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Money is one of the biggest hurdles for couples. Here are a few ways you can talk to them about their finances!


It’s February, and love is in the air. And while our perfect picture of love is all sunshine and rainbows, finances can often get in the way of a happily ever after. It’s truly unfortunate because those little things that draw us together, like someone’s eyes, hair, smile, outlook on life, fun-loving attitude, sense of humor, or gigantic heart, can all be squandered if both people aren’t on the same financial page. In fact, nearly 50% of Americans say they argue with their significant other about money, while 41% of Gen Xers and 29% of baby boomers attribute their divorce to financial disagreements [1].


That’s where you come into play. We know it can be tough, and sometimes you may feel like a referee. But as a financial advisor whose job it is to deliver peace of mind and financial security, you have the power to bring couples together and help them overcome their financial differences and get them on a path toward the security they deserve. Obviously, that’s easier said than done, but we’re here to offer a few tips to help couples achieve financial goals together!


  1. Encourage Effective Communication

Ask any couple who has been together for decades. The key to a healthy relationship, in any aspect of life, is communication. Granted, this is no secret, but knowing that communication can help a couple overcome obstacles and actually using those communication skills to achieve a goal are different. As a financial advisor, you should be encouraging couples to work together to align philosophies and find common ground. It’s also important to dispel the notion that money is a taboo conversation topic. Sure, opening that can of worms can lead to a few disagreements, but eventually, financial problems will arise, and that conversation needs to be had. Open the floor to open discourse by starting with simple topics. Then, you can then let the dialogue naturally evolve to more complex topics, or you can help them tackle new problems as they arise. Just as a reminder, both parties are equal, and they should be given equal attention and credibility. This goes for conversations occurring inside and outside your office.


  1. Clearly Define a Strategy

The biggest hurdle is breaking the barrier to financial discussion, but once that’s done, you can help your clients choose a strategy that works best for them. Some couples might find it easier to dump all their money into a shared pot, while others may keep their accounts separate. What we’ve found through working with advisors is most couples land somewhere in the middle, oftentimes with some shared and some individual accounts. No matter which strategy a couple chooses, it’s key to clearly define a plan for those accounts and how each person will address their financial responsibilities. While you may not be able to make those decisions for them, you can guide them through the important parts of the conversation, helping them determine how they’ll proceed forward once they have all the necessary information. Then, you can help them implement a plan for their cash flow that adheres to that strategy, ideally eliminating the potential of future disagreements while opening the door to open, honest, healthy communication in both the present and future.


  1. Set Measurable, Realistic Goals

Goals are one of the most important pieces of a financial plan, and each person’s objectives should be part of the discussion early in your partnership. Help couples identify which goals they want to achieve individually and which ones they’d like to achieve as a team. Whether they’re short-term goals or long-term ones, they will then have something to work toward, hopefully unifying them in the pursuit of a better future. It’s also important for these goals to be measurable, as progress made toward them can be empowering and encouraging. During this entire process, you also want to ensure that your clients are setting realistic goals. Everyone wants to “get rich quick” and live that work-optional lifestyle, but as you likely know best, the vast majority don’t achieve their goals overnight. It takes commitment, dedication and time, and setting those expectations for your clients can keep them grounded while also giving them a reason to continue working with you.


  1. Create an Easy-to-Follow Budget

More than anything, a couple has to work in tandem when it comes to budgeting. Creating a budget that is easy to follow and outlines strict guidelines for both individuals can lay the foundation for a healthy financial relationship. This becomes even more important after you know how a couple will divide their assets. If they combine all their income, they can simply deduct fixed costs from that joint fund. If they have individual accounts, it may be helpful to guide them through the process of assigning responsibilities. Additionally, encourage them to hold each other accountable. There shouldn’t be any shame involved, but it’s important to ensure that each person is holding up their respective end of the bargain to achieve their united goals.


  1. Demonstrate and Showcase Your Value

While you might be very familiar with the value of working with a financial advisor, a couple who has never worked with an advisor might not be. Additionally, a couple who has never worked with the right financial partner might be even more difficult to sway, as you might have the added task of clearing up scars from the past. That’s where it becomes important to demonstrate your value as a professional. Give couples tangible, actionable advice they can employ immediately, and bring something of value that really shows your contributions to their goals. Sometimes this comes through case studies, or it can be shown through your access to solutions unavailable elsewhere. Best yet, you can align yourself with their goals by genuinely caring about their problems and finding suitable answers. Furthermore, be ready to field each of their questions through careful and adequate preparation. This is their financial future on the line, and they deserve the opportunity to put you on the hot seat. If you’re prepared to take those questions and give them direction, you may have an easier time succeeding in a relationship-based industry in which couples want to work with someone they both trust and like.


  1. Develop a Written Plan

With a firm understanding of a couple’s cash flow, habits, budget and goals, provide them with a plan that gives them clear direction for their future. It also helps if that plan goes deeper than a single transaction. Create a holistic plan that accounts for each aspect of their financial lives and inspires them to maintain a long-term relationship with you. Traditionally, this might include strategies for investments, insurance, health care, long-term care, Social Security, taxes, risk mitigation and more, but it’s also important to let the clients’ needs dictate the plan. Another key part of that plan should be malleability and adaptability. You want those clients to continue working with you when their circumstances evolve, so giving them the freedom to be flexible is important. It can also help them find a singular vision as a couple, which can bring them closer and drive them toward the goals you work so hard to bring to life.


At Quantum, we specialize in helping advisors enhance their practices with client-centric solutions. If you have any questions about how you can build more meaningful, effective professional relationships with couples, give us a call today at 800.440.1088!