The widows reported a lack of confidence after their spouses died even though most had some experience managing the family finances before the death. In only 21 percent of the cases did the spouse or partner manage most of the financial matters alone. That means the majority of these women were at least somewhat engaged in financial matters before becoming widowed.

“We believe an educational program for widows could benefit many of these women,” the report said. “Because many widows are already part of online support communities, it is reasonable to think that some education could happen through these types of community resources.”

Male and female financial advisors who want to connect with widows need to learn more about widowhood and the emotions that go with it, Rehl said. “The ones who are serious about working with widows need extra training. Too many are focused on the technical side of planning.”

“Financial advisors may benefit from spending some time and effort learning about the unique needs, wants and aspirations of this fast-growing widowed population,” the report said. “For those advisors who have not previously considered the possibility of adding a specialty-focus on widows, this paradigm shift may impact their business planning going forward."

The report recommended as one resource. The site includes  videos, booklets and other print material that can help advisors better understand and serve this market. For advisors who want advanced training related to assisting widows, the Sudden Money Institute
( offers a one-year Certified Financial Transitionist program, including working with widows.

Rehl, author of “Moving Forward On Your Own: A Financial Guidebook for Widows,” urged advisors who want to expand their practices into this area or to make it their specialty to start with going to conferences that focus on widows. She said advisors should also attend local support groups for widows and make contacts among financial therapists.

The other researchers on the project were Carolyn C. Moor, executive director and founder of Modern Widows Club; Linda Y. Leitz, CFP, co-owner of It’s Not Just Money, a fee-only financial planning firm in Colorado Springs, Colo.; and John E. Grable, CFP, and director of the Financial Planning Performance Laboratory at the University of Georgia.


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