• Products
  • Insights
  • Practice Management
  • Resources
  • About Us

These days political “conversation” is everywhere, jangling and jarring our nerves and our relationships. We are talking, thinking, and arguing about politics. One of my clients coined it “the conversation,” because it’s happening at work, home, online, parties, Little League games, schools, religious institutions, supermarket lines, you name it. Even when alone, we are in political dialogue: with social media, obsessive news checking, and even in our dreams. Therapists find clients regularly dreaming about politics and, as a culture, we are having oddly similar dreams. The topic of politics is omnipresent, riveting and emotional: it has taken over.

Yet, conventional wisdom still tells us, Don’t talk politics or religion; these topics are too personal, controversial, and divisive. Yet with political conversation everywhere these days, such advice is not helpful or even viable. Telling you to avoid it only leaves you flat-footed and unprepared if and when the conversation comes up.

So let’s take this topic head-on. Political conversations can be difficult. But I want to help you learn how to constructively talk politics with clients. Why? So you can meet your clients where they are, and be their go-to financial professional, even a leader for them in these times of uncertainty and challenge. And isn’t that the overarching goal, after all?

This article covers the following topics, and include specific language, approaches and useful client questions to help you navigate these tricky waters.


The client asks about your political views What are your options when your client asks your views on specific candidates or issues?

How you handle this is based on what you know of your client, your relationship, and what you are comfortable sharing. You’ll likely rely on your intuition in the moment to decide what to do, but remember intuition is simply lightning-fast decision-making based on your well-honed knowledge and experience. Thinking through options ahead of time will hone your intuition so you can ably manage a situation in the moment. Here are three ways you can go:

  1. The benefits and pitfalls of talking politics, including why avoiding it could be problematic.
  2. The various underlying meanings political conversations can have, with the key concept being that the most important thing is to understand is the unique meaning the conversation has to each individual client. I’ll share ways to be empathic and respond to your client based on the conversation’s meaning, rather than on your or your client’s political views.
  3. Handling heated conversations — what to do if the conversation gets out of hand (covered in the next article).

Here’s the key takeaway: As long as you stay in your role as a financial professional, talking about politics could be helpful and supportive to your clients, and beneficial to your relationship.

By “stay in your role,” I mean this: your role is to listen, connect and develop an effective financial plan with your client during the certainties, and uncertainties, of life. Given this, talking about politics with clients is not about having a debate. It’s about listening for what this conversation means to them in terms of both financial guidance and their lives.

I’m sure we can all agree, no matter our politics, that we are in a time of uncertainty. Sensitive listening, connection and attuned guidance, rather than debate, is a rarity and would likely be welcome by clients, regardless of political views.


The Benefits and Pitfalls of Talking Politics

While I am not suggesting to initiate political conversations, I am saying that when your clients bring up politics, it is invaluable to be prepared to speak about it in a thoughtful, sensitive, and productive way. You work in a business where you have trusted, close and social relationships with clients. Together, you talk about all kinds of things. In fact, you encourage clients to talk about the most personal of issues. Since politics is the topic on the minds of many clients, it could be awkward or even odd to cut off this ever-present topic.



If you immediately shift away from political conversations, even with the best of intentions, you might in fact be creating just the problems you’re trying to avoid:

  • You could distance yourself from your clients. They might sense you don’t want to discuss something important they have brought up. This could make them feel disconnected, awkward or even embarrassed for raising it. They may begin to wonder how safe it is to bring up other difficult issues, thus creating distance in your overall relationship.
  • Clients could lose confidence. You could give the impression you can’t handle challenging or uncertain topics. If a topic like politics is off-limits, they may wonder what else you can’t handle.
  • Pragmatically, you’re leaving your clients on their own with worries, concerns, thoughts and ideas. They may feel the need to make decisions without your guidance, especially decisions about their finances that they see connected to the current political environment.


Political conversations where you listen for meaning and connect with your clients can strengthen your relationships, in the present and long-term. If clients bring up politics, this is an opportunity to show you are able and open to talk about whatever is on their mind. You don’t need to back off or avoid it. In fact, your willingness to talk politics can show that you continue to be a steady and valuable resource around difficult topics and times.

When you allow a political conversation to unfold, you can listen for the underlying and important meaning that conversation has for your client.

The Underlying Meanings of Political Conversations

An important goal of any client meeting is to understand what is on your client’s mind. So in a political conversation, your goal is the same: to listen for what this conversation uniquely means to your client in the context of your professional relationship.

