How to Increase Cultural Intelligence to Better Connect with Clients with Stephanie J. Lee [Ep33]

Updated: Jul 8, 2020

Welcome to episode 33 of The Innovating Advice Show. 

I’m joined by Stephanie Lee, Founder of East Rock Financial Services in California. 

If you like smiling and making eye contact, how do you react if a client doesn’t smile or make eye contact? If they interrupt you, does that feel rude?

In this episode, we’re talking about cultural intelligence and how to understand different values and behaviors in financial planning – which is the title of a great talk that Stephanie gives. 

She shares with us what culture means – which is far broader than ethnic and national cultures; how to select the right communication techniques with clients; and how to be open minded and curious when working with people from various cultures and backgrounds. 


  1. Stephanie’s LinkedIn

  2. Book: Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights

  3. Book: Emotional Intelligence 2.0

Guest Bio

Stephanie Lee, CFP®, founded East Rock Financial Services in 2008. In a prior career she worked with clients in 17 countries. Stephanie volunteers on a nonprofit board to improve K-12 financial literacy. She is a jazz bassist and rock violinist who votes on the Grammy Awards. She has been quoted by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. 


00:20 – Introducing Stephanie Lee

02:12 – What culture means

03:30 – Dissecting culture along different spectra of behaviours

05:44 – The importance of cultural intelligence

07:55 – Stephanie’s cultural background

12:37 – The importance of non-verbal communication: what smiling means in different cultures

15:36 – Mirroring your client’s behaviour

17:12 – Book Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights, by Kenji Yoshino

18:20 – Wait vs Interrupt culture

19:58 – Allowing space for people to speak

21:35 – Examples of cultural taboos

23:22 – Talking about death with clients of different cultures

28:30 – Talking about illness

29:46 – Individualist vs Collectivist cultures: analyzing the Thailand soccer boy’s cave rescue

35:57 – The way different cultures are handling the coronavirus

37:42 – How to contact Stephanie to have her present to your company or group on cultural intelligence

38:25 – Nothing matters more than human connection: finding ways to connect with others whose background is different than yours