by Kellie Cowie
Meeting with a professional to discuss all your deepest darkest financial secrets and facing them head-on can be a little daunting. In saying that, it is important to remember that Advisers do what they do, because they love to help people, like you, set financial targets and ensure their finances are working to achieve their goals, whilst navigating the complex world of taxation, superannuation, investments and insurance on your behalf.
Armed with the right information, a Financial Adviser can work with you to aid long-term wealth creation and help you to plan for your future whilst taking into consideration your individual circumstances.
To get to that point, Advisers need to know everything about your current finances. Not giving them all the information is like going to a Doctor and asking them to treat you without knowing any of your medical history, your allergies or your existing medication. All the information you give them sets the scene and ensures they have a clear understanding of who you are and where you want to be financially, such as when you want to retire, how much money you want to retire with and what assets you want to own along the way.
At your first meeting, be sure to take any personal or financial documentation that will provide insight into your current financial position, as this will ensure the meeting is as productive and accurate as possible. This is the meeting where you and your Adviser get to know more about each other. So you need to tell them where you currently are and where you are trying to get to and they will explain to you what they can do for you to help you get there. The meeting will be recorded in some way, perhaps via written notes or perhaps even a audio or video recording (depending on how technologically advanced the Adviser is!) because unfortunately they can’t remember everything when they walk out that meeting room door and they do want to make sure they get it all right for you, which is a good thing!
Yes, they will ask you some personal questions but it all sets the picture and helps the Adviser to understand all the pieces to your financial puzzle. By leaving something out (because you weren’t prepared for your meeting or you were too embarrassed to tell them), you run the risk of not giving them the whole picture and in turn the advice they give you may not be suitable or appropriate to you and your situation, which would be devastating for everyone.
What to bring to the first meeting?
I am sure the adviser will give you some direction prior to your meeting, however in addition to some identification (Drivers License or Passport, ideally) it is easiest to think of your finances in 4 categories:
Income: What sources do you receive money and income from? Bring evidence (like income statements and payslips/employment contract) showing the amounts you receive. Bring your latest tax return too, as this will contain valuable information for your Adviser.
Expenses: What do you spend your money on? Ideally you will have some sort of basic budget planner filled in, which you can bring along to your meeting, showing all your bills, financial commitments and household/personal outgoings. If you don’t already have a rough budget, it is a very worthwhile exercise to do and will ensure you don’t miss any of your expenses. A simple budget planner can be downloaded from the Australian Government’s ‘MoneySmart’ website here.
Assets (what you own): What are the possessions you own and what are their current value? This might include things like properties, furniture, vehicles, savings accounts, life insurance policies, shares and other investments. The big item that everyone forgets in this category is your SUPERANNUATION so bring your latest statements (because it’s really important your adviser sees how many super funds you have, how they are invested, any fees you are paying and if there is any insurance).
Liabilities (what you owe): What do you currently owe? This category includes all loans, mortgages, credit card balances and any other debt you have.
We suggest you meet with a few Financial Advisers, before you make a decision about which one to proceed with. Be open and honest that you are meeting with a few and don’t be shy to ask questions such as what they can do for you, what their experience is and how they get paid. At the end of the day, it is your hard earned money so you need to be comfortable and confident with who is supporting and guiding you (and your finances).
Although every adviser is different and will ask slightly different questions, what we can guarantee, is that you will be asked a lot of questions during that first meeting and in a good meeting, you will have done a lot of the talking! When you decide on which adviser to proceed with, you will receive a personalised plan (called a ‘Statement of Advice’), which is a step-by-step plan which the adviser helps you to execute, specifically to help you reach your goals.