Episode 49 : 03/07/2018

Money mindset: Suddenly single

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Dr. Amy D'Aprix

Life Transition Expert

Hosts:

Ben D. Jones
Managing Director - Intermediary Distribution
BMO Global Asset Management

Emily Larsen
Product Strategy Manager
BMO Global Asset Management

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This is the first of four episodes over the year where we’ll explore the “money mindset” of some unique groups that advisors serve.

In this episode, our discussion focuses on a large and growing demographic: middle-aged people who find themselves “suddenly single” after years, if not decades, of marriage. “Suddenly single” commonly occurs through widowhood or divorce, but no matter the cause, the demographic presents unique challenges and considerations.

We’re joined by returning guest and Life Transition Expert Dr. Amy D’Aprix to help advisors navigate this emotional life event and keep their clients’ financial plans on track.

In this episode:

  • The mindset of those who are “suddenly single”
  • The LERA process: Listen, Empathize, Reframe, Act
  • The four impacts of a client in transition: emotional, family, practical and financial
  • How to approach the widow if your relationship was with their spouse
  • When to bring up the financial matters (hint: it might not be right away)

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Transcript

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – You don’t need to say the perfect thing.  You have to come from a place of authenticity, empathy, approachability, and to ask how can you can be most helpful — don’t assume.  The second thing is help simplify what needs to be done financially by helping prioritize.

Ben Jones – Welcome to Better conversations. Better outcomes. presented by BMO Global Asset Management.  I’m Ben Jones.

Emily Larsen – And I’m Emily Larsen.  In each episode, we’ll explore topics relevant to today’s trusted financial advisors, interviewing experts and investigating the world of wealth advising from every angle.  We’ll also provide you with actionable ideas designed to improve outcomes for advisors and their clients.

Ben Jones – To access the resources we discuss in today’s show, or just to learn more about our guests, visit bmogam.com/betterconversations.  Again, that’s bmogam.com/betterconversations.  Thanks for joining us.

Emily Larsen – Before we get started, one quick request. If you have enjoyed the show and found them of value, please take a moment to leave us a rating or review on iTunes. It would really mean a lot to us.

Disclosure – The views expressed here are those of the participants and not those of BMO Global Asset Management, its affiliates, or subsidiaries.

Ben Jones – The voice you just heard at the top of the show?  Well that might sound familiar to you.  That’s Dr. Amy D’Aprix.  Now you may recall her from episode six, where she talked about the family conversations that should not be avoided, or again in episode 21 on helping clients determine who will be their caregiver.  This will mark her third appearance on the podcast, and we’re so excited to have her back.

Emily Larsen – Today is the first of several episodes over the coming months where we’ll explore the money mindset of some unique groups served by advisors.  Today’s discussion will focus on a large and growing demographic: middle-aged people who find themselves suddenly single after years if not decades of marriage.  Suddenly single commonly happens through widowhood or divorce, but no matter the cause, the situation presents unique considerations that we’ll explore with Dr. Amy.

Ben Jones – Tell me from your perspective, what is suddenly single?

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – It’s really a client who’s going through either a separation or divorce that end or who’s recently widowed.  It’s the difference between a client who’s lived their life single versus someone who find themselves transitioning into that.

Ben Jones – And this has always been a demographic that existed, but I’ve really only heard in the last maybe year or two people talking specifically about this particular demographic.  Why do you think the industry’s been so slow to realize there’s a different mindset for these type of clients?

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – I always think it’s a numbers game.  Right, so if you look at what’s happening now, we’ve got baby boomers aging, and so we’re seeing more widows in that cohort, which of course is such a huge cohort.  And also the divorce rate’s pretty high at that time, too.  So I think it’s a little bit of a wake up to, wow, there’s a lot of people that we’re interacting with who seem to be falling now into this category.  Ben, I’m sure you know this: the average age of widowhood in the United States is 58.  And by the way —

Ben Jones – I didn’t know that, that seems really young.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – It is young.  And by the way, if you look this up, for those of you who will now go Google that, you will find arguments about that.  But it varies between about — different stats between about 56 and 59.  So pick the number, it’s still earlier than people think.

