How to Find a Financial Planner as a Couple

May 16, 2024
A man and a woman meet with a financial planner at a desk

Finding a financial planner is an important decision as a couple. It can take some time and effort to find the right person for the two of you.


How To Find a Financial Planner as a Couple 

Starting with your mindset is a great way as a couple to find a financial planner. You are looking for a person that is going to be an expert at perspective-taking. They are going to be able to see and ask about both partner's fears, worries, and anxieties as well as their hopes, dreams, and aspirations.


I have yet to meet a couple who have the exact same combination of these factors. With this in mind you will want to pay attention to the financial planner playing favorites with the way either of you see your financial lives. In couple's financial planning if one person is favored more than the other it will leave one partner feeling alienated in the process of developing your family’s financial plan. 


From my experience, one person in the relationship usually leads the charge to find the family’s financial planner. Several motivating factors drive a person to search for a financial planner, but they typically fall into two broad categories: helping to solve a technical financial problem or getting assistance with a relational problem related to money. Often, these go hand in hand. 


The technical side encompasses things like what to do with an inheritance, what account types to use for saving for retirement, funding a kid's college education, and so on. On the relational side, there can be problematic differences in the spouses’ spending patterns, breakdowns in trust about how money is being used, problems about working too much, etc. 


Finding a financial planner who can fluidly move back and forth between the technical and relational side of financial planning can be a real challenge. Keep reading to learn how you can find this type of professional. 


One thing I know for sure is that if you are reading this blog post, you want the best for your family — both relationally and financially. So, let’s take a short journey together to increase your clarity and confidence in answering the question of how to find a financial planner as a couple. 


Three Questions to Ask as a Couple For Finding a Financial Planner

Finding a financial professional who can work well with both of you is essential for your long-term success with financial planning. It might be easy to take this for granted, but it is not something to overlook. Unlike picking your primary care doctor who gets to know your health individually, your financial planner needs to understand both partners’ hopes, dreams, and aspirations, as well as places of anxiety and concerns related to money. An effective financial plan takes both partners into account. 


When searching for a financial planner, three starting questions will help guide your selection process. Take the time to reflect on these, as there are no right or wrong answers. 


Start by brainstorming answers to these three questions.

  • What Do I Need From Financial Planning?


  • What Does My Partner Need From Financial Planning?


  • What Do We Need From Financial Planning?


If you have never worked with a financial planner, you may not even know what you want or need from a financial planner. If this is true, one of your needs can be working with a financial planner who works with clients who are new to financial planning.


Perhaps you are a person who loves numbers and talking about money, and so you want a financial planner who can geek out on all the nitty-gritty details of financial planning. However, there could be a wrinkle in this plan if you are partnered with someone who would rather do anything but talk about money. In that case, you’d look for a financial planner who can work across these differences. This is an example of what you need together as a couple. 


Based on your answers to these questions, you are now at a fork in the metaphorical road. If both of you answered that you primarily need help with technical answers to money situations, traditional financial planning would be great for the two of you. 


On the other hand, if one or both of you answered that you need a financial planner who understands both the technical side of money and the relational side of money, you’ll want to work with a Therapy-Informed Financial Planner. 


Let’s look at the difference between these two options. 


Traditional Financial Planning

Traditional financial planners have developed a comprehensive knowledge base in six core areas of personal finance: cash flow/spending, investing/retirement planning, taxes, insurance, estate planning, and education funding. Most financial planners are very strong in a few of these categories and generalists in the others. 


It’s important to match with a financial planner with expertise that addresses your chief financial needs and questions. For instance, if your family receives equity compensation, you would want a financial planner who understands the intersection of investing and taxes. 


Or perhaps you are a highly compensated family where both partners earn W-2 income, and you need help coordinating your cash flow and making sure you're saving enough. In this case, you’d look for a professional who takes on clients with similar earning power and has expertise in cash flow and retirement planning.

The traditional financial planning process will typically consist of a getting-to-know-you meeting, followed by a data-gathering session where all of your financial information is collected. Lastly, a financial planning recommendations meeting will be offered. From there, it will be up to you to implement the changes that have been recommended. 


