A Guide to Preparing for Your First Meeting with Your Financial Advisor
An appointment with a financial advisor doesn't have to be scary. Here's what you need to know.
1. A Good Start is Everything
Whether you’ve worked with a financial advisor before or this is your first time, being prepared for your initial meeting can be helpful in getting the financial planning process- and your relationship with your advisor – off to a good start.
One of the most important things to bring to your first meeting is an open mind. Establishing a working relationship with your advisor requires transparency and openness in order for you to get the most out of your recommendations going forward.
The first meeting (often called a “discovery” meeting) is simply an introduction to what you can expect working with your financial advisor for the long-term. Should you decide to become a client, your financial advisor will be your advocate, looking out for your financial future and monitoring your progress throughout your life.
2. Meeting Preparation
Prepare a list of questions you may have for your advisor
Chances are you’ve decided to work with a financial advisor because you have some questions or concerns about issues such as retirement, college savings, budging, taxes, legacy planning or small business finances. Write them down so you can be sure to cover them in your initial meeting.
Also, if you are unsure about fees, what services you’ll receive, how the relationship with your advisor will work – or anything else, your initial meeting is the ideal time to get your questions answered.
Think about your priorities for your financial future. Ask yourself these questions:
- What is important to you – in terms of your financial future, as well as your future in general.
- What are your values? What matters most to you in life? • Where do you see yourself in one year? Five years? Twenty years?
- What are your hopes and concerns regarding your finances now and in the future
Your advisor will want to get to know you as a person before diving into any financial information. He/she will want to hear your concerns-what keeps you up at night. A good financial advisor will also get a read on your attitudes about money and temperament as an investor, as those will play an important role in your financial plan as well. Be honest. Holding back or providing partial information will prevent your advisor from fully understanding your financial situation and goals. The following are some of the kinds of questions to expect:
- Have you worked with a financial advisor before?
- What are your current financial goals and what have you been doing to achieve them?
- Do you feel like you’re making progress towards your goals?
- What do you hope to achieve?
- What worries you when you think about finances – now and in the future?
- Was there a recent event or change in your life that cause you to seek out a financial advisor – or do you anticipate one in the near future?
- Are you currently saving for a child or grandchild’s education or for something else, or do you need to start doing so?
- Do you have concerns about family members or significant others that may affect your financial future?
- Do you know when you’d like to retire and what you would like to do next?
- If you’re already retired, do you have any concerns about your money lasting or what happens to it once you’re gone?
- Have you thought about your “legacy”?
Your financial advisor wants to get a sense of your assets and liabilities so they can assess your situation. Gather and bring documentation that will help summarize your financial situation. For the initial meeting, specifics might not be discussed, but you may want to review some of your documents prior to the meeting to get an idea of what you have or don’t have. Some of the documents you may be requested to provide include:
- Income tax returns or W2s for the last two years
- Investment account statements
- Bank account information (checking, savings, CD’s, money market)
- Insurance Dec Pages (auto, renters, umbrella, life, disability, long-term)
- Annuity statements
- IRA/retirement account statements
- Listing of real estate holdings
- Pension statements and/or estimates
- Outstanding loan statements (auto, home, credit card, etc.)
- Social Security statement if you’re not currently receiving Social Security
- Previous financial plan (if you had one in the past) so your advisor can understand what you’ve been working with
- Statements from other institutions even if you aren’t considering moving your business (having these documents will provide a more complete picture of your financial situation)
3. What to Expect at the Meeting
Your first meeting is complimentary. During your conversation, you’ll learn the value you can receive from your advisor, the costs associated if you decide to work together, and next steps. Here’s what to expect:
- Your advisor will take the time to get to know you personally. You should do the same. Feeling comfortable with your advisor will be important in maintaining a beneficial relationship.
- Your advisor will answer your questions. There is no such thing as a “dumb” question. You need to feel that you fully understand what your advisor can and will do for you, and whatever else is necessary to have a high level of comfort with and confidence in your advisor.
- Your advisor will ask questions to get a clearer understanding of your financial situation and goals.
- Your advisor and you will come up with next steps for your next meeting.
4. After the Meeting
By the end of the first meeting, you should have a clear understanding of everything you discussed with your financial advisor—including next steps.
You can expect things to get more strategic in the second meeting. Based on the goals you shared, your advisor will help you develop a plan for each of your goals.
At the end of the meeting, you’ll have a strong understanding of where you are financially, where you want to be, and how you’ll get there.
Also, plan on having quarterly and/or annual check-ins to review your investments to ensure they’re performing as expected and you’re making progress toward your goals. Together you’ll make any necessary changes or revisions to your plan as needed (because let’s face it, things change).
DID YOU KNOW?
According to a recent retirement study*, more than half of Americans do not work with a financial adviser. And yet studies show that people who work with a financial adviser are nearly twice as likely to be better prepared for retirement and more confident in their future than those who don’t.
LPL Financial Advisor
Joseph Cappuccino is a registered representative with, and securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC.
* Survey conducted by CNBC and Acorns in partnership with SurveyMonkey’s Invest in You Savings Survey Apr. 1, 2019
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