Ben Jones – So whether you’re an advisor who has a few clients that are going through this life transition or one who’s built an entire practice around the demographic of suddenly single, it’s important to understand the mindset of these clients.

Emily Larsen – Hold the show.  We mentioned Dr. Amy’s been on the podcast, but before we go further, we should tell you why we keep asking Dr. Amy for her unique perspective on life transitions.  Better yet, we’ll let her tell you.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – I’m Dr. Amy D’Aprix, I am BMO Financial Group’s life transition expert.

Ben Jones – Where do we find ourselves today?

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – We are in Toronto, Ontario recording this.

Ben Jones – It’s a nice, brisk day.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – A lovely, brisk day.  Typical winter day in Toronto when we all wish we were somewhat warmer.

Ben Jones – Luckily as I was walking out the door, I threw my beanie — by ball cap in, so when I got out of the hotel this morning, I thought, boy that was the best thing I put in the briefcase.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Absolutely.  You know, if you come to Canada, you have to learn to call your ski hat a tuque, but that’s what we call it up here.  Yeah.

Ben Jones – Okay, I’m going to remember that.  So I’ve got my tuque.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – You’ve got your tuque, there you go, you fit right in now.

Ben Jones – Now, tell me your story about how it is that you became a life transitions expert.  What was it that kind of lead this to becoming your life’s work?

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Well, it really was a series of things.  I started my career as a social worker, and all of my degrees are in social work.  But then I went through a lot of transitions with my own family.    And as I was going through all these changes with them, it changed how I began to work with clients and start to talk to professionals about this.  I had the great opportunity to do work for a company that offers a designation called certified senior advisor, and that got me up in front of professionals of all backgrounds.  I started working with professionals who saw that clients ended up in crisis at various times of their life, or if not as dramatically crisis, at least unprepared.  And I began to feel pretty passionate about the fact that I could help people navigate transitions better, so that they had choice, control, and independence in their life forever.  Really the way you do that is there are things that you have to think about, plan for, and talk about.  And because of my background, I knew what those things were, and talking to the thousands of people I have over the last decade especially, I’ve had the great opportunity to hear so many people’s stories and how with just a little bit of planning, many people’s lives could be so much better.  So I’m on a mission to help people do fabulous preventative planning in their lives.  When you’re working with clients, the thing you need to remember about any transition they’re going through is there are typically four implications to that.  There’s an emotional implication, there’s a family implication, there’s a practical implication, and there’s a financial.  And you could combine the financial and the practical, but the financial typically is so significant that we have to separate it out.  What I try to get advisors to do is to say, okay, the client’s sweet spot is over here at the emotional and the family, so I need to go over there to them, meet them there, and learn how to have a conversation that’s comfortable for me at that level and then bring them back to the financial.  And when you do that, you get client buy-in.

Emily Larsen – A nice piece of wisdom.  There are four impacts to a client in transition: emotional, family, practical, and financial.  Often advisors go straight to their comfort topic of financial.  Do you?  Now we’ll move to the topic at hand: suddenly single.  We tackle why advisors should care about this topic, why suddenly single predominantly affects women, and what to do if your relationship was with the deceased and you would like to reach out to the widow.

Ben Jones – Why do you think that advisors should care about this particular kind of demographic?

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Well, I think there’s specific needs of this demographic.  I think from an unselfish standpoint, there are emotional needs, there are things — there are practical needs that the advisor can attend to.  And from a self-serving standpoint, this is a demographic that has potentially a lot of money as well, right?  You’re looking at the wealth transfer that’s occurring to women right now.  So I think it’s a big deal no matter how you look at this.  They have unique needs, so let’s figure out how to serve them better.

Ben Jones – And I’ve got to imagine that if an advisor has a book of 200 or 300 clients, it happens to be a mindset that they’re inevitably going to have to deal with —

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Yes.

Ben Jones – — because this is just part of life.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Absolutely.  And I think it’s not an area that we’re taught how to deal with well, and it’s a bit uncomfortable for a lot of people in general and certainly for advisors.  So we’re going to help make that easier today.

