Meeting a financial planner can be a daunting idea if you are not properly prepared. There are lots of misconceptions out there and certain insecurities that a person or couple will have about their finances, and this can get in the way of a successful first meeting. If you have an initial meeting coming up with a financial planner, here are six questions you can ask to set you on the right path.
1. What is your financial experience?
Each registered financial planner will have similar qualifications, but there will be specialties and areas of interest for financial planners. During your first session, ask your financial planner about their past experience and the types of clients they have served in the past. This might be a great segway into understanding what sort of financial planning products are available, and what is possible for you and your finances. If your planner says that they have previously worked with small business owners and other clients that do not reflect you and your needs, you may wish to take another look around and find a more suitable financial advisor.
2. How can I create financial goals?
It can be hard to define financial success when so many of us have different lifestyles and financial circumstances. A financial planner will assist you in designing financial goals based on the discussions you have. If you are aware of what your financial goals already are but do not have the strategies to get there, then you are going to get some clarity. A financial planner is going to prompt you in asking those value-defining questions that allow you to decode your values – rather than just inheriting values that you think you should have.
An example of some financial goals would be:
- Putting aside $500/month toward private school education fees
- Creating a ‘fun account’ for holidays and recreational activities
- Consolidating debt, and putting a set amount towards that debt each month
3. How much is this advice going to cost me?
You cannot put a price on good financial advice, however, you want to be choosing a financial planner that you can afford. Typically you will be aware of the cost of the financial planner prior to your first appointment, but the price might vary depending on the financial planning services they are extending. If you are only going to see your financial planner annually, then you may be able to quantify larger prices, as opposed to many appointments throughout the year.
4. Is my spending in line with my earnings?
This is the million-dollar question and one that is going to determine the entire success of your financial standing. A financial planner will look into your bank accounts to see what kind of activity is normal and can assess what your spendings equate to. This will be some good advice to hear from a planner, as they will tell you what areas need to be sharpened up and if there are other areas you can afford to spend more.
Finding a reputable spending plan to plug your account details into will give you a great line of sight over where your spending is going. The financial planner can provide one to you, or you can find one from some financial influencers that you trust and explore their spending plan templates.
5. What should I include in my retirement plan?
You can never be too young to plan your retirement, especially when we see so much change and volatility in our current financial landscape. A professional financial planner will set you on a course with benchmarks to hit depending on whether you are single, part of a family or a couple. This retirement plan will also incorporate your family structure, existing savings and even your career prospects. Your financial planner will also want to have information about your superannuation and other long-term investment details.
6. Is there any way I can be smarter with my taxes?
Taxes are something that every single person has to contend with, but that’s not to say that there is only one way to assess and lodge your taxes. A financial planner will help you in giving your taxes a deep dive and find all those bits and pieces that you spend through the year that can be claimed as tax. When you have a financial planner taking a holistic look at your financials, you will be in a better position to make smart and strategic decisions.
We hope these six questions will get you thinking smarter about your finances and more prepared to take on the future. Remember, this appointment is all about you and you want to walk away with confidence in that financial practitioner and no questions or stones unturned.