How to find an advisor who values you equally

You deserve to have an advisor who values you individually whether you are single or part of a couple.

Many couples divide and conquer. He takes the daughter to soccer practice and she takes the  son to music lessons. He vacuums, she does the laundry. She does the grocery shopping, he handles the finances. And that’s fine. In some cases, the only way a couple has any hope of staying current with what needs to get done. Still, you need an advisor who works with you both.

The plan single philosophy is creating a situation that works for both individuals as well as the couple.

The plan single philosophy is creating a situation that works for both individuals as well as the couple. It may help save your marriage. Financial disagreements and concerns are the leading issue in a majority of divorces. Helping you work more effectively as a team can create synergy. Engaging your individual viewpoints and talents may enable you to accomplish more than you each could individually. But it is also important because in the long term chances are good, whether through death or divorce, that you will end up an individual, especially if you are a woman.

Financial advisors as a group do not do this as well as they should. An alarming 80% of widows move to a new advisor within a year of losing their spouse[1]. Feeling so strongly as to be motivated to make a change as significant as this while simultaneously leaving such a significant loss and probably having to learn new terminology and concepts is a powerful statement about the state of the relationship between a woman and the advisor she and her husband worked with. It is much better to find an advisor both of you feel comfortable working with together or individually.

If you are an individual who does not feel understood and respected, of course you should find a new relationship. If you are a couple and you don’t feel equally treated individually you are better off finding a new relationship while times are calm then to set the stage to have to reconsider your choice during a potentially difficult time when you find yourself on your own.

Here are 5 things to look for to tell whether your advisor (or one you are interviewing) has a good approach to advising couples.

  • They insist that both of you attend the majority of planning and review meetings.
  • They include both of you in the conversation, interact with both of you equally rather than spending more time with the one who seems more financially literate, and copy both of you on relevant correspondence.
  • They talk in language you both understand – not just using financial jargon
  • They talk openly even (maybe especially) when there is disagreement.
  • They avoid value judgments that favor one or the other or even the couple over either member.

Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, a wealth psychologist and advisor to financial advisors, says that advising couples is actually dealing with three: you, your partner, and the couple. Choose to work with someone who respects the interest of all three of you.

[1] Tim Querengesser, The Confidence Gap: Why aren’t there more women investors?, February 10, 2014


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