Getting Help Without Getting Taken

Financial Planners: The Consultation, What to Bring and What to Ask

Posted on Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What to Bring;
• Gather and organize your financial information.
• A list of your current assets and liabilities
• Current statements for investment accounts you have
• Tax returns for the last couple of years
• Your check register or a report showing typical income and expenses flowing through your checking account.

What to Ask;
• How many clients beat their benchmarks or are in line with their goals?
• How have clients similar to me fared during recessions?
• Can you combine all of your clients into a single portfolio and tell me how the overall portfolio did?
• 'Take your worst investment and evaluate how you made the investment, monitored it and the decisions you made along the way to stick with it or get out,'
• Can you spell out what you think I am trying to achieve and what you think I should do to get there, including investment strategies, specific benchmarks and suggested financial products.
• What type of clients and financial situations do you typically like to work with. Some planners prefer to develop one plan by bringing together all of your financial goals. Others provide advice on specific areas, as needed.
• Will you carry out the financial recommendations developed for me or refer me to others who will do so. You may want to meet everyone who will be working with you. If the planner works with professionals outside his own practice (such as attorneys, insurance agents or tax specialists) to develop or carry out financial planning recommendations, get a list of their names to check on their backgrounds.
• Are you going to take on fiduciary responsibility, in which you are legally bound to act in my best interest. If advisers don't take this oath, they're only required to sell you products that are deemed suitable for you -- and those may not always be the best fit for your financial situation or objectives.

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