The Smart Take:
Do you know a smart, financially savvy person that still hires a financial advisor? Ever wonder why they do so?
Many family stewards often seek an advisor to take care of their family’s finances if they cannot. Know a couple where one spouse took care of the family finances and then passed, leaving the surviving spouse the fear and frustration of picking up the financial pieces all while going through the grieving process? Family stewards seek to avoid this.
Yet married couples often get even more and unexpected benefits from working with a financial advisor. Communication is the essence of healthy relationships. Quite often meeting with an emotionally intelligent financial advisor can enhance the communication and understanding between spouses while bringing objectivity to the financial and emotional aspects of the relationship.
Hear Kevin relate his story of when he and his wife met with a financial advisor and how it helped them get more aligned. He also shares a client story where spouses weren’t on the same page regarding retirement but through open communication and sound financial planning, they are now excitedly turning the page into retirement together.
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Intro: Welcome to Retire Smarter with Kevin Kroskey. Find answers to your toughest questions and get educated about the financial world. It’s time to Retire Smarter.
Walter Storholt: Well, hey there, and welcome to another edition of Retire Smarter. Walter Storholt here alongside Kevin Kroskey, president and wealth advisor at True Wealth Designs, serving you in northeast Ohio, the Greater Pittsburgh area, and also in southwest Florida. And you can find us online at truewealthdesign.com. Look for the are we right for you button to schedule your 15-minute call with an experienced financial advisor on the True Wealth team. Kevin, great to be with you this week. What’s up in your world?
Kevin Kroskey: Walter, it is always my pleasure. Well, I was scheduling our call, and I noticed that you didn’t have any time available next week. I’m presuming that you may be going on vacation. Is that right, Walter?
Walter Storholt: Either that, or I just don’t want to talk to anybody, so I just block off the entire week. Yes, we are going to go to Colorado. So new state, never been there, never really even been to that part of the country. I’ve done California and Oregon and Washington and Vegas, but nothing then east of that, until you get basically back to Iowa, Chicago, and then further east territory from there. So this will be our first time out to the Rockies and all the different national parks that are in that little zone there. So it should be fun.
Kevin Kroskey: Yeah, that should be great. I think anybody you tell that to, their mind probably goes to, well, Walter must be a pot smoker, but I know you’re an outdoorsman and enjoy that.
Walter Storholt: We’re into other recreational activities, like hiking. So yes, but you’re spot on. That was actually the first thing my dad said. He was like, “Oh, I know why you’re going to Colorado.” Like, no, Dad.
Kevin Kroskey: Yeah. Colorado has kind of got an interesting branding problem or opportunity, depending on where you sit, I suppose.
Walter Storholt: One of the two. Although these days, you could start saying that about more and more states, right? Like if I said we were going to Oregon, you could say the same thing, I think. So it just depends where you’re going, but it’s becoming more commonplace, that’s for sure. So Colorado will lose that special element perhaps at some point.
Kevin Kroskey: Very cool.
Walter Storholt: Well yeah, so it’ll be a fun trip, and I’m looking forward to it, but we’ve got great topics to talk about on today’s show. Going to be packed full of some stories, I believe, and kind of an interesting perspective on financial planning in today’s show. I really think you’re going to want to stay tuned and listen to this one. You probably already saw the title, Unexpected Benefits Spouses Often Get from Working with a Financial Advisor.
But it’s kind of interesting what brought this topic up in your mind, Kevin. We actually got a review on Apple Podcasts, or iTunes, as people used to call it. And if it’s okay with you, I’m going to read the review because it’ll be our launching point here. So it says, “I got to know Kevin as a colleague in the financial services industry. Who would I want my wife to seek out if I was no longer able to handle our affairs? It would be Kevin. He is the best and the brightest. The podcasts amply demonstrate his knowledge and are an exhibit of a high-functioning business. Listen in, and you will be drawn to Kevin.”
Kevin Kroskey: Wow.
