Modern Financial Planning for Spouses Requires Equal Contribution

Basketball season is here. I may not be the most knowledgeable about the sport, but as someone in a career that involves a lot of numbers, I enjoy the statistical side of basketball. A figure I recently came across is that even though the NBA created rules allowing zone defenses 20 years ago, this strategy is only used 2% to 4% of the time. The evolution of the game simply favors variants of man-to-man defense.

That’s fine for basketball, but for a financial planner it’s different. If you’re married, you have to play one area, with each spouse providing help and input as you work with your financial planner.

The reality is that one of you will die sooner than the other, and the surviving spouse needs to understand your combined goals and financial plan. I have also found that it is usually the case that one spouse (usually the husband) takes the lead while the other does not attend meetings or contribute.

It is a mistake. From a macro perspective, as the US population ages and men follow historical trends in having shorter life expectancies, women will become increasingly important in the financial management of assets. According to a 2013 study by Fidelity, “9 out of 10 women will be solely responsible for their finances at some point in their lives.” They now control one-third of US household financial assets and are expected to control most baby boomer assets by 2030.

Your financial advisor owes it to you and your spouse to both involve you in the process. After all, you both have a stake in the family’s finances, and someone needs to be assigned to work with an advisor to complete the family’s financial plan.

Another aspect of this situation is that women are in the middle of a retirement savings gap compared to men. Not only do women earn less than men for comparable work, but they also tend to retire a few years earlier and live several years longer than men, which means they will need more for their retirement. But according to the TIAA, women have about 30% less savings than men when they retire.

Your financial advisor owes it to you to try to involve you and your spouse in the decision making. One way to do this is to have in-depth discussions with your advisor about your shared retirement goals and what you hope to accomplish with your life. Don’t make investment decisions first – your assets should serve your aspirations.

This can lead to additional discussions about how to create a financial plan that aligns with those goals. So when one of you isn’t around, then the surviving spouse knows the game plan — and, more importantly, why you decided on that plan.

Evan R. Guido is the founder of Aksala Wealth Advisors LLC, a member of the Forbes Next-Gen Advisors 2018 list and a finance professional at Avantax Investment ServicesSM. Evan leads a team of retirement transition strategists for clients who consider themselves the “millionaire next door”. He can be reached at 941-500-5122 or [email protected] To learn more about his ideas, visit heraldtribune.com/business. Securities offered by Avantax Investment ServicesSM, member FINRA, SIPC. Investment advisory services offered by Avantax Advisory ServicesSM, insurance services offered by an insurance agency affiliated with Avantax. 6260 Lake Osprey Drive, Lakewood Ranch, FL 34240.