Advisors aren’t couples therapists and they shouldn’t be in the business of endorsing or criticizing clients’ decisions to get married or divorced or remain single.
After all, this is sensitive territory. Compounding that matter is that divorce rates in the U.S. and in other mature economies are high, indicating a fair amount of marriages won’t be successful. Plus, clients in younger demographics are delaying major life milestones and marriage is on that list.
All relevant points for advisors to be sure, but on the other hand, chances are advisors work with a significant amount of married couples or those thinking about taking that step. On that note, it’s worth pointing out that there are some financial perks to being married, particularly when both members of the couple are working.
As highlighted in the recent New York Life Wealth Watch survey, there are clear benefits at the intersection of marriage and household finances.
Love, Marriage…Better Financial Outcomes?
If a client mentions to an advisor that they’re considering marriage, but are apprehensive about how such a union will affect their finances, advisors should be prepared. Fortunately, the supporting data are, well, supportive.
“Married adults are more likely to have a financial strategy in place than other household structures (Married: 62%, Single: 49%, In a relationship but not married: 42%, Separated/Divorced/Widowed: 39%),” according to New York Life.
Additionally, married folks or those residing with a partner, are more apt to keep lines of financial communication open and regularly have such conversations than people in other romantic circumstances. That’s important because communication can beget positive outlooks and outcomes.
“Married adults are more likely to have a positive outlook of the current state of their personal or household finances, with 58% saying “excellent” and “good” compared to those who are in other relationship stages. (Married: 58%, Single: 42%, In a relationship but not married: 36%, Separated/Divorced/Widowed: 34%),” adds New York Life.
Then there’s matter of sheer benefit from two incomes under one roof. While married have higher monthly expenses than divorced/single/widowed counterparts, they also have significantly more emergency savings and have saved more to start this year.
Parents, Women Are Important Clients
Bringing some nuance to this conversation, advisors should pay particular attention to married couples with young children and women.
“Women are more likely to report that parenting is harder financially (73% compared to 66% of men), emotionally (74% compared to 61% of men), socially (67% compared to 56% of men) and physically (64% compared to 60% of men),” observes New York Life.
Regarding saving for children, advisors have significant inroads on this front because data indicate many parents are already doing so, but they’re using cash instruments, meaning they’re not capitalizing on equity market opportunities.