Hiring a financial planning professional is a smart decision. A professional may help you put together a solid financial plan, and explain what options and opportunities are available to you. But before you head to an appointment you need to be prepared. Here are some steps to keep in mind.
Write Down Your Financial Goals
It’s a good idea to write down your financial goals and prioritize them. This will give your financial planner an idea of what you’d like to achieve. To determine your goals, ask yourself:
- When do you want to retire?
- Where do you want to live when you retire?
- What do you want to do when you retirement?
- Do you have loans or debt to pay off?
- Do you have an emergency fund?
- Do you need to save for a down payment on a home?
- Do you need to set aside money for your children?
Gather Important Documents
When you go to the meeting, you should be prepared to show some documents, so a professional may better understand your current financial situation. If you have a significant other in your life, it’s a good idea to have him or her come with you. Documents to bring include:
- Monthly expenses (credit cards, mortgage or rent, loans)
- Compensation details (pay stubs, pensions, employer benefits statements, Social Security, inheritance)
- Insurance policies
- Estate planning information (trust, will, life insurance)
- Tax returns for the past two or three years
- Latest account statements (IRAs, 401(k)s, 529s, savings)
- Information about other investments or assets (e.g., stocks, real estate)
Write down any financial questions you might have and bring them with you. Don’t be afraid to ask anything. The financial planner is working for you and should be able to give you clear answers. Some questions might include:
- What is my current financial situation?
- Am I on track with my retirement savings?
- Can I adjust my plans to retire if something in my life changes?
- Is there anything missing from my financial plan?
- When should I change my financial strategy?
- How will my investments affect my taxes?
- Is my portfolio diversified enough to meet my financial goals?
- When should I review my beneficiary information?