Ben Jones – One of the things that was really curious to me as I was preparing for our conversation over the last couple of weeks – everything I read on this topic was about women.   And why don’t we talk about men in this particular segment or demographic?

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Well we certainly could, but if you look at who typically is impacted by this, it’s women who are becoming widows earlier.  You know, my background is in gerontology, and we used to say for decades: men die and women get sick.  And what that means is men tend to die before women.  So you’re looking at there being more of a cohort of widows.  That’s one issue.  And then of course we’re talking about the divorce issue, we know that in the first year after a divorce, a woman’s standard of living drops an average of 45%.  Now that’s a Canadian figure, but it’s not that different in the States.  And the impact is greater among higher wage earners than lower.  Which was surprising to me when I first heard it.

Ben Jones – Yeah, it’s surprising to me as well.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – So these things impact women a lot.  Now, this doesn’t mean we should be ignoring men who are going through these in any way, shape, or form.  And I think we could do a whole other podcast about men and these issues because it is different.  And we know in couples, as you said before, that often advisors do not have relationships with both people in the couple, and if that’s true, typically it’s with the man.

Ben Jones – So let’s talk a little bit about this.  So what if the advisor’s relationship was with the deceased?  Like, how exactly do you recommend that an advisor should reach out to the widow, especially if they don’t have this existing relationship with them.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – This is tricky.  Because now you’re going to have to establish that you’re reaching out because you truly care and want to be there to provide whatever kind of information or support that she needs in managing the financial issues.  And there’s a fine line between coming across that way and like an ambulance chaser.  So you have to think about how you do this.  And I’m going to say this several times I think, Ben, while we’re chatting – the best thing to know is if you want to build a relationship, authenticity and empathy are the keys.  So you’re going to have to approach this just like an authentic human being who wants to be there for somebody.

Ben Jones – Hopefully advisors are already authentic.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Yes, one would hope.  So when I say that, what I mean is, when you’re expressing empathy, you don’t have to come up with some long speech about this, alright.  But you do have to get into the mindset of the fact that you want to in some way convey something that says you care.  And you can do this very quickly.  So you might say something like “You know, Mrs. Stone, I’m so sorry for your loss” — which we all know to say that.  But then one of the great things you can do Ben is to say something about her husband that will spark some nice connection like “I had such respect for Mr. Stone and I always enjoyed working with him.  You know, he had such a great sense of humor, and he was such a smart investor.  I can’t imagine what you’re going through right now is a great line to say to people.”  It’s true and is real empathy.  “I can’t imagine, and I’m reaching out because I know that you may have some questions or you need some information.”  That’s an easy reach-out I think.

Ben Jones – That’s great red letter language.  I think it’s really a great kind of framework to be able to approach someone that you might not know or have the relationship with, but you clearly had a deep relationship with their spouse.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Right.

Ben Jones – So what a nice way to acknowledge that —

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Connect it.

Ben Jones – — and let them know the ways in which you could help around information and other things, rather than let’s set up an appointment at my office.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Right.

Ben Jones – And we’ll fact find.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Yep, exactly.  And then I’m calling saying — if you know there are things that need to be done quickly, because as the advisor you may, right?  You may be looking and saying, oh, she’s got to take care of this, this, and this.  Well tell her that.  Otherwise, you can just say, “is there anything I can do for you right now?  Because when the time’s right, I want to sit down and I want to help you prioritize the things that need to be considered or done on the financial side.  Would you like me to check back with you in three or four weeks, and we can figure out that prioritization together?”  Because one of the things that I can tell you in working with widows — and this is true also of people going through divorce — they’re overwhelmed by the details, and their head is foggy from the grief, and so having someone who will sit down and cut through that and help prioritize makes all the difference.

Ben Jones – I guess obviously the better scenario is that you already have an established relationship with this spouse.  And we’re tackling this idea of widowhood first, we’ll come around to divorce.  But if you do have a recently widowed client, I mean tell me a little bit about the emotional state and the mindset of that individual as you reach out to them.  What should our advisors know?

