A new study conducted by the Family Wealth Advisory Council found that more than 70% of female breadwinners want their advisers to help them communicate with their partners as part of their wealth management engagement. The reason is that being a woman and the main earner in the family can make life complicated. Simple financial matters, ranging from who picks up the check at dinner to whose career aspirations come first, are called into question.
Historically, couples would rely on gender roles to find answers, but modern couples make up the rules as they go along. Having a safe place to discuss these matters is attractive to these women who often don't know where to turn for help.
As a female-friendly adviser, this is an important service to provide. It will differentiate you from the competition and solidify the relationship with both partners. To ensure success, consider these helpful tips:
1. Examine your adviser couple mindset.
To be effective facilitating these conversations, you need to be aware of your automatic thoughts and beliefs about how couples should make, manage and invest money. This is called the “adviser couple mindset.”
By identifying these attitudes, you become aware of your strengths and potential challenges in helping female breadwinners and their partners discuss money matters. For example, an adviser with the mindset that a stay-at-home dad is weak based on his decision to be a caretaker may unconsciously align with the female breadwinner and be unable to maintain the position of neutrality needed to help the couple resolve their differences. However, if this same adviser is aware of this blind spot, he can make sure he gives each partner an adequate opportunity to voice their concerns and help them find a solution that is respectful and equitable.
2. Role model active listening.
Not listening to your partner is one of the biggest roadblocks to effective money talk. In these meetings, ask each partner open-ended questions and spend more time listening to their responses than talking. When differences of opinion arise, act as a mediator and translate each partner's position, without taking sides. Remind your clients to listen to each other with the goal of understanding their partner, not winning the fight. Show your clients through your actions what good communication skills look like.
3. Make wealth conversations fun.
Use creative tools such as a deck of money mindset cards, money-o-gram exercises (a family tree highlighting generational messages about wealth) or money history questionnaires. For years psychologists have used these techniques to aid clients when discussing uncomfortable topics. Given the money taboo in our society, many couples may be apprehensive at first. By using games and coaching exercises, you bring a lightheartedness to the experience that is beneficial. Besides, a hardworking woman deserves a little fun given the pressures of her day-to-day life.
Kathleen Burns Kingsbury is a wealth psychology expert, founder of KBK Wealth Connection and author of several books, including “How to Give Financial Advice to Couples” (McGraw-Hill Education, 2013).