Regularly meeting with a financial advisor can help you maximize your money and keep on top of your long-term financial goals. Financial advisors can help you save more, reduce your debt and invest more wisely. Experts recommend speaking with your advisor at least once a year, but these meetings are only helpful if you review the right topics. Here are 10 key questions to ask your financial advisor during an annual review.
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1. How Am I Doing Compared to My Financial Goals?
This is perhaps the most important question to ask your financial advisor. It’s important to understand how you’re progressing towards your long-term financial goals, whether that’s saving for retirement, a down payment on a house, or a child’s education. Your advisor should be able to provide you with a clear picture of your progress and any adjustments you need to make to stay on track.
2. How Has My Portfolio Performed?
Your investment portfolio is a critical component of your financial plan. It’s important to understand how your investments have performed over the past year and whether they’re aligned with your risk tolerance and long-term financial goals. Your advisor should be able to provide you with a performance review of your investments and recommendations for any adjustments that may be necessary.
3. What Fees Am I Paying and What Am I Getting in Return?
It’s important to understand the fees you’re paying for financial advice and services. Your advisor should be transparent about the fees you’re paying and what you’re getting in return. If you’re not sure what you’re paying or what you’re getting in return, don’t be afraid to ask.
4. How Has My Net Worth Changed?
Vital to understanding your financial picture is updating yourself on the current value of your accounts. This includes the values on all your accounts, savings rates, and current monthly contributions to retirement and investment accounts. This is where you and your advisor will discuss your portfolio’s performance over the past year and how that compares to your expectations.
5. What Are My Total Expenditures?
Whether saving for retirement or already retired, understanding how much you spend is important. That amount determines your savings rate, portfolio allocation and insurance recommendations.
6. How Is My Cash Flow?
Related to your expenses is how much cash you’re using or not every month. If you are using less cash than expected, for instance, you may be able to increase your contributions or savings instead of letting your money languish in a regular checking account. On the other hand, if your emergency savings account has dipped below a set dollar amount, you may need to replenish it.
7. Have You Taken Into Account Changes in My Health?
It may seem unusual, but discussing your health is important for your finances. As you age, healthcare costs will take up a larger portion of your cash needs, so your advisor will need to factor in any changes to your retirement plan.
8. How Have Medicare Costs Changed?
Many Americans are unaware that Medicare is not free and does not cover all healthcare costs in retirement. As a result, your financial advisor should work with you to estimate future costs based on your health expectations and discuss ideas on how you’ll pay for your portion of uninsured medical costs.
9. Will I Have Enough Money in Retirement to Last?
As gruesome as it may seem, part of a healthy retirement plan is not only calculating how much money you’ll need to retire but how long you’ll be able to live on those funds. You need to balance how much money you’ll have saved with how much you expect to spend every month. If you’re healthy and expect to live a long time, you may need more in your savings to enjoy a comfortable retirement.
10. Do All My Accounts Have Updated Beneficiaries?
Your financial advisor should have a systematic approach to checking the beneficiaries for all your qualified accounts, life insurance and annuities. New laws and regulations may change how IRAs and funds can be inherited, and that may affect any provisions you have in place for your loved ones.
11. Has My Wealth Transfer Strategy Changed?
As part of your annual checkup, you should make sure that changes in your net worth and business have not triggered changes in your wealth transfer strategy. By ensuring that you have a plan set in place, you can rest assured knowing your estate will be handled if you become ill or pass away.
12. Has My Tax Plan Changed as a Result of Major Life Changes?
You should always feel free to reach out to your financial advisor in the event of a major life change, but if you haven’t, make sure to mention it at your annual review. Your advisor will need to take into account any changes in annual income, which may result in changes to your tax planning. By reviewing these changes, your advisor will be able to leverage your situation to its best advantage.
13. What Should I Focus on This Upcoming Year?
After reviewing your financial situation, your financial advisor will be able to gauge your progress towards your long-term financial goals. You may need to further diversify your investments or realign your portfolio with changes in your current objectives. At the end, you should leave your meeting with a clear action plan for the next 12 months.
The Bottom Line
You should meet with your financial advisor at least once a year for a review of your finances. During your annual review you should ask important questions that can help direct the conversation and maximize your planning. Make sure to discuss your portfolio’s performance, your cash flow and your progress toward your financial goals.
Tips for Building Wealth
- Not sure what investments and strategies will help you meet your long-term goals? For a solid financial plan, consider speaking with a qualified financial advisor. Finding one doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- Use SmartAsset’s free investment calculator to get a good estimate of how to grow your money over time.
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