Advisers create a franchise operation for divorce planning

Team to offer professional testimony in court, forensic accounting and other services

Apr 8, 2014 @ 11:35 am

By Trevor Hunnicutt

Marriage is grand, but for financial advisers, divorce may be worth at least $100 grand.

Two investment advisers said Tuesday they are teaming together to start a divorce-planning franchise that promises a way for advisers to specialize in dealing with nuptial decay.

San Diego-based adviser Justin A. Reckers is teaming with Michelle Smith, who is based in New York, to offer the new franchise option. Both advisers specialize in the nascent niche of divorce financial planning, offering professional testimony in court, forensic accounting and other services for courts, lawyers and people going through divorce.

(Don't miss: Duration of marriage and divorce affect Social Security benefits)

In addition to being certified financial planners, both hold the certified divorce financial analyst designation.

“Advisers now have a real template and formula to specialize in divorce,” said Ms. Smith, founder and chief executive of Source Financial Advisors, and a veteran of Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. and Paine Webber & Co. brokerages.

The team offers interested advisers more than two weeks of training and help finding clients through e-mails and newsletters. There is a help desk and onsite support. In exchange, franchisees pay an upfront fee of $35,000 and 15% gross royalties on hourly billings for consulting services.

Eventually, Mr. Reckers wants to start a roll-up platform for divorce financial planners to manage the investments of the clients advisers win through their initial, hourly divorce consulting, he said.

Mr. Reckers' firm, Pacific Divorce Management, manages more than $178 million, according to regulatory filings. Source Financial Advisors manages $414 million.

Both advisers have been through divorces themselves.

“You don't need to have lived it yourself to express empathy for your clients, but it doesn't hurt,” said Mr. Reckers.

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