Working With Your Financial Advisor

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Your financial advisor plays a major role in the financial outcome of you divorce. This partnership is one of the most crucial in the divorce process.

Here are tips and insights into how to maximize your partnership with your financial advisor, increase your financial security before, during and after the divorce, and ultimately, improve your divorce outcome.

Get your own, personal advisor. If you and your husband have investment accounts, enlist a financial advisor of your own to help you in determining which securities to ask for in the settlement. To make sure that the advice you get is in your best interest, do not use the same person your husband uses.

Find a good advisor, by referral or recommendation. The best way to find a good financial advisor is through a recommendation from a trusted friend or colleague, or your accountant. Even if the person is highly regarded, do your homework and check to see if he or she has had any complaints filed (See the Resources Tab) and look at his/her online presence at the business website LinkedIn, Make sure that the financial advisor works for a reputable, financially sound financial services firm. It is always better to hire someone with experience than someone who is brand new to the business, even if you know that person personally. I recommend that you avoid dealing with relatives as it may become complicated if you have poor performance or you are treated unfairly. You need to be able to replace someone who is not acting in your best interests.

Go with a dedicated professional. I do not recommend that you use an accountant or anyone else who is doing financial investments as a side business to manage your investments. You need to work with someone with experience who dedicates the entire workday to financial planning and wealth management.

Communication is key. A good barometer for the type of financial advisor you want to hire is someone who is a good communicator and who tells you about their investment process and service model. If that person doesn’t have either, or is unable to articulate both clearly, keep looking. He or she should also offer to do a financial plan for you as a first step to be able to make appropriate recommendations to you.  If he or she recommends investments to you without asking you a lot of questions first, that may indicate a greater interest in making a sale than taking care of your needs.  Any costs or fees should be explained to you in advance without your having to ask first. If there is something that you don’t know or understand, ask!

Engage your advisor prior to divorce negotiations. Make sure you get input from your financial advisor before you negotiate the divorce. You may get invaluable advice and information. You don’t know what you don’t know. Find out what you need to know from experts.

Fully inform your advisor of all personal finances. Bring copies of all of your statements with you. Inform your advisor of your debts  as well as your assets. Try to have a budget of your anticipated monthly expenses after the divorce. Give your advisor an estimate of what you expect to receive in child support and alimony, if any. Have your advisor prepare a financial plan for you to see what kind of shape you are in, whether or not you can afford to keep the house after the divorce, and when you might be able to retire. If there are annuities involved, you will need to have him or her explain the features and benefits, internal expenses, penalty period, and riders to determine whether you want to retain any of those assets after the divorce.

Ask questions. If you don’t understand all the terminology on your financial statements, which many people don’t, ask your advisor to explain things to you in simple language. If he or she is not clear or becomes impatient, it’s time to get a new advisor. Finance is not rocket science, but you need to fully understand all the investments to be able to decide what you want in the divorce. Ask a lot of questions. Do some research yourself online and don’t believe everything Suze Orman tells you. Life is more complicated than a byline, and so are investments. You need thoughtful advice.

Keep your financial information private to both friends and family. Keep in mind that your attorney specializes in law, not investments, even if he offers an opinion. Your brother or neighbor is probably not an expert on investments, either. I recommend that you take charge of your affairs and keep your financial information private. If you get unsolicited offers to help, say thank you and decline. It’s none of their business. You don’t want friends or family members asking you for a loan because they now think that you can afford to give them one.

Avoid making loans. While we are on this topic, don’t ever loan money to family or friends. It is very unlikely that they will ever repay you and it will probably poison your relationship. The only thing that you need to say is that you are unable to help them financially because you need to take care of your own family, and you can give them moral support. No other explanation or detail is necessary. In fact, the less you say here, the better. It is healthy to set boundaries and just say no. You do not need to feel guilty for not being willing to jeopardize your well-being or your children’s. You have no obligation, even to other family members, that is more important.

Ultimately, put thought into what is best for you financially.

Everyone’s personal financial situation is different, so do not assume that your attorney will know these answers. For example, taking possession of the family home makes no sense at all if you can’t afford to maintain it after the divorce. Get recommendations from your financial advisor and your accountant as well as your attorney. You will get a different perspective from each of them, and these differences will be invaluable in making your decision. 

Breaking Bonds is dedicated to your specific needs as an abused woman, and we offer free holistic support as well as practical guidance to help you through this difficult time. Download the free 11 STEP PREP Guide here to get started, and check out our new book, Breaking Bonds: How To Divorce an Abuser and Heal - A Survival Guide for complete support during the process of your divorce. We are with you.

Rosemary Lombardy is a financial advisor with over 35 years of experience, and the founder of Breaking Bonds, a comprehensive resource platform for abused women. Although her professional expertise is in financial matters, her perspective on marital abuse, divorce, and recovery is deeply heartfelt and holistic. She draws on decades of personal experience, as well as the experiences of others, to help inform abused spouses so that they will become empowered to leave their abusers and begin to heal. 

Rosemary Lombardy's new book, Breaking Bonds: How to Divorce an Abuser and Heal - A Survival Guide is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and anywhere that sells books. 

For updates and features, connect with Rosemary Lombardy on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

C.C. Webster