It is safe to say that after losing a loved one, a widow has a lot on their plate, However, this loss does not mean that Financial Advisors can ignore them or mismanage their account. A recent study by Allianz Life found that
About 44% of widows are inclined to obtain financial advice in new ways, and that 70% of those using financial advisers considered firing their advisers in the first three years after their husbands' deaths.
This tragic loss does not give Financial Advisers the right to prey upon Widows with risky financial investments, mismanagement of funds or simply ignoring the widow altogether.
Five simple steps that a widow can use for Financial Guidance and respect from Financial Advisors include:
Step one: Deal with your emotional needs first after the death of your spouse. Having a clear mind and perspective is key before making major decisions,
Step two: Organize your finances and make a budget. Looking at your entire financial picture allows you to see what you need financially to live on.
Step three: Calculate your net worth. Take a look at all of your assets, investments, stocks, home, bank accounts, bonds, and everything that is of value. Ask your Financial Advisor to give you a report of what your portfolio is worth, present value and a comparison of what it was worth when your husband was alive. Give them a specific time frame of when you expect this data.
Step four: Identify a few key Financial Advisers and Interview them for your business. Compare the Financial Adviser that was working with your spouse to the new ones that are recommended by reliable sources. Make a checklist of things that are important to you in an adviser. Rate each Adviser with a score for each of your checklist items and come up with a ranking system for comparison. Try to be objective and compare each adviser on the same benchmarks.
Step five: Sit down with your Chosen Financial Advisor and develop a long-term financial plan for your investments. Share with the selected Financial Advisor that they were selected after a careful screening process. This will allow them to see that you are serious about service and expect excellent Customer Service. Set aside a specific timeframe for a review, that you are comfortable with, i.e., monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, semi annually. Make sure that the Financial Advisor agrees to this timeframe to go over your portfolio and hold them to it. If they fail to service your account properly, go back to your list and replace them with someone that will treat you the way that you expect to be treated.
Read the book, On Your Own: A Widow's Passage to Emotional & Financial Well-being,by Alexandra Armstrong and Mary R. Donahue for more information on how a Widow can take charge of their life and finances without being taken advantage of by a Financial Advisor. The book retails for under $20 on Amazon and other online retailers.
If you are a Widow, please note that you are not alone, According to an article on the subject from Investment News, nearly 800,000 women become widows each year. There is much comfort in numbers. Join a support group for women that are recent widows. You may find that sharing your experiences present, past and future can help you cope with your loss.
To learn more on other ways for Widows to protect themselves against Investor fraud, view some of the following Financial Services pages on Stockbroker fraud, Securities Issues, or dispute resolutions.