What to Bring to Your First Meeting with Your Financial Adviser

By Rich Ramassini

| Photographs By goodluz

More than half of Americans do not work with a financial adviser, according to recent research. And yet studies have shown that people who work with a financial adviser tend to be better prepared for retirement and more confident in their future.

Oftentimes, the reason that many Americans choose not to work with a financial adviser is simply paralysis by analysis. They don’t know where to start or what types of information an adviser needs to help them, so they instead choose to DIY their financial future.

For pre-retirees who are keen to harness a financial adviser’s expertise, but aren’t sure where to begin, here is what information to gather to prepare for that first meeting.

1. Your financial priorities

Your goals can be as broad as retiring by a certain age, or they can be incredibly specific (have you always been dreaming about getting that boat?).

Before meeting with an adviser, figure out what is important to you, what you’re trying to accomplish and why.

2. Information related to your income, spending and expenses

One of the first things a financial adviser should do is conduct a cash-flow analysis. In other words, determine if you are spending less than you take in.

For most people, retirement will be the crux of the conversation, so gather and bring statements or other documents to show 401(k) and IRA balances, as well as jot down or know how much you are contributing to each of those accounts. Additionally, any other accounts you have earmarked for retirement should be included in the discussion.

This will allow the adviser to determine where the money to fund that goal could come from.

3. Data related to your net worth

Your net worth isn’t defined by how much money you have in the bank or an IRA. Rather, it’s defined as what you own (homes, investments, investment properties, etc.) less what you owe (mortgage, loans, etc.).

Once you have these three key boxes checked, you should be ready for the first meeting with your financial adviser. And don’t worry if you can’t find all of the information noted above or if you are unsure if what you have is relevant. The adviser should be able to help you figure everything out and track down anything that may be missing.

After your adviser has had a chance to review your priorities, cash-flow analysis and net worth, he or she should be able to help you figure out the answers to these critical questions:

  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • When do you want this to happen?
  • How much do you think it is going to cost?
  • Where will this money come from?

Remember that there are some intangibles when it comes to working with an adviser. He or she should make you feel comfortable, take time to answer your questions and give you personalized advice specific to your situation and goals.


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This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA. Copyright 2018 The Kiplinger Washington Editors. This article was written by Rich Ramassini from Kiplinger and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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