What to Bring to your First Meeting with a Financial Advisor
Working with a new advisor can be
daunting. In the first meeting, both parties have a lot to learn about each other. The advisor should make information about themselves and their abilities available to you through a website or mailing before the meeting. What they learn about you, however, depends entirely on what you decide to tell them. What you need too bring will depend partly on what you hope to accomplish, but in general, the more information you give your advisor, the more specific and useful the advice you receive will be. Gather
these important things and take the
time to think about what you need:
Your spouse. While both partners do not need to earn the same amount, or even participate equally in household finances, it is very important that you and your spouse understand how the other thinks about money.
Account for all of your assets. Ideally, you will have statements for bank accounts, investment accounts and retirement accounts. In addition, know the value of your home and any other significant property you own.
Tally up your debts. The important information about debt is the balance, interest rate and payment terms. At a minimum, write down the balance, interest rate, monthly payment and expected maturity date. Make sure to include everything you owe - credit cards, student loans, car loans and mortgages.
Know your income and how reliable it is. Bring a pay stub if you have one that shows your gross pay and any withholdings. If you work a regular job, this is easy, if you work on a freelance, part time or contract basis, you'll have to do a little more work estimating what your income will be in the future.
Know your specific goals. If you plan on buying a vehicle, home or college education in the near future, write down how much you expect that to cost.
A notebook. Your advisor should send you a record of any actual recommendations they make for you. You should still take notes and have somewhere to keep your questions written down.
Your story. Your advisor needs to work with you. They need to understand who you are in order to tailor their advice to you. Be prepared to talk about how you view the money you have and what you want it to do for you. While you don't have to bring in every transaction statement, a clear idea of where your money goes every month is critical.
In addition to these standard things, your specific situation or goals may demand more specific information.
Tax returns.If you have complicated taxes, are meeting with a CPA, or are looking for ways to lower your taxes, bring a tax return. It will be useful for your advisor to see if you've missed any good deductions.
Real estate information. If you are looking to buy a new home or move, bring information about what your new home might cost. Details about the area will be useful in helping determine what you can afford and how much your lifestyle and finances will be impacted by the move.
Children or parents. If you are helping manage your parent's affairs, or looking to pass on wealth to your children, bring them. An advisor can help you determine what is appropriate information to share and provide factual information for the relationship.
Remember that an advisor cannot help you with things that they do not know about. The more information an advisor works with, the better your advice will be.