- 3-Minute Article
Giving Financial Advice to Couples: Tips to Engage Both Spouses
Tips to help you better engage both spouses in financial conversations.
Some financial advisors insist that both spouses attend meetings in person when they meet face-to-face, and for good reason. By not having both spouses on the same page, the future of the client/advisor relationship may someday be in question. For example, within five years of the death of their spouse or a divorce, 70% of women find another advisor with whom they feel more comfortable.1 In those instances, what can a financial advisor do to engage the less involved spouse and create an environment where both partners feel comfortable giving input?
Here are some ideas to get started:
1. Build Trust
The goal for an advisor is to build a relationship with each spouse and actively seek to engage them to better understand their needs and concerns. Treat each spouse as an individual and each couple’s situation as unique. The one-on-one relationship is key to building trust with both partners.
2. Empower Both Spouses to Speak Up
Spouses don’t always share the same view on financial planning, and that’s ok. Your goal is to figure out where the connectivity lies so that everyone is on the same page and a potential disconnect is discovered early on.
If you’re having trouble getting both spouses to participate, think about these ways to reframe the conversation:
- Ask the less involved spouse for a one-on-one meeting, and leave the meeting place up to him or her. It is important that the partner is comfortable enough to speak openly.
- Begin the conversation by asking the less involved spouse to describe his or her vision of an ideal retirement. Not only will it be illuminating, but if it differs substantially from the future the more engaged partner has in mind, the discrepancy may impact the current financial plan.
- Ask about his or her priorities and concerns about life in general. It is a great way to assess whether a financial strategy aligns with the couple’s goals.
- Another option is to ask both spouses to write down their goals and priorities separately, and then set up a time for them to come back together to compare.
Once you’ve engaged the less involved partner in the strategizing process, you might even find the other partner is relieved to get more involvement on financial tasks.
3. Encourage Each Spouse to Think Like a CFO
Putting a financial strategy together is hard work. A good practice to try is to encourage couples to think of their financial plans as business plans, and to take on the roles of CFOs overseeing the household’s money. Encourage couples to divvy up their financial responsibilities, and empower the less active partner to take on a task that directly promotes his or her financial well-being.
4. Confirm That Both Spouses Are on the Same Page
Before making any changes to the couple’s financial portfolio, ensure that both partners understand the other’s tolerance for investment risk. One partner might feel very confident holding a portfolio heavily weighted to growth-oriented stocks, while the other partner may have a more conservative view.
The good news is that it is possible to reach common ground. Like any strong partnership, it all starts with an open discussion where both spouses feel heard. As a result, you create an open environment where everyone benefits from a more productive conversation and plan for the future.