SUMMARY: Never met with a wealth advisor before? Read this post to learn what to expect and how to prepare for your initial consultation.
You’ve decided to bring a wealth advisor into the financial picture, which has the potential to grow your portfolio by up to 4 percent over the long run. He or she does this by filling multiple roles in your financial life—head coach, reality check, disciplinarian.
But that first meeting with your advisor can seem nerve-wracking at first, and for good reason. You’re opening yourself up to someone new and talking about one of the most sensitive issues in your life—money.
Below we answer a few simple questions that will hopefully give you a sense of what to expect from this encounter.
What should I expect from my first meeting?
Your wealth advisor works for you, so this first sit-down is akin to a job interview. They want the job, and you need to assess whether they can do it to your standards. You should feel at home in their office and that you’re engaged with a partner who’s actually listening.
You wouldn’t invest in something you didn’t believe in or even understand, so an advisor should be prepared to answer all manner of questions about the services they offer and how they conduct business.
What should I do before the meeting?
Do your homework on them. An advisor’s work experience and education will likely all be readily available online, so take advantage of that and do some sleuthing. Use your precious face time with them to delve deeper into any questions that your research brings to the surface and get a sense of how they communicate.
Do your homework on yourself. First, the nitty-gritty, technical questions:
- In a perfect world, when would I retire?
- What does that retirement look and feel like?
- How does saving for college fit into the picture?
- How do I plan for my beneficiaries?
Then go broader, more aspirational:
- Why am I talking to a wealth advisor now? What’s changed in my life?
- What are my biggest fears?
- What do I want my legacy to be? What mark will I leave on the world?
If you’re married or with a life partner, be sure to do this homework together. If you’re not on the same page with the big questions, the little ones will be a lot harder (and more stressful) to answer. Even if you’re not married, it pays to sit down with a trusted friend or close relative to walk through these steps.
What should I bring to the meeting?
A wealth advisor helps you draw the map to financial success but needs a good compass and some guideposts in order to do it. They will likely give you a list of paperwork to bring, but here’s a quick preview:
- A monthly budget
- Pay stubs
- Your most recent tax return
- 401(k) and other investment plan statements
- Mortgage and other debt statements
Start with your monthly budget. An advisor needs to know how money comes and goes in your life, get a sense of fixed versus variable expenses and determine how disciplined you are (or aren’t) going into this process.
What questions should I ask?
Any good advisor will be ready and willing to answer all of your questions. Here are a few to keep in your back pocket:
- How do you get paid? There are several fee structures in the industry, but a fee-only advisor is preferred because they don’t profit off of any products you buy through commissions. Their compensation is based on a set fee that may be annual, monthly or a percentage of your assets.
- How do you work with clients? Your advisor will be a close companion, guiding you along the path to your hopes and dreams, and so trust is essential. Will they provide a sample financial plan before you commit? Do you feel good after a long conversation with them?
- What tools do you use? War stories of past portfolio conquests may sound exciting, but often don’t add up to much. You need details on what technology and techniques your advisor has at the ready to help you meet your goals.
What questions will they ask me?
A rock-star wealth advisor is as curious about you as you are about them. They should dive headfirst into your life goals—what gets you up in the morning (and keeps you up at night). Then they’ll walk you through an investment strategy that gives you the best chance of meeting those goals.
What happens next?
In subsequent meetings, you’ll work out a timeline, a monthly budget, and an investment plan that targets your goals. Be sure to sit down in person, at least annually, to make sure everything is running according to plan.
The wealth advisors at a financial cooperative like TDECU have assisted thousands of investors in cutting through the clutter and helping them achieve goals for their savings, their retirement and their investments. We’d love to help you—let’s plan your future together.