Walter Storholt: Pretty wise words from a former colleague, whom you’re not quite sure who this is, right?
Kevin Kroskey: No. I mean, whoever wrote it, a great deal of gratitude. I’m kind of blushing. But I mean, I read it. I’ll poke in every now and then. And by the way, if you are listening and enjoying, please do write a review. A lot of times, we’ll get people do that, or I hear from people who are listening. We actually have a lot of financial advisors that listen. I’ve had a lot of people that have reached out to me to ask me to explain something further to them, or just saying they really like the way that I explain something, and they were using it and found it helpful. So that was pretty interesting and insightful to me. But yeah, I have no idea who wrote this, but whoever did, and if you’re listening, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. I mean, it’s wow. I don’t know what else to say.
It really got me thinking about my own experience and experiences that we have with clients all the time. And it starts with the question that I had, if something happens to me, who’s going to take care of my family? And our industry will call that kind of a family steward mentality. You know, my wife is very smart, but she’s smart in a different area than I am. She was a writer and an editor, and just a really creative person. And I get the egg head alert. So I’m kind of the other side of the brain.
So this was 2012 that I asked my wife Brandy, “Hey, I want us to go to this meeting with a financial advisor.” And we were in the car driving down the highway, and she was just really quiet. And she paused for a moment, and then she said, “But I thought that’s what you do.” And I said, “Well, that’s good. That is what I do. I’m glad that you think that, and you’re on point.” But I said, “No, this was really for us.” And it just sounds different, one, if I’m saying it, versus if somebody else is saying it, or they just have some objectivity to looking at both of us.
I’m sure we’ve all had that experience where you have an idea, maybe you share it with your spouse, and maybe it’s a little bit dismissed, but if somebody else has that idea they share, it’s like the best thing since sliced bread. I mean, delivery matters, objectivity matters. There’s a certain perspective that I think anybody can bring to that sort of relationship. I mean, you have a whole science or industry around counseling people. And this is just kind of financial counseling in a way.
But she then asked, Well, how long is it going to take?” And I said, “I don’t know, at least an hour, maybe two.” She said, “Oh my gosh, I hope not.” I’m like, great. This is going to go swimmingly. But perhaps initially begrudgingly, she did agree to go, and we went, and this was, again, 2012. So this was before we had our first child, and my wife was still working in American Greetings. My business had been around for about a little bit more than a handful of years at that point, but it was still fairly new and very different from where we are today.
But we went into the meeting, and literally, we were there for two and a half hours. And it was an experience that certainly my wife was not expecting. It was a very, very positive experience. Some of the things we went through were just being asked questions, like, what did we want the future to be like for us? What were some of the things that we really needed to do now, things that we wanted to do now, things that we needed to do later, and things that we wanted to do later. And you can think of this for anybody, but particularly for younger families, I mean, you have all these competing objectives. You’re climbing the corporate ladder. You’re trying to grow a business. You’re trying to have a family, or you have a family, maybe you’re expanding it, or whatever the case may be.
I mean, we were looking to buy a new home at the time. We were looking around. So we had a goal, didn’t have to, but we wanted to buy a new home in the foreseeable future. We wanted to have children. We were mid, late thirties at that time, and the clock was ticking, so to say. We hadn’t done our estate planning yet. We were married for several years at that point, but it was just the two of us. And so things were pretty simple. And we really, one, arguably didn’t need to do much, but two, just had some inertia there, as well. And so something that we needed to do, but it wasn’t urgent, but was in that have to later sort of box if you will.
Some of the other things we wanted to do, we just, I have a brother and sister, we were all spread out across the country, and we really wanted to spend some more time with them, enjoyed it, wanted to continue to have those deep relationships with them. So we just went through this process and with a very emotionally intelligent financial advisor, and it was great.
