Jackie Adler has been a student of women’s empowerment since she was a little kid.

With a certified public accountant (CPA) for a father and an insurance “guru” for a mother, she witnessed the individual successes of both of her parents, collecting mental notes and life lessons all along the way.

Even with a successful, full-time career, Adler’s mom always prepared a family meal so that they could spend time every evening connecting and discussing their day. Those family meals included discussions around work as her parents often consulted with one another. These dinner conversations created an early understanding of these complex roles and the importance of communication.

Years later, Adler found her own success in the financial services sector. She was thrilled to be in New York City, building a career with OppenheimerFunds at the World Trade Center’s south tower. Then came 9/11, bringing about a major crossroads in her life.

Adler returned to her roots in Arizona, finding solace in her family and the Jewish community at Temple Chai in Phoenix, which had been instrumental in her formative years. She joined her mom at MassMutual Life Insurance Company, where the pair worked side by side for two years. She was doing well but hadn’t quite found her own niche to stand out within the field.

“I was diving deep within myself,” Adler shared regarding her soul searching, considering who was drawn to her the most in life and business, “and it’s always come back to women. I want to empower women.” She explained that women tend to open up more with other women. There’s this element of empathy, leading to meaningful conversations. Adler continued, “It’s a safe space where there’s no judgment. They can ask any question they want.”

At her company, JDA Financial, she is a financial planner, coach and empowerment expert, creating a role for herself as someone who can be entrusted, like a therapist, with more than financial goals, although those are addressed in the process.

For newly single women especially, having a safe place to explore life goals can lead to a deeper understanding of what progressive steps can be taken throughout the process, including but not ending with that retirement milestone. She stresses the importance of planning beyond that moment. “A lot of people don’t have the plan for income drawdown,” says Adler, “so there really has to be a plan in place and implemented for that next phase.”

Adler enjoys working with couples too, involving women more in the financial planning process. She guesstimates that roughly 80% of married women will rely on their husbands to maintain the couple’s financial health. This applies even when the wife runs the household and pays the bills. “The amount of true-life stories where something happens to the husband, even becoming incapacitated for a brief amount of time. The wife is focused on making sure her husband recuperates,” said Adler. “Maybe she didn’t meet with the financial advisor [originally] because her husband takes care of that and she has no relationship with that person or the attorney. That’s where the nightmares happen and that’s what I want to prevent.”

Expert guidance also comes into play when a couple is ending their marriage, which she says isn’t always a contentious occurrence. If a couple finds that their marriage isn’t working, the concept of collaborative divorce can come into play, wherein attorneys aren’t necessarily involved. A certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA) like Adler serves as the financial specialist, divorce coach and also as mediator. Adler explained, “Divorce attorneys are trained in the law; they are not financial experts. When we look at assets in a marriage — whether it’s separate property, marital property, retirement plans, real estate, IRAs, pensions — [they] all have different taxation and exclusions.”

The bottom line is that you have to plan for the worst and hope for the best. A financial plan is constantly changing because life is always changing. “Whatever’s keeping you up at night or your pain points, that’s what we want to solve. Everyone, every couple should have their own advisory board.” She adds, “Any time I face an obstacle, I just put one foot in front of the other. You know it may not go fast, but if you’re determined enough, you will get there. And no one can take that away from you. That’s truly empowering.” JN

For more information, visit jdafin.com.

Elyse Horvath is an entrepreneur and freelance writer living in Scottsdale.

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