You might wonder where to start, what documents you need to bring to your meeting, and what steps are required for you to have a successful financial plan. While we have covered many financial planning topics in previous posts, including Planning Your Estate and Starting a Retirement Plan, we wanted to take this opportunity to discuss preliminary steps you can take before you meet with your wealth manager, to prepare for your meeting, get the most out of it, and feel confident in making a financial strategy together that meets your goals and needs.
Define Your Goals
First, you need to determine what your saving and investment goals are, whether it is buying a home, saving for your children’s college education, building a nest egg for retirement, or planning your estate. Once you determine your goals, your advisor will help you develop a plan and select the products to get there.
Setting goals is key to financial success. In fact, one study found that students who set written financial goals earned ten times the amount as students who did not, ten years down the line. This is because setting goals does not only help you select the best tools to achieve them, but it also helps to provide you the motivation needed to get there, even if it means making some sacrifices along the way.
Compile Your Income & Expenses
Once you have picked your investment and savings goals, you may already know exactly how much you want to save for each of them. However, your financial advisor will work with you to make sure your goals are realistic and achievable. Key information they will need is how much you are feasibly able to save each month, after you meet your other financial obligations. Make sure to have documentation of all forms of regular income, as well as your expenses, including:
- Housing and utility costs
- Other loan and credit card payments
- Allocations for general living expenses
- Healthcare expenses
- Childcare costs
While jotting down your budget is useful, backing it up with documentation, including bank and credit card statements, is especially helpful—so be sure to bring these things to your meeting to go over them together..
List Your Assets & Liabilities
In addition to knowing your monthly budget, creating a thorough list of your assets will give your financial planner a clearer picture of how close you are to reaching your financial goals, as well as what you can reasonably set aside to meet them, without putting yourself into financial jeopardy.
Your assets may include:
- Retirement Plans: 401(k)s, IRAs, Pensions
- Bank Account Balances
- Mutual Funds, Stocks, and Bonds
- Annuities and other investments
While some possible liabilities are:
- Home loans
- Car loans
- Student loans
- Consumer and credit card debt
Once you have compiled an accurate list of your assets and liabilities, be sure to bring them to your meeting with your wealth manager to create a realistic plan. It’s helpful to bring the appropriate documentation, including statements and account numbers, as well.
Create a List of Questions for Your Financial Advisor
Because you are trusting your financial planner to help you develop a plan to reach your goals and objectives, it's fair to ask them any questions about the planning process, as well as concerns you may have. It’s important to find a financial planner that you are comfortable with and is a good match for your needs..
Some common questions that you can ask to help you as you get to know possible advisors include:
- How do you best help your clients?
- How often do you re-evaluate goals and strategies?
- What are your primary investment strategies?
- How do you handle the ups and downs of the market?
Ask yourself: How much risk are you willing to take on?
Everyone has a different capacity for risk (how much you can afford to lose in an investment and still maintain financial stability), as well as a personal tolerance for risk (how comfortable you are with making investments that might suffer from losses). Both your capacity and tolerance for risk will likely change based on your age, especially if your primary investment goal is your retirement, and you’ll be dependent on your retirement investments in the near future as income. Your financial advisor will be able to work with you to determine the best ways to balance market risks based on your needs, so be sure to talk to them about your concerns.
Consider: What Does Success Look Like for You?
Our mission is to make you happy and help you meet your personal and investment goals. But because returns may be difficult to predict, and results take time, you should think about what is important for you in both the near-term and long-term. Is success simply creating a plan that is easy to stick to in the long run? Is it to build wealth or leave something to pass onto the next generation? Is there a specific dollar value (for instance, a goal for retirement income) that you need to make strides toward? Letting your financial planner know your expectations up front can help them create a plan that works for you and even keep you engaged and confident in your strategy—perhaps the most important thing for its actual success.
Find the Right Financial Advisory for You at Peoples Bank Wealth Management Group
Because a financial planner will handle so many critical aspects of your financial future, it’s important to have a good relationship with yours. At Peoples Bank Wealth Management Group, our team of experienced financial advisors can work with you to create a cohesive investment strategy and wealth management plan that takes into consideration your complete financial picture, including all your needs and goals for today, and the years to come.
We’ve proudly served generations of clients in our region, and continue to provide valuable advice and financial planning tools to our customers. Whether you’re creating an estate plan, managing your investments, or planning for retirement, our Investment Services and Wealth Management team can help you get there. Call us today at (712) 722-0100 or stop into one of our Wealth Management Locations to make an appointment and get started today!