Here are some underlying reasons, beyond political content, why a client would talk about politics:

  1. Connecting with you. Bringing up politics may be an easy way for the client to connect with you and feel more comfortable. Since it is a common conversation right now, talking politics can play the similar, connecting role of small talk. If this is the case, you may want to talk more lightly about politics, without getting in too deeply. You aren’t being superficial; you are actually being attuned to where your client is.
  2. Indicating another anxiety that your client may not be able to express. Clients often feel anxious before or during a meeting when money is the topic. To deal with this anxiety, your client may switch the topic to politics to lessen the other anxiety. If this happens, try to figure out what issue is making the client anxious so you can address it and help put your client at ease. It might not be politics at all.
  3. Expressing underlying feelings and issues important to financial guidance. Your client may be expressing feelings raised by the current political situation as being related to financial issues. You can clarify and integrate these feelings into effective planning. Think about asking:
  • What worries or fears are coming up for you in the current political climate? What are you feeling optimistic about (for yourself, family members, business, insurance, investments, spending, large expenditures, long-term or short-term concerns)?
  • How might your financial or personal goals, priorities, or values be impacted by the new political climate?
  • In these uncertain times, what specifically are you feeling unsure about? In what ways have you dealt with times of uncertainty or change in the past? How can I be helpful to you as the political situation evolves and this new era continues? What would be helpful for me to be keeping an eye on for you?
  • How are you and your partner (if there is one) seeing things differently? How might this affect your financial planning?

Key Takeaways

Don’t shy away from political conversations. In my field of psychology and your world of financial planning, there is consensus that challenging conversations, handled skillfully, can strengthen relationships between people. Why? Because if done well, both parties listen and better understand each other around important and emotional issues. This is the glue in relationships.

The key to political conversations in financial planning is that you are always listening in order to better and more deeply understand your client; you are not having a political debate. In this way, you can have a political conversation, as you’re listening with the intent to understand, rather than the intent to reply (Stephen Covey). And this can be an enormous gift to your clients.

Author Headshot

Clinical Psychologist, Ph.D., expert and speaker, specializing in the intersection of money, psychology and life. Dr. Nusbaum works with individuals, families and organizations on the impact of the emotional/psychological side of money.  

She has appeared as an expert for The New York Times, CBS News, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Money Magazine, and DailyWorth.

Next Steps

1 If a client brings up politics in a conversation, don’t immediately try to shift away to another topic
2 Rather, see it as opportunity to show you are able and open to talk about whatever is on their mind
3 Realize that talking about politics with clients is not about having a debate. It’s about listening for what this conversation means to them in terms of both financial guidance and their lives.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author, who is not affiliated with Hartford Funds. The information contained herein should not be construed as investment advice or a recommendation of any product or service nor should it be relied upon to, replace the advice of an investor’s own professional legal, tax and financial professionals.


The material on this site is for informational and educational purposes only. The material should not be considered tax or legal advice and is not to be relied on as a forecast. The material is also not a recommendation or advice regarding any particular security, strategy or product. Hartford Funds does not represent that any products or strategies discussed are appropriate for any particular investor so investors should seek their own professional advice before investing. Hartford Funds does not serve as a fiduciary. Content is current as of the publication date or date indicated, and may be superseded by subsequent market and economic conditions.

Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. Investors should carefully consider a fund's investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. This and other important information is contained in the mutual fund, or ETF summary prospectus and/or prospectus, which can be obtained from a financial professional and should be read carefully before investing.

Mutual funds are distributed by Hartford Funds Distributors, LLC (HFD), Member FINRA|SIPC. ETFs are distributed by ALPS Distributors, Inc. (ALPS). Advisory services may be provided by Hartford Funds Management Company, LLC (HFMC) or its wholly owned subsidiary, Lattice Strategies LLC (Lattice). Certain funds are sub-advised by Wellington Management Company LLP and/or Schroder Investment Management North America Inc (SIMNA). Schroder Investment Management North America Ltd. (SIMNA Ltd) serves as a secondary sub-adviser to certain funds. HFMC, Lattice, Wellington Management, SIMNA, and SIMNA Ltd. are all SEC registered investment advisers. Hartford Funds refers to HFD, Lattice, and HFMC, which are not affiliated with any sub-adviser or ALPS. The funds and other products referred to on this Site may be offered and sold only to persons in the United States and its territories.

© Copyright 2024 Hartford Funds Management Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Not FDIC Insured | No Bank Guarantee | May Lose Value