What should you ask your financial advisor?

November 29, 2023
people point at screens with question marks floating around

Whether it’s your first visit or you’re headed back for a check-in, it’s essential to maintain open communication with your financial advisor. Just as they’ll ask you questions to better understand your situation and goals, you’ll want to ask some questions of your own to maximize the appointment — and your future. Read on for some suggestions on how to prepare, a list of questions to consider asking, and some follow-ups to keep in your back pocket.

Start by doing your homework

Before you head to your advisor’s office, we recommend you come prepared with information on how much money you make, how much money you have (both on hand and invested), what debts you owe, what your spending habits are like, and what your financial goals are for the future. Having this information sorted out beforehand can help ensure you and your advisor can cut right to the important stuff when you meet.

Be ready to ask questions

Your financial advisor is here to help you live your best financial life while building your legacy. Now that you’ve laid out a clear picture of your current financial situation, you can get down to business by asking questions and delving into the areas where you’d most like their guidance. Here’s a list of questions we think are worth digging into:

  • What is the recommended percentage of my income that I should be saving regularly?
  • How much should I save for short-term emergencies, and how much should be allocated for long-term financial goals such as retirement and education? What is the best way to prioritize saving for retirement and still address my other goals and concerns?
  • How can I create a budget to track my expenses and savings effectively?
  • Should I prioritize paying off my high-interest debt, and if so, what strategies do you recommend?
  • Should I consider debt consolidation, refinancing, etc., based on my financial picture?
  • Can you offer guidance on how to stay on track with my retirement planning, college savings, or other specific financial objectives?
  • What types of accounts and/or investments should I consider in achieving my financial goals, taking into account my risk tolerance?
  • How can I diversify my investment portfolio to balance risk and return?
  • What investment options are available that align with my ethical or socially responsible preferences?
  • Can you provide a breakdown of all fees associated with my account?

Whether you ask these questions verbatim or tailor them to your own speaking style and financial situation is up to you; either way, the goal is to have the most natural and effective conversation possible.

Questions for digging deeper

If this is a repeat visit, you may have already been over some or all of the ground covered in the first set of questions — and that’s great! In that case, here are a few additional questions you could ask to get a little more in-depth with your advisor.

  • What is the current risk assessment of my portfolio, and is it still aligned with my risk tolerance and financial goals?
  • What has changed in the financial landscape that I should be aware of, and how does it impact my investments?
  • Have any regulatory or compliance changes taken place that could impact my investments?
  • What steps are being taken to ensure my investments remain diversified and well-balanced?
  • What is your strategy for protecting my investments in times of market volatility or economic uncertainty?
  • Are there any new investment opportunities or products that I should consider?
  • Is my money making an impact on society and/or on the planet?
  • Can you provide a tax planning update and offer strategies to optimize my tax situation?
  • Do you have any recommendations for educational resources or tools to help me better understand some of the topics we’ve been discussing?
  • Have there been any changes to the fees associated with my account, and if so, can you explain them?

Asking these questions can help you maintain a productive and informed relationship with your financial advisor and ensure that your investments continue to align with your financial objectives and risk tolerance. After all, you want to make the most of your trusted professional’s services. We recommend visiting your advisor at least annually to review your plan, or more often if they deem it necessary. (Still looking for the right financial advisor? We have some tips for that too!)

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