How to prepare for your first meeting with an advisor
There’s a first time for everything! Follow these 6 steps to start your relationship with your advisor on a productive footing.
1. Before you even schedule your first meeting, verify that the professional you’ve chosen to work with is authorized to practice and has the relevant expertise to address your needs. You should also check if they have a disciplinary record. If they have an unrestricted practice (authorization to sell securities such as equities and bonds in addition to mutual funds), check their registration and disciplinary history with the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and, in Quebec, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF).
This is a critical step. Unfortunately, there are individuals with malicious intent who won’t hesitate to approach investors despite not having the required qualifications and certification. Therefore, be vigilant.
2. Put together a folder containing all your relevant financial information, such as your most recent bank and investment statements, your work benefit plan, all your active insurance policies, your notice of assessment for taxes, etc.
3. Make a list of your personal and professional financial goals (travel, buying property, retirement, etc.). This will help your advisor to understand you better and guide you in the right direction. Also, don’t hesitate to ask your advisor what they plan to discuss with you in advance so you have some time to think about it before your meeting.
4. During the meeting, don’t be alarmed if your advisor asks you questions that may seem a bit intrusive. Your advisor has a professional obligation to understand your financial situation, whether it relates to your assets, your financial literacy, your risk tolerance or your plans, dreams and worries about the future. If you have concerns about sharing this information, rest assured that your advisor is also bound by an obligation to protect the confidentiality of your personal data.
5. Prepare a list of questions for your advisor. Some questions you might want to ask are: Why did you choose this profession? What experience do you have? What did you study and what diploma(s) do you have? How do you receive compensation? Your advisor’s answers to these questions will help you better understand the person who will be guiding your financial decisions.
6. Plan to take notes. Your advisor will be taking notes throughout the meeting because they’ll need this information in order to perform a personalized analysis and suggest a plan that meets your needs. Take your advisor’s lead and keep your own records of your discussions. That way you’ll be able to discuss their recommendations with your family and friends, or simply go over some complex financial concepts your advisor explained to you.