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Likely they’re in some form of shock.  And this does not matter whether the person died suddenly or died after a long illness.  One of the things I think surprised me when I started — when I went through it and then as I started working with people who either lost their parents or a spouse or a child, is that even when you know it’s coming, it’s a shock.  So just remember shock is key in this.  And what shock looks like for people is they often feel a little disconnected from themselves and their body and they feel like they’re in a fog.  I have a dear friend going through this right now.  She said, I keep walking into rooms and I realize I’ve left cupboards open and drawers open, and I never do that sort of thing.  She said, I feel like I’m losing my mind.  Which people sometimes say because they have that feeling.  The other thing to realize is people grieve differently.  So some people grieve by jumping in and wanting to handle all the practical details.  And other people grieve by walling themselves off.  So you don’t know what you’re going to get always that way.

Ben Jones – I certainly fall into the later camp.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Even when not grieving?

Ben Jones – Yeah, that’s right.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – And then a very common reaction to loss, to losing someone, is a loss of confidence.  It’s an interesting side effect.  We’re going to talk a little bit more about this book, but I really want to give a shout out to Cheryl Sandberg and her book Option B, which everybody listening to this should either read or listen to because it has the best information and practical ideas for how you deal with someone going through loss.  I think most of you will know that she had her husband die very unexpectedly, and her ideas are based on research, they’re great.  I actually based a workshop on it.  And she talks a lot in there about the lack of confidence that happens.  Grief and loss really shakes our confidence to the core.  So that’s what you may see in your client.

Ben Jones – We’ll have a link to Sheryl Sandberg’s book, as well as the HBR podcast she did about her experiences on this topic, at our show notes page.  One tip from the book that you may want to use is to ask your clients who have experienced a loss: “how are you doing today?”  Not how are you, but “how are you doing today?”  The reason is it varies so much on a day-to-day basis because it’s such a rollercoaster of emotions after such a big loss.  So changing the question shows that you understand what it is that they’re going through.

Emily Larsen – Next, we discuss the immediate concerns of a client after the death of a spouse, how to deal with other family members who want to get involved, and best practices for a re-fact finding meeting.

Ben Jones – At what time should they actually start talking about the financial aspects of planning and things that need to be taken care of?  Is there an appropriate amount of time to wait before tackling those issues?  I mean, obviously it’s not the minute you hear the news, but tell me a little bit about what the right kind of cooling period is.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – I think the biggest question you have to ask yourself: is there something urgent that needs to be dealt with?  If there is, then we’re not really talking timeframes.  You just have to kind of move forward and take that first step.  Call your client and say, ‘I’m so sorry that in the midst of everything else you’re dealing with I have to talk to you about this.”  So there’s a way that you can approach that.  That will drive how fast.  Otherwise, what I’d say is start with sending a card and offering condolences with a warm note.  That should be the first contact.  Right, you don’t want to jump in on the financial.  And this is again where authenticity and empathy are key and something short but that in some way honors that person that has passed and says “I don’t know how you’re doing but I’m here for you.”  Then, if there’s no big rush, this is — obviously what I’m about to say is completely individualized, so you have to figure out what’s best in your client’s situation, that’s my disclaimer on that.  But I would say — I would wait a month at least before reaching out on the financial if there’s nothing urgent.  But before that month having sent the condolence, the note.  Something that really feels heartfelt.  You know, I hear people comment all the time now about handwritten notes if they get them.  This is not an e-mail I’m suggesting.  This is a card that gets a stamp on it that goes in the mail.

Ben Jones – You know I have terrible handwriting —

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Me too.

Ben Jones – — and most people can’t even read it, including my wife.  But I write handwritten notes all the time.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Good for you.

Ben Jones – And even if they can’t read it, they go “wow, he took the time to write me.”

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – He took the time to write it.

Ben Jones – So they do carry some sort of weight.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – There’s something about it.

Ben Jones – It’s more than an e-mail.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Yeah, yeah it really does have a different impact on people.

Ben Jones – Now, I want to talk a little bit about the kind of immediate concerns.  We talked about this mindset.  You’ve got this person who’s recently widowed.  They’re in an emotional state of kind of volatility.  What are some of the immediate concerns that are on their mind that the advisor should know?  Besides just processing the situation and shock.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Right.

