Whatever your stage of life, visiting a financial advisor can be a crucial step towards financial freedom and peace of mind. But once you have made the decision – and the appointment – what next? What do you need to prepare for your first meeting?
Is the onus all on me?
Working with a financial advisor is a partnership, meaning you both have parts to play. Our goal in the financial planning team is to help our clients make better financial decisions through a supportive and engaging relationship, and we have put together a checklist of things you should expect from a great financial advisor. To best tailor their advice to your financial situation, however, your advisor will also need some accurate details from you. This is not to say you need to have your goals figured out into a monthly plan for the next 20 years. An experienced advisor will know the questions to ask to ensure you are on the same page regarding your requirements, and how best to navigate down the road toward a secure financial future.
First appointment checklist
Your first appointment with a financial advisor is really a ‘get to know you’ conversation, but the more prepared you are on arrival, the more productive that conversation will be.
Accurate financial information
This is not the time to be cagey about what you earn and what you spend! Begin your financial summary with your assets (home, car, investments etc.) and liabilities (mortgage, other loans, credit cards etc.), then make an estimate of your monthly income and expenses. Other things to include are your insurance policies (and how much you are insured for) and any estate plans, such as a will or power of attorney.
Remember: the quality of the advice delivered will only be as good as the quality of the details provided. Ensuring your information is comprehensive and accurate is key.
Financial goals and objectives
Not everyone has an explicit purpose in mind when they first meet a financial advisor, but trying to clarify some basic goals and objectives is a good idea. You could be saving for a house deposit or considering early retirement. Your plans may involve university funds for your children or expanding an investment portfolio. Write down what you would like to achieve (financially or otherwise) in the next one to two years, the next three to five years, and the next five to ten years.
Personal risk tolerance
Investment by its very nature involves risk, and understanding your personal risk tolerance will help guide your advisor as they work with you and your finances. Before your initial meeting, spend some time thinking about your timeframe for investment and the level of risk you are prepared to tolerate. In general, the longer your time horizon, the more risk you can assume. You may be more risk-tolerant, for example, and more willing to accept elevated levels of volatility with your investments, if you are saving for a university fund and your children are still toddlers. In contrast, you may be less risk-tolerant if retirement is already on the horizon, and you just wish to ensure financial stability for your retirement years.
Clarity on the advice you are seeking
Why exactly have you made an appointment with a financial advisor, and what are you hoping to achieve? Do you need assistance with basic budgeting and forecasting? Do you require a well-planned course of action for debt management? Are you planning for retirement? Or are you seeking investment solutions? Being clear on the advice that you are looking for will allow your financial advisor to not only provide comprehensive ‘big picture’ information, but also to tailor recommendations to focus on specific areas as well.
Questions for your advisor
Here is another chance to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard!) to ensure clarity in the client-advisor relationship. Write down the questions that will help you get to know your advisor and the assistance they can provide. Make sure you know the process for new clients, the terms of engagement, ongoing service arrangements, the scope of the advice, and how often you will meet to review the progress of your financial plan. Throw in any questions that matter to you personally, whether that is how products are recommended or what your advisor sees as their core business values when dealing with clients.
Getting started with a Geelong financial advisor
As expert Geelong financial advisors, we aim to make the complex simple to help you make smart financial decisions. Our team is dedicated to understanding your journey, asking the right questions, and providing solutions to help you live your best life. Developing trust is essential to the expertise we provide, and we do that by ensuring we are not only accountable, but also innovative – you will not catch us resting on our laurels!
Whether you are looking to build wealth, preserve wealth, or elevate your wealth potential, we are here to walk that path with you. If you have any questions or you have gathered the information above and you are ready to take next steps, reach out to our expert team today.