As the fall wedding season begins, advisors should make sure they have a comprehensive plan to help clients who are getting married.
Advisors need to look at the big picture, like if the couple's retirement goals align, and the nitty gritty, such as insurance policies and estate plans that need updating.
For David Edwards, president of the New York-based wealth management firm Heron Financial Group, this process starts when the couple gets engaged.
Just as an architect wouldn't go into an initial client meeting with blueprints, an advisor should get to know a client's spouse-to-be first before creating a plan, Edwards said. His first step is to meet in a non-business setting, like a restaurant.
The advisor should look at each individual's financial holdings, insurance coverage, risk-tolerance levels, retirement goals and estate plans. A few good questions to ask: Who will pay the bills? How will you plan for big purchases? When do you want to retire and where? If there are children from a previous marriage, how will inheritances be handled?
Clients' betrothed who do not already have an advisor will hopefully sign on to work with you. If the fiancé or fiancée already works with someone, ask to review all their financial accounts, looking at how their asset allocations overlap with your client's holdings.
Having two advisors for one couple can get complicated, but usually they will eventually gravitate to one advisor.
"You can't force it," said Barbara Shapiro, president of Dedham, Massachusetts-based HMS Financial Group.
The next step can be awkward: convincing the clients to get a pre-nuptial agreement.
This is typically an easy sell for clients who are on their second marriage, but oftentimes younger, childless clients insist they don’t need one.