Once you’ve decided to have a comprehensive financial plan created, it’s a good idea to narrow down your choices to two or three providers. Then you should arrange to have an initial meeting with each finalist to determine whether there’s a good fit between you and the advisor. In fact, many financial planning firms want to determine the same thing about you, so they’ll welcome the chance to have a “get to know you” meeting to make sure they’ll be able to meet your needs. In this post, we’ll help you put together a financial advisor meeting checklist you can use to ensure you cover all your bases.
As the potential client, you typically don’t need to bring anything to your first meeting in terms of asset documents or statements. It’s more important to come in with an open mind and a willingness to speak candidly about your financial wishes and concerns. If you already have a financial advisor or planner, and you’re seeking a new person or firm to replace them, you might want to be prepared to talk about that relationship, and where it fell short of your needs or expectations. In general, this initial meeting is really just a chance for you to gauge your level of confidence in the firm or individual, and get a sense of what they would be like to work with.
If you’re married, both you and your spouse should be involved in these early discussions. Because this is the beginning of what may end up being a long relationship, it’s important for both of you to be comfortable with the firm and individual you choose. If you decide to hire the advisor to create a financial plan for you and/or extend your engagement by hiring them to manage your investments, there may be a point where one spouse takes the lead in communicating with the advisor on specific changes or actions. But the participation of both spouses at the earliest stages is important to ensuring you end up with a plan that addresses all your family’s needs.
After you decide to work with a specific financial advisor and engage them on a comprehensive financial planning service, the subsequent meetings are where the real discussions about your financial goals take place. At some point early in these early discussions, your financial advisor will ask you for statements documenting your current assets and investments, so you’ll need to gather recent statements of 401(k)s and any other retirement accounts, checking and savings accounts, CDs, bonds, etc. It will also be helpful to provide balances and interest rates of any mortgages, credit cards, or other financial accounts you have. If you’re making a financial advisor meeting checklist, be sure to include information about any current life, disability, or long-term care insurance policies.
Your financial advisor will use this information, along with what they’ve learned about your financial resources, hopes, and wishes, to develop a customized plan to help you achieve the goals you shared in your earlier meeting. The financial advisor will present the plan and implementation recommendations to you and answer any questions you may have.
Moving forward, if you decide to have your financial advisor also manage your investments, or if you opt to update your financial planning service annually, there will be ongoing periodic meetings. As a result, it may help to refer back to this financial advisor meeting checklist. Whether held quarterly or annually, regular meetings provide an ongoing opportunity to review your investment portfolio’s performance, discuss changes in your life and financial situation, or review new financial concerns. More importantly, together you’ll make adjustments according to the changes.