How to prepare for our First Financial Planning Meeting
For many, the gathering of the information needed to create your own, personalized set of projections, can be the most daunting part of our work together. The good news is, you will only have to do this one time!
- The goal for our first session is to get a good overview of your financial situation today. This can be either 100% accurate up to the current period, or it could be estimates based on where you were at year end, for example. We’ll get to the nitty gritty in the end, but we don’t need to start there to get an idea of your financial health for our first meeting.
- Do the best you can to begin this work. I suggest your read the “15 Minute Approach” which you can find at the bottom of this page. It will save you some time in organizing and data gathering.
- At our first meeting we will talk through your situation, questions you may have, and discuss the goals you have for our work together. At the end of our meeting we will review what you have gathered and I will reconcile what you brought and send you a list of items needed (if any). This is the final batch of information I will need to create the first pass at your long term financial plan.
- When we meet next to review that plan, we will troubleshoot the figures and you will help me make sure all relevant information is included and accurate.
Here are 3 Methods You Can Use to Gather Your Data: (You can also feel free to mix and match!)
Below are three ways you can prepare the financial information you want to share with me. Please feel free to use the method or methods that work best and are most comfortable for you.
Option 1: Traditional paper based data gathering form/Checklist
You can print out the attached planning form and write in pen the amounts within the various categories. Or, you can use the major categories as a checklist in which you gather paper statements and take the statements to our meeting. You can also send me documents electronically via my secure client portal.
Option 1b: Fill in the Blanks PDF with Financial Estimates
You can type the values within the various categories in this fillable pdf form and then save it to your computer before printing it out or sending to me electronically via my secure client portal.
Important!: If you want to type into the fillable form please test first to make sure it will save your data on your system.
1. Download the pdf form and save it on your computer (your desktop or somewhere easy to locate).
2. Open the saved document and type in your name on the first page where you would begin to enter information.
3. Save and close the document.
4. Re-open the document. If you name still shows in the data field, you are good to go. If not, either fill in by hand or use it as a checklist for data gathering purposes.
4-1. In either case, using this as a checklist can be a time saver!
4-2. Fill in only information that can not be provided via a statement or other document.
4-3. The use of statements and original documents is the most accurate way to share information with me, second only to the secure client portal
(Option 2 Below)
5. I hate to see you spend the time completing this document on your computer and then not be able to save your data!!
Option 2: Secure Client Portal
Upon request, I will send you an invitation via email, to create your own, unique, private registration for my client portal. This can be used by both of us to share reports, data, and summaries.
Please feel free to watch the video below to get a sense of the capabilities of this system.
You can use this to link accounts including bank accounts, mortgages, investment accounts etc. About anything you can access via a website, can be linked to this system.
The advantage of this is that the values will be kept up to date on a daily basis. Therefore, I will not need to get updated account values from you in the future. This will all stay up to date automatically, and this information is pulled into our planning software!
This is the method I recommend highly for our long-term financial planning work together.
Option 3: Shared Google Sheets
Some people like to have their work in excel, so if that’s you, I can send you a link to a personal google set of spread sheets you can use to share average monthly income and expense details, as well as share your thoughts on future planning. These worksheets have the advantage of allowing me to see your data entries and responses and comment back to you. This can be a great time saver for you, and tends to create more accurate data, more quickly.
Click the link below to watch as short introductory video and see how this can work to help you simplify your data gathering and get your ducks in a row!
Final Tip: The “15 minute” Approach to Cash Flow Data Gathering
Lastly, below is a link to a PDF document to give you an outline of the “15 minute approach” that has helped others to complete this work with less time and effort!