Each year as February rolls around, the candy hearts and red roses reemerge, bringing Valentine’s Day to the forefront of everyone’s minds. Your clients may be at home helping their kids cut out cards for their classmates, planning a romantic date, or arranging a get-together with some friends, but while romance is on everyone’s mind, it’s also a convenient time for advisors to talk about finances with couples. It may seem counterintuitive to discuss finances during a holiday about love (they’re always saying keep emotions out of investing); however, there are many stages of relationships where couples could use financial advice.
For couples who aren’t married, are engaged, or are even newlyweds, it is especially important to push them to discuss their fiscal affairs. Finances are one of the major stumbling blocks to a happy, healthy relationship, so it’s key that your coupled clients have a clear understanding of each other’s saving and spending habits, as well as any debt issues.
Just as important, however, is aligning their objectives and goals by determining what their collective financial priorities are. Is the couple more focused on saving for a house, for a 529 plan, or strictly for retirement? Does it make sense for them to combine assets? Are there any issues, like debt or previous marriages, which would make it more logical for them to keep their finance separate? Both partners must go into the discussion willing to be honest about income and expenses, but facilitating that conversation early on, and helping them develop a game plan, can help a couple avoid years of resentment regarding their finances.
While longer-married couples have hopefully been having conversations about their finances as long as they’ve been together, it can be important to have a check-in as they move through different phases of life. For example, older clients who are taking care of parents, kids, and even grandkids are thinking about their time and finances differently than a younger couple. As an advisor, you should think about what’s important to these clients. Find out if their goals for saving are the same as they originally were. Does each partner in the relationship still have the same intentions regarding not just their finances, but also how they plan to spend the later years of their lives? If not, you can help address the issue and offer solutions.
One last idea for your Valentine’s Day client conversations: suggest a family love letter. Have your clients share with their family not just information around account details, contact information, and password reminders in case of emergency, but also include family photos, as well as intentions for any assets that will be passed on. Money can be a difficult concept, and talking about actions and intentions is easier than account value. As an advisor, your role is so much more than just managing finances and investments. Guiding your clients to ask themselves the difficult questions and have the uncomfortable conversations is one of the most helpful things you can do, and it’ll be helpful to use any opportunity—including Valentine’s Day—as a starting point for those discussions.