“What would make this family dinner less awkward? Let’s talk about our financial plan! Cheers!” (Photo: Shutterstock)

Nine in 10 Americans consider it important to create a plan for their family and their own financial future, but nearly half have trouble discussing finances with their loved ones, according to a study released Monday by Lincoln Financial Group.

Why do people avoid financial conversations? The research identified three reasons.

Absent the right support or resources, it can seem overwhelming. It also can be awkward and uncomfortable, especially around fraught topics, such as having enough funds for retirement, medical problems or death. And talking about a plan for the future is difficult without having one in place.

“Important financial decisions often start with a conversation,” Lincoln Financial Group’s chief people, place and brand officer Lisa Buckingham said in a statement. “And sometimes, we just need a little help to take that first step.”

To address this issue, Lincoln Financial has launched The (Un)spoken Plan campaign, which features a social experiment called “Restaurant Talks.”

According to the firm, the initiative features real, unsuspecting families who arrived at a restaurant and, once seated, received a unique menu of surprising data points (the appetizers) and conversation starters (the main courses) covering a range of protection, retirement and financial planning topics.

Servers informed diners that they could pay only by engaging in a meaningful financial conversation with their loved ones — right then and there. Cameras then captured the discussions.

“This campaign uses authentic discussions with real people to engage and encourage all of us to start — or continue — our own financial conversations,” Buckingham said. “It’s incredibly powerful to watch, and I am so proud that we are connecting with families and sharing tools to help make a difference.”

Lincoln Financial said it partnered with FCB New York on the “(Un)spoken Plan” campaign, which is the agency’s first since securing the company’s digital and social business in the first quarter of this year. FCB New York’s relationship with Lincoln Financial began in 2015.

Difficult Conversations

Lincoln Financial’s survey also found that 38% of respondents said they did not talk to their spouse or partner about each other’s financial situation before getting married or committing to a long-term relationship.

Fifty-five percent of those without a financial plan said they were not confident in their retirement, and 86% did not feel they had saved enough for retirement.

Eighty-eight percent of survey participants did not know whether or did not feel they had saved enough to protect themselves and their loved ones in the future.

Personal finance, sex and death topped the list of the most challenging topics to navigate with family, according to the research, at 33%, 45% and 34%, respectively.

“We view the research findings as an opportunity to help make financial conversations less taboo and much easier to start,” Kristen Phillips, head of corporate marketing, communications and strategy for Lincoln Financial Group, said in the statement.

“Watching real families tackle the tough questions — some for the first time — is very relatable for so many Americans. We hope one conversation sparks another.”

The research was based on a questionnaire sent out by third-party research firm Toluna and completed in August by 1,380 Americans.

— Check out How a UBS Exec Gets Families to Open Up About Wealth Transfer on ThinkAdvisor.