Financial counseling practitioners are expected to exercise high levels of confidentiality. This is to say that a financial counselor shouldn’t reveal information that is given to him in the course of financial counseling sessions to third parties. The information that is given in the course of financial counseling sessions is supposed to remain strictly confidential: with only the financial counselor and client being privy to it.
So what necessitates confidentiality in financial counseling sessions? Well, there are two key reasons as to why confidentiality is necessary in financial counseling:
- The nature of information shared in financial counseling: the information that is shared in financial counseling sessions tends to be of a personal nature. So you have someone revealing to you their deepest fears and aspirations, as far as their finances go. Or you have someone revealing to you potentially embarrassing financial struggles to you. For instance, a seemingly well-to-do client may reveal to you that he is struggling with even the most basic bills – say, even the phone bills. He could, for instance, be a Metro PCS phone user, who is unable to pay his phone bills on time, as per the metropcs bill payment guide. Yet this is the sort of person who, going by appearances alone, is expected to have a very easy time pay bills at the metro pcs pay bill online portal. Then, in the course of a counseling session – and seeking help from you — he reveals to you that he is struggling with such basic bills. It would surely be the ultimate betrayal for you, as a counselor, to then go ahead and reveal such information to a third party. Hence the need for confidentiality.
- The need to maintain trust: if a trend emerges where financial counselors tend to reveal the clients’ information to third parties, there is a risk of people losing confidence in the profession. People will be wary of seeking financial counseling services, knowing that the information they reveal could be shared with third parties. Hence the need for confidentiality.
Of course, the question of confidentiality has certain controversies surrounding it. For instance, what if, in the course of financial counseling, you come to learn of crime that is being committed somewhere (or crime that is about to be committed somewhere)? Will you desist from sharing this information with authorities, in a bid to protect client confidentiality? It is obviously difficult to give hard and fast rules for such situations. The most important thing is to ensure that you are guided by your professional ethos, as a qualified financial counselor, whenever you are confronted by such dilemmas.