Katie Markowski is a financial adviser who also specializes in helping women navigate the business part of divorce.
She is a certified divorce financial analyst at Watermark Financial in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania. While most of her time is spent dealing with traditional wealth management issues like designing investment portfolios, retirement planning and tax strategies, she said about 10% to 15% of her business applies specifically to divorce. That's where emotions are most likely to run high. That's when people have more trouble making decisions with their brain instead of their heart. That's how she often finds out a couple will divorce before the other spouse does.
This interview has been edited for space and clarity.
Q: How awkward is it when a client confides in you that they are planning a divorce, but hasn't told their spouse yet?
A: It's hard because divorce is such an emotional thing. I feel a lot of my role is to help them come to logic. Help them to see what's going to make sense. What's going to work for both parties because I'm not a big believer in the 'take them for all they're worth' method. I think it has to work for everyone.
But I come into the process at all different stages. Sometimes before people have even told their spouse that they're thinking of getting divorced. They may come see us first to see how viable they would be financially. And sometimes I come in at the end just to view the marital settlement agreement and make sure that there's nothing that was overlooked. So, from start to finish, it really varies when and where I get involved.
Q: What led to your interest in seeking certification in this niche of the financial services industry? Why do you mainly work for women in divorces?
A: I came into an already established business that had a focus on divorce. It's something that a lot of people who are divorcing need — financial advice and financial guidance — but don't always think to involve a third party other than their attorney to get that advice.
We are a woman-owned business and that appeals to women. I do occasionally act as a mutual representative, or I'll just sit down with both parties and sort of lay it all out for both of them. But more often than not I'm being an advocate and that's generally for women.
Q: What are some of the unique aspect of representing women in when judges are trying to determine an equitable distribution of the assets in a divorce?