Some of us like tracking our investments on a fairly regular basis. Others prefer not to think about their savings, and only want their financial advisor to reach out if there’s something they need to know about.
Regardless of your mindset, you should (and likely do) meet with your advisor on an annual basis. But you shouldn’t come to this meeting blind. It’s always best to be prepared to review your financials with your financial advisor.
There are a number of tasks you should complete before attending this meeting to ensure you and your advisor make the most of your time together. To help you prepare, we’ve outlined three key areas to cover before your meeting.
Organize Your Financial Documents Before Meeting with Your Advisor!
Use this workbook to help you organize your financial, health, personal, and legal documents so you can come prepared to your financial advisor meeting.
REVIEW YOUR FINANCIAL GOALS AND NOTE CHANGES
You can’t create a truly strategic and realistic financial plan if you don’t first define your most important goals and priorities. You’ve almost certainly done this in your initial meetings with your advisor, but life has few certainties, and change is one of the greatest.
Before your meeting with your financial advisor, re-examine and note any changes to your:
- Investment and savings goals
- Financial circumstances
- Timeline (for retirement)
- Risk appetite
Any changes to your life and economic conditions can have a major impact on your financial plan. It may possibly even require an adjustment to the diversification of your investment portfolio.
If you need help assessing whether or not your financial goals have changed, you can start organizing a list of financial and savings priorities by asking yourself the following questions:
- When do you want I retire?
- What retirement lifestyle do I envision?
- Do I need to save for a child or grandchild’s education?
- Do I need to save for a down payment on a home or car?
- Have my debts grown? Is paying them off a priority?
- Do I have an emergency fund?
- Has my health changed?
PREPARE QUESTIONS FOR YOUR ADVISOR
To get the most out of any meeting with your financial advisor, you need to come prepared with questions they can help you answer. Some of these questions may carry over from the previous sections, especially if you are having trouble answering them yourself.
Here are several questions you might ask to make sure your plan is strategically aligned with your goals and needs:
“Do I need to reconsider my investment timeline?”
It may be rare that your retirement or savings timeline would change drastically over the course of a year, but any change is worth noting. Say your child is admitted into a college more expensive than you planned for, but you still want to pay their full tuition. You may decide to push back your retirement a handful of years. This change may potentially compel your advisor to shift your investments into more growth-oriented assets.
“Have life changes impacted my economic situation?”
As with the aforementioned example, changes in your personal life frequently impact your investment timeline. They also can impact your finances overall. If you make a career change, land a new job, or have family-oriented transitions, your income and saving dynamics could certainly change accordingly.
“Does my portfolio diversification still meet my goals?”
As mentioned previously, any changes to your life circumstances and needs can necessitate a review of your current mix of investments. Nonetheless, these are critical topics that ensure you’re money is on track to meet your needs.
“Am I on track to retire as I’ve planned?”
Speaking of being on track, the greatest discussion point is commonly whether or not you’re on track to retire when and how you’ve planned. Your advisor will have information to review with you that will speak to this question. And if he or she deems that you need to tweak your strategy, they’ll discuss how you can adjust your plan to truly meet your needs and goals.
ORGANIZE DOCUMENTS FOR YOUR MEETING
It’s pretty rare that someone has just one account with one financial advisor. You may have several investment accounts – with or without an advisor, a 401(k) and/or IRA, savings account(s), a 529 college savings plan and more. And you’ll want to prepare and bring documentation for all of these to your meeting with your primary advisor.
On top of investment and savings accounts, you likely have employment and tax documents such as a Form W-2 or 1099, pension or social security documents and beyond. Then there’s debts such as mortgage, loan and credit card statements. You might also want to discuss your estate, necessitating documents regarding your will or trust and life insurance.
Without proper documentation, your advisor will only be able to speak generally to these important considerations. Most importantly, they need the most accurate picture of the state of your finances in order to best position you to meet your needs.
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR FINANCIAL ADVISOR MEETING
Especially if you only meet or talk to your financial advisor on an annual basis, you want to make sure you accomplish everything you both need to cover in your yearly meeting. Your advisor will certainly be preparing to go over your investment portfolio and plan with you, but you both need you to do your part.
Make sure you address each of the three sections above, and you’ll come away with a better understanding of your financial situation and help your advisor make any necessary tweaks to your investment and savings strategies.
If you need additional guidance preparing your financial, health, personal or legal documents, you can download our family inventory workbook.