What to expect when you meet a financial planner?

You might know the financial planning journey well. But, what about your family or friends who haven’t met with a financial planner? Feel free to forward this post to them.

It’s natural to have some preconceptions, it might even feel a little daunting. After all, advisers and planners are only usually in the press when they’ve been part of a scam! You don’t often hear the good news and happy outcomes, and like every profession, you’ll find great financial planners and some not so great. Whilst we do work in a highly regulated profession, always look for personal testimonials, like a review on VouchedFor or a recommendation on LinkedIn.

So, what should you expect from that initial meeting with a financial planner? First, let’s break some misconceptions;

What won’t happen?

A financial planner’s primary objective is not to sell a product. Avoid anyone who tries to in the first meeting. We’re here to help you achieve a lifestyle; products are simply a vehicle to realise your goals. Whilst you can research your own pensions provider or investment portfolio online, you would miss the expertise, experience and clarity a dedicated professional can offer.

Equally, we’re not here to sell specific funds or ‘hot’ investments. An appropriate investment recommendation will come a little further down the line, after we’ve established an awful lot about you. Neither are we going to make bold market or economic predictions; the political uncertainty around Brexit alone is changing so quickly nobody knows what’s likely to happen.

In fact, in the first meeting it’s likely we won’t make any kind of recommendation at all. It’s a getting to know you exercise; establishing some facts, your feelings and aspirations.

You are the focus

We’re not here to talk at you, quite the opposite. A good financial planner will know to ask the right questions and listen intently. And we don’t focus solely on money, there’s more to life! Yes, we’ll talk a little about investment performance, but ultimately, your goals and aspirations are at the heart of your financial plan.

The point is to find out exactly what’s important to you:

  • To help identify your objectives, in the short, medium and long-term
  • Establish why your financial security is so important
  • Understand and address your hopes and fears
  • Together, agree an action plan to help fulfil your objectives

Creating a detailed financial plan takes time and research, it’s an investment. It’s never ‘finished’ either; your plan must adapt over time as your aspirations and circumstances inevitably change. After that first meeting, we’ll meet regularly to make sure you’re still on the right track.

The ultimate value of advice

It’s important to consider the difference between cost and value. Let’s go with Warren Buffett’s definition; “Price is what you pay, and value is what you get.” Without wanting to sound too dramatic, the value of financial planning can be life-changing.

It’s not simply an exercise of tax planning, taking advantage of opportunities and avoiding potential threats. The true value can be found in:

  • Giving someone the confidence that they can afford to change their life, stepping down from a highly pressured position, without it affecting their family’s short, medium or long-term financial future
  • Helping someone in their 50s understand that they can afford to retire early and live the life they want, without the fear of running out of capital in the future
  • Demonstrating that you can afford to provide financial assistance to your children or grandchildren, perhaps to help them buy their first home, without causing yourself hardship in the future

As a financial planner, every solution I recommend is crafted for each individual and I believe completely in the benefits that true bespoke financial planning can bring. I will offer clarity by asking the right questions, listening and coaching.

If you, a friend or a family member has not yet had a first meeting and are at a financial crossroads, I’m here to help. If you would like to know more, please do get in touch. I’d be delighted to explain how we can work together and potentially add real value to your life.

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