Whether you’re saving for your first house or planning for retirement, hiring a financial advisor is one of the smartest decisions you can make. But when you eventually meet that advisor, don’t expect to be given a solid plan without doing some work at your end. You’ll want to prepare bill statements, a list of your investments and to note all your goals, so that your advisor will have a clear understanding of your financial history. Similar to meeting with a new doctor, you’ll want to go in with a series of questions to guide the conversation. This is, after all, about your financial health.
Here are 4 things you should do before you head to your appointment:
1. Gather your recent financial information
That means pay stubs, health benefit and insurance information and your latest tax return. You may also want to bring bank statements along with information on your assets and liabilities. The more details you can provide, the better equipped your advisor will be. You will also want to let your advisor know about any dependent children or elderly parents you may be responsible for.
2. Get on the same page with your partner
Sometimes couples go into meetings without having discussed their goals with each other first. This is a huge mistake. You and your significant other should map out a retirement plan, discuss how much you want to put away for your children’s education and make note of any travel or home renovation plans you might have.
Having a fight with your spouse over money won’t exactly make a great first impression on your advisor or be a good use of your appointment. Better to settle your differences, or at least agree to disagree on some issues, before you get there.
3. Prepare a list of questions, on paper, for your financial advisor
Make sure you take the time to think about what you want to ask your advisor: education, length of experience, areas of expertise, investment philosophy, etc. These are all important questions.
4. Get over your fear of money talk
Although some people would rather go to the dentist than talk about money, understanding some financial basics prior to your first meeting is a good idea. If your eyelids start to droop whenever someone starts discussing RRSPs, mutual funds or dividends, have a sip of coffee and do some research. It's important to have at least a basic understanding of what you want your financial plan to look like before you start this process.
Finally, be aware of the importance of developing a good relationship with your financial advisor from the start. A 2015 Sun Life survey found Canadians who work with an advisor are more optimistic about their financial futures.
When you and your advisor build a lasting relationship, you can count on your advisor to be there for your big moments – from weddings and first houses to the births of grandchildren. With a little preparation, your first meeting could go a long way toward mapping out a positive financial future for you and your family.
- For help finding the right advisor, watch How to choose a financial advisor (Video)