Good preparation is key to getting the most out of anything – sport, exams, job interviews, holidays. It makes good sense. So, before you head along to your first meeting with a financial adviser, it’s important to be prepared – with the tangible things like documents and details, but also the less tangible things like your life goals and expectations.
First, you need to feel good about the adviser you’ve chosen. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) provides a free Financial Advisers Register where you can find out where a financial adviser has worked, their qualifications, training, and memberships of professional bodies (e.g. the Association of Financial Advisers).
Many advisers offer an initial free meeting to prospective clients. Why not meet with two or three specialists to compare their approach and your comfort level with each of them? Don’t be shy: ask them about their experience, qualifications, what types of advice they can provide, how they’re remunerated and what products they can advise on.
The first meeting will likely be a high-level look at your financial and life situation. So before you go, have a clear view of all of your assets and liabilities. That way, your financial adviser can identify key wealth-building areas and attack other areas that are dragging down your finances.
Prepare for your meeting by making a list of:
The more information you bring, the better the outcome of that first meeting.
Now you’ve chosen your financial adviser and have a clear picture of your financial situation, it’s time to think about what you want to get out of the meeting.
What’s the goal of working with your financial adviser? Do you want to pay off your mortgage sooner? Build wealth? Or make the most of your inheritance?
It’s important to know the areas of your financial situation you would like advice or clarification on. This could be questions related to understanding products and vehicles in which to invest your money, or about the rules around you accessing Centrelink benefits or tax minimisation.
Think of your first meeting as a “get to know you”, so don’t expect to have a whole new financial strategy by the end of it. This is just the beginning. As your adviser begins to understand your goals, lifestyle and needs, they’ll be able to make recommendations to help you get the most out of your finances.