A few years ago an existing client introduced me to a charming American lady in the throes of an acutely uncharming life experience – she was fighting her way through an ugly divorce, and was extremely and understandably concerned for her financial future. While she had my most sincere sympathies, from a professional perspective I initially felt there was little value I could offer until her divorce had settled, when I could help find investment solutions to suit her needs. However over the course of a series of meetings, and as her divorce raged on, I realised there was significant value I could bring to the table. She had given up work in the mid 90’s to raise the kids, she was financially dependent on her husband, and she had had very little to do with running the family finances over the previous couple of decades. Though it was obvious she was not going to starve, she needed a huge amount of hand-holding to better understand her financial circumstances, and ensure she was well equipped to make smart financial decisions going forward. Among other things, I helped her:
- Create family budgets to better manage the household accounts;
- Introduced her to ways she might be able to fund her divorce;
- Assess her wealth planning requirements, fastidiously working through the potential variables of her divorce settlement, to determine the impact they might have on her annual spending budget.
The end of the story is a happy one. After a gruelling 3-year fight, she eventually received a fair settlement from her divorce, and has reached her goal of “financial independence”, through continuing to make smart financial decisions from balancing the family budget to investing. As it happens she is also a happy client of MASECO’s.
All of this got me thinking about the vulnerability of women in this situation, the financial stress they face on top of the emotional stresses, and the importance of thoughtful and empathetic guidance towards financial independence. It took more than 3 years for the above divorce to settle, which though extreme is not uncommon. We conducted a series of meetings during this period which took place a long time before we even thought about making any investments. This proved 100% the right thing to do, and I have become a very firm believer in this degree of planning, preparation and education prior to the divorce settlement, where possible. With this in mind I have written a series of whitepapers entitled Stepping Towards A New Life, which can be found on our website:
- Stepping Towards a New LifeTM
- Step 1: Funding your Divorce
- Step 2: Living Through a Divorce
- Step 3: A Good Divorce
- Step 4: Financial Independence
Senior Investment Adviser