When it comes time to speak with a financial planning advisor, it's a good idea to have some information on hand. This will expedite the process and give the financial advisor greater insights into your situation. Try to have these four items of information available whenever you set up a meeting.
You don't need to have precise account information, but you should be able to provide a general overview. What types of accounts do you own? Do any of them provide interest or have fees?
For example, a financial advisor will want to know what sorts of retirement accounts you have. If you're not investing to minimize fees and maximize tax benefits, you might be shortchanging yourself.
Oftentimes, the best advice a financial planning advisor can provide is to take control of your debt load. To be clear, not all debt is bad. Ideally, debt functions as a tool that allows you to make major purchases, such as a house or car.
However, it's important to have your debts under control. If anything, a financial advisor will want a client to pay down debts before moving forward with money-making plans.
If you don't currently have a number, get one. Contact creditors and ask them for specifics so you can tally everything.
Recent Income and Tax Statements
It's a good idea to have about two years' worth of financial data ready to go before meeting with a financial planning advisor. This will allow them to see how your finances are evolving. If you've suffered a recent adverse event that will minimize your income, you should provide documentation of that, too. For example, several recent pay stubs will usually provide enough information.
Your tax documents will also give the planner a sense of what you may or may not be taking advantage of. Frequently, there is value in thinking ahead about which credits you'll take. If you want to modernize your home's utility systems, for example, it's wise to plan around available local, state, and federal tax credits.
Financial Goals and Timelines
A big part of planning your finances is setting targets. If you have a particular goal, such as financing a child's college education, there should also be a date attached. The combination of the price tag and timeframe will make it easier for a financial advisor to calculate what your rate of returns will need to be to reach your goal.