My friend Mary’s husband died unexpectedly, leaving her to raise their five-year-old son and tend to a generous life insurance settlement, while learning to navigate life without her mate.

If that wasn’t tough enough, her first meeting with a new financial advisor started with a foot-in-the-mouth message that stopped a trusted relationship from forming right out of the gate.

“Congratulations on having such a tidy sum to re-start your life,” the advisor said.

This was followed by a long pause, a punch to Mary’s gut, and the temptation to leave the room just moments after she arrived.

The love of this woman’s life just died, leaving her alone to manage everything in life they had dreamed to navigate together, and the advisor’s first words were a message of congratulations!

“This is death money. How can you be so insensitive?” she said.

What could have bloomed into a collaborative, trusted relationship was instantly derailed.

A Change Was in Order

The advisor’s ill-chosen words had Mary searching immediately for someone new. She wanted the person responsible for helping with her finances to have the presence of mind and compassion to appreciate the context of her situation before considering how to engage in some sort of transaction.

These kinds of conversations take place every day to the dismay of women who find themselves with sudden money from an inheritance, death, or divorce.

Seven out of 10 women will survive their spouses and be responsible for tending to the day to day financial and household matters, as well as tending to investments and other assets left behind.

These women deserve care, compassion, trusted and fiduciary advice to support them in navigating their new lives.

How to Choose the Right Financial Advisor for You

Here are five important factors to consider when choosing the right advisor who can look after your interests in the best and worst of times.

These tips come from a conversation I had with CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional Steve Juetten:

Know What You’re Paying

Ask how the advisor is compensated. If you aren’t familiar with the different types of financial advisors, here’s a short report that can bring some clarity.

Ask About Credentials

Inquire about credentials and make sure you understand what they mean. A fiduciary is an advisor who puts your interests front and center. Anything less isn’t good enough.

Trust Your Instincts

Listen to your gut, your heart, and your head as you evaluate whether the fit you have with the advisor feels right. If the rapport feels forced, uncomfortable, or you sense any pressure to make a decision, walk away.

Consider Your Goals

Come to the meeting with some ideas around the important goals you want to achieve with your new potential advisor as your guide.

You may have questions around how to make sure your sudden money lasts as long as you do or other questions around anticipating and making the most of your financial assets. This Ready Set Retire Quiz may help you come to clarity around your goals.

Take Your Time

Do nothing in a hurry. During the first few months, take care of immediate needs, protect capital, and go slowly on major decisions. In some circumstances of sudden wealth, we encourage clients to spend 10% of the windfall on something that’s fun, but other than that, go slow. 

Every day, life serves up unexpected surprises that can turn life as you know it upside down in an instant.

That’s why finding the right guide to support you in navigating the road ahead – in the best and most challenging of times – can be among the single most important decisions you make.

Have you ever stayed with an advisor because you didn’t know what else to do or the right questions to ask? What did you learn from that experience? Let’s start a conversation!

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