14 Types of Documents to Gather Before Meeting with a Financial Advisor

14 Types of Documents to Gather Before Meeting with a Financial Advisor

financial planning

You’ve made the proactive decision to seek the professional guidance of a financial advisor who can help you make a plan, manage your accounts, invest your money and gain some real peace of mind. You’re headed in the right direction to achieve your financial goals by taking this important step. With your meeting on the horizon, however, you may be wondering whether you’re fully prepared with all of the necessary financial documentation to have the most productive appointment. Sorting through all of your accounts and paperwork can be an exercise in futility if you don’t know exactly what you to need to bring to the meeting. And without the most pertinent and comprehensive information, you can’t fully equip your financial advisor to accurately assess your financial picture and do the job for which you’re paying them. Alleviate the headaches and stress that come with assimilating the correct documents for a meeting with your financial advisor by using this collection of expert tips and insights as your guide.

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Why Is Thorough Documentation So Essential?

Most individuals and families have a number of components affecting their financial outlook. From investment portfolios and retirement accounts to college savings plans, mortgages, life insurance and everything in between, it’s vital to account for every aspect of your finances. Why? Because your financial advisor can’t make informed, strategic recommendations with only a fraction of the information that reveals your financial realities.

Think of it this way: You wouldn’t try to build a home without a detailed blueprint from an experienced architect or construction professional. If you didn’t equip this individual with all of the necessary information regarding personal needs, permits, land considerations and measurements, budget and material requirements, the blueprint they spent time developing would likely encounter major challenges and costly setbacks. In the end, you wouldn’t be getting the most value out of the time and money you spent to contract this expert.

The same is true for financial advisors. If your professional doesn’t have all of the documentation to understand your current financial picture and develop a dynamic plan to reach your future objectives, it could result in misguided decision-making, wasted efforts and a poor return on your investment. By gathering a complete collection of current financial information for your advisor, you give them a stronger framework for delivering value and achieving success.

Checklist of Documents

With a myriad of accounts to consider, and only cursory knowledge regarding which information your advisor will need from you, you may be scrambling to sift through your paperwork and identify the correct documents. To make this simpler, quicker and easier, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of items for you to organize. Check each one off as you gather the necessary documents for your financial advisor meeting. Not every category will apply to your specific situation, but be sure to gather the ones that do.

  • Driver's license, passport or government-issued photo ID so that your advisor can verify your identity
  • Professional advisor information, including personal accountant, banker, lawyer and trust company
  • Financial institution information, including all accounts and balances
    • Checking and savings
    • Savings bonds
    • CDs
    • Money market funds
    • Mutual funds
    • Tax-deferred annuities
  • Personal investments, including firms, account types and values
  • Business investments, including types, percentage of interest held and legal counsel
  • Credit information and individual balances
    • Personal loans
    • Student loans
    • Auto loans
    • Credit cards
  • Household income, including employment and tax documents
    • Pay stubs
    • Tax returns
    • W-2 forms
    • 1099 forms
  • Pension, and social security statements
  • List of valuable personal assets
    • Cars
    • Boats
    • Furniture
    • Jewelry
    • Art
  • Mortgage and real estate, including title holder, purchase price, interest rate and current value
  • Retirement plan documents with information on type and value
  • Employee benefits booklet
  • Living will and estate/trust documents
  • Insurance policies with values
    • Medical Life
    • Disability
    • Long-Term Care
    • Home
    • Renters
    • Auto

Prepared Questions and Answers

In addition to compiling the above list of documents for your financial advisor, it’s best to prepare yourself with a compilation of questions: both those you have for your advisor and those you should be asking yourself and thinking about beforehand. Here are some examples you can use to get the ball rolling:

  • When do you want to retire?
  • What retirement lifestyle do you envision?
  • Do you need to save for a child or grandchild’s education?
  • Do you need to save for a downpayment on a home or car?
  • Is paying off your debts a priority?
  • Do you have an emergency fund?
  • Are you adequately insured?
  • What is your health situation?
  • What are your investment and savings goals?
  • Do you know what level of risk are you willing to take?
  • Is your investment portfolio properly diversified?
  • Are you on track to meet retirement and financial goals?
  • What is your investment philosophy?
  • What investment mistakes are you making?
  • Are you interested in making charitable contributions?
  • How will your success be tracked and measured?
  • Are there ways to save on your taxes?
  • Are you filing correctly and wisely?
  • Should you get in or out of the market?
  • What tools should you be using for planning and monitoring?
  • Are you and your partner on the same page with legacy planning?
  • Are you thinking about business succession?

Even before you get into the details of these questions, you’ll want to take time to internalize the most fundamental question of all: What is your true purpose for money?

The truth is that while money is important, it’s only one element of total wealth. Yes, there is the financial dimension of wealth, but there are also more personal issues at play, including individual values like safety, security, comfort and independence. That’s why you need to sit with your own thoughts on what money truly means to you. It’s about identifying what is most important in life, a process that involves exploring your own values and beliefs.

If you’re wondering what this has to do with meeting with your financial advisor, you’re not alone. Many people can become so focused on the numbers and blinded by their own financial worries that they lose sight of why they’re building a financial plan in the first place. When you struggle, worry or suffer over money, it’s often because your financial choices don’t align with your inner value system. If, however, you work with your advisor to align your financial decisions with your purpose, you’re more likely to experience an authentic sense of satisfaction and contentment.

No matter what financial decision you’re facing, discovering your true purpose for money can steer your approach and pave the way for long-lasting fulfillment. In the end, being able to make purposeful, informed choices and take timely, confident action in support of what really matters is one of the biggest drivers of long-term financial success.

Need more help preparing for an appointment with a financial advisor? To streamline the process of assembling the information pertaining to your family’s current financial picture, download your free copy of The Family Inventory Workbook.

It’s a handy reference for organizing your finances, beginning or revising your estate plan, making it easier to update beneficiaries and helping loved ones find what they need if you’re sick or injured.

Get Your Family Inventory Workbook

Seamlessly organize your financial, health, personal and legal documents in this handy reference guide.

Download Your Workbook Now

About Greg Hammond, CFP®, CPA

Greg Hammond is the chief executive officer of Hammond Iles Wealth Advisors, and co-founder of Planned Giving Strategies®. Greg leads a team of professional financial advisors providing customized wealth management and investment solutions for high-net-worth individuals, families, companies, and charitable organizations across the U.S.