How to Prepare for Your First Meeting with a Financial PlannerSubmitted by Castlebar Asset Management on March 1st, 2018
Thinking about hiring a financial planner -- but still not entirely clear on what you should expect?
Financial planning is an incredibly valuable service, but it can also be hard to understand exactly what happens at every stage of the planning process because so much depends on your unique situation.
Your opportunities, strengths, challenges, and specific goals determine the right actions to take to reach the success you want. While there’s usually a solid planning process in place, the precise steps you take might not look the same as someone else who has a financial planner.
But you need to start somewhere, and your first meeting with a financial planner can help you lay that groundwork and dig into the specifics of a great financial plan.
If you’re considering working with your own financial pro, here’s a rundown of what you can expect to get out of that first meeting -- and how to make it as effective as possible for you.
4 Things to Do Before You Go
To make the most of your first meeting with a financial planner, you can do a little legwork before you head out the door. The simplest thing you can do that can make a big impact on how well your meeting goes?
Get organized. Gather relevant documents that you need to share with your advisor. These might include:
- Bank statements
- Investment account statements
- Details on existing insurance policies
- Information around loans or debt you want to create a repayment plan around and details on your student loans if you have them
If you’re not sure what’s relevant, email your planner -- they can tell you exactly what they need to see to begin work on your financial plan or they’ll provide you with a guided setup.
We send our clients a link to an online profile to complete, which helps the people we serve walk through different statements and information they need before our first meeting together.
Second, you’ll need to gather information around any retirement plans you might have through work. It’s also helpful to get a copy of your compensation plan or company benefits package. Your advisor will help maximize this and incorporate your benefits into your overall plan.
Third, take some time to think through what you want to accomplish in next year -- and next five years. Bring these ideas to your meeting so you can discuss your immediate to-dos along with mid- and long-term financial goals with your advisor and start planning for them right away.
Finally, make a note of any questions or concerns you have right now. Is there anywhere you feel uncertain or unclear? You can bring these questions and points that need clarification to your first meeting.
What to Keep in Mind at Your Meeting
Once you walk into your financial planner’s office and share your information with them, the work of getting your financial plan in place can begin. Again, don’t hesitate to ask questions as the meeting progresses (or after you wrap up and realize you need more details).
A good financial planner will be happy to explain things to you, and will appreciate the opportunity to provide education for you. Your planner is there to help -- so don’t hold anything back or hide information.
Your advisor can’t put together a solid plan for you if you’re not honest with them. They’re not judging you and they’ve definitely seen worse. Be honest and open, because the past is the past and there’s no use worrying over it. Planning is about moving forward.
On that note, it’s important to keep this in mind, too: don’t take anything personal. Your financial planner is there to serve as an objective third party, and any questions they ask are designed to give them the info they need to create the best plan possible for you.
There’s no judgment and no grading of past money moves or financial decisions. It’s all about moving forward with the best plan possible to get you toward your biggest goals, starting now.
What to Expect After Your First Meeting with a Financial Planner
At Castlebar, the first meeting we have with clients is really about beginning that relationship. It’s less about exchanging information -- although that’s important -- and more about getting to you know you, what’s important to you, and what you want to achieve with your financial life.
Gathering facts and data is secondary, and we can always follow up with clients after that first meeting to get more details. But to kick things off, we want to understand you.
A first meeting should help paint the picture that shows an overview of your financial life and an outline of some basic financial goals. From here, we’ll work on creating that plan piece by piece and take the time to explain how to use the road map we’re building as you move forward.
Keep in mind it may actually take a series of meetings to get you up and off the ground, depending on the complexity of your situation. Again, our very first meeting is more about getting to know our clients than making any big, complex moves right away.
We believe clients deserve the space to be heard, and the time and guidance it takes to figure out what they truly want.
The Next Steps
The first meeting is in large part a discovery session: you discover more facts about your current financial life and the boxes you need to start checking immediately, you discover what you want to pursue moving forward, and we discover more about you and what our relationship will look like as we build a plan together.
What’s next after that? At Castlebar, we go to work creating action items that will take you from where you are now to where you want to be with your financial goals. We’ll then share those with you and make adjustments as necessary.
Once you’re clear on the road map to use, we work together to start implementing your newly-minted financial plan so you can enjoy the financial success you want.
Want to talk about whether setting up your first meeting with a financial planner is the right move for you? You can request a quick consultation with us here.