All too often, during a marriage, one half of a couple ‘owns’ the responsibility for the household finances.
Financial advisers can intervene early by encouraging both partners to have an equal understanding of their joint finances.
If advisers work with clients at the beginning of their marriage, and build this mutual awareness and understanding, it helps ease stress and strain if they do divorce at a later date.
Tackling the burn
Divorce is challenging and can present a significant emotional toll, alongside the practical difficulties that come with formal separation.
Advisers may see their clients begin to 'burn out' because the experience is often overwhelming.
This is part of why it is so important to provide an environment of trust and support, so that clients feel comfortable taking the advice of professionals.
To encourage this, I would urge financial planners to have empathy around their clients’ situation, providing useful guidance in a way that continues to be sensitive.
Clients want to hear clear questions, with explanations around processes, along with the reasons for guidance to take a particular approach. In a divorce this is so important, as those going through the process may feel bombarded and overwhelmed.
It is vital professionals remember this to be effective advice-givers and to become an 'advocate for the client's future'.
Building relationships with solicitors
I always urge advisers to build relationships with other professionals.
The clients of one profession will often require the services of another.
In a recent webinar hosted by Legal & General Retail Retirement - ‘Later life divorce and the impact on financial planning’ - it was raised that many private client solicitors are likely to have at least one financial adviser that they have worked alongside for a significant portion of their career, and who they would not hesitate in recommending to any one of their clients.
Likewise, financial advisers often recommend their preferred solicitor contacts to their clients.
When dealing with divorce, advisers should work together with solicitors to achieve the best for their clients.
It is important not to assume that solicitors understand clearly what the advisers' role is. Advisers need solicitors, and their clients, to understand the value that professional financial expertise can provide, particularly when brought in right from the start.
As part of our recent webinar, Professor Debora Price, Professor of Social Gerontology at the University of Manchester, indicated that solicitors often get told by their clients to ignore the pension completely in a settlement, as the emotional cost of battling over it is too high.