Working With a Financial Professional or Advisor
Putting together a financial strategy can be complicated—making it easy to get overwhelmed. A financial professional or advisor can help you cut through the confusion and create a personalized strategy to help you achieve your dreams.
What a financial professional or advisor can do for you
- Assess your current financial situation
- Set realistic—and achievable—goals
- Create a financial strategy
- Help you put your plan into action
- Help you keep your plan on track – no matter what life throws at you
Things to consider
If you aren't currently working with a financial professional or advisor, these tips may help you find one that's right for you.
Ask for recommendations from people you know and trust. Collect the names of several, then select those you want to interview.
Ask questions like these when you interview them:
- How long have you been working as a financial professional?
- In general, the longer someone has been in the business, the more insights they may have on what works and what doesn't. On the other hand, someone with less experience, but more recent education and training may be more open to new products and strategies.
- What are your credentials?
- A financial professional should have the appropriate insurance licenses and securities registrations. Beyond that, there are several professional designations they could have. Examples include Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU®), Certified Financial PlannerTM (CFP®) or Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®).
- What kinds of financial solutions do you have access to?
- It's important to have access to a broad range of solutions, because you'll likely have different financial needs during your life — saving for retirement, saving for college, life and disability insurance, and so on.
- What's your process?
- Financial professionals who have a very brief, narrow process for creating a financial strategy may just be trying to sell you a product. You need someone who will take the time to look at your whole financial picture and create a comprehensive strategy for the future.
- What are your fees?
- As your financial professional works with you to help meet your financial goals, be sure to understand how he or she is compensated for the value brought to the process.
After you've interviewed each financial professional, eliminate any who don't meet your minimum requirements. Then just trust your feelings — go with the one with whom you feel most comfortable and who you think will best help you reach your goals.
Tips to help you prepare for your meeting
You can make the most of your meeting by doing some basic prep work ahead of time.
1. Ask what to bring
Your financial professional or advisor may give you a specific checklist of information for you to bring to your first meeting. If not, ask him or her what you should bring. Examples may include:
- Recent financial statements (checking and savings accounts, stocks, mutual funds, 529 plans and so on)
- A list of assets and debts
- Your most recent Social Security statement
- Insurance policies (such as life and disability insurance)
- Your most recent tax return
- A list of employee benefits (retirement plans, insurance, etc.)
2. Think about your financial goals
Your financial professional or advisor needs to understand you and your goals for the future.
3. Write down any questions or concerns
You may have a lot of questions for your financial professional or advisor — or just a few. Regardless, it's a good idea to write them down beforehand so you don't forget. Any financial issues — from minor questions to keeping-you-up-at-night dilemmas — are up for discussion.
4. Ask about next steps
Before you leave the meeting, make sure you understand what you need to do next. Your advisor may need you to collect more information on your finances, for example, or review some initial recommendations. Your plan will come together faster if you're both on the same page.
Insurance products from the Principal Financial Group® issued by Principal National Life Insurance Company (except in New York) and Principal Life Insurance Company. Securities are offered through Principal Securities, Inc., 800-247-1737, member SIPC. Principal Securities, Inc.®, Principal National and Principal Life are members of the Principal Financial Group, Des Moines, IA 50392.