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Reduce Your Fear with a Simple Checklist: What to Discuss with Your Financial Advisor

This week we continue to explore investing fears. For some, they know that they need a financial advisor, but they feel intimidated when thinking about meeting one. That could be because they have no idea what to ask during the meeting. While the financial advisor will guide the conversation, you want to make sure they address your questions and concerns. Here's a checklist for the first meeting and subsequent meetings.

Related post: Investing Doesn't Have to be Scary: Selecting a Financial Advisor to Be Your Guide

First Meeting: Financial Advisor Checklist

  1. Why did you become a financial advisor?
  2. How long have you been a financial advisor?
  3. What credentials do you hold?
  4. What types of clients do you typically work with?
  5. What services do you offer?
  6. How are you compensated?
  7. Are you held to a fiduciary standard?
  8. What is your investment philosophy?
  9. How do you typically communicate with your clients?
  10. Will I have a written financial plan? How frequently will it be reviewed?

Annual Review

Once you have selected the right advisor, it's important that you meet at least once per year. It does not need to be an in-person meeting. However, you must let your advisor know about any significant life changes so she can recommend any relevant adjustments to your strategy.

To prepare for your annual review, think back over the last year. Have you had any significant life changes that could impact your plan? Do you need to update your beneficiaries on your accounts? If so, have that information available at your appointment.

Do you have other accounts that your financial advisor does not manage? Bring your statements so your advisor can make sure your overall portfolio is aligned with your goals.

Make a list of any specific questions you want to ask and have the list available when you talk to your advisor.

Annual Review: Financial Advisor Checklist

  1. Share any significant changes in your life with your financial advisor (e.g., job changes, the birth of a child, marriage, divorce, etc.)
  2. Update any personal information such as address, phone or email
  3. Review and update (if necessary) beneficiary information
  4. How did my investments perform relative to plan?
  5. How did my portfolio perform relative to the overall market?
  6. Do we need to make any changes to my investment strategy?
  7. Is there anything missing from my financial plan?
  8. Do you recommend any changes to my current contributions?
  9. What adjustments have you made to my portfolio over the last year?
  10. What recommendations do you have for my portfolio going forward?

Over time, as you meet with your financial advisor regularly, you will naturally feel more comfortable. If you don't, that's a red flag that you're not working with the right person.

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Other related posts in our series about facing your investment fears: