Using the Marble Jar Strategy to Find a Trustworthy Financial Advisor

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Using the Marble Jar Strategy to Find a Trustworthy Financial Advisor

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How do you get to the place where you completely trust your financial advisor? I recommend you make it your goal to find a “Marble Jar Advisor” – an advisor who, over time, has consistently put more and more marbles in their jar. What do I mean by marbles? Let me share my inspiration for this strategy and how you can use it to find a trustworthy financial advisor.

Recently, I listened to Brené Brown, a world-renowned researcher, explain her concept of a “Marble Jar Friend” on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. She described her daughter’s third-grade teacher who added or subtracted marbles from a jar to either reward or punish classroom behavior. The goal was to fill the jar with as many marbles as possible. Brené used that example to describe certain friends as “Marble Jar Friends” – those people in our lives who add lots of marbles to their jars with small, consistent acts. Over time these acts create trust. While grand gestures are nice, it’s the day-to-day moments that count.

As I listened to Brené, I realized that the same holds true for the relationship you have with your financial advisor. A “Marble Jar Advisor” is one that you trust without question. Trust is perhaps the most critical component to the advisor/client relationship. It’s what allows you to feel that you are in a safe space to be vulnerable, speak your truth and take risks. A financial life plan is worthless if you don’t feel that way. When trust is the centerpiece, power is granted to the relationship between you and your advisor, instead of power vesting only in the advisor. This trust creates a true partnership of equals.

Brené breaks down trust into seven components that are important to establish a solid relationship. Let’s see how they can apply to the relationship you have with your financial life advisor, financial life planner, or financial coach.


You need to be able to count on your advisor to follow through every time and be true to their word. You also need to know that they are listening to you on the deepest level and that he or she is there for you. But don’t forget to hold yourself to the same high standard. You need to be reliable and “show up” in both the literal and figurative sense. You need to be reliably committed to the process of financial life planning in order to make it work.


From the beginning, it is important to have clear expectations and boundaries. Financial life planning is often an intimate experience. It can trigger early money messages, both positive and negative, and it pushes you to really clarify your values and dreams. And when it is done with your significant other, a whole new dimension of relationship dynamics is added into the mix. You and your advisor should discuss boundaries ahead of time. How far can your financial life advisor or life planner push you? How far can they delve into topics? Confirm that they will ask for permission if they aren’t sure. These kinds of clear boundaries are crucial to establish a safe space.


Your financial advisor is human and he or she will make a mistake at some point. You need to know that he or she will own the mistake, apologize for it, and make it right to the best of his or her ability. You also need to know that they will be holding you accountable to yourself and your vision.


It goes without saying that confidentiality is king. If your financial advisor starts sharing confidential or personal information with you about their other clients, that’s a clue that it’s time to find someone new.


Similar to the vault, it should be a given that your advisor will always do what is right and act as a fiduciary, putting your best interest first. However, there’s another important piece of the integrity puzzle – speaking the truth without sugarcoating it. You need to know that your advisor will say the hard things, not just the easy, happy ones.


Your financial life advisor should approach every topic with curiosity and with only your agenda in mind. A “right” or “wrong” answer is incredibly rare in financial life planning. There are almost always shades of gray – where the “textbook” answer doesn’t take into account all of the unique variations of a particular situation. You should always feel educated and empowered by your advisor to come to your own decisions. Also, make sure you come to the table with an open mind as well. 


There are many definitions but in Brené’s research on trust, a person is generous when he or she gives you the benefit of the doubt and assumes that there are good intentions underlying your words and actions. Your advisor/life planner must believe in you with all his or her heart – that you are creative, resourceful, and capable of achieving your vision.

When all of these elements come together, you will have yourself a “Marble Jar Advisor” – a relationship that will allow you to embrace and enjoy your journey towards your uniquely fulfilling life’s vision.

Are you looking to establish a trusting relationship with a financial life planner? Please feel free to schedule a complimentary Financial Life Plan Discovery Session with me to so we can begin to get to know each other and see if we can partner on your journey towards a financially satisfying future.

Abbey Henderson CFP® RLP® CPCC®

Abbey Henderson CFP® RLP® CPCC®

CEO, Wealth Advisor & Coach

I love working with women because women tend to be more relationship-oriented and it is the relationship that is my favorite part of being an advisor. I also find that women are often my most engaged and collaborative clients.

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Educate yourself about Financial Advisors

Purse Strings Approved Professional

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Learning to Pick the Best

Financial Advisor

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I get it—the world of finance can seem intimidating. There are always news stories about scams to avoid and “financial advisors” going to jail. Out of all the advice out there, how do you know who you should listen to and where you should start? Here are three easy ways to educate yourself:

1. The Library

This may sound old-school, but the public library has a wealth of free resources available. I am partial to this suggestion because this is how I started learning about finance myself. I was a college graduate, married, and a homeowner before I really recognized how little I knew about finance. I am not joking–the first book I checked out of the library was “Personal Finance for Dummies.” Now, most public libraries have their catalogs available online to check out as well if you have an e-reader or tablet. Start at the very beginning. Make sure you have a good grasp of the basics (what is a stock? what is a bond?) before you start moving on to more complex topics. Investing does not have to be complicated, and you should be wary of any investments you don’t understand.

2. Your Employer Plan

Do you have an employer plan? By employer plan, I mean a 401(k), 403(b), or a retirement account offered through your employer. If so, it is likely held by a large firm like Vanguard, Fidelity, Charles Schwab, or others. If you do have this option available, try logging in and spending some time looking around their website. Most money managers will have educational material available for free for participants on their websites. There may even be free options provided by your employer to speak with an advisor about your situation. These resources are part of the benefits plan offered to you by an employer, so make sure to take advantage of them!

3. A Fiduciary Advisor

Work with an advisor who is a fiduciary. Investopedia defines a fiduciary as “a person or organization that acts on behalf of another person or persons, putting their clients’ interest ahead of their own, with a duty to preserve good faith and trust.” The best way to find out if an advisor is a fiduciary? Ask them straight out! A true fiduciary will not hesitate to answer you when you ask this question. Before hiring any advisor, make sure to ask how they are paid and if they receive any commissions on the products they sell.

The first step is the hardest–once you decide how you’d like to move forward, don’t be afraid to take it! Whether you decide to move forward on your own or work with an advisor you will be amazed how much you can learn along this journey.

Carol Bell, CFP®, MBA

Carol Bell, CFP®, MBA

Senior Wealth Advisor

Carol specializes in helping clients understand their investments. She is not just a financial planner and investment manager but loves her role as a financial coach and cheerleader. “Money is such an emotional topic. I think of what I do every day as financial counseling more than just focusing on dollars and cents.”

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How Should I Prepare for My First Meeting with my advisor?

Ask An Expert

Ask an Expert – How should I prepare for my first meeting with my advisor?

Jason Conger Financial Advisor
Answered By

Roger Silvera

Financial Planner


How should I prepare for my first meeting with my advisor?


In preparation for meeting with your advisor, have a list of questions about the following:

1. Their practice areas – do they serve clients like you.
2. How do they get paid?
3. Are they accepting new clients?
4. Where do they see their practice in 5 years?
5. How do you service your clients?

With these questions, it can give you a baseline understanding of whom you’re working with and how to make the most use of the time you have with them.

We will provide you useful and timely information you can use to be #financiallyfearless