How to prepare for your first meeting with a financial planner

Information verified correct on September 29th, 2016

You would want to make the most of your first meeting with you financial planner. Make sure you’re organised and know exactly what to bring.

A financial planner is a person who helps us with our finances and who helps us plan for our future. They can be very helpful in finding ways for us to make sure that our assets will not lessen or to ensure that our families will not suffer any financial hardship if there are any future issues which may lead to a loss of income.

When you meet with your financial planner, there are a few things that you should do prior to your first and to your subsequent meetings. Here are some tips that will both show you what to expect and will help you to get the most out of your upcoming meeting with your financial planner.

Check their credentials

It is very important to make sure that your financial planner is licensed and is an authorised financial representative. They have to give you a Financial Services Guide (FSG), which lists their qualifications, licence number as well as their fees.

You would not want an unqualified doctor giving you medical advice, so make sure that the financial planner you have is qualified to offer you financial advice. If they do not or cannot provide you with their credentials, then it is smart to look elsewhere for financial advice.

Consult a financial planner now

Things you’ll need to take

Your financial planner will ask you certain questions to find out what your financial needs will be. It is a good idea to make up a list the contains the financial goals that you wish to have – just so you don’t forget anything during your meeting.

Gather as much information as you can, so that your financial planner will have all of the information that they need. The more information you provide them with, the better their service will be to you. Also, this ensures that they will be able to create a more effective financial plan for you.

Remember to ask questions

If your financial planner says something that you do not understand, then ask them to explain it. The only way for your financial planner to help you is if there is good communication and understanding between the two of you.

Also, if you have any questions, make sure that you ask them. Always make sure that you completely understand everything that is being said. It is very important that you understand all of the recommendations fully – especially before you decide whether or not to proceed with this financial planner. It is even more important to make sure that you understand everything prior to signing any agreements with them.

Statement of advice

Your financial planner will offer their strategy to you. This must follow the Australian Securities and Investment Commission’s law and be presented as a “Statement of Advice”. This is a written document which you must make sure that you are given a copy of.

What happens next?

If you decide to proceed with this financial planner, then you will have to sign the necessary documents that will implement the recommendations. Be prepared to fill out some application forms and paperwork.

It is important to note that you will be required to provide some of your family information, such as your complete health history – including the name and contact information for your doctor, and your family history. This is necessary for applications for life insurance. Make sure that you have this information with you, so that you will be able to fill the application forms out.

After this, you will have periodic reviews with your financial planner, so that your financial situation can be assessed and monitored. You must agree with your financial planner on how frequently you will meet. This might be every 6 months or perhaps once a year.

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Important tips for meeting your financial planner

Here is a table with some of the things that you need to remember for your upcoming meeting with your financial planner. You can use this as a check-list to make sure that you are prepared for your meeting.

This list will also help you understand what will be expected of you during the meeting with the financial planner. It will also help you to be completely prepared so that you will not have to worry about forgetting to take anything with you or forgetting to ask about something.

Things That You Will Need To Consider Prior To Your Meeting With The Financial Planner

  • Short term goals or wish-list. This list could include things such as: finish education, get married, get a new job
  • Medium term goals or wish-list. This list could include things such as: purchase a house, have children, privately educate children
  • Long term goals or wish-list. This list could include things such as: get out of debt, become financially independent before retirement age
  • Health concerns. Any issues or problems you have with your health
  • Ask questions. Any questions that you have for the financial planner

Things That You Will Need To Take To Your Meeting With The Financial Planner

  • The figures showing your assets and liabilities
  • Your expense report or your budget
  • Pay slips or your tax return to show your income
  • The annual statements for your superannuation
  • Any details of your current insurance policy
  • Your personal tax file number
  • A form of picture identification
  • The personal details of your spouse and/or your dependants

Things That You Should Receive From The Financial Planner During Your Meeting

  • You should be given a business card from your financial planner
  • A copy of their Financial Services Guide (FSG)
  • The Statement of Advice (SOA), which will include the commission or remuneration disclosure
  • Information regarding your reviews and when and how often they will occur in the future
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Do I actually need to go see a financial planner?

If you find your credit card spending is getting out of hand, it may be time to see a financial planner. Below are some of the warning signs:

Surcharges

This rise includes cash advances and surcharges. Surcharges are nasty little transaction fees that merchants charge for transactions, which ultimately should be their responsibility because it is a fee the credit card companies charges them, however they pass these on to consumers. Some merchants in this surcharge robbery are charging consumers up to ten percent of the purchase, taking total advantage of uninformed consumers, which is dinging our balances in a big way.

Not all merchants charge this fee, however, and some assess different rates, but it is high time the merchants start disclosing, or consumers start questioning them.

Interest

Interest also plays a big factor in these rising balances. Just when you feel you are getting caught up, paying your monthly minimum balance every month, on time, your balance never seems to decrease. It’s time to check your credit card balance and interest rate and consider a ‘balance transfer’ to a zero percent credit card.

Surprisingly, the total balance of credit cards rose to almost fifty billion dollars in March 2010 – which is partly attributed to the rise in credit card accounts. In March alone, the credit card new accounts opened rose by almost two percent.

This high debt does not directly reflect an increase in credit card debt; the repayments of debt also increased by nearly twenty billion, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia. In fact, Australian’s have repaid more than spent in 2010, showing a greater reliance on credit, yet taking a responsible stance on repayments. This could be due to the economic situation.

Economy

Although Australia appears to be coming out of the economic crisis, and has not experienced the windfall of the U.S., there are still some job issues that have not recovered. Many people are still losing wages as in hours cut, and wage rates cut to try to keep employment up, but save companies from going under.

It does appear though, that the worst of the financial crisis is coming to a close, but not by a long shot is it completely over. So, keeping credit card debt at a minimum, in case you do experience a job loss, cut in wages or hours would benefit you greatly in staying afloat in this still shaky economy.

Something that we should all be doing is continually monitoring our credit card bills, and checking them in between statements, online. Calling a credit card company can be frustrating, however, it is more frustrating to see ‘unauthorised’ charges appearing on your statement, and getting them reversed can be torture. Staying above your card statements and charges can eliminate further suspicious charges when the statement does come.

Balance Transfers

Although Australians are making an increased effort to repay their balances as verified by the increased percentage of repayments, too few are taking advantage of balance transfers.

Balance transfers can save you money in interest, especially if you find a transfer company offering zero percent interest. When you make those monthly payments, they will be going directly to your balance, bringing down your debt, in a major way.

To find out more about zero interest balance transfers, see our balance transfer guide on the balance transfer credit card comparison page.

Credit Consolidation

Another option, if you have high credit card debt, and have lost your job, or cannot afford the monthly minimum payment, is a credit consolidation company, such as Fox Symes. Companies such as this will talk to the credit card companies and make arrangements for you, in an effort to lower the payments to an amount you can afford, as evidenced by your net income.

Whichever route you take, keep in mind that credit card companies are in the business of making money, and if you look away or don’t pay close attention, they are getting more of yours than they should. So, stay alert, if you do have credit cards, watch the merchants where you make purchases, and keep those balances below the credit limit to avoid even further debt.

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