Ben Jones – But what are some of the immediate things that go through their mind?

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Financially, one of the things that people are most concerned about is can I pay the bills.  And you may be surprised because this may be your highest net worth clients who are having that fear.  You’re looking at the numbers and you’re thinking, of course this person’s fine.  But they’re not necessarily connected to that.  And so if they have been disconnected at all from the finances and their spouse is taking care of it, even though they may be in the know, it is a very disconcerting feeling.  Am I okay now?  And will I be okay in the future?  Those are two big concerns.

Ben Jones – I think that that’s true as well for the divorced aspect of this too.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Absolutely.

Ben Jones – I know that just speaking from experience, my mother was very concerned when she got divorced about her ability to pay the bills.  And in fact, the fact that she had assets and money to pay those didn’t translate into could she pay her bills, because she was in this scarcity mentality instead of that abundance mentality.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Absolutely, and we see that a lot, so I think even if your client doesn’t say it to you, one of the greatest gifts you can give your client is to very specifically say “I just want to reassure you.” I mean, obviously assuming it’s true.

Ben Jones – Hopefully it’s true, yeah.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Assuming it’s true, ”you are okay, and this is why I say that, and you’re okay now,” and then “we’ll take a look in a month and I’ll show you that you are okay for the future. I’m happy to do it before then, but I just want you to know you’re okay.” When you can reassure, absolutely do it. If you have concerns that they’re not okay, obviously you need to express those.

Ben Jones – There’s also the case where they may have known the spouse but they really weren’t involved in decision making financially.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Right.

Ben Jones – So how should an advisor handle the idea that other family members step in to provide their tutelage through the financial decisions. Like how do you deal with all of the other parties that want to get involved?

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Well there are a couple of things I want to say here, Ben. One is if you’re listening to this and you have clients that you don’t — female clients that you don’t have relationships with, you haven’t developed them, you need to do that. Don’t wait for this, because you’re playing catch up as soon as you do this. We know, the stats show over and over that when a spouse dies, it’s upwards of 80% of the time the money walks. The money walks because of what you just said. The adult kids come in and they go “I don’t know this advisor, mom, who are you working with? Come over to my advisor.” So you’re securing probably the second part of this is getting into intergenerational relationships is a good idea now. Don’t wait. There’s no magic age for your clients to be or their kids to be to start doing that if you can.

Ben Jones – How do you do that?

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – I think if you’re doing good planning and you’re talking about the future, and the more comfortable we all get in having these essential conversations, as I call them, talking to the most important people about the most important things, then we need to be the voice that says “I want to make sure that” — this is to your client now – “I want to make sure that you have a couple of things. I want you to have choice, control, and I want you to have independence for as long as you can, and hopefully forever. The other thing is I want to make sure that your wishes are carried out. The only way for me to really be able to help you do that is to be able to know the people who I would be interacting with when you are not here.” We have to get away from saying if you’re not here. We’re all going to go, so if something happens to me. Something will happen to you. We just don’t know when! So you just say “I want to make sure” — and see the approach here is “I want to make sure your wishes are carried out, now it’s not I’m trying to hone in your relationship with your kids. It would be helpful for me to know the rest of the players here.” So that’s part of the intergenerational. With the spouse, this should be a no brainer right, because you want the spouse in for these very reasons. It’s likely that at some point I’m going to need to have dealings with your spouse, either because something impacts her directly, there’s a health issue that you have, whatever it might be. “So I’d like to get to know both of you so that you both feel comfortable with me.” So that’s the good work that could be done ahead of time.

