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Because they've worked together for a dozen years, people often ask Rosa and Alex Chalekian whether they should go into business with their partner as well. Rosa always tells them it's a bad idea. While there is "a lot of advantage" to it, the couple strives to separate their work and home life and set boundaries for the other employees at their firm, she said.
"You need to be careful not to bring your relationship into the office and have arguments," Rosa Chalekian said. "They'll take sides."
The Chalekians and four other pairs of spouses who are navigating the tricky terrain of working together in wealth management or personal finance shared their best tips with Financial Planning about how to get along in a manner that's most beneficial to their relationships and their businesses. By taking steps such as assigning specific duties to each partner or figuring out the best office setup for healthy personal space, the couples say they manage to avoid butting heads too much and tap into the positive aspects of collaborating professionally.
"Make sure that you have very clear and distinct responsibilities and roles set up, because that's going to be a problem," Alex Chalekian said. "Work is work. Home is home. Try not to let that bleed into too much."
The couples have found best practices for them that may work for others. For example, financial planner Akeiva Ellis and her husband Meshack suggest that working in different rooms can help provide some distance.
"Some couples, they can just work on top of each other all day long," she said. "We learned quickly that that wasn't something we needed to do."
Not every relationship can handle the stress of running a small business, the couples said. Financial advisor Michelle Cortes-Harkins recommends establishing "very strong boundaries around work and personal life."
"It's not easy," she said. "I don't think it's for everyone. You have to get along very well."
When successful, partners complement each other. Cortes-Harkins said her husband Rick Harkins excels at "marketing and meeting people and talking to people," while he praises her listening skills.
"I tend to talk a little more than I probably should," Rick said. "Her ability to listen and really understand clients and get on the same page with them comes much more naturally."
Couples should think carefully before going into business together, though, said David Auten-Schneider. He said they might first check their ability to handle a task like yard work or another home improvement project.
"If this is something that you are considering doing, look at how you work together on other projects that are not related to work," he said. "Do something together before you jump in."
Those spouses might think twice after a frustrating bout of gardening.
"Some couples would kill each other," his husband, John Auten-Schneider, said. But "if you're the right couple, it can really be a joy to work with your partner."
To see five profiles of spouses working together in small businesses across wealth management and personal finance, scroll down the slideshow. For a look at five personal stories to inform a career in planning, click here .