Many people simply have never had an experience of working with a financial planner, so don’t know what to expect when considering whether they should book an appointment.

There are many ways that a financial planner can help, so with this post I hope you will become a little more comfortable with how a first appointment might run.

Meeting cost

Best to take care of the first question you might have straight away! For an initial meeting with a new client many financial planners will charge no fee, while some may have an upfront fee. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask what the firm’s policy is when you first make contact via phone or email.

Whether or not a planner has a fee for the first meeting will depend on a number of factors about how they wish to run their practice. At MLC Advice Canberra there is no fee for the initial meeting. My reason for choosing this is because my experience has been that I often need to meet with a client myself before I’m sure about how we can help.

What you need to bring

We provide a handy list to our clients of documents that it’s useful to bring along, such as payslips, statements for investments, insurance policies and any other specific items you might want to know about.

What I always stress however is that it is usually ok in the first meeting to talk in rough figures while both you as the client, and your planner, work through the issues and understand how working with a financial planner can assist.

Eventually your planner will need to collect more detailed information. They will often use a document referred to as a client profile or fact find to do this. Depending on your planner’s policies it may be included in a pack to complete before your first meeting, or they may work through it with you together.

Purpose of the meeting

Most importantly, you need to establish whether you are comfortable working with the person that you meet and their team! The initial meeting is a chance for you to get to know a financial planner and the their team. It can be a time consuming process but I actually think that you should meet with 3 different planners to get an idea of the different ways that they work and also see who you find to be a good fit for you.

For the financial planner, they will need to get to know you better so that they can understand what you need as a potential client. This will involve asking a lot of questions, and may feel like a visit to a therapist sometimes! The truth though is that managing your finances is a deeply personal topic and it goes to the heart of your work or business, family and aspirations – so there’s a good reason for all the questions. Eventually the planner is going to have to put together some type of service proposal for you as well, and a better understanding of your requirements will make sure this is more tailored to you.

Time

I have had 30 minute initial meetings, and 3 hour initial meetings. It will depend largely on the breadth of your story and the assistance that you’re after.

In the longer meetings people sometimes apologise for taking up so much time. There is no need to apologise, in fact spending time understanding you better is the most important thing that your financial planner can be doing!

In conclusion…

An initial meeting with a financial planner shouldn’t be too daunting. It’s really just a chance to sit down and talk about your life and how your finances work with that to somebody with experience in the area. It will often cost you only a little bit of your time, and the potential rewards are getting your finances on track and organised, and feeling better as a result!