How to prepare to work with a financial planner

How to prepare to work with a financial planner

The hardest part of planning your financial future is knowing where to start.

You have already taken the first step by doing your due diligence and selecting a financial planner. Now is the time to meet with them to discuss your current situation and create a plan to help you reach your goals. It’s natural to feel a little unprepared, because there are a lot of moving parts, and discussing your finances with someone new can be intimidating – especially if you’re not sure what questions to ask.

To get the most out of working with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professional, it is helpful to be prepared to discuss your financial situation. In your first meeting, it is common to discuss the financial planning process, the goals you would like to achieve, and how the CFP® professional can help you work toward them. You should have some key information ready and prepared with some questions to ask your new advisor.

The steps below will help you prepare for a successful relationship with your planner. It helps your financial planner do his or her job of bringing a holistic, personalized approach to assessing and building your financial future in a way that brings together all the elements of your financial life.

Understand what to expect from your counselor

The CFP® Professional will usually start by guiding you through the financial planning process. They will then perform a thorough analysis to assess your current financial situation and work with you to develop or refine your goals.

In future meetings, your financial planner will use that context to create and discuss a personalized plan to help you reach your goals. They will also guide you through the steps and help you chart your progress over time.

You know what you don’t know

Clients often spend their first meeting with their planner explaining or justifying previous financial decisions. You know that your CFP® professional is not there to judge you, but to help you.

To speed up your first conversation and relax, you may want to learn more about some of these issues in advance:

  • Understanding insurance and what protects your policies (and not)
  • Establishment and financing of an emergency account
  • Knowing the difference between good and bad debt
  • Considering your estate planning needs

Key gate information

To plan your financial future, you need to share an accurate picture of your financial present.

You can help your CFP® professional understand your current situation by bringing the following documents and information to your meeting, in addition to any documents or questionnaires they have sent you in advance:

  • Savings and investment statements.
  • Income and expenses.
  • Mortgage statements and other debts.
  • Insurance documents and estate planning.
  • Employee benefit information.
  • Social security benefits and pension (if you are nearby or at the time of retirement).

You don’t need to provide all these details right away, but an overall estimate of your income, investment, and debt will help you assess the amount of work required.

Identify your goals

Start thinking about your short-term and long-term goals, and have a clear expectation that they will meet. Be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • Do you hope to retire soon?
  • Do you save for a living milestone, such as buying a home or financing a wedding?
  • Will you help fund your child’s education?
  • Do you have an emergency fund or a savings target?

Knowing what you want from your finances now and what you hope for in the future will help you assess the changes you will need to make to achieve these goals.

Prepare a list of questions before the meeting

To make the most of your meeting time, request an agenda or provide your own agenda 24 hours before the meeting. You can ask these questions at the first meeting or send them in advance so that the counselor is ready to ask them when you meet.

Also, be sure to check the counselor’s website for any information that may be helpful before attending the meeting. They may even have a Frequently Asked Questions prepared, saving you some time on your first date.

Find out what your CFP® professional will discuss

At the first meeting, you should expect the CFP® professional to explain several things to you, including:

  • The importance of understanding not only your assets, income, and liabilities, but also your goals and objectives for your plan.
  • How to work together to create a personalized planning experience for you and your family.
  • An example of how progress toward your goals will be measured.
  • Risk management and their investment philosophy.

When the meeting is over, your financial planner should give you an outline of the next steps. A formal proposal should follow.

Talking to a CFP® professional can help you find your way to your financial goal, no matter where you live. Therefore, you should leave your first meeting and feel connected to your CFP® professional. You should also be confident that they understand and align with your values ​​and goals.

The result should be a long-term relationship with your planner based on trust, honesty, and understanding. In this way, the CFP® professional can help you build confidence today and lay the foundations for a more financially secure tomorrow.

Executive Director, Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board)

Kevin R. Keller, CAE, is the CEO of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. The CFP Board sets standards for financial planning and administers the prestigious CFP® certification – one of the most respected financial services certifications and one of the few financially accredited. job names. He leads the CFP Board to benefit the public by awarding and maintaining the CFP® certification as a standard of excellence for competent and ethical personal financial planning.

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