Financial Adviser Meeting Checklist
11 November 2022
As with most things in life, when holding an initial meeting with your Financial Adviser, a little preparation can go a long way. The more information that you can supply at this initial interaction with your Adviser, the greater the likelihood that you will receive timely advice that is personalised to you.
So what exactly should you bring along to your first meeting? To assist you with this task we have assembled a simple meeting checklist to help.
1. Goals and objectives
Your goals and objectives will form the very foundation of your financial plan so whether you are saving for your children’s education expenses, investing for a comfortable retirement, or building an investment legacy for future generations, it is very helpful to give some consideration to these items prior to your initial conversation with a Financial Adviser.
It may be that you do not have a specific goal or objective in mind and may simply be seeking to maximise your investment returns in a tax-effective manner over the long-term. If this is the case, then make sure you make this known to your Adviser.
2. Financial statements
To help you achieve your goals and objectives, your Financial Adviser needs to understand your financial starting point, so it’s best to come armed with as much up to date financial data as possible. Some of the statements and reports that you should consider bringing with you include:
Super statements. Your most recent annual Super statement and an up to date valuation report.
Investment statements. For ASX listed shares, or Exchange Traded Funds (ETF’s) held directly, bring a holding statement, or details of the shares you own, including your Shareholder Reference Number (SRN) or Holder Identification Number (HIN). For Managed Investments, a copy of your most recent holding statement, or valuation report.
Tax returns. A copy of your most recently lodged personal tax return.
Pay slips. Your most recent pay slip, showing your gross and net salary, along with any pre-salary deductions and Superannuation Guarantee (SG) contributions.
Bank statements. For cash, savings and term deposit accounts, a copy of your most recent bank statement showing the value of these holdings.
Loan statements. These should provide detail on amounts owed, prevailing interest rates, type of loan (e.g. personal, mortgage, margin etc.), whether the loans are fixed or variable rate and the duration of these loans.
3. Income and expenses
While your most recent tax return and pay slip should provide a good indication of your current income, your circumstances can change, so be sure to notify your Adviser of any expected income that may not be captured in these documents. For instance, you may now be entitled to a bonus payment, or you may have been granted a pay rise that comes into effect in the coming weeks, or months.
Understanding your spending profile will also be of great value to your Adviser. While you don’t need to account for every cent spent each month, your adviser will benefit from seeing a high-level budget, including items such as mortgage payments, insurances, utilities, typical food costs, transport costs and anticipated travel.
Your Financial Adviser will want to ensure that you have appropriate insurance protection in place for your life, income and assets so be sure to bring details of all of the life/TPD, critical illness, income protection policies, as well as general and health insurances that you currently have in place.
You may find that you have life insurance in place via your Superannuation fund that you were previously unaware of, so an up to date statement will help your Adviser identify whether this is the case or not. This information will help your Adviser to identify whether you have sufficient insurance coverage, or whether you need to vary the levels of cover that are currently in place.
5. Estate planning
A well considered financial plan isn’t just about making arrangements for events that occur during your lifetime. This process should also arrange for the safe passage of assets to your nominated beneficiaries upon death which is not always an easy concept to consider and plan for.
Do you have a Will in place? If so, does this remain valid, or have you married / divorced and / or had children since first drafting your Will? Who is the nominated Executor of your estate and who are your beneficiaries? Does your Will consider the use of Testamentary Trusts?
While your Adviser won’t draft these documents for you, they will work with estate planning professionals to make sure you have appropriate documentation in place. It is also worth noting that some of your assets may not be automatically covered under a legal Will (such as superannuation), so identifying these and making the necessary nominations will form part of the meeting process with your Adviser.
A comprehensive estate plan will also consider the use of Powers of Attorney and Guardianship to deal with your financial and personal affairs as well as medical treatment decisions in the event of serious illness and / or mental incapacity. If you currently have any or all of these arrangements in place, be sure to update your Adviser so that they can review these and retain them on file for reference.
As we mentioned above, current income is a necessary piece of information for your Adviser. But it’s smart to draw out the full picture. Who is your employer and is your employment likely to change? Do you expect your income to change any time soon? Or perhaps you run your own business? Offer details beyond your base salary to give your adviser as much data as possible to work with.
Your personal health is a sensitive subject, and you certainly have no obligation to disclose health issues to your financial adviser. You should only reveal what you’re comfortable revealing, however, it is important that your Adviser is made aware of any health related issues that may impact on the advice that they are providing to you. For instance, if you have a terminal health issue, your Adviser will need to know this so that they can structure their advice accordingly.
Furthermore, when applying for life insurance, it is worthwhile noting that you will be required to undergo a medical assessment where non-disclosure of health matters may impact on your ability to obtain coverage, or worse will lead to the potential rejection of an insurance claim down the track.
8. Your questions
Finally, before you make any final decisions about working with a Financial Adviser, make sure that you draft a list of questions important to you and discuss these with the Financial Advisers being interviewed. These questions may relate to service levels, the fees that are payable, or the values that are upheld by the Adviser and their firm. By asking these questions early in your relationship with a new Financial Adviser, the less chance there will be for surprises down the track.
Meeting with a financial adviser can be intimidating, but you may feel more empowered if you show up informed. That means documenting everything about your current assets and liabilities and making a list of your financial goals. Knowing your complete financial picture means you and your adviser can better determine areas for growth based on real data, not just assumptions. When in doubt, bring every current statement you have!
Alternatively, download this checklist, which includes everything you need to bring along to your first meeting all in one place.
If you have questions about your finances and how to best strategise for your future, Findex may be able to help. Not only can we advise people on their wealth management, but we have services in the areas of business advisory, corporate finance and more.