You found a good person to help you manage money and achieve your goals. Congratulations. Now comes a leap — opening up about money. Here is what you can and should share when meeting with your adviser.
The facts, all of them
Your financial adviser will request documents as you start working together. That can include anything from account statements and tax returns to how much you make and how much you owe. The list might be broader than you expect. Be prepared to share more than your 401(k) statement even if you think you only need retirement advice.
Your goals and values
This goes deeper than generalities such as “I want to save more” or “I want to have a comfortable retirement.”
“It’s not just looking at numbers,” said Therese Nicklas, a certified financial planner in Rockland, Mass. “You want to know what those numbers are for.” Be prepared to think through such questions as: What and who is most important to you? What do you want to do with the rest of your life?
Your experiences with money
Attitudes about money get established early, so don’t be surprised if a planner asks about your earliest money memories. Knowing about your background can help your planner understand your perspective — and can also bring biases to the surface.
Even the mistakes
Don’t shy away from sharing embarrassing details, such as neglecting to save for retirement or running up credit card debt. Financial planners have seen it all before. Carl Goodin, a certified financial planner in Missouri, tells of one client who needlessly kept $50,000 of credit card debt secret for years. “Our role is not to look backwards, but to set realistic expectations going forward and to plan for the best outcomes possible.”
Decisions, big and small
Typically planners are not therapists or attorneys, so they can’t treat emotional issues or give legal advice. And they don’t need to hear every grisly detail of your divorce or whom you voted for in the last election. But almost no financial matter is too big or small to discuss, says Angela Furubotten-LaRosee, a Washington certified financial planner.