Let's Talk About Widows

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I want to talk about capable women, educated women, career women, stay-at home mom women, widows. Widows look very differently but widows, all of those things that we've done in our lives, we're still beginners. 

I mean imagine, when I think of a beginner I think of that kindergartner and we don't just drop them off in the parking lot and say, "Well good luck. Hope it all goes well today." You know we take them by the hand, we walk them through, we guide them. 

I want to talk about how you as a financial advisor or wealth management provider can hold their hand and walk them through. So this ... There's five ways that our actions that are desired by widows from financial advisors and this comes from a study from Brian Korb and the study was entitled Financial Planners: Educating Widows in Personal Financial Planning. 

So number one, communicate well. You need to learn to communicate confidently when talking with widows. I mean how comfortable are you when you know the possibility is is they may cry. I can't tell you how many times I cried in the middle of an office and making everybody in the room very uncomfortable. What to say, what to ask, how to listen. So communicating, number one. Provide with their current needs. So the number one issue with brand new widows currently in the financial area is cashflow. So their cashflow has changed and their income has changed but they still need that education and that help with monthly expenses. 

Third, there was a decision partner. They are now making all of these decisions by themselves. I hated that. I loved to have somebody to bounce ideas off. Sometimes they don't become real or need to make a decision until I told my husband. Reminds me of a quote from famous fashion designer Giorgio Armani. He says, "I'm the one who decides. But I like having lots of people with whom I can discuss ideas." 

So number four, prepare for the future. Help them, and it needs to be very contextual. Widows, they could be young, midlife, older, we all have a different set of needs. I happen to have had different ones in my stages when my kids were young but then I needed help with college planning. I need to know what I need to do now, soon or later. 

Lastly, provide support services beyond the financial portfolio. Does your company have some grief resources? Do you know of some widow support groups in this area? Referrals to other service-based businesses. These things are not your job, they're not in your job description, but back to the kindergartner. When you recommend a new attorney, an estate planner, a banker, a life insurance person, maybe you ought to take them by the hand that first go round and not drop them off in the parking lot. Because it reminds me of the other kindergarten famous book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten from Robert Fulghum. 

So two of them that stood out to me is the first one where he says, "Goldfish, hamsters, white mice, and even the little seed in the styrofoam cup. They all die and so do we." And the next one, "When you go out in the world, hold hands and stick together." I encourage you to have a beautiful week and reach out to somebody that you can make an impact in their life.

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