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Book Review: How to Give Financial Advice to Couples

How to Give Financial Advice to CouplesSubtitle: Essential Skills for Balancing High-Net-Worth Clients’ Needs

This book, by Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, is a very good book for all financial advisors to read – even if your clientele isn’t “high-net-worth” clients.  I’ve had my share of client-couples who had difficulty in reconciling financial concerns with one another, and (as you probably know) the number of digits on the couple’s bottom line net worth has nothing to do with it.

Author Kingsbury, a wealth psychology expert, has a great deal of experience and knowledge on the subject to share.  She covers the issues that couples face when dealing with monetary subjects, which can range from having opposite but complementary skills and mindsets regarding money to having basic problems in dealing with conflict with one another.  Every couple has areas where they’re not completely in concert with one another – it would be really unusual if everything about a couple fit like a hand in a glove.

These conflicts, no matter how large or small, can cause difficulties in many areas, and financial dealings are no exception.  In fact, it is in financial dealings that these conflicting viewpoints are often manifested (among other places), since dealing with financial issues is an emotional thing for most folks. Being such an emotional area of our lives, when big decisions need to be made it can be very difficult to come together on a compromise.  For many folks, the worldview about money that they have learned over time from family and friends isn’t very helpful – again, because of the emotional nature of money.  Oftentimes in families monetary issues are dealt with in secret and are the source of conflict. The  messages that are passed on to children are not generally useful when the child becomes an adult and needs to deal with similar issues.

This is where the advisor comes in – because, during the course of working out financial plans there are many decisions to be made, client-couples often find it difficult to come to a decision. And if they do come to a decision, it’s often one partner exerting his or her will over the other – and the other partner may exercise his or her learned reaction to the situation.  This could mean acquiescence, stonewalling, or even actively sabotaging the process.  To be successful, the advisor must recognize when a conflict exists and help the couple to work through it.

Ms. Kingsbury then uses the latter half of the book to show how an advisor can help the couple in a situations like this.  She draws on her own experiences with many, many couples through the years, as well as on her own personal experiences in her life.  The examples are excellent illustrations to help the advisor/reader to understand how to help the couple work out their issues.

I recommend this book for any financial advisor – regardless of the nature of your practice, you’re dealing with situations of conflict among couples, it can’t be avoided.  How you deal with these situations depends a lot on your own background – if you don’t have a lot of experience in successfully dealing with couple conflict successfully, this book can be a great help.  With Kathleen Burns Kingsbury’s guidance, you have a much better chance to help couples to deal with the issues and wind up with better results on the long run.  Otherwise, if the advisor doesn’t deal with the conflict, all the effort involved in putting plans together is wasted.

The above book review is part of a series of reviews that I am doing in an arrangement with McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing, where MH sends me books with the only requirement being that I read the book and write a review – like it or not.  If you find the information in this review useful, let me (and McGraw-Hill) know!

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