As we will discuss in this podcast, we want to bring both parties of every couple into all financial planning conversations. In the past, one person has tended to lead the relationship, with the other occasionally brought in, but making sure everyone’s around the table from day one means all decisions and plans are aligned, and the day-to-day communication runs more efficiently too. Long-term outcomes are better for everybody.

Financial planners are there to address the big questions: When can we retire? What does our retirement look like? How much can we afford to spend? We ask our clients about gifting to children, death, debt, illness, which are crucial discussions for both parties, and very personal topics. Couples need to align their plans and thoughts about how to make provision for all those eventualities, and they need to be in the same room in order to get on the same page.

Conversations about risk also bring a lot of concerns to the fore and it may turn out that the couple has very different levels of appetite for risk, particularly in today’s economic environment. When those worries diverge, we can help address and alleviate concerns so they’re happier as a unit.

Nobody likes to talk about divorce or death, but if one of those were to happen and only one party had a relationship with the adviser, there’s a risk the other may suddenly be thrust into the dark about their finances or how they are going to pay their future bills. If both parties have a relationship with the adviser from the start, this is much less likely to happen.

Parents want to ‘feather-boost’ their children instead of ‘feather-bed’ them. They want to set their children up and give them a great chance, but not to disincentivise them in their careers. That sounds great on the surface but dig a little deeper and everybody’s line or limit is different – one party’s ‘feather-boost’ is another’s ‘feather-bed’. If both parties are involved in all planning conversations from the outset, these inheritance discussions can start to happen early, and a compromise will eventually be found. Through open discussion, mediated by an adviser, a couple can end up at a point that’s everyone’s comfortable with.

Communication often runs more smoothly when both partners are involved and available to respond to emails and quick decisions. It means advisers are less likely to run into delays while waiting for a crucial piece of information, and probably spend less time chasing for it. General delays and chasing can eventually lead to a more transactional relationship, and the loss of meaningful conversations and a bigger picture family view.

‘I don’t want to talk about investments’, or ‘It’s not my thing, I’m not interested’, are all frequently cited reasons for one half of a couple to exclude themselves from planning meetings. In these instances, it’s up to the adviser to ask how they can make it more relevant or interesting, asking what topics they would to discuss and how they think value can be added. Advisers could ask why clients don’t find the meetings useful, because conversations should be insightful and interesting to all parties. It’s the responsibility of the adviser to engage everyone.

There’s only upside to both parties being involved. The whole service flows much better, communication is improved, fears are allayed, and everyone ends up on the same page. There’s really no reason not to strive for it.

Have fun listening to the podcast and feel free to get in touch should you have any questions or want to share your opinion of course.

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This note is for general guidance only and does not constitute, and should not be construed as, investment advice or a recommendation to engage in any investment activity. For further information, please contact your usual Adviser or one of our team. Saunderson House, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rathbones Group Plc, is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

About The Author

Kirsten Pettigrew
Kirsten joined the graduate program at Saunderson House in 2014, after graduating from the University of Manchester with a ...
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