Why Your Spouse Is Your Most Important Financial Advisor

Lisa HandleyFEP-3, Financial & Estate Planning, Investment Management, Relationships

Why Your Spouse Is Your Most Important Financial Advisor

Your first thought when reading this title might be: “You obviously don’t know my spouse”.  

We may not know your spouse but today we will provide insights based on our experience and on statistics that show couples who are both involved in their family finances will do best.  

Whose Job Is It Anyway?  

We see a real mix when it comes to family finances. For some couples, both are interested in these discussions. For other couples neither is and the one who picked the short straw must ‘suffer’ through this role. With some couples there is a natural division between roles, and it is easy for one partner to focus on this area. Personal interest, skill sets and availability all impact how a couple decides who will take the lead when it comes to finances. There is no right or wrong approach to this division, it simply comes down to what works best given your personal situation. If one spouse has limited interest in this area, do not make it worse by insisting they be involved in the details, but it is especially important that they are aware of your financial position and involved in financial decisions and meetings. It is important to find an acceptable way to involve your spouse. This means discussions and meetings that fit how they like to receive information. 

Your Spouse Completes You; They Don’t Compete with You. 

Each spouse brings a unique perspective and has varying comfort levels when it comes to money conversations. Together you can also look out for each other because you have a much better understanding of each other’s history and fears; what keeps your spouse up at night and what might be each other’s blind spots. You are important counsel for each other when challenges arise. Whatever strategies are recommended need to address both spouses needs and objectives to avoid imbalance of consideration. We are fortunate to have both male and female advisors on our team and make a point of having both involved in guiding clients (and writing this blog). Our experience is our council is superior when we have input from both sexes. We know you will experience this as well.  

Your Partnership Includes Finances 

Spouses have equal ownership in their wealth. Therefore it is critical for both to be appropriately involved in the process of managing your wealth. A strong financial partnership as a couple is not only practically important, but also emotionally necessary. Understanding your financial situation and facilitation of honest conversations about money with the guidance of an advisor will help couples discover potential individual gaps in how you view and use money. This will often lead to the discovery of opportunities to optimize your current situation that may otherwise be missed and may include each spouse adjusting their view and being more open to their partner’s perspective. This could also enhance the confidence and unity in both spouses when implementing various strategies such as risk management, estate planning, generosity, spending decisions and growing your financial position.  

Why Is This Critical? 

A financial partnership is critical in the short term and the long term. Statistics tell us one of the top reasons for divorce is over finances. In the long term there will only be one partner as eventually one will pass. Through life, it is important to communicate about finances and to both be involved with key decisions and meetings so that you have unity regarding finances, and you benefit from each other’s perspectives and insights. Toward the end of life this experience and knowledge will serve the surviving partner well as they navigate their financial world on their own. 

The Role Of Your Trusted Advisor 

As advisors, we should acknowledge each spouses’ strengths, aptitudes and interests towards your finances and find ways to talk to both of you effectively. Unfortunately, many advisors enjoy numbers and details and forget their clients may not share their passion. Let your advisor know the level of detail you are looking for and how you prefer to receive information. This ensures meetings are effective and beneficial for both spouses. If they aren’t, it is natural to not want to be part of the process. It is especially important your advisor affirms the spouse that may traditionally be less involved so she/he can feel valued and heard. Sometimes, the spouse who defaults to not participate as much in money conversations might have underestimated their role in the process. For example, for a lot of families, one spouse might be more involved with investments, insurance and researching major purchases, but the other spouse often looks after the day to day spending decisions. This means advisors have an awesome opportunity to empower the spouse who did not realize how significant their contribution is in their overall wealth scenario. Confidence will be solidified when making important decisions if both spouses have thoroughly thought through their money priorities and are on board with how they will achieve them.  

You are a team in life, and this includes finances. Both partners have valuable perspectives, insights, and contributions. If you find the way to include both partners in your process in a manner that works for both, you will be unified, financial discussions will be more enjoyable and your financial result will be much, much better.

Your Spouse Completes You; They Don’t Compete with You.


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