Whenever I first talk to somebody that is interested in utilizing my services, I often get recurring questions into how the whole process works.
Some of the most common questions are,
“How much is this going to cost?” or “What can you do for me?”
For those that have never sat down with a financial planner before, I wanted to share an example of how a first meeting might go.
First Financial Planning Meeting
First and foremost, I do not charge anything to meet with somebody for the first time. The first meeting is solely an interview for both parties. I’m interviewing you to see if you are a right candidate for my financial planning process. You are also interviewing me to see if I’m the right man for the job. A casual sit down face to face meeting will help both of us answer this question.
Information To Bring
Typically, I will talk to the potential client and instruct them on the type of materials that they would need to get together for our first meeting. This would include:
- brokerage statements
- bank statements
- retirement plan information (401k, 403b, TSP, IRA’s or pension info)
- insurance information (Health, Life, Disability, Long Term Care)
- social security benefit information
- latest paycheck stub
- will or trust documents, etc.
It never hurts to have too much information. If feasible, I like to meet in my office, but a house visit is nothing out of the ordinary. Actually, sometimes it’s nice to go to the home so that all the paperwork is already there and easily pulled from a file if it was initially forgotten.
The first part of the meeting is getting to know each other. Kind of like an informal interview process to see if there is anything that I can bring to the table to better their situation. It also works the other way in that they are interviewing me to make sure that I am the right guy to help out with their investments. Hopefully, I make a good impression. :)
One of my best qualities is that I’m a naturally curious person. I always like to find out what’s “their story”. Where did they come from? Where have they worked? What do they do for fun? What’s the best place they ever visited? What was their first job? It’s always interesting to find out what got that person to where they are today.
Down To Business
Then we’ll discuss their investment situation. What’s working for them now? Any investments that didn’t work out in the past? What do they like or dislike about their current situation? Have they ever worked with a financial planner in the past? This will ultimately lead into a discussion of what they need their investments to do for them: Fund their retirement goals. Buy a vacation home. Pay for their daughter’s college, etc.
Crunching The Numbers
I will then take their investment information and head back to the office where I will input it into a tool to where I can analyze their portfolio to make sure they are maximizing their full potential. Often times, people are not diversified enough or some of their current investments are lacking in performance. We will then schedule a second meeting to go over my recommendations to see where we might be able make some adjustments to put them in a better situation.
Overall, the first meeting is the most fun because I enjoy to meet new people. I could listen for hours of people telling me all their life experiences. That’s what makes starting the financial planning process such unique and enjoyable experience.