How to Prepare for Your Meeting with Your Fee-Only Financial Planner

If you are planning to meet with a Durham, NC, Fee-Only Financial Planner, you may feel excited or nervous about what you may discover when talking about your personal finances.
To ease your mind and make the best use of your time together, do a bit of preparation as outlined below.  This will enable you to come with enough information to make the first consultation valuable and productive for both of you.  

Step #1: Be Clear about Your Financial Goals

Prepare a few sentences to report on your most important short and long-term financial goals.  For example, if you want to retire a few years earlier than scheduled, or you want to fund your grandchild’s college, jot these down.  Also, include life changes that you anticipate impacting your finances in the years to come, such as your parents needing long-term health care or you wanting to downsize from a home to an apartment in the next few years.

Step #2: Talk to HR About Your Benefits

Since your financial advisor will want to talk about retirement, it makes sense for you to check with your HR Benefits associate to get the details on what options are available to you, as well as maximum investment limitations and the company matching percent. You should also get information about your life insurance and health insurance.

Step #3: Get Organized

You may want to bring along your most recent pay stub, the last three years of tax returns, investment records, pension statements, and even your monthly budget.  Having these documents with you enables you to be prepared for your conversation and gives your financial advisor a really good indication of your current financial position.

Step #4: Acknowledge Your Weak Spots

Go through your financial statements for the past 3 months and look at trends that you know need to be changed.  For example, if grocery bills or eating out in restaurants amounts are sky high and putting a dent on your budget then note this down. Your advisor would like to know how much of your disposable income could be converted from unnecessary cash-outflow to increased savings investments.

Step #5: Get Your Partner Involved As Much As Possible

Husbands and wives will often disagree on finances if they have differing values and goals.  If one partner wants to methodically save as much as possible for retirement and the other partner wants to live life fully right now, there will be conflicts.  The smartest thing to do is to involve your partner in the process of reviewing the cash inflow and outflows for the past 3 months.  Then discuss mutual goals that you both have that you want to see realized.  When you visit with the financial advisor, take your partner along.  It will be much better for your partner to hear the same advice that you get, so that you are both committed to taking the action steps necessary to make your joint goals come to life.

What to Expect at Your First Financial Planning Meeting:

A good financial planner will take time to get to know you and review your documents before making any kind of recommendation.  The first meeting is really designed to learn as much about you, your family and your life goals so that the financial planner can best serve you going forward.  You would most likely not receive a personalized recommendation until the second or third meeting after all your pertinent documents have been reviewed and analyzed.

It is important for you in this meeting to ask your most important questions, and to evaluate whether this financial planner is right for you.   Do you feel comfortable with this person?  Does this person listen to you and reflect back what you have said?  Does this person understand your goals and sincerely want to help you work towards them?  Does he or she have the experience, track record and credentials you are looking for?   

I hope this article has helped you to prepare for your first consultation with a financial planner.  If you are looking for a fee-only financial planner located Durham, NC who is dedicated to helping his clients achieve their goals, please book a consultation meeting with me.  I would be delighted to help you work towards your financial goals.

Located in Durham, NC, Integrated Life and Financial Planning is an independent financial services firm founded by Jerry Bergner, AAMS CMFC. As a Durham, NC, Financial Planner, Jerry’s mission is to help you work toward the life YOU envision for yourself and those you care about. If you need help in clarifying that vision, he can work with you on that as well! Book a consultation meeting today.