Married Money

by Jeff C. Johnson

Jeff and his wife, Stephanie

Even after 35 years as a wealth adviser, I am still shocked at the number of new prospective clients that intend to come to my office for a first meeting without their spouse. When this occurs, I’ve found it’s often simply the case that one spouse “leaves the financial stuff” to the other.

Sometimes new clients are mildly surprised when I insist that both spouses come to our planning meetings, to be a part of, or at least be present for, the decision-making that will take place.

Early in my career, when I didn’t know better or didn’t always have the confidence to contradict clients with what I thought was perhaps a better approach, I often worked with the financial decision-maker almost exclusively. Then, one day I would get a call from a relative, or sometimes an attorney, informing me that the decision-maker had passed.

Going forward, I felt the advice, help, and service that I offered may not have been fully trusted. During times like these, well-meaning but potentially uninformed relatives, neighbors, and other opinion givers come out of the woodwork to “help,” often with conflicting advice or just plain bad ideas. My opportunity to help the family passed on with the decision-maker.

Selecting the right adviser is extremely important because, for most people occupied in the pursuits and activities more important to them, there is just too much to fully know and understand in today’s financial world. Just as important is to make sure that both spouses in a marriage or both partners in a committed relationship understand the overall financial picture. And it’s even more important that they, too, have a connection with a trusted financial professional who can provide incredible value during life’s most stressful times.