There has been a lot of talk about behavioral finance in recent years and how it influences financial planning work. But one researcher, who happens to have a background as both a planner and psychologist, notes that the study of behavior and money has been limited in its reach because advisors need more practical experience using behavioral psychology techniques.

“The problem is that most behavioral finance research is done by ‘ivory tower’ types who have never worked with financial advisors or clients,” says planner and author Brad Klontz. “There is a huge divide between advisors and the researchers, who usually don’t work directly with advisors or clients.”

Klontz does both. He is the author of several books, including Mind Over Money, and is an associate professor at Kansas State University. And in January, he co-founded the Financial Psychology Institute (along with his father, Ted Klontz), an organization that he hopes will help close the gap between the research and the advice.

Advisors who take a two-year course of study with the institute receive a certificate as a financial behavioral specialist. The course includes a three-day, in-person workshop that shows advisors how to implement the theories they are learning with real clients. It also uses virtual seminars and self-study components.

“We are drawing on 100 years of psychology and marrying it with behavioral financial research, which is in its infancy,” says Klontz, a psychologist by training who decided to become a CFP after working with planners. (He was recently appointed by Occidental Asset Management to develop the RIA’s investment strategy focusing on financial psychology.)

Among the things Klontz’s research has shown is that even the way advisors’ offices are arranged can affect their interactions with clients. When you make your office look more like a living room, without a desk between you and the clients, the clients become more comfortable and forthcoming, he says. “And don’t have a ticker tape running across a screen on the wall,” he advises.

Klontz also teaches techniques for dealing with resistant clients. He tells advisors not to confront them or tell them they need to make a budget or take other action. Instead, he suggests advisors ask the clients why they do not feel a budget is important. That leads them to defend the action.

Klontz says he is always looking for new research topics inspired by experiences with the advisors and clients he works with. For instance, he wants to look into the dynamics of a couple when the woman makes substantially more than the man. He also wants to explore how people’s attitudes toward the wealthiest “1 percent” affect their finances.

“The advisors who come to the Financial Psychology Institute are the ones who realize the client is more complicated than just a portfolio,” Klontz says. “They want to improve their overall approach to their own finances and toward their clients.”