If you Google “questions to ask a financial advisor,” you’ll find a plethora of articles out there listing out dozens of things to ask your new financial professional. There are so many that we’ve randomly pulled three and put them here, here and here. Even if you don’t read further, at least you have that. This strategy also works for accountants, and probably for your plumber or electrician. And while we haven’t tried, it might also work for your proctologist.
All jokes aside, we often have people come into our office who have printed out one of these lists, and while all of them are valid, I have found over the years that most people who lead the conversation with one of these lists do so because they have no idea how to interact with another human being on financial topics. I understand this 100 percent. I am just as uncomfortable under the hood of a car, or in the crafts section at Michaels. For some of you, these may be where you’re a fish in water, but I wouldn’t know the first thing to ask. Or how to respond to a question, other than to say, “Is the key in the ignition?” You get the point.
At Family Financial Partners, we like to think of our client families as giant puzzles. We’ll help you determine what to bring with you, and that first meeting is when you come and dump all the pieces on the table. This allows us to start sifting through them, and asking questions to determine where you’ve been in your financial life, where you are today, and where you’d like to go. We need to find out what makes you tick. We intentionally take the time to look through your puzzle pieces to give you a glimpse of what it’s like to work with our team.
So far, I’ve really been talking to those of you who don’t necessarily self-identify as a “financial type.” Now, let’s talk to those of you for whom meeting with a financial planning team might be the highlight of your week. You know who you are. I’m not just talking about the person who comes in with a detailed spreadsheet. I’m talking to you, Mr. Keeps-a-spreadsheet-of-his-spreadsheets Guy.
We’re excited to meet you, and we’re super excited to meet your spreadsheet! That said, we’re still going to ask you to provide copies of all of your documents. Why? Well, occasionally, people have come in and misrepresented themselves to us. Our industry stipulates that acting in your best interest is truly knowing your clients, and that does require us to go over documents with a fine-tooth comb. At the end of our first meeting, we should have a feeling for whether it’s a good mutual fit, and whether we like each other. Second, ask yourself if you feel like you’ve been heard. Then, we’ll follow-up after the meeting with a timeline of anything and everything that needs to be done. Ask yourself if this method is something you can appreciate. The reason this is important to us is that many people come to a financial planner, wanting us to wave a wand and say, “Poof your problems are solved!” rather than wanting to do their homework. Are you willing to engage?
At Family Financial Partners, first meetings are always complimentary. So please, give us a call. Whether you have a detailed spreadsheet or you don’t know your bank account login, we’ve got a great team that looks forward to meeting your needs, even if that involves time on hold.
Article by David Smyth, Senior Partner at Family Financial Partners — a financial services firm in Lexington, Kentucky.
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