A ground-breaking study is tackling the problem advisors have in cozying up to both spouses in the couples they represent – a failure threatening the long-term health of their books of business.
“Typically, 60% of an advisor’s clients are joint, and in most cases, that means a husband and wife,” according to the TIAA-CREF report Get Closer: Solving the Couples Conundrum
. “If you think about your business in that context, at least 60% of your clients are women. And if you’re like most advisors, you might not know as much about the wife as the husband.”
Whether you’re a man or a woman it’s a risk you might even realize you’re taking.
In most advisor/client relationships where the clients are married as husband and wife, the advisor’s primary contact is the husband; the wife is secondary. If the husband dies or leaves the marriage, statistics show that 70 per cent of the time the wife finds a new advisor. With almost 50 per cent of marriages ending in divorce is that really something you want to play fast and loose with?
Not on your life.
“Although advisors are saying the right things, as our researchers drilled down into their specific activities, they revealed a disconnect,” the report noted. “Despite the fact that advisors know what they should do, in reality, they tended to give one member of a couple more status: the male.”
Shame on you.
But fear not, the report has five tactics advisors can use to solve the conundrum.
1. When you ask really listen
2. Don’t ever say, “Let me handle it.” Use empowering language. Reassuring phrases that give the power to the client tend to be most impactful.
3. Engage both spouses with client events designed to appeal to both husbands and wives.
4. Design onboarding services that work for wives.
5. Reframe the relationship to include both partners equally.
So, what does this mean for advisors?
“The bottom line is that connecting with couples means making a concerted effort to dig deeply and gather more information about each half of the couple.” the report concludes. “Then take steps to be inclusive and focused on the issues that matter most: to each of them – and to both of them.”