You’ve decided that this year you’re going to meet with a financial adviser.
This is where you finally get rid of that nagging feeling that you really should do something to sort your finances out.
You’re looking forward to that sense of achievement you’ll get at the end – similar to having washed the car, de-flead the dog, and finally hung that picture up.
But before that feeling of satisfaction sets in, there’s the process itself to go through. And for many of us, that can be a daunting prospect for a number of reasons.
First of all, you’re going to have to divulge a lot of personal information to a stranger.
What will they want to know? How much do you have to tell them? Will they judge you for that time you blew a month’s wages on a leather jacket?
Then there’s the question of trusting them with that information. Are they then going to try and rip you off? Or blind you with jargon? And how much will it all cost?
A financial adviser is interested in your circumstances, needs and aspirations, not just your money. They want to use their skills and experience to find you a bespoke solution that you wouldn’t be able to find on your own, and one that fits with your priorities and budget.
But once you’ve found an adviser, what’s next? Doing a bit of preparation beforehand can help you to feel more comfortable about your first meeting. To help you, we’ve put together four things you can do in advance:
Prepare a monthly budget
A good place to start is to make a list of all the money you receive and pay out on a regular basis.
Your income will include your salary and any other regular money you receive such as a bonus or earnings from investments.
Your outgoings can be split into ‘fixed’ and ‘variable’ expenses. Fixed expenses are things like your mortgage, utility bills, food etc. Variable expenses are those that change from month-to-month and are a bit more of a luxury – for example eating out, going to the cinema, or going on holiday etc.
This might seem pretty basic but it’s not something everyone has at their fingertips if they’re asked for it.
Having this overall picture of your finances helps an adviser to work out how much you can afford to commit to your financial plan each month. It also enables them to identify where you might be able to cut back and save more, depending on what your financial goals are.
List your goals
Your adviser will want to know what you want to achieve – what’s the bigger picture.
You might be buying a new house, in which case you’ll be looking for a mortgage but also protection insurance to cover the mortgage and regular outgoings to make sure your family is covered if anything happens to you.
Or you might be planning for retirement, which means you’ll want to make sure you’re saving enough money to enjoy the retirement you’d really like.
Or perhaps you’d like to do both?
Writing a list of these long-term plans will help your adviser to decide what financial products are right for you. They’ll be able to judge how much flexibility is needed with each product in case your life moves on and your goals change with it.
Be honest about your health
Your financial adviser may well ask you questions about your health and medical history. Particularly if you’re applying for protection insurance – life cover, critical illness cover and income protection.
That’s why it’s good to be prepared with details of your height, weight, whether you smoke or have any medical conditions such as diabetes Or have any family history of illness like stroke, cancer or heart disease.
These questions may seem a little intrusive at first, but it’s vital that you’re honest. The more detailed you can be the better, because this will help your adviser to determine which company offers the best products and rates for your particular circumstances.
Have a list of questions
Be prepared and unafraid to ask your own questions too. For example, what can you expect after the first meeting, how do they get paid, are they tied to a particular bank or provider, what do they specialise in?
This gives your adviser an opportunity to show you how open and transparent they are as a business and helps you build up a trusted relationship.
When it comes to charges, they’ll usually give you a copy of their fee or commission structure before you sign on the dotted line. They’ll also be happy to talk you through their qualifications and the experience they have in helping people like you.
Hopefully these pointers will help you to feel prepared and confident about seeing your potential new adviser for the first time. They might end up looking after your money for a long time, so it’s important to feel comfortable with them from the get-go.