This is a great process for people who feel in control of their finances and know that they can act on the financial planner's various recommendations. 


Therapy-Informed Financial Planning™

Therapy-Informed Financial Planning™ adds another layer of depth to financial planning. The financial planner has advanced training in financial therapy and understands that humans can have painful experiences that consciously and unconsciously impact the way they navigate technical and relational decisions related to money. These painful experiences are referred to as financial trauma and a financial planner with training in financial therapy can help you ease the impacts of the financial trauma


Therapy-Informed Financial Planning professionals have gone beyond the industry standards of earning the Certified Financial Planner designation and have completed additional education in mental health and financial therapy. 


Beyond creating a spending plan for a family who is at odds about their spending, these specialists ask about family history related to money, looking for painful experiences around how money was managed or experienced. They then provide exercises to reduce the impact of those experiences to help the couple. 


In another scenario, a couple may struggle to navigate the complexities of running a private practice, paying taxes, setting up retirement funds, and feeling imposter syndrome for achieving success because they came from families with low incomes who actively resented the “rich.”


Therapy-Informed Financial Planning understands that people are like a seven-layer cake. We can’t always see all the layers initially, but we can name them. Once we cut into our lives and start to make our financial plans, all the layers of being a human show up. 


 The typical Therapy-Informed Financial Planning™ process looks and feels different than the traditional financial planning process. Typically clients will meet with their Therapy-Informed Financial Planner between 8 - 12 times over the course of a year to help them identify and develop their financial plan and work through their desired changes. 


There is ample time to discuss the range of thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and beliefs related to money and relationships that are blocking or limiting the client's ability to engage in their financial plan and enjoy their life with money. 


All of a clients experiences are met with empathy, compassion, and curiosity. An appreciation and acknowledgement of how vulnerable it can feel to talk about your personal finances. There is an understanding that each person has a wide range of experiences with money and relationships that has led them to their current views and ways of navigating money. 


We know that it will take time and at times may be difficult to make important and meaningful changes in your financial life and we are here to support the process of change with art and science of human learning, healing and growth in mind. 


Ultimately Therapy-Informed Financial Planning is about helping people with the layers of themselves, relationships, and the many moving pieces of their financial lives. This is what makes Therapy-Informed Financial Planning so positively impactful.  


4 Questions To Ask Your Prospective Financial Planner

It is perfectly normal and helpful to have some prepared questions to ask the prospective financial planners you are interviewing to work with. Based on what you have read so far, what types of questions would you come up with for yourself that would help with making the decision for you and your spouse? 

Here are some of my recommended questions.

1. If we need help implementing your recommendations what type of support do you offer?

2. If we have fear, anxiety, or places of shame around money, how will you help us?

3. How do you approach making technical financial planning recommendations? 

4. How do you work with spouses who have different interest levels in financial planning?


Reaching Out to Talk About Your Finances as a Couple

Let’s take a breath together. 


Breathe in, breathe out. It is easy to start holding our breath and just try to white-knuckle through our finances and pick a financial planner. That can work in the short run, but not in the long run. We need to breathe — whether we are working out or picking our financial planner. 


If you have decided you need a traditional financial planner, my favorite place to find highly dedicated, educated, and caring financial planners is the XY Financial Planning Network. It is a group of fiduciary, fee-only financial planners that have a wide range of technical specialties. I know that you can find a financial planner that will help you solve your particular technical, financial concerns. 


Do you need more than just a technical financial planner? Let’s talk. I created Therapy-Informed Financial Planning™ for couples just like the two of you. Like you, I realized that many people need more support than traditional financial planning can offer. That is not a failing on the part of traditional financial planning; that’s a reality of the types of training available for financial planners. 


In case you are wondering, I also know that traditional couples therapy will not help you solve your money problems. But that’s a story for a different blog post. 


Let’s schedule a time to talk about your unique life and goals as a couple. Schedule your free 30-minute consultation. 


Wishing You Healthy Love and Money,

Ed Coambs

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