Your first meeting with a financial advisor 

3 mins readLast updated March 19, 2024by Rachel Carey

Maximize your first meeting with a financial advisor by knowing the right questions to ask. This quick guide helps you prepare, ensuring a productive discussion for your financial future.

How to prepare for your first meeting?

So, why is it important to meet with your advisor? There are several reasons for doing this. Most importantly, you want to find out:

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  • What can this financial advisor do for me?

  • Is this advisor suitably qualified?

  • How can these services help me to achieve my goals?

  • What will be the cost of any advice I receive?

  • What value or other benefits can I expect from this advice?

  • Is this financial advisor the best fit for me?

  • Do I want to proceed with financial advice now?

By doing a little preparation for your meeting and knowing the list of questions to ask, you can make informed decisions about your next steps.

What questions to ask in your first call?

Ahead of your first meeting, your first contact with your financial advisor will probably be on the phone. This is a good opportunity to clarify some details so that neither of you wastes your time. 

Before you do anything else, ask your advisor to tell you the name of their firm, and check that it’s the one named in the email you’ve received from Unbiased. This ensures it’s not a cold caller and is the SEC-regulated firm that Unbiased has found for you. 

Once you’ve confirmed the advisor’s identity, give a quick recap of your reasons for wanting to speak to them. The advisor will then tell you whether or not they can help, and you can arrange a mutually convenient time to meet. Some advisors will hold these first meetings at their office, whereas others prefer to use video technology such as Zoom and Teams. 

Here are some other questions to ask during your phone call: 

  • What services do you offer? - This is one of the most important questions to ask. While most financial advisors offer similar services, some may specialize in certain areas, such as wealth management or retirement planning. Your advisor should be candid about their services and say whether they can help you meet your specific goal. 

  • ‘What qualifications do you have?’ – There are many different types of financial advisors, from investment advice to asset management. You should make sure that your advisor is suitably qualified in the relevant advice area(s). Make a note of any qualifications they mention, and do some research so you know what areas they cover and what the qualification means. If you are seeking a specialist in a particular field, you’ll be looking for an advisor with a high-level qualification in that area. 

  • ‘What should I bring to our first meeting?’ – You will want to have any necessary paperwork to hand for your meeting. This should include documents about any savings, investments, insurance policies, retirement plans, and your mortgage if you have one. Make sure to ask your advisor if they need to see anything else. Your advisor may suggest that you complete a ‘fact find’ – a short document outlining your financial circumstances – either in advance of the meeting or during it. 

What are the top tips for your first meeting?

A few days before your meeting, set aside fifteen minutes or so to think about what you want to achieve from it. You might have a clear-cut question in mind, such as ‘I want to start accessing my retirement fund’, or it might be more general, such as ‘I want to optimize my family’s finances in the years ahead’. This way, when you go into your meeting you’ll have a set goal in mind. 

Your conversation may range over several different topics, over and above your main inquiry. This is because your advisor will want a clear overall picture of your circumstances, lifestyle, responsibilities, goals, and future plans, in addition to financial information. Good financial advice needs to consider your situation as a whole, so be patient with this process. You may even discover that your original goal is not in fact the best course of action, and may end up making alternative plans with your advisor’s input. 

Here are some more general guidelines for a successful advisor meeting. 

  1. If you’re in a couple, see your advisor together: It’s highly recommended for both partners to be present for any discussion with an advisor, regardless of whether one of you is more financially minded. The advisor will need to hear from both of you to form an accurate picture of your goals together. 

  2. Ask as many questions as you can think of: When it comes to finances, there are no silly questions. What’s more, things you have always assumed to be true might be false. Don’t pass up the opportunity of having an expert on hand – take nothing for granted. 

  3. Check that you’ve understood: When your advisor explains something to you, make sure you’ve followed exactly what they mean. For example, repeat the explanation back to them in your own words, so they can tell you if you’ve misinterpreted anything. 

  4. Request examples: If you’re talking about a particular area of advice (such as your retirement plan), ask your advisor if they have any case studies or examples you can look at, to see how the process works in practice. 

  5. Have a conversation about risk: It’s important to know what advisors mean by ‘risk’, and to understand your own tolerance to risk. All financial products and transactions involved some element of risk, so a key aspect of advice is finding the products that suit your risk profile. 

  6. Make sure they explain benefits and/or drawbacks: Obviously, you want to know what you stand to gain if you choose to take advice. Have your advisor explain clearly and simply what services they will perform for you, and how you can expect to benefit in the short, medium, and long term – whether through investment returns, improved security, peace of mind, or something else. 

What to bring to your first meeting?

Preparing for your first meeting with a financial advisor is key to a successful partnership. Here’s a concise checklist of what to bring to ensure a productive discussion:

  • Financial Goals and Objectives: Clearly define what you aim to achieve, both in the short term and long term. This helps set the direction of your financial planning.

  • Bank and Investment Statements: Recent statements provide a snapshot of your current financial status, including savings, investments, and retirement accounts.

  • Loan and Debt Information: Understanding your liabilities, such as mortgage, personal loans, and credit card debt, is crucial for a comprehensive financial plan.

  • Personal Identification: A valid ID is often required for verification purposes.

  • Insurance Policies: Details of life, health, and property insurance contribute to evaluating your risk management strategy.

  • Recent Tax Returns: These offer insight into your earnings and tax obligations, impacting financial strategy.

  • Budget Outline: A current overview of your income versus expenses helps in assessing your saving and spending habits.

Note: Organizing these documents beforehand can streamline the process, allowing your advisor to offer personalized advice more efficiently.

Agreeing fees for financial advice

Before you decide to proceed to financial advice, your advisor will be able to tell you their fees. Bear in mind, the whole point of financial advice is that it should make more money for you in the long run than the initial cost. Consider the fees alongside the benefits that the advisor has explained to you, and ask the advisor to justify them if necessary. 

The cost of financial advice can vary depending on the type you choose – there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Generally, there are three types of financial advisor fees: hourly fees, asset percentage, and fixed fees. However, advice fees and scenarios can vary considerably, so always ask for a firm quote.  

Ultimately, your financial advisor should add value to your finances and how you approach them – helping you look after your money and meet your financial goals.  

Frequently asked questions

Senior Content Writer

Rachel Carey

Rachel is a Senior Content Writer at Unbiased. She has nearly a decade of experience writing and producing content across a range of different sectors.

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