Ideally, the relationship you have with your financial advisor is not one-sided. You want to take advantage of the advisor’s experience and expertise, of course, and to allow your advisor to help steer your financial planning in the right direction. That direction is determined by your goals and priorities, though, which means you need to have a say in the process. You need to feel comfortable telling your financial advisor what’s important to you, where you hope to be in five, ten, twenty years’ time.

Not everyone is comfortable with that, though. One recommendation we would make is to start off on the right foot—to make your advisor relationship collaborative from the very first meeting.

Anyone preparing to meet with their advisor for the very first time—those who are new to the Stonepath Wealth Management team, for instance—might use some of the following questions as examples. Let these guide your own thinking, and don’t be afraid to ask these or any other questions that spring to mind.

Where do you stand right now? Before your initial consultation, spend some time thinking about how comfortable you are with your life right now, and what you might like to see changed about your finances. Be prepared to discuss your current financial status with your advisor—and to ask, frankly, whether you’re in decent shape.

How can your financial goals be met? What are the things that are most important to you? What big financial events do you foresee in the next five, ten, twenty years? College? A growing family? Retirement? Make sure you know your goals, and ask your advisor about a roadmap for meeting them.

What’s your current path to retirement? What savings do you have? What plans have you made? Ask your advisor to appraise your progress, and to help steer you in an even more positive direction.

What kind of retirement lifestyle can you afford? Ask your advisor to help you set reasonable goals for your retirement living—including travel, leaving a financial legacy, and so forth.

Are you and your family protected against disaster? Ask your advisor what, if anything, can be done to ensure that your family is looked after, in worst-case scenarios.

What about risk? Think about how much risk you are comfortable taking on—and make sure you confer with your advisor on this.

How will your advisor be compensated? This is obviously an important, practical consideration.

Is your advisor truly independent? Will your advisor be making recommendations based on what’s best for you—or for the company that he or she works for? You have the right to know!

Come to your initial consultation ready to contribute, and to speak up about what matters to you; that’s one of the secrets to a positive and productive relationship with your advisor!