BOSTON (CBS) – Question: We are interested in learning more about financial planners. Is there a list of questions that financial planners use when meeting with clients to guide them in the right direction? My thought behind this is that if we had the questions ahead of time we could be much more prepared when the actual meeting takes place. Again, any information you could provide would be wonderful.
Answer: Often the first meeting with a financial planner is an exploratory meeting for both of you. Are you the right fit for their practice and for you will this planner address your needs? Consider it a first date.
The second date you will learn more about each other. I have a list of questions for you to ask the planner and some suggestions on how to be better prepared. This list comes from the FPA, the Financial Planning Association. An organization for financial planners.
There are a number of documents you’ll need once you engage a financial planner; a comprehensive list may be customized by your planner for your specific needs. Be prepared to answer questions regarding your age, current income, hobbies, goals, philosophy on money, etc. The planner should know more about you than your mother-in-law.
Figure out your net worth and do a cash flow. And bring supporting documents:
- Credit Card Balances
- Mortgage or Loan Payment Books
- Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Health Care Proxy
- Business Agreements
- Titles for Homes, Cars, Real Estate, etc.
- Retirement Account Statements
- Social Security Statements
- Pension Benefit Statement and Booklet
- Investment Statements
- Listing of Available Investment Options in Investment and Retirement Accounts
- Stock Options
- Homeowner and Automobile Declaration Pages
- Life, Disability or Long-term Care Insurance Polices
- Business Liability, Director and Officer Insurance Policies
- Tax Return
The questions to ask a planner come from NAPFA, The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. This is an organization of fee-only planners. Here is a sampling:
- How long have you been offering financial planning services?
- What is your educational background?
- Will you provide me with references from other professionals?
- Will you or an associate work with me?
- Do you have an agreement describing your compensation and services that will be provided in advance of the engagement?
- Do you have a minimum fee?
- If you earn commissions, where do they come from?