Divorce can be a challenging and overwhelming experience for anyone, especially when it comes to dealing with the financial aspects of the process. Many individuals lack the fundamental knowledge and understanding of personal finance, making navigating through the complexities of divorce even more difficult. 

There is a significant need for specialized consulting services, particularly for ultra-high-net-worth women. These women face unique challenges and require support to navigate the complex financial landscape during divorce proceedings. 

Olivia Summerhill, a financial planner and consultant, recognized this need and founded a company focused on helping affluent women during divorce. We talked to her about her journey, the needs of her clientele, and the significance of addressing financial empowerment early in relationships.

Addressing a Personal Need and a Business Opportunity

Olivia’s decision to start her consulting firm stemmed from personal and business reasons. She observed errors and financial pitfalls in divorces while working as a financial planner. Many women approached her after their divorces, seeking help to rectify the issues. Recognizing this unmet need, Olivia decided to focus on assisting women during the divorce process. 

Furthermore, her personal experience with her parents’ tumultuous divorce and its financial repercussions motivated her to create a better path for others.

Understanding the Needs of Ultra High Net Worth Women

The primary need identified among her clients is the desire to be heard and understood. These women often had professionals, such as CPAs and lawyers, talking at them rather than listening to their perspectives. During the divorce process, these women require a trusted advisor who will actively listen and help them make informed financial decisions. That role is to provide guidance and present options that empower her clients to navigate the complexities of divorce and secure their financial futures.

The Root Causes and Cultural Norms

Cultural norms often perpetuate the belief that men are more confident with money, despite women being equally educated. This bias can deter women from actively engaging in financial matters within their relationships. By encouraging open conversations around finances from the beginning of a relationship, couples can prevent potential problems and foster a more balanced dynamic.

Prenuptial Agreements and Financial Transparency

Prenuptial agreements are crucial in establishing financial transparency and fairness in marriages, particularly for those entering relationships with disparate wealth. Even couples starting with minimal assets should consider having conversations about finances and the potential outcomes of a divorce. By addressing fears and concerns related to financial security early on, couples can build a foundation of trust and reduce the likelihood of financial disputes later in the relationship.

The Role of Advisors and the Need for Change

While many major financial institutions are implementing initiatives to train their advisors to treat women clients equally, there is still progress to be made. Advisors should actively listen and engage with their clients, regardless of gender or wealth. By fostering an environment of trust, advisors can better understand their client’s needs and help them make informed financial decisions.

When clients approach a divorce and finance expert, their lack of fundamental knowledge can be a significant hurdle. The first step is for the expert to actively listen and assess the client’s current understanding and education level in financial matters. By doing so, the expert can tailor their approach and provide relevant and helpful guidance.

Taking Action and Educating

To alleviate anxiety and help clients become more comfortable with the fundamentals, the expert focuses on organizing and simplifying the complex subject of finance. They guide clients in actions such as reviewing credit scores, opening bank accounts, and understanding the basics of budgeting. This hands-on approach empowers clients and ensures they are actively involved in their financial decisions. Additionally, professionals such as estate planners, forensic accountants, and private investigators may be brought in to provide specialized support and expertise when needed.

Identifying Values and Best Outcomes

Helping clients identify their top values and aspirations is crucial to the process. This step ensures that the financial decisions align with the client’s long-term goals and desired identity. By understanding the client’s values, the expert can provide advice that is tailored to their unique circumstances. Instead of solely focusing on financial gains, the expert strives to help clients achieve their best outcome holistically, considering factors such as family, personal growth, and emotional well-being.

Collaboration with Divorce Attorneys

In some cases, clients may already have a divorce attorney when they seek the assistance of a divorce and finance expert. In these situations, the expert works in tandem with the attorney to support the client’s best interests. They communicate the client’s values and goals effectively, bridging the gap between financial considerations and legal proceedings. Open communication and permission from the client are crucial in maintaining confidentiality and ensuring a smooth collaboration between all parties involved.

The Future of Women’s Financial Education

The conversation between the experts also touches on the importance of improving financial education for women. They emphasize the need for continuing education within school systems and for adult women. 

Initiatives such as Savvy Ladies, a nonprofit organization that provides financial help for women, play a crucial role in empowering women through financial education. The experts encourage individuals to seek out professional advice and resources, highlighting the value of obtaining accurate and unbiased information from experts rather than relying solely on friends and family.

Navigating the financial aspects of divorce can be overwhelming, but there are professionals who specialize in helping clients overcome these challenges. By actively listening, organizing complex financial matters, and prioritizing clients’ values, divorce and finance experts can empower women to make informed decisions during divorce proceedings. 

Ultimately, by addressing financial empowerment early in relationships and providing the right resources and guidance, we can work towards a future where divorce is less prevalent and financial well-being is prioritized for all.

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