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First date with financial planner? A checklist for you

December 01, 2017 08:08 IST

Visiting a financial planner for the first time is not something easily achieved. There are doubts, nervousness and second thoughts before one finally takes the plunge. K Ramalingam offers important tips for a successful meeting

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/

Not revealing everything about your past life may or may not affect your married life or job prospect. However, being secretive and shy about your physical and financial health while consulting a doctor or a financial planner, will affect your daily life for sure.

What will the financial planner think if I told him that I am somewhat careless with money, or if I told him that I manage to save nothing out of my monthly income?

Perhaps the thought of discussing this with a rank outsider would make one feel embarrassed.

Financial planners, like doctors know that their client might initially be hesitant to reveal much of their unshared secrets about financial and physical health. Their professional training helps them to put the client at ease and encourage them to share information, which helps in carving out a financially healthy future.

In order to successfully launch into the first visit with financial planners, here are few tips to ensure that the meeting is successful.

What to tell?

More often than not specific events like impending retirement, children’s higher education, marriage or divorce prompts someone to seek professional help from a financial planner.

It is therefore a good idea to tell the financial planner the specific reason that has brought you to her/his office. Besides this, it is always helpful to have the following ready at the time of the first meeting:

a. Your current financial position, in terms of assets, liabilities, expenditure patterns, income sources, savings and immediate as well as long-term goals.

b. The specific financial requirement that you are certain about or anticipate will happen in the next six months or one year.

c. The major financial commitments done in the recent past that can have an impact on your long term financial plans.

d. Your financial time-plan: this will include things like number of years before you will need to fund your child’s higher education or marriage, or years to your retirement, if a major medical expense is anticipated on a regular basis in the near future, etc.

The financial planner would like to know as much as possible with regards to the task at hand. This will help her/him to come up with the best possible advice for your healthy financial future.

What to ask?

A financial planning meeting should ideally not be one sided.

The client has the right to ask questions and this they should do in order to have a clear idea of what to expect from this meeting and necessary future association. Some questions that you may want to ask could be:

1. What is their background? Do they have a specific area of specialisation?

2. What are the minimum assets under management (AUM) that the planner can work with? What is their fee schedule and structure? Does the planner charges per meeting or per hour basis?

3. Do they retain the services of other professionals in their network? Do they have tie-ups with attorneys, accountants, or insurance specialists; should requirement for such services arise?

4. Are you expected to invest in their investment models? Are you expected to transfer your assets to them?

5. What responsibilities and obligations does the consultant have towards their clients?

6. How will this association move forward? Face-to-face interactions or chats over the Internet? How frequently will the meetings or chats happen? 

Who all should attend?

For a married couple it always helps to go for a joint visit to the financial planner, at least the first time.

Together, a couple can discuss and decide the way forward. Whether the relationship with the financial planner is worthy of being pursued in the long run; whether the financial planner can be trusted and if s/he actually understands the needs, and seems capable of delivering the results for both the partners.

At the conclusion of the first visit, the financial planner should be able to clarify the kind of services s/he can provide and the solutions s/he can propose. S/he will also provide an estimate of her/his costs and professional fees.

The couple may return home and discuss the meeting among themselves before moving on to the next session with the adviser.  Usually it takes two to three meetings before an agreement is formalised.

Having done all this there could still be bouts of trepidation and uncertainties looming over the decision to engage a financial consultant. However, moving beyond this phase yields good results.

A professional financial adviser is the one who prescribes measures that will boost your financial health in the long run.

Ramalingam K, an MBA in Finance, is a Certified Financial Planner. He is the Director and Chief Financial Planner at holisticinvestment, a leading financial planning and wealth management company

K Ramalingam