How to prepare for the first meeting with a financial adviser
11 November 2022
So you have finally made time to meet with a financial adviser, but what on earth do you need to do to prepare for your first meeting?
The good news is that your financial adviser is likely to tell you exactly what to bring along to the meeting and what will be involved in your conversation. The information gleaned during this part of the process will ultimately set the foundation for the advice that you will receive, so be sure to do some pre-planning before your initial consultation.
Take an inventory of your current financial situation
Remember, your new financial adviser currently knows nothing about your financial circumstances, so the sooner you can provide them with a detailed listing of assets, liabilities, income and expenses, the sooner that they can begin preparing suitable advice.
By withholding or providing incomplete financial information, your Adviser is unable to consider your overall financial position and the resultant advice you receive may be compromised as a result. The quality of the advice delivered will only be as good as the quality of the information provided, so the earlier it is provided and the more accurate it is, the better the quality of your personal advice is likely to be.
Make a list of your financial goals
It’s hard to build a financial roadmap if you don’t know your intended destination. So whether it’s saving for a large-scale purchase (e.g. a home), investing for your children’s education, or planning for retirement, establishing your financial goals will help your adviser to develop a strategy that is customised for you.
You may not necessarily have specific objectives in mind, other than maximising investment returns over the long-term, so if this is the case then that is ok. Not everyone has an explicit purpose in mind when they begin their investing journey, but either way the key is establishing this early with your Adviser.
Understand your risk tolerance
After giving consideration to your goals and objectives, spend some time thinking about your time-frame for investment and the level of risk that you are prepared to accept with your investments. Both of these elements are important determinants as they will guide your Adviser when constructing the most appropriate portfolio for you.
For example, do you have a long-term (i.e. 10+ year) time-frame for investment and are you willing to accept high levels of volatility with your investments, or are you approaching retirement in the next ten years and therefore becoming more conservative with your approach to investment i.e. you want low levels of volatility? How would you feel if your investments were to fall 20% during your investment horizon? Would you see this as an opportunity to invest more at a discount or would this cause you distress and lead to a withdrawal of your investment?
Prior to making any investment recommendation, your adviser will conduct a risk tolerance assessment with you in order to tease out your investment preferences and your appetite for risk in more detail. The more preparation you put into this exercise, the better the investment outcome will be in terms of alignment with your tolerance to risk.
Interview and vet potential advisers
In most cases, your initial appointment with a financial adviser will be cost and obligation free, meaning that you will not be required to commit to any sort of long term relationship. Use this opportunity to ask them about their service offering, their charging structures and their alignment to any product providers.
Often, a good source of information is to talk to your friends and colleagues who currently have a relationship with an adviser and ask them about their personal experiences. It is also worth searching independent sites such as Adviser Ratings that offer public reviews on Financial Advisers and provide details on their areas of speciality.
Be clear on the advice that you're looking for
The more specific you can be about your financial situation, goals, objectives and time frames, the better your adviser can tailor their advice for you. While your financial adviser will look at your overall financial situation and will prepare comprehensive advice that addresses many areas, you can request that the advice be scaled, or focused on specific areas only. These may include:
Budgeting and Forecasting. Do you need help with basic budgeting? Most financial adviser’s have access to cash flow modeling tools that can assist with basic day-to-day budgeting and savings advice. These tools can also prepare detailed forecast models for those clients with more complex needs, such as those with multiple entities, or people seeking retirement planning advice.
Retirement planning. The laws surrounding superannuation are often changing, making Australia’s retirement landscape one of the most complicated and difficult to comprehend. From concessional and non-concessional contribution limits to super-splitting and withdrawal/re-contribution strategies to name a few, there are a myriad of opportunities to boost your retirement nest-egg if you understand the legislation. A financial adviser works in these areas on a day to day basis and is positioned to leverage these opportunities for you.
Professional investment management. An adviser has access to a range of investment solutions and can help to match you with the most appropriate solution. What’s more, they will remove emotion from investment related decisions and help you to make rational choices.
Estate planning. Your adviser can help make sure your estate plan is in order by working with you and your legal professional.
Insurance. Your most valuable asset is your ability to earn income, so it is critical that you insure this against illness or injury that prevents you from working. You may also have some debt and a family to provide for. Your Adviser can arrange the appropriate insurances to help protect your family and repay debt in the event that you die, or are permanently disabled.
Debt management. Whether you have outstanding credit card debt, a personal loan, a mortgage or all of the above, repaying these debts as soon as possible is typically your best financial course of action. Your financial adviser can assist you in planning a practical repayment schedule, focusing on those liabilities that have the highest interest rates first. Your adviser can also work with other finance professionals to negotiate more favourable terms with your lenders, or assist you to move your arrangements elsewhere for a more competitive offering.
What should I discuss with a financial advisor?
Before your first meeting, create a list of questions for your financial adviser. Some suggestions include:
What types of clients do you typically deal with?
What are your business values when it comes to working with clients?
What is the process for new clients?
Are you aligned with any product providers?
What is your ongoing service arrangement for your clients?
Through their in-depth knowledge of superannuation, retirement planning, investments and insurance, a financial adviser can help you navigate the regulatory environment, maximise your wealth creation opportunities, and protect your assets and your family. To make the most of your initial consultation with your financial adviser, download this checklist.
If you feel like you could benefit from great quality, affordable financial advice, we offer knowledgeable financial advice for a variety of situations, but we have business advisory and additional wealth management services to meet our customers’ needs.