The relationship you have with your financial advisor is an important one. Much like you rely on your doctor to guide you on the path to physical health, you should be able to rely on your financial advisor to guide you on the path to financial health. That said, if this is your first financial advisor meeting, you may feel a bit nervous. This is perfectly normal, but the best way to ease this nervousness is to make sure you’re prepared. That’s why we’re here to offer you some advice on how to prepare for your first financial advisor meeting.
The team at Good Life Financial Advisors of West Virginia always has your best interests in mind. We welcome you to contact us to set up your first meeting!
Know What to Expect
Your first meeting with a financial advisor may be an initial consultation. Or, if you’ve already chosen to work with this advisor, you may be having your first of many meetings. Either way, you’ll want to prepare, but preparation looks a bit different depending on which type of meeting you’ll be having.
If you’re preparing for an initial consultation, you’ll touch on your finances, but the meeting is more about getting to know each other. During an initial consultation, you’ll want to get a feel for the advisor’s communication style and personality to see if it’s a good fit for you. It’s best to consult with multiple financial advisors before choosing one so that you have a better idea of your options. Keep in mind that you should feel as comfortable talking to your advisor as you would your friends. In addition, your advisor should take a genuine interest in your overall well-being just as they would do with their own friends as well. This is the kind of relationship you need to cultivate and look for when selecting your advisor, as it will be most beneficial to your financial health.
If this is your first meeting with an advisor you’ve already chosen to work with, your advisor should let you know what you’re expected to bring. If he or she has not, or if you need clarification on any item, feel free to ask. Making sure you have what you need can help you have a productive meeting that makes the most of everyone’s time.
Write Out Your Goals
Before you meet with a financial advisor, you should first take the time to think about what your financial goals are. The more concrete, the better. If you have a spouse, you’ll want to discuss this together. Write out your expectations for retirement, paying off debt, covering the costs of higher education for any children you may have, etc. Having your finances in order is largely about having your priorities in order. This is much harder to do if you’re not clear about what your priorities are.
Gather the Right Paperwork
Your initial consultation won’t be the time to go into detail on your finances, but it does help if you can give a basic idea of your financial situation. Bringing a statement from each of your accounts should suffice. If this is your first meeting with a financial advisor that you’ve already decided to work with, you’ll likely need to bring a bit more along.
Your advisor should provide you with a list of the necessary documents to bring including account statements for any accounts you own (including 401(k)s), debt statements (including from student loans, cars, a mortgage, etc.), pay stubs, and your tax return from the most recent year. If you have a monthly budget, you should bring this as well. If you don’t, feel free to create one now. However, keep in mind that if the budget you create is completely different from your typical spending, this is unlikely to be of much benefit. You’ll need to be honest with your financial advisor about all aspects of your finances, and that includes your spending.
The most important part of preparing for your first financial advisor meeting, whether it’s an initial consultation or your first formal meeting, is preparing a list of questions. If this is an initial consultation, the questions should be geared towards helping you learn more about the advisor. The following three questions are good ones to start with:
What services do they offer?
This includes tax, investment, insurance, estate planning, and anything else you seek. If you’re only planning to work with this advisor on an hourly basis or for a specific project, make sure you know exactly what is and is not included.
What is their investing philosophy?
There isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question, but it’s still an important one to ask. Your advisor’s investing philosophy is one you should feel works for you. They should also be able to clearly articulate it and answer any questions that you may have about it.
How do they earn their money?
Your advisor should be able to answer this question in a clear and straightforward manner. In order to make sure you’re working with a reliable advisor who you know isn’t taking advantage of you, it’s important to understand if your advisor is incentivized to sell you products you don’t need or trade more or less than is appropriate for you.
If this is your first meeting with an advisor you’ll be working with for a while, you will ideally already know the answers to the previous three questions. If not, now is the time to ask. In general, though, your questions during your first formal meeting should be more personalized for you and your portfolio.
Whether this is an initial consultation, your first meeting, or your hundredth meeting, your financial advisor should take time to answer your questions fully. If your advisor makes you feel rushed, or even worse, foolish, for asking questions, this is not the right financial advisor for you.
Work with a Trusted Financial Advisor
The relationship you have with your financial advisor is an important one. You’ll be sharing many details of your life with this person, not to mention, putting your financial future in his or her hands. Knowing how to prepare for your first financial advisor meeting can help make sure you’re working with an advisor that’s the best possible fit for you. When you’re ready, reach out to Good Life Financial Advisors of West Virginia to set up a consultation!