Financial Literacy

Helping Families Get Comfortable Talking About Money

Money is an uncomfortable conversation topic. Often people simply get “weird” about it.

"Money conversations between family members can be awkward,” said Jim Tucker, co-founder of Tucker Bria Wealth Strategies based in Durham, North Carolina. “Even between a husband and a wife of the same generation, it is tough. Then when you go to a different generation – be it aging parents and their adult children, or young families talking to their children about the basics of money management, in my experience, it still is a taboo subject. Often there are not open avenues for these types of discussions until there is a critical issue such as an illness or loss of job.”

Many Americans don’t like to discuss their finances. Perhaps we can blame Emily Post – the 20th Century minder of manners – who in 1922 advised Americans to keep their financial affairs private. For decades, her newspaper columns reinforced the notion that openly discussing one’s financial situation is simply a major social faux paus.

For a large percent of older Americans – especially baby boomers either nearing retirement or already well in to their Golden Years – talking about their bottom line ranks low on their enjoyment scale, somewhere near getting an annual medical physical.

Yet to achieve a retirement marked by fulfilled dreams and goals, talking about finances and putting that four-letter word, “plan,” to work is necessary, financial professionals such as Tucker say.

“We try to provide opportunities to break down some of those barriers regarding finances by either having a formal family meeting, or at least introducing ourselves to either the aging parents, or to the children of our clients, so that there is a cross-generational conversation going on,” Tucker said. “This is done within our relationship as their trusted financial advisor so they can feel more secure about sharing very private details about their lives as related to finances.”

tucker500Tucker knows how awkward these family meetings can be. Even as an industry professional, he felt as if he had two financial left feet when he and his parents had “the talk” about their money situation for retirement.

“Even being in the industry myself, it was clearly among the toughest conversations I have ever had to have,” Tucker said.

That’s why one of his most sought-after goals as a financial advisor is to transform his relationship with clients into one that goes well beyond the financial transaction to a place of complete security. This includes the ability to discuss private financial details of their lives and ask questions regarding any aspect of the planning process that they do not understand.

“Client education is critical,” Tucker said. “I tell my clients when they first join the firm that they should feel they have the ability to ask any question they need to. If a client does not understand a strategy that I am proposing for them, then in my view, it is my fault. I need to hear from them that they need me to explain it even more clearly. They need to be comfortable enough to ask any question that they need to ask.”

Tucker knows that the industry’s technical jargon must be translated in to “standard English” for clients, and he believes he is successful at doing so.

He points to an experience during the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009. A client of his called to thank him for answering his wife’s questions regarding the couple’s account.

“The husband was so amazed and impressed, and so proud that his wife felt comfortable enough to take the initiative and call me up to address her concerns regarding their retirement savings,” Tucker recalls. “She wanted my thoughts on how the current market was impacting their portfolio and I was able to convey to her that the current market condition would change. That phone call from her husband was one of the most satisfying calls I have ever taken because he told me that because of the relationship we had built through the years as my client, his wife was comfortable talking about their financial situation without him also on the call.”

Tucker’s journey as a financial advisor has come a long way since age 13 when he bought his first stock – a utility company that did not have much price appreciation but paid a “great” dividend.

On the advice of a family friend who was a stockbroker, Tucker sold the utility and bought Viacom stock. The now world-wide entertainment company was established in 1971 and the young Tucker was impressed when in the mid 70s he sold his Viacom stock for a profit.

“I’ve always had an interest in the stock market,” Tucker said, and added with a knowing chuckle, “But selling Viacom in the mid-70’s was my first investment mistake.”

Learn more about Jim Tucker and his firm, Tucker Bria Wealth Strategies, LLC, online at

Jim Tucker co-owns Tucker Bria Wealth Strategies with Patrick Bria. You may contact them at 919-381-5780 or schedule a visit in person at 3100 Tower Boulevard, Suite 117, Durham, NC 27707 or at 225 N. Bennett St, #C, Southern Pines, NC 28387. Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser.


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