Do Your Parents Need a Financial Advisor?

Since becoming a financial advisor, I’ve had my parents on my radar to become clients. They’re in their mid-60s, ready to slow down at work, and in my opinion, needed a little “financial closet cleaning.” I’d worked in the family business before becoming a financial advisor, so I knew more about their financial life than the average kid, and truth be told, I was concerned, for example, that their mortgage was going to weigh them down in retirement and that they hadn’t updated their trust in fifteen years. There were other things swirling around my brain as well.

My parents are busy so there always seemed to be an excuse to avoid sitting down for a meeting. I gave up nudging them, but I never stopped worrying about what might happen if they didn’t meet with a planner. So I did the best I could – a little advice over family dinners, a review of their portfolio on the weekend, my two cents about a re-finance decision, and retirement talks on walks with my mom. It was all very reactionary and spontaneous and rarely productive. I was frustrated that they weren’t getting the attention they deserve and started to wonder if I was the wrong person for the job because I’m, well, too close to them. Maybe there’s only so much a kid should know about her parents’ financial situation (good or bad), and on the flip side maybe it’s hard for a parent to chat about finances with their child.

Enter John. Recently I made one final nudge for my parents to clear an afternoon to meet with, not me, but a colleague of mine that I love and trust. On the day of the meeting, I was anxious. I gave John a tizzy of disclaimers, “So, my dad’s really positive and makes everything seem great even when maybe they’re not. My mom’s super funny but isn’t super clued in on the investments. My dad has a serious real estate addiction.”

Peering out of the hallway to check if the meeting was done, I saw John and my parents laughing and shaking hands. Phew. Looked like it all went well. When I joined my parents for lunch afterward, they told me they were so excited to get started. John was excited to work with them, enjoyed the meeting, and most importantly told me that I shouldn’t worry about them. They’re going to be fine.

A burden was immediately lifted. My parents’ financial life is no longer on my to-do list. I am back to just being their daughter – excited for their travel and generosity, thrilled for my dad’s next great idea, or simply enjoying their company. I don’t have to process everything through my financial planning brain. What a gift.

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