I mean, he spoke to my wife, gave me a turn to talk. Sometimes you’ll go into a meeting, and people think they’re just coming in for financial stuff, and maybe there’s one spouse, stereotypically, it’s the husband, that maybe they’ve handled that for all those years, and they do a lot of the talking in the meeting. And sometimes we just need to kind of put on the brakes as the advisor that’s in the meeting and really running the meeting and making sure that we hear from both spouses. We hear what’s important to them. We want to see how things are not only being handled today but also what they want their life to be like in the future.
And the advisor that we went to do this was, I mean, he’s just incredibly skilled overall, but particularly in my view, just his ability to question and listen and just really get to the root of something was just amazing. I mean, my wife just completely lit up when we started visualizing the future and some of the things that we wanted to do and that we’re likely to be able to do. And it was, I guarantee you, in hindsight, it was nothing that she was expecting going into the meeting. She probably thought it was all this four-letter word called math, and numbers and stuff like that that was just, I don’t want to say of no interest to her, you know, she was capable, but it wasn’t her forte, and it wasn’t what she really enjoyed doing.
But it was all of this other stuff that money allows us to do. It’s just like we talk about for the retirement planning process, our retire smarter solution. Where are we? What do we want our life to be like? What’s our lifestyle like? And then how do we maybe want to evolve it and improve it? And then it’s really about aligning all your resources to make sure that you can support that. And it may take some time, but what was interesting to me, looking back on all these goals that we set, you know, this is almost ten years ago now. I mean, we’ve literally pretty much checked off almost every single one. I wanted to become more charitable, and we’ve gotten involved in a local community fund and some organizations that we support. We got even more involved through COVID. We’ve had two children, and we got that house that we wanted.
The one thing that admittedly that maybe I’m not doing as well as I hoped is I wanted to work a little bit less. I still work a lot. I enjoy my work, so it’s easy to do it, but I’m also home for dinner really every night. So I’m with my family, but it’s something that I’m still working on. So all these things, through that first meeting, it was just going in there from the point of disbelief and having those begrudging feelings, like, oh man, what is my husband getting me into now, to really walking out of that meeting and having an experience over two and a half hours where we just came out, we felt like we were more connected, more on the same page, and really were working together even more so than before to have the life that we really wanted not only to continue to lead but really to grow into. Again, we were mid-thirties or so at the time. The business was really just growing, and what have you.
And it’s just awesome. It was an awesome experience, and certainly something that my wife wasn’t expecting, but something that I was hoping for, going into the meeting. And also, just looking back today, almost ten years later on this, is also awesome. I mean, it’s so important just to go ahead and pause and reflect and look and see how much you’ve grown and accomplished. And yeah, there are some things that are still on the list that I have to work towards, but there’s a lot of things that we accomplished. And particularly for me, speaking first person, achievement-oriented, there’s a lot of things that I want to do. There’s a lot of things I want us to do. And sometimes you just need to slow down, and that slowing down process and looking backward and seeing how you’ve grown, it was great. It’s been great for me.
And I actually just sent over all the notes that came out of the meeting that the advisor shared with us with my wife this morning. So hopefully, she’ll read it today and put a smile on her face. And when I go home for dinner tonight, I’ll ask her about it.
Walter Storholt: Sometimes, changing the location and the style and the how of a conversation can do wonders. Like if you had just tried to have these kinds of talks and conversations on your own, I mean, maybe it would have still been successful, and you would have come away with those same feelings, but do you feel like sometimes just having that third party and just stepping outside the normal area of where conversations in your relationship happen can just, I don’t know, facilitate it in a different kind of way like it did here?
Kevin Kroskey: Oh, absolutely. I mean, there’s no doubt about it. And not only for the experience that I had and just shared, but I mean, we see it all the time with clients. I’ve had certain client situations where, again, I’ll be somewhat stereotypical, but this has held true in several instances over the years, but the wife maybe reached out to us or reached out to me, or I’ve even had a prospective client whose wife reached out through a friend and just didn’t maybe feel like they were on the same page with their spouse financially, or really weren’t informed of what’s going on, but they just wanted to know, and they wanted to have a certain comfortability and clarity, that they didn’t trust their spouse, but it just, it wasn’t like an open communication, I guess is maybe the best way to explain it.
