Financial advisors who work with couples (or families) may generally find that their clients often require a special set of communication skills not just to avoid moments of alienation but also to help the couple or family experience a sense of unity as they consider their financial goals. Yet, given the current state of evolving financial planning curricula, these communication skills are not generally included in training provided to financial planners. While advisors may be taught technical skills such as helping clients set savings and retirement goals and creating tax and investment strategies for those clients, they aren't taught how to get two (or more) different individuals in a relationship or family unit to agree on those goals and to successfully execute them together.
Fortunately, there are resources for advisors to learn, develop, and hone relationship and financial therapy skills that can help them communicate effectively with their clients. For instance, researchers James Grubman and Dennis Jaffe created a hypothetical curriculum for individual financial advisors and financial planning firms to use that helps them to identify the most relevant and useful communication skills for their practices and also to design and implement strategies to use with their client couples and families. Additionally, a variety of case studies can be used by advisors to think through the communication needs of their clients, especially when helping them work through financial goals that elicit sensitive and emotional relationship challenges.
Ultimately, the key point is that working with client couples and families presents unique challenges that often require special communication skills to be solved effectively. And while most traditional financial planning curricula do not address financial therapy or relationship skills to prepare advisors to face these challenges, there are resources available for advisors to identify, develop, and practice the skills needed to work proficiently with these clients. Honing the communication skills to address the needs of client couples and families can improve not just the dynamics and flow of client meetings but also the relationship between the advisor and clients, as well!