Clients who are married, or are in a committed relationship, often play to their respective strengths. While this can be a good coping mechanism in terms of making sure our day-to -day responsibilities are met, sometimes this “division of labor” can produce unforeseen consequences. In the financial planning arena, they can really create a mess.
Yesterday we met with a new client. He chose not to have his wife attend the meeting because he handles the family finances. He claimed that she trusted him implicitly, has no interest in this stuff, and is OK with whatever he decides. When we mentioned that we would like to meet his wife at the next meeting, he asked why.
We told him that we did not want to meet his wife at his wake. Now, there was nothing wrong with him. In fact he was a strapping guy who was a picture of health. By the way, he is engaged in one of the most dangerous professions in America. The point that we were trying to communicate is that it is important for him and his wife to have a relationship with our firm.
All too often financial firms may have a relationship with just one spouse. In the event of a client’s unforeseen passing, the spouse comes in as a stranger. It can be an uncomfortable situation for both the surviving spouse, as well as the advisor. Most of our meetings revolve around discussing what is going on in your life; what your goals, aspirations and challenges may be. The best use of our time together is typically not reviewing an in-depth analysis of your portfolio performance.
Financial planning, for all of its focus on dollars and numbers, is at its heart a relationship business. In order for the planning process to work best, we need everyone at the meetings.