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What to Know Before Your First Meeting With a Financial Advisor

Key Takeaways

  • Outline your goals and dreams
  • Be ready to discuss your financial situation
  • Get a feel for the financial advisor

By Stephen Sellner | Citizens Bank Staff

A financial advisor can be a tremendous partner and resource. They’ll listen to your hopes and dreams for the near and distant future, take inventory of your financial situation, and map out a plan to help you get from point A to whatever your point B looks like.

But before you and your financial advisor can jump into a plan, there’s the ever-important first meeting. This is the chance for you and the advisor to learn more about each other and determine if you can work together toward a common goal: getting you to your point B.

So, what should you do before and during this first meeting?

Outline your goals and dreams

The first meeting with a financial advisor should primarily focus on what you want most out of the future. You’ll want to be really clear about what you hope to get out of life, so if you haven’t thought about that yet, it’s time for some soul searching!

The best client-advisor relationships are centered around your goals, but that’s only possible when those goals are clearly outlined. What do you want to achieve most? And when? The more specific you can be, the better.

Sometimes, people will go into a first meeting and tell a financial advisor what they think the person wants to hear. I need to save for my kids’ education. I want to save for retirement. Those are perfectly reasonable goals, but the financial advisor will want to dig into the details. How do you want to help pay for your child’s education? What do you want retirement to look like?

Take the time to think through your biggest hopes and dreams for the future. Talk it over with your spouse (maybe bring some wine to help out). Take a long walk — without your headphones — to do some deep reflection. Hopefully, you’ll have a list of things you want out of the future that you can articulate to the financial advisor.

Be ready to discuss your financial situation

While the primary focus will be on your goals and dreams, the financial advisor will also want to get a sense of your finances.

With that in mind, gather all of your financial information before the meeting, including:

  • Savings
  • 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plans
  • Pension plans
  • Estimate of your Social Security benefit
  • Debt — including student loans, car loans, or a mortgage
  • Insurance policies
  • Estate planning (wills, trusts, health care proxies)

It’s not essential to have statements or documentation outlining this information for the first meeting, although it certainly wouldn’t hurt. You’ll just need to articulate this data to the financial advisor so they can understand your current financial situation. However, you’ll need those statements or documents for your second meeting when you jump into planning mode.

RELATED: How Much Do You Need to Retire?

Get a feel for the financial advisor

Not all financial advisors are the same. That’s why, during your first meeting, you’ll want to learn more about the person across from you before you agree to work with them.

Here are some helpful questions to ask the advisor:

  • What are your experiences and qualifications?
  • Have you worked with people like me before? (Same age and income range with similar goals.)
  • Do you prepare a financial plan?
  • What’s your process?
  • How will you lay out a path from point A to point B?
  • How do you get paid?
  • Do you only offer proprietary trading? (When an institution trades for its own benefit using its own money.)

The answers to these questions will help you decide if this financial advisor is the person to entrust with your future.

But wait, there’s more. Do you connect with this person? Do they listen when you speak about your goals? Would you feel comfortable sharing your fears as much as your dreams? Having someone manage your money is a big vote of confidence. Make sure this person feels like the right person for the job.

What do you want out of your future? Outline these goals before going into your first meeting with your advisor.

What to remember

The first meeting with a financial advisor will set the stage for the rest of your working relationship. It should feel like a collaborative session, not one where you sit back and listen the entire time. You should walk away feeling energized and empowered about your future and its potential. If the relationship doesn’t feel like a true partnership, it might not be one worth continuing.

Your goals and dreams are a big deal. You should have a financial advisor who wants you to achieve them as much as you do.

Ready to take the next step?

Request a call back from a Citizens Bank Wealth Management Advisor at a date and time that works best for you.

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