To get the most out of speaking with a financial planner, you need to be prepared to the best extent that you can. Having a list of questions can be very helpful, as well as numbers concerning your current financial situation such as your income, expenses, and assets. You also need to do some thinking about your future goals so the planner can help you take the right steps to meet them.
It’s also important to remember to at least select a financial planner whose main goal is to educate you, not to just sell you something you may or may not want. If possible, find someone who is impartial or not involved in financial product sales so you’ll get a more objective opinion.
The following are just a few questions to consider asking, based on different financial situations:
1) I have x amount of debt. What steps can I take to pay it off within (amount of time)?
2) On a basic level, how does this work? (Applies to things like investing, insurance, etc.)
3) What are my options? (Ask this even if you think you know the answer to a problem.)
4) What are the alternatives to that? (When you don’t like a solution given.)
5) At my age and income level, what financial steps should I be taking for the future?
6) What can I read that would help me understand this better?
7) I have a goal of (explain your personal goal). How can I best financially prepare to be able to obtain it?
8) Why should I do this as opposed to (something else you were thinking of doing)?
9) What are some things most people should do with their finances but usually don’t?
10) Who else would you recommend I consult? (Usually for major decisions or special situations where the planner is not an expert.)
The great thing about asking appropriate questions is that it opens up a dialogue between you and the financial planner so he or she can help you better. Bring a list if you need to do it, but be natural about it and let the conversation take place. Taking notes will help as well. In general, just focus more on open-ended questions (where they can’t answer just “yes” or “no”) to get the most information. Hopefully with these general tips, you’ll get a lot more out of the experience than you would have staying relatively quiet.