• Mediating with High Net Worth Clients

    27.09.13

    By Angela Riley

    Every separating couple comes to the mediation table not only with their own emotional story and their own wounds, but with their own set of financial circumstances.

    A mediators day may consist of seeing a couple in the morning who are on a low income and have struggled to support their home on two minimal incomes followed by a mediation with a couple with several homes, a large income, an investment portfolio and high expectations of walking away with very little drop in their standard of living. Such is the variety of mediation!

    The skills for mediating the emotional side of mediation are the same whatever the party’s social or financial background.  Each person needs the mediator to have empathy and to be aware of the pain and hurt that can influence and drive decisions and that create a perception of unfairness that parties often feel when they are thrust into a situation that they believe is not of their making and often not at all what they want or expected. Guilt and anger can motivate andor undermine decision making, as can desperation to make the other party want them back.  Money cannot buy relief from stress or pain, or make someone feel contented and happy when their world falls apart.  These emotions need to be managed and understood by the mediator.

    However, when it comes to the finances, a mediator needs a different set of skills and expertise.  An experienced mediator needs to understand about Company and Partnership Accounts, to understand the complexities of pensions, fixed annuities and draw down. Shares and company share schemes come under discussion as well as investments, bonds and investment portfolios and of course, mortgages.

    Mediators do not give legal or financial advice – to do so would be to step away from the impartiality the mediator needs to maintain – but it is necessary to spot the warning signs.  For example, unless a mediator is aware of tax law, tax advantages in selling matrimonial assets at the right time can be lost.  A good mediator needs to be able to direct clients to take necessary legal, tax and financial advice at the appropriate times and to know when one or both parties need further help in appreciating and understanding the complexities in front of them. A good mediator needs to be able to direct clients to the right places to enable them to have the information and knowledge they require to make informed decisions.

    At Laceys Mediation we are used to dealing with all types of mediations – those for high worth clients and the less financially able clients.  Sometimes it is clear in situations where one party has been the ‘breadwinner’ and the other has been a stay-at-home parent that there can be a power imbalance that needs to be managed, so that both parties feel able to discuss their future finances, their wants and needs and feel that their opinion is being heard and respected.  It is the mediator’s responsibility to ensure this happens and to make sure that both parties feel that they have an equal say around the mediation table, constantly checking that the more ‘powerful’ party is held back until the other feels comfortable with the information.  Mediation can be a very empowering process and as a mediator to see one party [typically a wife] totally at sea at the beginning of the process, perhaps not knowing anything about finances, mortgages, pensions or investments, gradually come to grips with these things is quite inspiring.  The transformation is physical and well as emotional and is all part of the healing process that enables couples to find closure and to carry on with their lives.  Such is the privilege of being a mediator.

    Having mediated with dentists, doctors, company directors, entrepreneurs of all kinds, television presenters, pop stars and the rich and famous, Laceys Mediation is in a good place to deal with the most complex of financial situations.  We are able to refer to law firms, accountants, financial advisors, life coaches and counsellors to cover all the needs of each and every couple.

    At Laceys Mediation all our mediators dealing with financial matters are legally qualified and spend their whole working day, year in, year out mediating.  We are up to date with legal and mediation knowledge and have the support of other professional advisors as required, enabling us to give a competent, professional service, individually tailored to each client.  We have offices in Bournemouth, Poole and Southampton so cover a wide geographical area also!

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