Ben Jones – One thing that I’ll just add here from the advisor’s perspective, when there are other family members who get involved, whether it’s at the request of your client, hopefully at the request of your client, or not, you’ve got to be very careful about making sure that you get the right permissions from your client before discussing their confidential information with one of their children, even though it’s their child, confidentiality still applies.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – It’s funny you should say that. One of the things I wanted to say is that if your client is cognitively competent, then that’s the person you have to be dealing with and all permissions have to come through them, even though their adult kids may be knocking at your door. So you need to talk to your client about how they feel about their kids’ involvement, and one time I saw this that I thought was so well done. I went to the bank with my dad and the banker, very, very discreetly just kind of asked me to step out of the room, he wanted to chat with my dad for a few minutes. What he was doing was checking out that my dad was okay, that I was engaged in this decision making. That was totally appropriate. I was glad for that, and we need to do that more, and if you get a kid who gets offended, it’s tough to deal with that but you can say your mom, as my client, who she’s the one that I have to respect this relationship, and I know you’ll understand that because I would offer you that same as my client.

Ben Jones – Speaking of this finding out what their goals and objectives are, we had Kristen Gibson on talking about women and wealth last year, and one of the things she said is that one of the reasons that women end up ultimately leaving the financial advisor is because they keep saying your spouses had this plan for you. They say well, I want a plan for me, right?

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – I don’t care, right.

Ben Jones – Like what about what I want? So what are some of the key ways that this month cooling period happens, there’s trust that’s built, and it’s time to kind of re-fact find your client, discover what their kind of goals and objectives are. What are some of the best practices here? Do you treat them like a new client, do you — how do you dive into this kind of discovery process?

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – One of the first things I’d say to that is that you really have to convey that you’re going to be there as a coach and a teammate, not the all-knowing expert. We all know this from the research, and I know I’m not the first person to say this, but I hear over and over from women that advisors intimidate them, talk down to them, make them feel in some way incapable or stupid. I just heard a story the other day from a woman who went to see her advisor. She’s owned two or three businesses, very successful woman, and in the course of discussing something she asked a question, and he looked at her with what felt to her like a condescending look, and he said “Maxine” — that’s not her name — but “Maxine, you’re such a smart woman, I’m surprised you don’t know that.” Can you imagine how that made her feel? So when you’re dealing with a widow now, remember what I just said, confidence is low for most people going through loss and transition. So you’re already not at your best, and now you have an advisor that’s kind of in some attitude or whatever, treat you as perhaps maybe not — why don’t you know — there’s an attitude, and women talk about this all the time. So don’t intimidate, don’t come in feeling like I’m going to take this over for you, you can ask her “what do you want from me? How do you want our relationship to be? What I can be for you is kind of a guy by the side, a coach. I can teach you if there are things you want to know that you don’t currently know, and I want you to know I’m totally open to all questions because if you’re just coming in now and you haven’t been engaged in the financial part, there are a lot of things that are going to be new for you. So I want to make this easy for you. You can ask me anything at any time.” You may think that that’s obvious, but women tell us over and over it’s not, so I think this is really important.

Emily Larsen – One action item that popped into my mind is to review your client base, to make sure you have a relationship with all your client’s spouses, or identify the ones you need to develop. Then you might do the same for second generations as well. One last thing you might want to consider, if you have several clients in this demographic, is to create a social event where widowed clients can meet each other to see that they are not alone. A community of support can really help people through difficult times. Now we’ll switch gears and discuss people who find themselves suddenly single through a divorce or separation later in life.

Ben Jones – We did an episode last fall on divorce, and the specialty that’s required in just planning for divorce. But that was a lot around the technical aspects of divorce and dealing with kind of the emotional states of planning the divorce. But, from the emotional side here, the transition from being married to single, male or female, difficult.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Very difficult. And it’s — as much as we would say there’s not the stigma there used to be, people still feel very alone, and this is one of the things I think as an advisor that you have an opportunity to do. There’s a process that I teach a lot, it’s called LERA. It’s Listen, Empathize, Reframe, Act. In this case, what you’re listening for are the emotions that people are expressing, and we’ve already talked about empathy, and that empathy is really just often just a – “wow, this is just kind of a tough time for you right now, isn’t it?” That’s a great empathic statement. We want to fix things, but really you just have to say something that says “I get you, and I’m hearing you, and this stinks. I’m sorry.” When people are going through divorce, they really appreciate that. Then the R, the reframe, is about normalizing. It’s about saying “I know this is so hard for you and I want you to know I have a lot of clients who are going through this. You’re not alone.” So the R is really the purpose of it is, “you are not alone”. Then you’ve probably heard me say this before, you have to do these steps in this order, because if you do the You’re Not Alone before the empathy step, what it sounds like is oh, you’re just like everybody else and you totally don’t feel —

