You, as an individual, may have come across many intermediaries, who provide you with different kinds of services, be it, legal, financial, insurance, investments, etc. However, it isn’t common practice to prepare oneself for such meetings, which should be done beforehand in fact. Consequently, it leads to a lot of confusion post opting for the service. It is sometimes we, ourselves responsible for the bad service experience. Therefore, to avoid this, you should have your own checklist in place.
Do your own research
It is important not to waste yours’ as well as the financial advisers’ time discussing their credentials and qualifications. Do your own research way before the meeting or approaching them so that your focus is only on the things that you can’t find online like their approach, knowledge and understanding, comfort level, etc.
Though at the very first meeting, you won’t be diving deep into your finances you should have a basic understanding of your financial situation, including the amount of money that you have, where it is invested, etc. Rather, just a fair idea of your income & expenses as well as your financial goals such as retirement or child’s education, etc would do. This will help you to have an informed conversation with your adviser.
Even if may sound silly, never hesitate in asking questions. In fact, you can write down all the questions that you feel are important before the meeting itself and also, ask additional questions based on the discussion. However, some of your questions should primarily include:
a) How you are paid? Ask whether his payment is fee-only, fee-based, commission-based, or a combination of fees & commission. You can also ask whether the fee is flat or in percentage terms.
b) How often do they meet their clients-Quarterly, semi-annually, or annually? This can allow you to match those with your expectations.
c) What services do they provide? Whether they provide comprehensive financial planning, which usually includes, risk management & insurance planning, retirement planning, tax planning, investment planning and estate planning or just a simple financial goal planning.
d) What type of client do they work with? Do they specialise in retirees or businessman or professionals like doctors, architects, etc?
Have realistic expectations
It is more important for you to have realistic expectations from the financial adviser. People usually choose their advisers based on fees or commissions that they earn, which is not the right way. Choose your financial adviser based on his knowledge and expertise and not on how much less he/she is charging. Fewer fees or free service doesn’t mean quality service. Keep your expectations realistic by not asking for guaranteed returns from the market-linked products as this would only lead you towards further disappointment.