So there’s been several times where I’m in those initial meetings and, again, stereotypically, I’ve got to pump the brakes on the husband talking and just really interject and make sure that I get both points of view. It’s not always that way. And every family has their own division of labor. My wife takes care of our household, I take care of the finances, a little bit more kind of traditional or stereotypical, I suppose, but we have plenty of relationships where that’s not true, where maybe the gender roles are reversed there. It really doesn’t matter. I mean, everybody has their own family, and it’s unique and their own way of doing things.
We have a client that’s been married 40 years this year, and they’ve never had a shared bank account. They’ve always kept their banking separate. And it works for them. I mean, they’ve been married for 40 years. I think that’s proof enough that it worked for them, right, Walter?
Walter Storholt: Yeah, different styles for different groups. It’s hard to imagine that.
Kevin Kroskey: Different strokes for different folks, right? You got it. So my point in saying this is, yeah, objectivity is there, whether it’s a counselor talking about a marital issue or some arbitrator or some emotionally intelligent, self-aware, maybe tough loving financial advisor, guiding you through this discussion and making sure that you’re hearing from both spouses and with the intent of really making sure that you have a plan that’s reflective of what you both want.
Another kind of similar but different, when I used to teach a lot of these retirement education classes at local colleges, I had an example, or I should say an exercise, that we did early on about just what you want a retirement to look like. And it had different categories from a health and fitness perspective, activities, travel and leisure, kind of a spiritual and social aspect. And it was just like a multiple choice. What are some things that you would be interested in? And then there were some other fill-in-the-blank questions. But what I always instructed the class to do was to fill it out, if they’re married, fill them out independently, answer the questions independently of one another, and then, you know, hey, maybe pop open a nice bottle of wine, come back together, and just talk through the questions and share your answers with one another.
I’ve had several people over the years just share that that was an incredibly enlightening experience, where it just fostered that conversation. And here, you didn’t necessarily have an advisor or counselor or something of the sort that was doing it, but at least you had some questions that were being completed independently and then coming back and allowing to share and really fostering that communication.
I mean, it’s all about communication. I’m not a trained board-certified marriage counselor or anything like that. Sometimes it seems like we get into those areas to a certain degree, but it all comes down to listening, understanding, and communication, I think at its core of any of these disciplines. So whether it’s me going with my wife to see a financial advisor and really getting those benefits, even though I am a financial advisor, or if it’s somebody that’s coming into our conference room to meet us for the first time, it’s really our job to do that active listening, ask them open-ended questions, understand what’s important to them. Why are they there? How do things work in their household? Where do they really want to take their lives? And then how do we align everything that they have to make sure that they get there?
And again, communication is so important. I can’t stress that enough. But we’re fortunate. Most of our clients are, I think 80% or so are married currently. And I mean, the communication is good. There’s a couple where we have to maybe work a little bit harder, or there’s maybe some issues around money that we have to work through. And we know that going in, that we’re going to have to maybe have a little bit thicker skin and bigger ears and roll up our sleeves and do a little bit more work. But I mean, that’s what we’re here for.
Walter Storholt: I’m sure you’ve seen some good examples of those two ends of the spectrum, right? A couple that comes in on the same page or close enough to it, the meeting is easy, flows nice and well, and others where maybe the couples are on different pages, and there’s some shock involved in some of the discussions that take place and revelations of maybe where accounts stand or differing opinions about the future and those kinds of things.
