Getting ready for the first meeting with a financial adviser

  • Your personal budget is a key part of the first meeting.
  • Be prepared to do some information gathering.
  • Always remember why you are seeking financial advice.

The first meeting is a way for you and the adviser to determine if you can work with each other. Think of it as two-way information-sharing. The adviser will ask many questions about your financial position and why you are seeking financial advice.

how to prepare for the first meeting with your financial planner

Pre-meeting to-do list

If you decide to seek financial advice and after making your first appointment, you'll have some tasks to attend to. If you're married or in a relationship, you need to make time to discuss any future aspirations with your partner. For instance, how do you see your desired retirement?

A clear set of common goals makes it easier to choose the right path. The adviser might even ask you to fill in a client fact find beforehand. However, this usually happens at the first meeting.

Here are some key questions to ask yourself before meeting with a financial adviser:

  • What is my financial situation right now?
  • What do we own?
  • What are our debts?
  • What's our family situation?
  • How much do we spend?
  • How much do we save?
  • When do we want to retire?
  • Do we have enough superannuation?
  • How do I increase my superannuation?
  • Do we have a Will?
  • Do we enough insurance?
  • Do we have any major bills or payments coming up?
  • Do we have our children's education costs covered?

Did you know?

A good adviser will ask open questions, for instance:

  • What are you looking to get out of this meeting?
  • What are your top financial goals this year?
  • Where would you like to be financially in five years?
  • How do you envisage your retirement?

The reason for these open-ended questions is that the adviser wants to get an accurate picture about your dreams and concerns, and if there is an opportunity to build a working relationship.

Closed questions such as "Do you have any investments?" can be answered "yes" or "no" and do not encourage the flow of information or enlighten the adviser about what you want from the financial planning process.

Some people may find it difficult to articulate their financial goals. It can also be hard for an adviser to pick up on inferences or subtleties regarding what you want, so they will need some solid information about your goals and wishes, including any possible barriers to achieving them.

To get things underway, you may need to bring the following items to the first meeting:

  • Your latest superannuation fund statement(s)
  • Mortgage statements
  • Credit card statements
  • A personal budget (if you have one)
  • Shareholding statements
  • Payslips from your employer.

The importance of preparing a personal budget

It is likely that an adviser will want you to prepare a budget before the first meeting. This is for good reason.

A budget should provide accurate information on what you earn, spend and save within a particular time period. It gives your adviser a way to determine how much you could save and invest in relation to your goals, priorities and lifestyle and whether any fine-tuning or more significant attention is needed.

A budget can also highlight fixed and variable expenses. For instance, an electricity bill is a fixed expense, while discretionary spending, such as going to a restaurant, is a variable expense.


A budget may give you a few insights, or surprises, and provide a reality check about your spending patterns. For instance, if you buy two takeaway coffees each day, this can add up to well over $2000 per  year.

Think about your goals

Prior to seeing a financial adviser, think carefully about the goals you want to achieve. It makes things easier for you and the adviser if you are on the same wavelength. Remember, it's not the adviser in control of the meeting, it's you.

Some popular financial or lifestyle goals include:

  • improving your current financial situation
  • reducing current levels of debt
  • lawfully minimising ongoing income tax liabilities leading up to retirement
  • ensuring you have appropriate estate planning strategies in place in case you lose capacity to do so
  • investing to minimise the effects of inflation
  • making certain there are sufficient funds to pay for grandchildren's education
  • wanting to generate approximately $60, 000 per annum (in today's dollars) after tax, and indexed to inflation to meet retirement living expenses.

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