The fact-finding process

  • Prioritise what is important to you now and in the future.
  • Confirm the facts with your adviser.
  • Be open when providing information.

The fact-finding process is an important part of the first meeting and information-gathering process. It helps to identify what is relevant and sort out what is most and least important.

financial planning the fact finding process

It is critical that your adviser gets to know you to ensure any recommendations are appropriate for your individual needs and circumstances.

Your adviser is not there to judge you

Sometimes, people may be embarrassed or ashamed to reveal their true financial position or level of understanding. It's best to be open and honest in answering the adviser's questions.

Don't be shy about your financial position. If you provide incomplete or inaccurate information, this may result in inappropriate advice being provided, or the adviser not being able to proceed further.

Your adviser will want to understand your personal, family and business issues, which can be quite private, and they must stand by their promise, or obligation, to maintain your privacy.

Typical fact-find areas

Health and lifestyle

Personal data can include factors like the state of your health. It's important that the adviser knows your state of health as this will affect possible recommendations regarding insurance cover and could impact on future claims.


Your circumstances and priorities may mean providing for elderly and younger relatives financially. For instance, you may need to pay for a parent's aged care accommodation or a younger sibling's wedding. This will have a bearing on your financial future, so it is important to let your adviser know.

Assets and liabilities

An adviser will need a detailed understanding of your financial position to help them know how much you spend each month. Part of the process involves getting an accurate picture of your assets and liabilities.

Liabilities include:

  • mortgage repayments
  • credit card debt
  • any loans
  • recurring utility bills and outgoings.

Assets include:

  • your home
  • your superannuation balance
  • collectibles
  • savings
  • investments.

Classifications can be deceptive

Knowing what are assets and liabilities is not always obvious. For instance, a substantial credit card balance could be seen as low expenditure in terms of your immediate cashflow, when, in fact, it's a large liability lurking in the background.

Income and expenditure

Your income is going to be from sources such as wages, bank interest, investment property income (if applicable), share dividends, and income as a beneficiary from a trust.

Usually, people's spending priorities will change over time, especially in different life stages, such as marriage, birth of children, first property purchase, retirement and grandchildren.

A good financial adviser will have a solid overall picture of your financial position to see if you are in positive or negative cashflow and, if necessary, to adjust this position.

Understanding your risk tolerance

Your financial adviser will want you to fill out a risk profile questionnaire designed to help them understand how comfortable you are with accepting certain levels of risk before investing. The risk profile can either be part of the fact find or a separate document. The next section contains a detailed discussion of risk and what it means to you in the context of financial planning.

 How to find a good financial adviser
 Understanding risk