What to Discuss When you Meet with an Advisor

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It’s been just over a month since I joined the group at Szarka Financial. And, I am glad that I made the move. One of the things that attracted me to the firm was their emphasis on education. Having come from a healthcare background in medical device sales, prior to being an advisor, I know the importance of educating my clients so that we can partner together on reaching their goals. Meeting with a financial advisor can be a key factor in aiding the overall management of your finances and investments. What is expected in that first meeting? What are some of the key topics that will be discussed?
 
Not unlike when you visit a doctor’s office and they ask you about every disease possible, in order to rule out any issues before making a diagnosis or prescribing medications, the more you can tell your advisor regarding your overall financial “health”, the better they will be able to help you.
 
 
Here are some of the topics and associated questions that you will encounter during that first meeting. Gaining a better understanding of a person’s situation provides a solid foundation upon which a comprehensive financial plan can be built:
 
 
Spending
The first step is no fun, but necessary. You need to know what you spend each month. Don’t estimate it, figure it out. This will determine many things in your financial plan. How can someone know they are saving enough, ready to retire, or building wealth if they don’t know what they spend? No matter how much money you make or have, spending will determine if it’s enough.
 
What’s Left Over (Also Known as Discretionary Income)
Look at your monthly pay stub and see what you receive after taxes, and other deductions. For salespeople, it’s best to figure out the average since it fluctuates. Now, subtract what you spend in a month and see what is left over. This is your discretionary income and where your investment dollars would come from in the future.
 
Risk Profile
Do you panic easily when the markets start to get more volatile or do you stay cool as a cucumber, knowing you are in for the long haul? Do you like to be more conservative or more aggressive? Everyone has a different level of comfort when it comes to investing. It’s important to understand what your tolerance for risk really is.
 
Life, Disability, & Long Term Care Insurance Policies
Do you have any? Is it enough? If you have a family now, you can’t take this for granted.
 
Pay Stub
It will show you what deductions are coming out and how much is coming in.
 
Designation of Beneficiaries, Trust and/or Will Documents
Do you have them? Nothing good happens if you pass away without a Will or without keeping your beneficiary designation forms up-to-date.
 
Emergency Fund
Do you have enough cash available in case of an emergency? What if you lost your job for six months? What if you were disabled and could not work? Would you be able to cover your fixed expenses?
 
401(k) Plan
Do you receive a match on your 401(k) and how does it work? Most people think this is the only, and best place, to invest for savings. It can be, but only if it is done right, which is not always obvious or easy to determine.
 
Mortgage and/or Loans
What do you owe on your house? What is the interest rate you are paying? Do you have any other debt? There are a lot of questions and things to think about here. Remember, that working on creating financial goals supported by a strong plan is a process. To be successful, it will take an understanding of where you are today, where you want to be financially (your plan) and how to get there, and most importantly, the discipline to execute.
 
 
Sounds like a job, right? It is a job.
 
 
Think about it, you are basically running your own corporation whether you like it or not. You have income, expenses, cash flow, assets, and liabilities, just like any corporation. And once you retire, it will be even more important how you manage your corporation, because for most of us our income will be fixed. As financial advisors we take our role very seriously in assisting you set up and supervise your corporation. We look forward to the opportunity to helping you run it!