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The Five Conversations You Need to Have With Your Financial Advisor

The Five Conversations You Need to Have With Your Financial Advisor

It’s no secret that the financial industry is a male-dominated profession, but according to a 2013 Insured Retirement Institute study, only three in ten financial advisors are women. These are disturbing statistics when you take into account that 70 percent of women seeking a financial advisor would prefer to work with a female advisor.

According to a recent study by The Financial Brand, 87 percent of women seeking a financial advisor can’t find one they can connect with. The bottom line is this: women don’t like talking about money… even with their financial advisor!

[Watch: Breaking the Money Silence: 5 Tips to Talking to Your Business or Romantic Partner About Money]

Women are expected to control approximately two-thirds of an estimated private wealth of $22 trillion in the next four years, and according to CNBC, most financial advisors “will never see a dime of it because they don’t know how to attract, or retain, female clients.”

This is why I propose a new paradigm for the financial industry. In order to meet the needs of this thriving population, financial advisors need to take a more holistic approach to women’s financial needs. It’s time to think outside the box and reach beyond the typical questions regarding time lines, risk tolerance, and financial goals. Instead, advisors should ask a female client about her life – where she lives, her concerns, what’s meaningful to her. These conversations identify if a woman is susceptible to financial risks. This new paradigm protects and moves along the evolutionary trail of personal and financial empowerment.

There are five important conversations you need to have with your financial advisor, girlfriends. And if your advisor isn’t initiating these with you, it’s time to either find a new advisor or take the reins in your own hands and open the conversation.

  1. Relationships: Regardless if you’re single, married, or considering remarriage, you want to talk to your financial advisor about your partner’s finances. If you’re married, you need to ensure you understand your annual tax return before signing it. Sounds silly to some clients, but I assure you, that signature makes you legally liable for the return’s contents. Before you say yes to the dress, you should discuss your partner’s STDs with your financial advisor. I don’t mean those STDs, I’m talking about your partner’s Savings, Taxes, and Debts. In addition, your advisor should stress the importance of having a prenuptial agreement before you walk down the aisle, and if you’re remarrying, you should review your partner’s divorce decree with your advisor. These conversations will help ensure you and your future spouse are on the same page financially and starting your life together on solid footing.
  2. Work: One of the biggest mistakes I see clients make is incorrectly estimating annual taxes. Sure, nobody knows exactly how much you should withhold for taxes, but there’s absolutely no need to offer Uncle Sam a substantial loan without interest. Instead of lending Uncle Sam thousands of extra dollars every year, work closely with your advisor and tax professional so you can put that money to work for you. In addition, talk to your financial advisor about your employer benefits such as the company’s 401(k) plan, Health Savings Account, and other perks. Make sure you’re getting the most from these. Finally, ask your advisor about negotiating for the best salary and benefits before accepting a new job. Think of job negotiation like shopping for a new car. A savvy buyer isn’t going to accept the first price the salesperson tosses out. Same thing with your job offer. According to author Dr. Linda Babcock, “a woman stands to lose anywhere from $500,000 to $2,000,000 of income over her lifetime.” Talk to your advisor about negotiating strategies and the impact negotiating will have on your financial future.
  3. Children: The top financial concern and priority for most parents is figuring out how to fund their children’s college education. Naturally, most parents want to provide as much financial support for their children’s education, but the key is not to sacrifice saving for retirement. The goal when setting up a college fund is to ensure it doesn’t interfere with your retirement plan. I often remind clients that there’s no scholarship for retirement!
  4. Parents: Although most financial advisors ask clients about potential inheritance, there needs to be a further discussion about the clients’ own estate planning. You’re never too young to plan your estate, girlfriends. Look what happened when Prince unexpectedly died without a will. His estate was sent to probate, and his final wishes will never be fulfilled. It’s much easier to discuss estate planning with your parents when you’ve already planned your own.
  5. Retirement: The most frequently asked question I get is whether or not a client has enough money for retirement. This is a valid concern for most people because, let’s face it, everyone wants to eventually retire. Instead of working harder to earn more money, I urge you to make your money do the work. The key to this begins with starting early. The earlier you begin investing your money, the larger that investment will grow. Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world, girlfriends. It’s the magic that helps your money grow. The secret ingredient is one thing: time! The sooner you begin putting your money to work, the more money it will produce.

I realize it’s difficult to talk about money… even with your financial advisor. But girlfriends, it’s important to your financial health. Financial ignorance is not bliss, and the only way to avoid this is through these conversations. Take a deep breath, and let’s start talking! 

This article previously appeared on


Janice Goldman is a financial coach and author of Let's Talk about Money. She's a nationally recognized transformational speaker, empowerment coach, and facilitator, and regularly speaks at conferences and events throughout the United States.

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