YOUR PRACTICE-Helping clients through divorce boosts business

Mon Sep 30, 2013 4:17pm EDT
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* Divorce financial planning certification broadens services

* Advisers say training lures loyal clients

* Some banks, wealth managers wary of liability

By Andrea Hopkins

TORONTO, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Faisal Karmali had been a financial adviser for 10 years when he decided to add divorce financial planning to his toolkit. Since then, his practice has surged, with new clients seeking advice at what may be the most financially fraught time of their lives.

"I started off with a couple of existing clients going through divorce, and now it is all new clients coming to me," said Karmali, an adviser at Popowich Karmali Advisory Group in Calgary, Alberta.

Karmali completed the course work and exams for his Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) qualification in 2006 after a few clients went through a "really bad" experience and he decided to educate himself so that he could improve the service he offered.

Seven years later, his firm gets steady referrals from other professionals involved in divorce who need an expert on the financial side, and he said about 60 percent of his new clients transfer their accounts to him after their divorce settlement, even when they had a previous adviser.

Going through a divorce is an emotional, high-need time, and good financial advice from a professional will win loyalty. With the designation still relatively rare among financial advisers, the training can pay off for advisers who are prepared to go the extra mile when clients may be at their most vulnerable.   Continued...