A survey by Spectrem Group, the US based research firm, shows that over 70% of women fire their advisor within one year of their husband’s death. This is because many advisors fail to build a solid working relationship with both partners.
Here are a few tips to help you retain couples.
Encourage open talks
Do not assume that your couple clients talk to each other about finances. Encourage them to talk to each other about their financial goals and their priorities. You can do it by calling them for a joint meeting with you to discuss their financial goals and aspirations. This way, you can strengthen your relationship with both of them.
Suresh Sadagopan of Ladder 7 Financial Advisories said, “A financial plan only works if both the spouses stick to it. There can be friction among the couple if they do not openly talk about their finances. Encourage them to be open to each other when it comes to money. There are instances where couples part ways due to finances. You can hold an annual family review meeting of a couple to ensure that they are on the same page.”
Ask them questions on life goals, responsibilities and investment. Ask them the expected retirement age, check if they have any entrepreneurial goal, understand who the decision-maker is among them, and so on. This will help you offer them more customised solutions.
Gajendra Kothari of Etica Wealth Management believes an advisor should have a brief idea on the roles and responsibilities of the couple. “Do not make assumptions on who is in charge. Some couples make joint decisions while some are okay with one spouse handling the matter. Ask them questions, understand their background and make a financial plan accordingly; one that caters to the needs of both,” he says.
Be appealing to both of them
Discuss financial topics and make a plan that appeals to the couple, such as planning a new home or buying a new car.
Kothari suggests a financial plan should reflect goals, needs and values of the couple. “If you make a plan appealing to both of them, then the chances of them sticking with you are high. So, prioritise their separate goals and make a plan. Like if the husband says that one of his objectives is to ensure that his wife will be positioned well in the future, then involve the wife in some way in the overall financial plan,” he says.
Design a plan for unavoidable circumstances
Encourage them to write a will. Also, put down all their important and legal documents like financial plan, insurance policies and health insurance together. This will make them feel well organised and both of them can be assured that the major problem has already been dealt with.
Pay attention to both of them
Look both of them in the eye when talking; do not focus on just one person in your meetings. Pay attention to both. Ask both of them questions during your presentation like ‘Are you getting my point?’ or ‘Do you have any questions?.’
Gajendra believes that an advisor should focus on both the partners. “If you just pay attention to one spouse, the other may feel left out. This might not go well with the partner and they can end up looking for another advisor,” he adds.
Make them talk separately
Create opportunities for each partner to share individual financial and lifestyle priorities and needs. Even if you meet them together, ask them to talk separately for some time.
Sadagopan believes that in many cases spouses have secrets, things that they do not discuss with each other but is critical. He says, “It is important to talk to them individually to know what is going on in their mind, if they have taken any decision without the consent of their spouse. Like sometimes, wife exceeds the card limit without the knowledge of the husband. As a financial advisor, knowing all these things really matter when you make a financial plan for the family.”
Make separate accounts
Kavitha Menon suggests that working couple should have different bank accounts to avoid conflict and for taxation purposes. She says, “New generation couples do not want to be bound when it comes to spending money. I generally suggest them to maintain separate bank accounts and decide their mutual expenses together. This is an effective way they can go about their expenses without having a conflict of interest.”