Bionic Advisor Interview Series: Mariska Reinerink

At Finaeo, we believe the future of financial advice is “Bionic” — a combination of automated technology and the required human touch to provide an unmatched client experience. In our “Bionic Advisor” interview series, we are highlighting the personal stories of advisors and how they are using technology to make insurance more accessible to their clients.

In this interview, we sat down with Mariska Reinerink, Certified Behavioural Money Coach and Holistic Financial Planner, to learn more about the importance of understanding how clients view their relationship with money.

Q1: Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Holland. In the early 90’s I moved to Canada with my family and continued my career in healthcare.

Q2: As a child, what profession did you want to get into?

It varied, but mostly I wanted to become a brain surgeon or helicopter pilot. Funny story though; as a child, one of my favourite board games was the ‘Insurance game”. My parents were given this game by their insurance advisor. It was a bit like Monopoly but instead of buying properties, you buy insurance policies. I didn’t realize the relevance until much later!

Q3: What was your path to becoming an advisor?

It was a long path, for sure. First I became a physiotherapist in Holland. I moved to Canada in 1991 and worked at a hospital for many years. Then, while on maternity leave, I found out I had been lied to by an RESP scholarship advisor when buying an RESP for my son. This prompted me to start working for a different RESP company. I was motivated by wanting to make sure people knew the truth and were presented with honest information. While doing this, I realized that many families didn’t have life insurance, so I got my life license and ventured deeper into financial planning. I worked with a few different MGA’s in several different functions. I was an advisor, trainer, and even a branch manager for a while.

All of this gave me a well-rounded perspective on how the industry works. While doing this, I also became a Certified Financial Planner (CFP).

Q4: What inspired you to become an advisor?

It started with the motivation to educate people so they could make better-informed decisions. Over the years, however, I noticed that it’s not all about rational information. People have a LOT of emotions when it comes to money, and I wanted to address that in what I was teaching.

I had another realization when I started volunteering with women’s organizations and groups for single moms. I started to come across this stigma of the ‘financially strapped single mom’. In having many conversations with the women, it became clear that money wasn’t going to ‘fix’ the problem. It went into feelings of shame, self-esteem and worthiness. So that started my journey into finding out more about the emotional side of money, and what we can do to change it. This is where I came across Behavioural Money Coaching, and everything I’ve done in my life clicked together; wellness and finances became intertwined.

Q5: In a few sentences, tell us about Money Conversations and what you do:

As a Financial Advisor and Certified Behavioural Money Coach, I not only help people figure out their finances, come up with financial plans and cash flow plans, but I also help people redefine their relationship with money.

This is the core essence behind Money Conversations. I often start these conversations by asking clients to fill out the “money type quiz” on my website. This process provides us with a foundation to explore deeper conversations around their fears, worries, causes of anxiety, sense of worthiness and money patterns that are often not helping them.

Q6: What do you think the biggest barriers are for clients to obtaining insurance?

People may think it’s too expensive, think they don’t have enough money to bother with it, don’t know who to go to, or have had a bad experience with an advisor.

Another large barrier is money shame! So often people think ‘I should be in a better place financially’, ‘I’m so bad with money’, ‘I have debt so that makes me a bad/irresponsible person’. And with that shame comes withdrawal. They avoid seeking advice so no one can see how ‘badly they messed up’.

Q7What are some of the ways you work to reduce these barriers for clients?

I start by trying to understand my clients by analyzing their answers to my money type quiz. This allows me to discuss the emotional side of money early on in the relationship. It’s amazing to see how quickly the barriers come down. Clients are often so relieved that there’s no judgment, that I understand, and that I can connect with them there.

Once that connection is made, we start looking into their money archetypes — explaining where their patterns and behaviours are coming from, tying it back to childhood events, and go from there. I just love seeing the weight drop off the shoulders of a client, watching them open up and smile as the understanding and self-confidence comes through.

Q8: Why is it important to you, personally, to see people take control of their finances?

I know from experience (being uninsurable myself, and having been through more than a fair share of tough situations) how important it is to get insurance when you can, and when you don’t think you need it.

Q9: Can you tell us about one specific customer experience or interaction that stands out to you?

One example that comes to mind is a couple who asked me to help them with retirement planning early in the money coaching part of my journey. They were about five years from retirement and figured they needed some help. Once I got to know them, it became clear that they kept their finances very separate, and they had very different money archetypes.

At this time, I didn’t go in leading with money coaching, as the request seemed fairly straight forward: retirement planning.

However, when I explained to them that for my calculations I was going to add their numbers together and create one plan instead of two separate ones, the stress level increased drastically. So I stopped right there and switched the conversation to address the emotions. They shared with me that while they had talked about retirement, they would often disagree and get stuck.

I then went through a money coaching exercise with them both, and they found out about each other’s money history. This turned out to be very transformational for their relationship! They now could recognize why the other was handling money the way they were, what they had been through in life with regards to money, and how they felt about it now. This created a discussion they hadn’t really had in their 30 years of marriage. It created much more compassion and understanding, and a place to move forward from.

We have since completed the financial planning, and their relationship is stronger than ever!

To me, it was such an honour to be part of this process. It reminded me that I’m exactly where I need to be in life, and that it’s crucial to recognize and have the tools to deal with the emotional side of finances.

Q10: Even superheroes take time off! What do you like to do in your downtime?

Living right by the beach, my dog and I spend a LOT of time walking there, scaling the rocks. I also love to bake, cook, watch movies, read, and travel of course!

Q11: What is one piece of advice you would give someone entering the advisory business today?

Be yourself, be authentic, be honest. Don’t always be trying to sell something. Know what you’re talking about, but before you start explaining, listen to the clients to find out what they really want and need. Once you have helped them clarify that, all you have to do is find which product best fits their needs and present it to them.

Keep it simple!! It’s not about the clients knowing how smart you are. It’s about them knowing how much you listen and care.

Q12: What are your personal goals? What’s next for you?

My goal is to shift my business towards speaking and doing workshops all over the world. I’d like to train advisors who have similar values — who are well-versed in the Behavioural Finance and the psychology behind financial planning.

Q13: What does the term “bionic advisor” mean to you?

Fully utilizing all the tools modern technology can offer me. One of the benefits of being an advisor who leverages technology is that I’m not restricted by geography. I can take client meetings online or on-the-go. I manage my calendar digitally and access information online. I no longer operate on a “100% paper-based” model like the old days.