it.

After that, have the client rate and scale how well they are living in alignment with their values and how satisfied they are with it. Remind them that when you align with your values, you are naturally happier and that happiness is a precursor to success.

Finally, if they look at the coming 12 months, what action can they change to live more in alignment with each value? Then discuss what you can do to help them complete those actions. 


When in the advice process can a value activity be done?

While there is no specific point and time to do this exercise with clients, Cate encourages advisers to do it depending on what works for them and their clients. A possible point could be in the discovery portion. 

Advisers could link their client’s values with their wealth and money. Look at where they spend their money and how aligned that is with their values.


Value proposition

The Values activity may be done with people of all ages. Whether it is with individuals, couples or groups, as an adviser, your role is to facilitate the conversation. It is a simple and easy-to-do activity that can significantly improve your value proposition.

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