Communicating with Your Financial Planning Partner

by Cindy Diccianni, Financial Advisor

Many articles have been written on how to select a great financial planner and advisor, but little has been written about the other side: how to be a great client. Since financial planning and advising is a process, hopefully a lifelong one, it is important that the planner and client work together effectively to achieve the client's financial goals. Here are some things you can do to develop and maintain a successful relationship.

Provide all the information the financial planner requests of you

The more accurate the information you provide to your planner, the better the planning process will go. The information needs to be complete and detailed to allow an effective evaluation of your current position. That way, problems can be identified, solutions created, and proper implementation taken to ensure corrective action.

Be honest about your financial goals and plans

You need to sit down and assess your financial goals and determine exactly what you want and need. There are many factors to consider including your risk tolerance, your relationship with money, and your understanding of the investment process. A great planner will evaluate these as well as your current financial snapshot, your financial literacy, and your short and long-term goals.

They will develop a customized plan that will work given your set of circumstances. Prioritizing your financial goals is very important. If you want to retire earlier than 65, then tell your planner and be prepared for what that will mean for your lifestyle. Remember it is your financial plan; it needs to work for you given your current circumstances and your desires for the future.

Because of experiences you or a family member may have had in the past, you may have an aversion to a particular type of investment. There is more than one way to achieve investment results that are successful. So if your planner knows you would prefer not to select a particular investment, this can be factored into your customized plan, and will be reflected in their recommendations.

Ask questions

There is no such thing as a stupid question. If you do not understand what your planner is telling you, ask questions. It is vitally important that the planner understands the knowledge base that you have. After all, if you were an expert and had the time to do it yourself, what would you need a planner for? It is your job to tell the planner just what you know and what your level of understanding is.

Once you receive the written financial plan, if it is not accurate or does not reflect your current situation, tell your planner so that adjustments can be made.

Your new financial plan should be a starting point in the process. It can and should be modified as your situations change. Most financial advisors who do planning charge a fee for their services. This is money well spent to get your financial future moving in a forward direction.

Sometimes a client is not sure when he or she wants to retire and wants to run several different scenarios. Your financial plan should reflect your values, goals, and desires for the future based on your current situation and the potential for positive growth of assets. Think through what your goals really are before meeting with the planner or advisor. Once you have seen the results, the plan can always be modified.

Implement the plan

In other words, the plan is only as good as your follow through. You need to implement the planner's or advisor's recommendations in a timely manner. If your planner advises you to update your Will, for instance, it should to be done in a timely fashion. Life can change so quickly; it is important for your own peace of mind that you have all of your documents and plans in the best order possible.

Before agreeing to work with your financial planner, you should have investigated his or her expertise. Your financial planner is your partner with regards to your estate. You need to feel confident and comfortable with this individual as they will remain an important ally in the course of your life. When the planner gives you advice, follow it. If you have questions about the advice, discuss it at the time the plan is presented to you.

Keep your planner informed

Call your planner with any life-changing event. A marriage, divorce, birth or a child, sudden illness, inheritance, new home purchase, can certainly change your life forever. Keep them abreast of any major decisions in your life. Most financial planners and advisors are very well networked and know the right person for your needs. Take full advantage of these services and resources, not only can they save you time but they can make your life much easier.

Do not to wait until the last minute to ask for help. Once you've informed your planner or advisor, give him or her the time to solve the problem or resolve the issue for you. If however, your planner or their staff is not responsive in a timely fashion, this is a legitimate complaint. Let them know your expectations so that they can meet them or else you may need to find someone who more adequately suits your needs.

Schedule reviews regularly

The need for a regular review of your plan is essential. A review should occur yearly unless there is a life-changing event. The initial written plan is only the very first step in the financial planning process. Your plan for financial success will require reevaluation along your journey.

Developing a successful partnership with your financial planner or advisor requires due diligence on your part and yet your future depends on it. If you're not sure how to best use your financial planner, ask. Financial planners are really more like life planners - they aid you in designing a financial picture that allows you to reap the rewards of all your hard work. You need to make your money work hard for you. Your financial planning partner will do that for you.

Cindy Diccianni is a Registered Nurse, a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA), a Registered Investment Advisor, Certified in Long Term Care (CLTC) and a Registered Representative with Leigh Baldwin & Company member NASD and SIPC. She is affiliated with Ortner, O'Brien & Ortner Advisory Group, Inc. and co-founder of Nurturing Your Success, Inc. Her passion is assisting clients in creating the financial freedom they dream of. You may visit Cindy at www.nurturingyoursuccess.com or write to her at Cindy@nurturingyoursuccess.com. You may also call her directly at (610) 251-9393.


 
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