As all advisors know, it’s one thing to provide clients with appropriate advice and another thing to actually get them to follow that advice. That’s especially the case when clients experience short-term market fluctuations, have troubling conversations with their peers, engage in too much CNBC watching or fall prey to intrafamily disputes over money.
In this series of reports, Investment Advisor columnist and psychotherapist Olivia Mellan and financial behavior specialist Kol Birke of Commonwealth Financial Network address some common scenarios that advisors face in getting their clients to follow through on their advice. This advice for advisors flowed out of a web seminar hosted by Investment Advisor and ThinkAdvisor editor Jamie Green late last year.
What should you do when the spouse who is your primary client contact fades out of the picture due to divorce, death or disability? More accurately, what should you have done earlier to keep the second spouse connected?
Scenario 2: The Missing Spouse
Jamie Green: This scenario involves a client couple of long standing. In the past, the husband always came to meetings without his wife. When you finally convinced him to bring her to your office, you realized from his behavior that he has cognitive issues. Now his wife is not only clueless about the plan you’ve built without her input, but she also has to deal with her husband’s mental problems. What should you have done?
Kol Birke: I really believe in bringing both spouses into the office whenever possible. This allows you to witness the dynamic between them when different financial topics come up, so you can see whether or not they’re on the same page. It also allows you to start connecting with a spouse who might not play as big a role in the financial planning relationship.
Whenever you’re working with a couple, I would suggest visualizing a line between you and the first spouse and you and the other spouse. Which line is stronger? Is there a way to balance them equally? For example, if you meet with one spouse and not the other, maybe you can send them both an email or letter outlining what you discussed. Specifically target the non-present spouse to let them know that you really care about them being involved. Always balance that triangle.