What Information Will I Have to Have if I See a Financial Advisor?

When you meet with a financial advisor, you should be prepared ahead of time with as much financial information as possible. From your record of assets versus liabilities to insurance information, advisors need to see it all in order to serve you the best they can. When you have a meeting upcoming with a personal finance professional, therefore, it is important for you to come up with a basic list of your financials for easy access and review. Your all important first meeting with an advisor is critical for gathering information and for learning about your goals as a consumer in the marketplace. He or she cannot do an effective job coming up with goals and strategies to reach for on your behalf unless there is some available tangible basis to draw upon.

Bring Taxes and Bank Statements

Copies of tax returns and bank statements for any and all accounts you want considered as part of the formulation of your overall strategy need to be included in this package of materials. Your tax returns will show a financial advisor much more than just the tax bracket you ended up in last year and what your adjusted gross income worked out to be. All of your claimants will be listed as well as any special tax breaks you qualified for that could be included in an overall strategy going forward. If your income is fairly predictable and consistent, a tax return has the added benefit of giving the two of you something to base a prediction on for the current tax year. Those who receive substantial refunds are often encouraged to reinvest the proceeds of their refund checks into their retirements or other investment funds.

In much the same way, bank statements give more insight than merely indicating the account balance at the time of the meeting. They will show a pattern of deposits and withdrawals that can lead the advisor to ask pertinent questions about your saving and spending habits. If savings in addition to investments are a big part of your overall goal as a client, you need this critical piece of information because in the financial realm, we are essentially creatures of habit. The things we did yesterday are likely to be continued into tomorrow unless we do something to change them. This included bad as well as good habits.

Retirement Accounts and Mortgage Information

Any existing retirement accounts and information on your home mortgage are also very important. Your advisor will need to examine your existing accounts to establish a baseline and to use as a basis for goal setting going forward. The two of you may also decide to divert funds from your existing retirement accounts into some new investments. But any decision to do so will have to be done with caution, given possible tax consequences that can follow early withdrawal in some funds.

Mortgage information lets the financial advisor know exactly how much you are spending every month on what is likely your biggest bill. In addition, your history of on time or late payments may be considered, as well as the rate you are paying and the nature of the loan, whether it is of the fixed or variable rate variety. Recommendations might be made on getting a loan modification to buy you some room to breathe financially.

Other Information Your Advisor Needs

Other information your advisor will need to see includes a list of your basic living expenses, all insurance plans, any credit card balances, and other financial obligations.

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