Adviser brings balance to clients’ divorce proceedings

A pile of US currency on a scale

Aviva Pinto found her niche when she realized most divorces include a 'non-monied' spouse in search of financial footing.

Aviva Pinto wasn’t specifically searching for a niche focus seven years ago when an attorney asked for help calculating the net worth of a client going through a divorce, but the opportunity was too obvious to ignore.

“The woman was like a deer in the headlights,” recalls Pinto, a managing director at New York-based Wealthspire Advisors, a $14 billion advisory firm.

“She was the non-monied spouse going through a divorce and she didn’t know what assets they had or where the accounts were; she didn’t even know if there was a mortgage on the house,” Pinto added. “That’s when the lightbulb went off, and I realized people really need help here.”

Pinto, who has worked in wealth management for 25 years, went full speed into the development of her niche, including becoming an active member of the National Association of Divorce Professionals, and earning the designations as a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and Certified Divorce Specialist.

While Pinto still works with clients unrelated to her niche and she will work with the monied spouse, meaning the person most familiar with the household finances, the non-monied person is where the needs are greatest.

“In marriages, people get different roles because it’s not always a team approach,” she said. “The non-monied spouse isn’t necessarily the one who isn’t working, it’s the one who doesn’t know about the finances.”

Even though Pinto has been married for 30 years and has never been through a divorce, she has learned enough from her clients to understand and recognize the pitfalls.

“The biggest mistake people make is not realizing one pot of money divided by two doesn’t give you the same pot in the end because it has to support two households,” she said. “I figure out things like budgets and tax consequences of investment accounts. Sometimes I’m called in after the settlement where a person has gotten a settlement but doesn’t know what to do with it.”

While most of Pinto’s niche clients come to her for help with the divorce proceedings, they almost always stay on as long-term clients, she said.

Being familiar with the household finances is a critical element of divorce proceedings, and Pinto describes the National Association of Divorce Professionals as a virtual turnkey operation for non-monied spouses going through a divorce.

The membership crosses a wide spectrum of professionals that might be needed throughout the divorce proceedings, including lawyers, financial advisers, real estate agents, mortgage brokers, forensic accountants, divorce coaches and therapists.

“All the professionals you need to get a divorce done,” Pinto said. “Anything you can possibly need is in this group.”

In addition to being an active blogger about her niche, which she promotes on social media, Pinto is in the process of publishing an eBook, “A Roadmap to Taking Control of Your Finances During & After Divorce”.

But even without her marketing efforts, the various professionals in the divorce association, where she has been a director for nearly three years, have become a rich source of referrals.

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“I’ve also parlayed this to widows and widowers,” she said. “It’s the same thing, you’re leaving one person who doesn’t know what’s going on and they’re responsible for all the finances.”

Pinto describes the referral network as among the best parts of having a specific niche.

“If you’re just a generalist, you’re competing with everybody else in the world,” she said. “If you have a niche, you’re telling people, ‘If you think of this specialty, think of me.’”

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