Despite the inclusive , well-balanced , holistic ideal , many households designate one person as the family CFO . Advisors say this kind of arrangement has pros and cons .
“ With most couples , there is usually a division of labor ,” acknowledges Dean Catino , president and co-founder of Monument Wealth Management in Alexandria , Va . “ Most couples have developed an understanding of how they work best together , and it ’ s important that the financial planner has awareness and insight as to how they operate .”
However , it ’ s vital to the success of any financial
“ Most couples have developed an understanding of how they work best together , and it ’ s important that the financial planner has awareness and insight as to how they operate .”
— DEAN CATINO plan to include input from both parties . “ If you want to build a plan that lasts , you need to start with a strong foundation — and that requires having a trusted process that uncovers a multitude of data points from both partners ,” Catino says .
If one partner is expected to take responsibility for all financial decisions , the other may feel resentment — or worse . “ Division of responsibilities is a great way to effectively share the responsibilities of family life , but only if the couple communicates effectively and functions as a partnership ,” says Kelly Mould , senior vice president at Johnson Financial Group in Racine , Wis ., where she is a wealth fiduciary advisor and attorney . “ Too often I see situations where one spouse exclusively handles the finances , and when that spo use passes away , the surviving spouse is left clueless as to their financial position , in some cases having no idea what they have or even where to look for important documents .”
It ’ s an all-too-common phenomenon , agrees Brian Leslie , director of financial planning at Edelman Financial in Omaha , Neb . “ The non-CFO spouse is forced into assuming the role , but of course doesn ’ t have the years of experience to fall back on ,” he says . “ We want to shorten that learning curve as much as we can beforehand .”
The good news is that , though opposites attract , many distinctions fade over time . According to marriage researchers , no matter how much some couples may disagree , longtime partners often end up reshaping each other ’ s behavior , financial and otherwise , and become more alike .
“ If you think about a young married couple who came from very different backgrounds and family situations , it is logical to assume that they will both relate differently to money ,” says Sam Waltman , a senior wealth advisor at Kayne Anderson Rudnick in Los Angeles .
The more years they spend together , however , the more decisions they ’ ve had to make together . “ Most of the couples that I ’ ve worked with who are now in retirement have learned over a lifetime about the importance of compromise and working together with their spouse on achieving goals ,” Waltman says . “ They generally do not view their money as ‘ mine and yours ’ but as ‘ ours .’”
40 | FINANCIAL ADVISOR MAGAZINE | MARCH 2023 WWW . FA-MAG . COM