4 Ways to Prepare for a Meeting with a Financial Advisor

4 Ways to Prepare for a Meeting with a Financial Advisor

financial planning

For some people, especially those new to the experience of working with a financial advisor, the prospect of meeting with a firm can be daunting and stressful. But it’s important to do so on a regular (at least annual) basis to discuss the realities of your financial outlook. With an informed approach to preparing for this meeting, you can achieve greater peace of mind and make the most of your time together. Here are four expert tips for tackling your meeting preparation and coming to the appointment with a more enlightened perspective.

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1. Prioritize Your Financial Plan

Many people spend more time and care planning their vacations than they spend on their financial planning. They look over travel guides and find the best rates online, all in anticipation of a week or two in their future. Probably because of our human impulses, planning for short-term fun can trump planning for long-term gain. With the future uncertain, risks to be managed, a retirement for which we fear we may not have saved enough and, worse yet, death and taxes, many of us understandably lack the requisite enthusiasm and courage to address this area of planning with commitment, energy and urgency.

But if you want to build a future around what’s most important to you, that’s what you must do.

Emotion and gut instinct are hardly a reliable guide when it comes to your financial freedom (or lack thereof). You cannot accurately see where you are heading or what greater things might be possible if you don’t know where you are at this moment. For both assessing your current financial state and planning for the future, it’s necessary to prioritize this aspect of your life, acknowledge the importance of preparing for your meeting with a financial advisor, and put in the requisite effort to make every minute of that time count.

2. Gather Your Documents

This is a crucial step for setting financial goals with your advisor. Unless you assimilate all of the documents that pertain to your finances, your advisor will not be equipped to guide you and provide informed advice based on your actual financial health. Following are some of the most important records you should collect and organize for your financial advisor meeting.

  • Household Income: This is likely to entail any employment and tax documents, including W-2 and 1099 forms, your pension or social security.
  • Professional Advisors: Gather all of the information related to your personal accountant, banker, lawyer, trust company
  • Banking: Make sure you have information on your financial institutions, including all accounts and balances.
  • Credit: This should encompass any loan accounts or credit cards you may have, and their balances.
  • Personal Investments: Collect all of the documents and information regarding your investment firms, account types and account values.
  • Personal Assets: Create a list of valuable personal assets, such as cars, boats, furniture, jewelry and art.
  • Real Estate: For your home and any other real estate you may own, gather the information on your mortgage, title holder, purchase price and current value.
  • Retirement Plans: Bring documents and information regarding plan type and value.
  • Business Investments: Your advisor will need to know the type of investments, percentage of interest held, and legal counsel.
  • Will, Trust and Life Insurance: Compile all of your estate documents and information, including types of trusts or policies and their values.

Without proper documentation that provides detailed insight into your financial picture, your advisor will only be able to speak generally about these vital considerations. Your records give them the most accurate picture of the state of your finances in order to best position you to meet your unique goals and needs.

3. Consider Your Financial Goals

It’s important to come to your financial advisor meeting with some basic goals in mind. Of course, your advisor will help you dig deeper into these objectives, identify your true purpose for money, iron out the details and set specific numbers. But to get you thinking more honestly and strategically about your financial future, take time to:

  • Identify investment and savings goals based on what matters most to you
  • Develop your ideal timeline for retirement
  • Evaluate the types and amount of risk you are willing to take

You can even start organizing a list of financial and savings priorities by asking yourself questions such as:

  • When do you want I retire?
  • What retirement lifestyle do I envision?
  • Do I need to save for a child or grandchild’s education?
  • Do I need to save for a downpayment on a home or car?
  • Have my debts grown? Is paying them off a priority?
  • Do I have an emergency fund?
  • Has my health changed?

As you think critically about these goals, it’s essential to remember that while money is important, it’s only one element of total wealth. Beyond the financial dimension of wealth, there are more personal concerns at play, like safety, security, comfort, or independence. To discover what money means to you, you must first determine what is most important to you, which involves a process of exploring your individual values and beliefs.

When your financial decisions align with your values, you’re more likely to experience an authentic sense of satisfaction and contentment. Conversely, when you struggle, worry or suffer over money, it’s often because your financial choices don’t align with your inner value system. So no matter what financial decision you’re facing, discovering your true purpose for money can steer your approach and pave the way for long-lasting fulfillment.

4. Prepare for Change

For most people, finances are a very personal subject, and you may already have some predetermined perspectives or assumptions that could interfere with your financial advisor’s ability to guide you effectively. The truth is that throughout our lives, we all subconsciously adopt beliefs, stories, attitudes and assumptions about money, and these inner thoughts become our reality. While we may not always acknowledge it, they heavily influence many of our financial decisions. They can affect how we make, spend and save money, even when doing so may not serve us well.

Fortunately, we can recognize and overcome those money beliefs that hinder our ability to achieve financial goals. Come to your financial meeting with an open mind as well as the belief that you have room to grow and take the steps required to hit your goals.

All of the positive thoughts and assumptions we develop about money over time help us attain financial and investing peace of mind. Simply acknowledging these beliefs empowers us to draw on them deliberately whenever necessary. When you respond to belief systems you have accepted but never really chosen, it diminishes your potential actions and outcomes, thereby limiting your control over your own destiny. Once you understand this chain reaction, however, you open up a world of opportunities to control your future.

At Hammond Iles, we’ve learned that being able to make purposeful, informed choices and take timely, confident action in support of what really matters is one of the biggest drivers of long-term financial success. Meeting with your financial advisor and preparing properly for this valuable time together is a critical step in the process. Embrace the opportunity before you and approach it with the energy and attention it deserves.


To help you get started on gathering a comprehensive list of all information pertaining to your family’s current financial picture, download your free copy of The Family Inventory Workbook.

Get Your Family Inventory Workbook

Seamlessly organize your financial, health, personal and legal documents in this handy reference guide.

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About Greg Hammond, CFP®, CPA

Greg Hammond is the chief executive officer of Hammond Iles Wealth Advisors, and co-founder of Planned Giving Strategies®. Greg leads a team of professional financial advisors providing customized wealth management and investment solutions for high-net-worth individuals, families, companies, and charitable organizations across the U.S.