If you've been wondering how to optimize your finances and ensure your money continues to work for you, a financial professional may be able to help. But the thought of turning over your most sensitive financial information to a near-stranger can be an intimidating one. To make this relationship work, you'll need to place a great deal of trust in your financial professional, and it's crucial to find the right fit. What should you know about working with a financial professional, and how can you prepare for your first meeting?
What a Financial Professional Can Do For You
First, work with a Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®), who is essentially a personal trainer for your financial life. While you may be able to educate yourself on the financial principles you'll need to manage your own investments, a Certified Financial Planner® has the knowledge and guidance to take your plan to the next level. CFP®’s use their knowledge to create personalized financial plans for their clients that touch on savings, budgeting, insurance, and tax-saving strategies.
Just a few of the benefits you can realize from working with a CFP® include:
- Accountability and follow-through. It can be easy to talk yourself into (or out of) making certain financial moves. By partnering with a financial professional, you can help ensure that the actions you take will fit in with your overall financial plan.
- Ongoing tweaking and review. Circumstances can change, and your plans may change with them. A financial professional will help you reevaluate at regular intervals and make any changes that may be necessary.
Most Certified Financial Planners offer a wide array of services, which means that you can use your professional for as little (or as much) as you'd like, depending on your needs at the time. Even if you initially seek out a financial professional for a simple retirement plan or for advice on rebalancing your investments, you may later wish to add tax preparation services or college planning to the list.
How to Prepare for Your First Meeting
Before your first meeting, your financial professional will ask you to complete a written questionnaire, often online. This ensures that the professional has a full picture of your finances before meeting with you for the first time. The questionnaire will ask questions about your current assets and sources of income, as well as expected future assets (like a pension, Social Security, trust income, or an inheritance). It will also ask about your debts, your risk tolerance, and how much you know about various financial principles.
The CFP®will then meet with you online, over the phone, or in person. This will allow them to supplement your answers on the questionnaire with their own impressions and recommendations. It will also allow for a more in-depth conversation on your goals.
After this meeting, the financial professional will synthesize their notes and your questionnaire answers to create a comprehensive financial plan. This plan will summarize where you are now, analyze what you'll need to do to work towards the goals you've articulated, and set out your next steps. This plan need not be set in stone, and if you have any questions or concerns, your financial professional can work with you to address them and update the plan accordingly.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial professional prior to investing. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.
The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax planning or legal advice. We suggest that you consult with a qualified tax or legal advisor.