Ben Jones – There’s nothing unique about you.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Right, nothing unique about you, and I don’t really see you, you’re just like every other divorced person I’m working with! But this is like “hey buddy, I get it, this is not easy, and I know it’s — I’ve seen so many people like this,” and then the A, the act, is always the practical. Whatever that may be. So you’re right, it’s a tough time, it’s a tough transition, and I’m such a believer that we are the community for each other, and advisors, you have a unique opportunity to build a relationship by responding to these very difficult life transitions with just an authentic, empathic response like that.

Ben Jones – Just some maybe final thoughts here, what does it feel like when an advisor gets this kind of suddenly single transition right?

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – As an advisor, you will feel the connection. It is about a deepened relationship with the client. That’s what it feels like.

Ben Jones – And if you’re the client of an advisor that really gets this right, what does it feel like for that client?

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – I think it’s a boost to confidence, and it’s that idea somebody’s got my back, so you feel that I can do this, because somebody’s got my back.

Ben Jones – If you were to put any sort of warning label on our conversation today, what would that warning label say?

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – Remember that you’re dealing with individuals, so customize everything I’m saying to the person that you’re working with, because we can only generalize these situations so much.

Ben Jones – Just to recap this insight one more time, LERA. Listen, Empathize, Reframe, Act. It’s a great framework to remember for almost any client who’s going through a transition. Emily, dare I say sticky noteworthy?

Emily Larsen – Absolutely, a bright green sticky would be perfect. Before we go, Amy had two great resources she wanted to mention, which we’ll also link to from the show notes page at bmogam.com/betterconversations.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix – These are two fun things people can take a look at, which I love. One is about empathy, and this is — they’re both on YouTube. It’s Brené Brown, if you just put in Brené Brown Empathy, you will get a three minute animated, so I’ll tell you that, video about empathy that I think is one of the best things about empathy that I know, and it will give you great ideas. The second thing I love is if you haven’t seen it, it’s called A Nail in the Head, and it’s about the difference between men and women and about empathic response done in a very funny way. So take a look at those two things on YouTube.

Ben Jones – Thanks for listening to Better conversations. Better outcomes. This podcast is presented by BMO Global Asset Management. To learn more about what BMO can do for you, visit us at www.bmogam.com/betterconversations.

Emily Larsen – We value listener feedback and would love to hear what you have thought about today’s episode.  Or, if you’re willing to share your own experiences or insights related to today’s topic, please e-mail us at betterconversations@bmo.com.  Of course, the greatest compliment of all is if you tell your friends and coworkers to subscribe to the show.  You can subscribe to our show on iTunes, Google Play, the Stitcher app, or your favorite podcast platform.  Until next time, I’m Emily Larsen.

Ben Jones – And I’m Ben Jones.  From all of us at BMO Global Asset Management, hoping you have a productive and wonderful week.

Emily Larsen – This show and resources are supported by a talented team of dedicated professionals at BMO, including Pat Bordak, Gayle Gipson, Matt Perry, and Derek Devereaux.  This show is edited and produced by Jonah Geil-Neufeld and Annie Fassler of Puddle Creative.

Disclosure – The views expressed here are those of the participants and not those of BMO Global Asset Management, its affiliates, or subsidiaries. This is not intended to serve as a complete analysis of every material fact regarding any company, industry, or security. This presentation may contain forward-looking statements. Investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such statements, as actual results could vary. This presentation is for general information purposes only and does not constitute investment advice and is not intended as an endorsement of any specific investment product or service. Individual investors should consult with an investment professional about their personal situation. Past performance is not indicative of future results. BMO Asset Management Corp is the investment advisor to the BMO funds. BMO Investment Distributors LLC is the distributor. Member FINRA/SIPC. BMO Asset Management Corp and BMO Investment Distributors are affiliated companies. Further information can be found at www.bmo.com.

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