How couples can avoid financial conflict

Written by: James Burton, Shared by:

Honesty and openness is vital in any relationship – and nowhere is that more important than when it comes to a couple’s finances.

A staggering 68% of divorces stem from conflicts over money yet many of these issues can be addressed early on in a relationship with the help of an advisor, ensuring both people know each other’s goals for the future and the strategies they can take advantage of together.

Amy Dietz-Graham, portfolio manager and investment advisor at BMO Nesbitt Burns, said having a conversation – ideally before marriage – is vital to a happy relationship moving forward.

She told WP: “It’s just being open and honest about everything - around financial goals and goals in life, and just the general feeling around money. Money is very personal to people and each partner can be very different - one might feel more OK with debt whereas one might be more conservative; one might be more into aggressive investing while someone else might be, again, more conservative.”

Dietz-Graham believes that a common mistake is that people think couples have to have joint accounts but that doesn’t always have to be the case. More important, she said, is that the lovebirds are “on the same page” when it comes to big decisions about planning for later life.

The best thing an advisor can do is insist both people are present when discussing these issues.

She said: “It’s an opportunity to get both people in the room and to have questions asked of them that they don’t when they are sat at home because life gets busy. It’s that opportunity to get in a room with a professional who can ask questions and clearly hear both sides. An advisor can really help provide a middle ground between both people.”

Advisors can also help with the planning aspect and tactical decisions around an investment portfolio, estate planning and insurance needs in case something happens to one of them.

She said: “Unfortunately, a lot of conflict in couple’s relationship is around finance so a really good advisor would make sure both are involved in that conversation. It’s ok to delegate and say you are responsible for these bills and I’m going to look after the investments and so forth. But when it comes to those big decisions, it’s really important to have both people in the room so that both can be heard.”

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