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Michael Kitces' #FASuccess Podcast: How Kathleen Rehl Helps Widows Move Forward on Their Own

Kathleen Rehl knows how to relate to and work with widows because she is one herself.


Welcome back to the 106th episode of Financial Advisor Success Podcast! My guest on today’s podcast is Kathleen Rehl. Kathleen is a researcher on the money issues that widows face, the author of “Moving Forward on Your Own,” a financial guidebook for widows, and a speaker and trainer for financial advisors on how to work better with widowed clients. What’s unique about Kathleen, though, is that she’s also a former financial advisor herself, having spent 17 years operating as an independent RIA before sadly becoming widowed, at which point she decided to sell her advisory firm and shift her focus to empowering widows financially as an encore career.

In this episode, we talk in depth about the challenges in working with recent widows. The words to use and what to say, as well as what not to say when working with a recent widow, how widows typically progress from a grief stage, where it’s so difficult to make good decisions, that Kathleen simply advocates for a decision-free zone for 6 to 12 months, to a growth phase where the transition work really gets underway to begin rebuilding the widow’s financial life, and then a grace stage that not all widows reach, where the foundation is set for a new life in a new direction. Which is important to understand because financial advisors that push the wrong financial issues to a widow’s current phase will likely become part of that now infamous statistic that 70 percent of widows end out changing financial advisors precisely because so if you have a real understanding of an empathy for the issues that recent widows face.

We also talk about Kathleen’s own practice. Why and how she formed a niche in working with members of the clergy, how she ultimately wound out and sold the practice after becoming a widow, and the transition she made to becoming a speaker, researcher, and ultimately self-publishing her own book to help widows that has now sold tens of thousands of copies, including from financial advisors who often buy the book for their own recently widowed clients.

And be certain to listen to the end, where Kathleen talks about some of the recent research she’s done on widows and money, including a study that showed how widows who worked with a financial advisor had significantly more financial confidence in their future, and how the most effective advisors who’re working with the widows instilled even more financial confidence for their clients than the average financial advisor, a powerful testament to the value of a financial advisor in a uniquely challenging stage of life.

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