John F. Kennedy once said that the best time to fix the roof is “when the sun is shining.” For many of our clients, the “roof” is going through a divorce. The majority of the time, the sun does not seem to be shining to them as their world has been turned upside down. 

The emotional turmoil of going through a divorce can cause clients, who are usually quite adept at making decisions, to suddenly be rendered incapable of making heads or tails of their lives and lose focus on making key decisions. Emotions cloud their judgment, while some have a plethora of emotions that range from a catatonic numbness to an all-out rage and wanting to just bury the other person (most likely, and preferably alive!).  

As Certified Divorce Financial Analysts (CDFAs), we look to work strictly on the financial numbers, and in these numbers, we search to find the rays of sunlight that provide the much-needed guidance and direction for our clients during these hurricane rains that are pounding on their leaky roof of life. 

As our clients face “The Largest Financial Transaction of Their Lifetime,” how do we instil trust, confidence, and safety? Our role is not just as an analyst but as an anchor to keep our clients grounded and to give them the true analytical numbers of their worlds. One hundred percent of the time, we have to acknowledge the emotional side that our clients feel and yet provide them with a complete analytical breakdown and assessment of their situation in such a way that we are empathetic to what they are going through.

Strategy: Creating Trust

As a CDFA professional, having a strategy as you guide your clients through the many turbulent waters as it pertains to their financial numbers is paramount. Collaboration is the key element with your client’s legal team. Your clients may turn to you as a person of safety, where all their concerns can be voiced as it pertains to their financial futures and possible outcomes. Being able to provide financial numbers and strategies allows clients to weigh a cost-benefit analysis of whether it is worth fighting over a $20,000 asset if the cost to fight over it will be $20,000.  

A strategic planning session with your client’s legal counsel to get the legal implications surrounding certain assets that may cause a long and lengthy fight would be worth the time and dialogue between you, the client, and counsel. By doing this, you further help to reinforce the confidence placed in you and in helping clients make better informed decisions when looking at fighting over a potential asset worth $600,000 which might cost upwards of $50,000 in legal fees.

Gaining client trust through numbers, based on a collaborative legal strategy, can reassure clients of being able to maintain a level of independence on their own without having to feel the financial squeeze or burden of knowing that an income that was previously there is no longer there to help.


Going through a divorce is very rarely a straightforward easy line from start to finish. Many times our clients are going to face uphill legal issues that force them to re-evaluate not only their current situation but also their future. Questions emerge like Where will I be? What will happen to my retirement? Will my kids be okay? And how long will my divorce take and how much will it cost?

Being honest and empathetic to their situation can only help further their confidence in you as their CDFA professional and help start to build that safety factor in their lives.

Clients have many questions that, in their minds, need an immediate answer. However, let your client know that answers are based on getting all the needed information and that the faster each party can give full disclosure on all the numbers, the more quickly an agreement can possibly be reached after legal collaboration. By being forthright and empathetic to their situation, you can further assure clients that each situation is different and that you cannot give a cookie-cutter type of answer in saying, for example, that they fit in one of five potential outcomes

We have all heard the phrase “the divorce that never ends,” and in a majority of these cases as cited by experts, it is emotion that is driving this lengthy process. For many individuals, this lengthy process is very costly, and in some cases, financially devastating for individuals. As a CDFA professional coaching your clients through these very turbulent waters, maintaining a strong focus and staying true to the numbers will ensure you maintain the much-needed clarity to visualise your finish line. We can help reshape the theory of the “never-ending divorce” to prepare and train clients to complete the calculated “marathon to happiness.” 

Risk Management “Cyber Tips to Know” for Every CDFA Professional

The world of cyber-attacks is becoming an all too familiar environment for each of us involved in the family law profession. Law firms, investment dealerships, banks, and independent business are targets for cyber-attacks, and specifically, “phishing.” Phishing is the attempt to obtain sensitive information such as user names, passwords, and credit card details (and, indirectly, money) often for malicious reasons by hackers disguising themselves as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. The recent WannaCry virus, a worldwide cyber-attack which targeted computers running an earlier version of the Microsoft Windows operating system, only shows us that we all must look at the risk that all legal practices face, including divorce professionals, in this ever-changing electronic age. Your errors and omissions insurance is also key to making sure you mitigate your personal exposure. Consider the following facts:

  • Law firms are now prime targets of cyber-attacks, including phishing.
  • An attack on a law firm is really an attack on all of its clients.
  • The FBI’s cyber-division warned that law firms have become specific targets for financially motivated hackers seeking sensitive information as a form of insider trading.*
  • Consider these two high profile examples of attacks on legal firms:
    • A 2014 attack on an Ontario firm was highly sophisticated and complex and was designed to permit the fraudster to gain direct access to the firm’s trust account using online banking privileges.**
    • During the 2011 takeover bid of Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, Chinese hackers launched an attack on Canadian government computers, and reportedly also several Bay Street law firms, to gain information on the $38 billion takeover, which ultimately failed.*

The laws are changing later this year that will require all companies and individuals to report breaches if the breach could bring harm to the people whose information has been taken in the breach. Possible preventative measures include

  • having appropriate policies and plans in place to deal with any breaches;
  • implementing a layered security approach;
  • training staff to recognise cyber-attack characteristics (staff become human firewalls, an additional line of defence in your layered security strategy);
  • requiring multi-factor authorisation for any remote access; and
  • having a security team available and ready to respond to an attack or breach.

* Canadian Lawyer Magazine, Cybersecurity, Law Office Management. Posted: November 14, 2016.

** LAWPRO.Posted: October 13, 2016.

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