Your first meeting with a new financial advisor is the cornerstone of your working relationship — if you decide to work together at all. After this interaction, you should have no doubts about their ability to manage your finances — and your future. To make sure this first meeting is effective, US News My Money offers a few tips to prepare.
Before you meet, search for the advisor online and find any information that could help you determine if they’re right for you, DA Davidson & Co.’s vice chairman of wealth management Andrew Crowell recommends.
“Searching the advisor on the internet, in addition to visiting their firm’s website and the advisor’s personal website and social media accounts, can reveal a great deal about their experience, professionalism (and) outside interests,” Crowell tells US News My Money.
After you have a better idea of who you’ll be working with, you can start to prepare for the initial meeting.
What Should You Expect At Your First Financial Advisor Meeting?
According to Stein Olavsrud, FBB Capital Partners executive vice president, the purpose of the first meeting is to inform the advisor of your financial needs and goals while the advisor explains how the firm can help you meet them.
And as Dawn Doebler, a principal and senior wealth advisor from The Colony Group, added, this meeting will help you know what you can expect from the advisor down the line based on their questions and how much they talk.
Doebler says new clients should make sure the advisor genuinely listens and makes an effort to understand your lifestyle and values before throwing out solutions. “This is the best way to know that the advisor will listen to you and tailor solutions accordingly, rather than offering cookie-cutter advice,” she explains.
The most important thing to walk away with after the first meeting is trust. If you don’t have that, then you may want to reconsider working with that particular advisor.
What Should Your Bring During Your First Meeting With A Financial Advisor?
A lot of information will be exchanged during this first meeting, so it’s understandable if it becomes overwhelming. Fortunately, “we don’t want to burden (clients) with too much homework before they get to have a feel for the firm and the people within it,” Olavsrud notes.
Still, you should come to the table with enough information that your advisor can provide some guidance. Juan Carols Cruz, the founder of Britewater Financial Group, recommends that new clients bring these materials to their first financial advisor meeting:
- Your latest financial records, such as certificates of deposit (CDs), health savings accounts, retirement and bank accounts, etc.
- Life insurance and annuity policies
- Your budget, including costs affiliated with your child’s college education or an aging loved one’s care
- Your latest home loan statements, including property taxes, insurance, or home equity lines of credit
- Statements from credit cards, loans, and other types of debt
- Your latest tax return or business return
Additionally, Insurance Advantage & LMA Financial Services co-owner Lisa Bamburg recommends providing information for future legacies and copies of your will, trust, power of attorney, and other files you may have.
Questions Your Financial Advisor Will Ask During Yoru First Meeting
During your first meeting with a financial advisor, be ready to answer questions about your current financial situation, whether you’re familiar with investing, your short- and long-term goals, and your family.
“While complete disclosure may feel excessive this early in the relationship, an investor who willingly provides their complete financial profile helps set the tone for this important advisory relationship,” Crowell explains. The more information you provide, the most effectively the advisor will be able to support you.
Advisors address each client differently, but all should give tailored advice to help their clients meet their objectives. Still, the questions advisors ask can differ. Doebler, for example, likes to ask, “What money dilemmas are impacting you the most right now?” She told US News My Money that this question highlights areas her clients have difficulties with and where she can help them.
In addition, Doebler also frequently asks, “How have you managed your money in the past?” and “Are there any investments you want to avoid?” On the other hand, Cruz focuses on his clients’ retirement goals and what they imagine their retirement will look like.
Although these questions provide important financial insights, Doebler suggests coming ready with answers to family and inheritance questions. “These types of questions, and the responses they elicit, can shed light on family dynamics and sensitive issues that may affect planning priorities.”
What Questions Should You Ask During Your First Financial Advisor Meeting?
Just as this meeting is a chance for your advisor to get to know you, it’s also the time to understand your advisor. During this initial interaction, you should ask questions such as:
- What experience do you have?
- What is your investment philosophy?
- What services do you and your firm provide?
- How do you decide what I should do or how I should invest?
- Who else is on your team, and what are their positions? Who is the primary point of contact?
- How regularly can we meet?
- How do you bill for your services?
- Are you a fiduciary?
“A fiduciary is required to put the client’s interests ahead of their own,” says Brian Bruggeman, Baker Boyer Bank’s vice president and director of financial planning. “If an advisor doesn’t have a clear answer to that question, it should be a red flag.”
Bamburg advises working with a professional who has worked with clients in your circumstances. Understanding what the advisor or their firm offers and the kinds of clients they help can give you a better idea of their experience in the area you need guidance.
You want to know how much attention your advisor will be able to give you. “It’s also important to understand how they will interact with their advisor and how many clients that advisor works with,” Bruggeman notes.
And as Doebler adds, “You may want to ask how many clients a particular advisor has,” Doebler says. “You likely won’t get a lot of personal attention if an advisor has 100-plus clients.”
- Hicks, Coryanne. “Prepare for a First Financial Advisor Meeting.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 17 Dec. 2020, money.usnews.com/financial-advisors/articles/how-to-prepare-for-the-first-meeting-with-a-financial-advisor.