Kevin Kroskey: One comes to mind. So a client that just hired us in the last couple of years, so he was getting ready to retire. He was around age 60. There were some things with his pension and what have you that really made sense for him to retire at the time. And he was pretty much ready to, as well. He had a fairly stressful job. But his wife was several years younger, like seven, eight years younger than he is. So if he’s retiring at 60, she’s in her early fifties. She enjoyed her work. She worked at a hospital, still works at a hospital. And he, I always use John and Jane here, but husband John, he did a really good job on their finances. He knew what they were spending. He knew their lifestyle. He could see what he was going to get in his pension.
There were definitely some bigger questions that he had and some concerns that he had, which caused him to reach out to us, but he took the ball pretty far down the field himself. And he did a really good job. But they definitely weren’t on the same page, too. I mean, and this was one of the reasons why I checked in with them after the first meeting. Tyler from our office was meeting with John and Jane. And I just checked in with him after the first meeting to see how it went. And his remark was that he definitely felt like he and his wife were more on the same page. I think she had a little bit more disbelief about she could actually retire in her early fifties, and probably a little trepidation about, hey, what am I going to do on the other side of it? I really like my work. I’m helping people. I’m passionate about it.
But as they started going through that process and visualizing what they wanted their life to be like, and then really working down through more of the traditional financial planning aspects to align what they have to support it, I mean, she’s getting ready to retire at the end of the year. So this has really been a transformation for her and for them. And she’s really excited about the next phase of her life. And they’re very active people. They have some grandkids. There’s just a lot that they want to do. So she’s going to be retiring before age 55, which is great, and she’s excited about it, and she feels confident about it. But they weren’t on the same page. I think she had just some healthy skepticism, like, “Okay, husband John, I love you. You’re a smart guy. But I’m only in my early fifties. I mean, come on, let’s get real here. I can’t retire yet.”
And just bringing them together on the same page and walking them through and really that visualization process and bringing everything together, I mean, it’s tough. I mean, that’s one of the best benefits that people often get out of financial planning. I mean, you have some investments, you have some cash, you have some property, real estate and what have you, you have social security, maybe a pension. You’re not exactly sure how much you’re spending, and you’re not exactly sure how it’s going to change over time.
And you come in with this mindset of, well, my money better lasts at least a little bit longer than I do. And so the thing to do is just keep working, and I think that’s natural, and you need to have that healthy skepticism and lean towards a bit of conservativeness there. But for John and Jane in this example, I mean, it was just great. This was one of those times where you get that good, warm fuzzy, where you know you’re doing a lot of good number-crunching work and helping them make smart financial decisions there, but really bringing them on the same page and having her excited about making a big life change much sooner than what she would have, that’s awesome.
Walter Storholt: Awesome is putting it lightly. That’s very cool and just wonderful, to be able to have that style of communication, that clarity that you can get from meeting with a proper professional to get some guidance and some clearness ahead of the path that you’re on, and see if you need to change paths or stay on the path that you’re on, what adjustments need to be made, all part of the planning process and neat to see that evolution, Kevin, where you guys met with an advisor, you and your wife, and you do the same thing for people who come into your office, but you got to see the other side of the table a little bit in that experience. I know that must’ve been kind of fun for you too, right?
Kevin Kroskey: Oh yeah, no, absolutely. And I learned a lot, and it’s always good to try to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes. I think it helps you be better at what you do for those people you serve.
Walter Storholt: Yep. Absolutely. Well, if you want to talk to Kevin a little bit more about what his planning process looks like, you can schedule a 15-minute call with an experienced financial advisor on the True Wealth team. All you have to do is go to truewealthdesign.com, and click on the are we right for you button to schedule your consultation. Again, it’s a free 15-minute visit. Just go to truewealthdesign.com, and click on the Are We Right For You button. Or you can call, 855-TWD-PLAN. That’s 855-TWD-PLAN. Kevin, thanks for the help this week. And look forward to chatting with you again on the next episode.
Kevin Kroskey: All right, have fun in Colorado, Walter. Thank you.
Walter Storholt: Will do. Try not to get into too much trouble out there, all right? More coming up on the next edition of Retire Smarter. Thanks for joining us.
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