Not all investment firms work in the same way, but it’s helpful to have some ideas about what you’ll experience when you meet with your financial adviser. The first step, of course, is to find an adviser with whom you’d like to work. Amongst other resources, sites like CrunchBase compile publicly available information about investing firms, such as this example for Fisher Investments. Once you’ve done the research and are ready to start with an adviser, it’s important to know what to expect.
During your first meeting with the new financial adviser, you’ll discuss your current financial situation and your life goals. You’ll talk about your current salary, and any retirement accounts you have. If you’re married, you’ll discuss how the two of you have set up your finances (together, separate, etc) and if you have children, you’ll discuss any savings accounts that you already have for them or that you hope to create.
Before this first meeting, you should do your homework. Your meeting will be far more productive if you come to it prepared. But what does that mean? What should you bring with you? Before your first meeting, you should consider your life goals. When do you hope to retire? How do you plan to pay for your children’s college education? What do you hope to do in retirement? Obviously, you don’t have to have everything figured out; but the clearer you can be about these goals, the easier it will be to plan with your advisor.
Materials that you should bring to your first meeting include: your mortgage statement, all debt statements, pay stubs for you and your spouse, your most recent tax return, your monthly budget, and any 401(k) or other investment statements. You can ask your adviser before your first meeting if there are other things that he or she would like for you to bring. Keep in mind, of course, that you will be starting a relationship. If there are things that you don’t bring to the first meeting, you’ll always have the opportunity to do so at future meetings, or to send materials through email and other avenues.
Based on the goals and materials that you share with the financial adviser, they will then help you to develop strategies which will include a monthly savings plan and how to spread out your investments. Expect some give and take from these meetings as you discuss and refine your goals, needs and targets. Once you’re gotten started, it’s always a good idea to return to your financial adviser once a year for a check-in and to discuss anything that might have changed.