Financial advisors can help their clients manage their assets, save for big purchases, decrease their taxes, build their investment portfolios, find areas for budget savings and more—if they have the right information. A financial advisor needs a well-rounded view of each client’s financial situation to be able to give them the full benefit of their expertise.
While most clients know to bring their savings totals and investment details to a meeting with their financial advisor, it’s easy to overlook other important pieces of information that can help a financial advisor get a complete view of a client’s unique situation. Below, 10 Forbes Finance Council members share often-overlooked details that clients should remember to share when meeting with their financial advisor.
1. Your Long-Term Goals
Where do you want to be in the next five, ten or 20 years? Most people have not taken the time to write out their goals for the upcoming years. If you don’t know where you are trying to go, it is impossible to know the right path to take to get there. Destinations are not unchangeable, so it is important to revisit this plan every few years to make sure you’re still on the right path. – Joseph Orseno, Tiltify
2. Your Answers To Your Advisor’s Information Form
The most successful relationships between clients and financial advisors are based on openness and transparency. The best way an advisor can guide a client through the initial phases of the relationship is to provide them with a comprehensive, holistic data-gathering form. This removes the burden from the client to identify what is important and what is not. – Sonya Thadhani Mughal, Bailard, Inc.
3. Your Real Estate Holdings And Details
Clients often think of a financial advisor as someone who trades stocks, but holistic planning should include detailed information about all of a client’s real estate holdings. Current values, mortgage interest rates and amortization schedules, rental income (if applicable), and expenses related to property upkeep should be shared, to name just a few details. – Evan Kirkpatrick, Wendell Charles
4. Your Rental Income
Most people don’t look critically at their financial picture, so meeting with a financial advisor can be scary. Rental income is an often-overlooked detail. In today’s economy, that can be almost anything—Airbnb income, rental property income or even income from boat rental, RV rental or the shed space in your backyard. Rental income can be used as catch-up funds for retirement accounts for those who are over 50 or are paying down debt. – Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.
5. Your Most Recent Pay Stub
A pay stub can help an advisor learn a lot about their client from a holistic viewpoint, allowing them to add value through their financial recommendations. For example, tax withholdings, retirement contributions, cash flow and insurance payments help the advisor create a financial plan that can put the client in the best position to reach their goals successfully. – DeLynn Zell, Bridgeworth Wealth Management
6. Your Last Tax Return
One of the most important documents I review as a CFP® is a client’s tax return. This is especially important right now; taxes are one of the biggest risks and biggest planning opportunities for clients. By reviewing a client’s tax return, I can glean a lot of information about what happened last year and pinpoint opportunities they might have in the new year. – Christopher Berry, The Castle Wealth Group | Estate, Tax & Retirement Planning
7. Your Current Budget And Cash Flow
Many people do not have a solid grasp of their budget. They may be spending more than they realize or missing savings opportunities. Understanding your monthly cash flow is paramount to achieving financial success. It’s not something advisors look at often, but it’s critical to helping clients achieve their short- and long-term goals and understanding what will be needed in retirement. – Matthew Cuplin, Midwest Financial Group
8. Your Family Tree
Bring your family tree! I’m talking about kids, grandkids, parents, siblings—everyone who’s important to you. We ask for this information for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, to know you well, we have to know who you care about. We also want to make sure your kids are properly insured and get an idea of who might be dependent on you (for example, aging parents who might need medical care). – Bill Keen, Keen Wealth Advisors
9. Your Level Of Financial Literacy
A client needs to be aware of their financial literacy level, and an advisor needs to be able to detect it. Filling your advisor in on the level of your financial intelligence and aptitude, as well as your history with finances, is very helpful. This sets the tone for the advisor to present solutions that not only meet you where you are but also help you progress at the right gradient. – Jerry Fetta, Wealth DynamX
10. Your Expectations For The Relationship
Many people have different perceptions of what a financial advisor can or should do. It’s key to have an idea of what you want to get out of the engagement and have clarity around the scope. This will lead to more meaningful conversations in your consultations with your advisor. – Meredith Moore, Artisan Financial Strategies LLC