Around 23% of men said they saw a financial planner compared with just 10% of women.
Money has been cited as one of the most common causes of stress and one of the many benefits for our clients of working with a Financial Planner is the ability to trust that their finances are not a source of stress.
So, who is it that I tend to see at meetings? In most instances (in my experience), if we are providing an ongoing financial planning service to a couple, both individuals will attend each meeting. However, in some cases one person will “take charge” of the finances and the other sees no need to attend the meeting.
Even though one person may be more au-fait with financial matters (and therefore it makes sense to them), there are a number of problems with this outlook that couples may not have considered and should be made aware of.
Scientists estimate we make 226.7 decisions every day on food alone (don’t ask me what 0.7 of a food-related decision is) and the average adult will make 35,000 remotely conscious decisions every day. Most couples will trust each other to make decisions on behalf of one and other, whether it is what to have for dinner or whether to manage your joint investments in line with a low, medium or high risk profile. Just like dinner, your investment decisions are something that I feel should be done on a joint basis.
The benefits of actively managing your finances together are far reaching. Clients managing their income on a joint basis need to be aware if there are disparities. It’s been reported that 3.8 million women born in the 1950s have been hugely disadvantaged by the rising of the State Pension age from 60 to 65.
In 2011, the government decided to accelerate its plan to bring the State pension age for men and women in line, to 65 this year and 66 from 2020. As a result, many women in their early 60s are facing a shortfall of income having planned to retire at 60 because they thought their financial circumstances would be different, with many women arguing they were not warned of the changes.
It can be a challenge to calculate what your income can be in retirement, and if this will be enough. Many people believe that their expenditure will drop when they reach retirement, namely due to expenses such as a mortgage which will have hopefully been paid off, and perhaps you won’t have an annual season ticket to pay for. When you are at work, you’re not likely to be spending. Whereas once you are retired, you are unlikely to be at home all day and therefore you will be doing something that costs money.
If something were to happen to one member of a couple, the other could be left with arrangements they are completely unfamiliar with because they have not been involved in the process. This could be when someone passes away, but it could also be the loss of mental capacity. It is something which couples may not foresee, but nevertheless should consider. Similarly, should the couple separate, if one person has been dealing with the finances, the other will be completely unaware of their situation.
Extending this to the clients’ wider family is also important. For many years, family finances have been a taboo subject and certainly they can be a source of tension. However, if (adult) children are involved in their parents’ finances and hold a Power of Attorney, should a parent become unable to manage their finances, it will be easier and less expensive for the (adult) child to administer their finances.
So why aren’t families talking about their finances? It’s a good question. In recent months a number of institutions are encouraging people to talk to their family about money. It can be awkward, and it can be uncomfortable, but in the long run it may save a lot of unnecessary stress and I feel as Financial Planners we should be encouraging our clients to involve their families more.
By involving clients’ (adult) children in the occasional planning meeting, when the time comes to administer their estate, the beneficiaries will already be fairly clued up on the situation and will also have a point of contact with their parents’ Financial Planner. The trusted relationship will already have been founded and can therefore help with the process.
As Financial Planners, we want our clients’ and their families to feel at ease, that should the worst happen, their finances are in good hands.
Chloe Moran APFS Chartered is a Senior Paraplanner at 1825 and a Chartered Financial Planner