Family meets with financial advisor

What to discuss every year with a financial advisor

A good financial advisor relationship isn’t just a one-time exchange. Your situation will continually evolve, so it’s important your financial plan receives regular attention from your advisor.

Prior to meeting, you should do a full assessment of what’s happened in your life since your last discussion. Below we’ve outlined a list of items below that should help drive these conversations and ensure your plan is properly addressing your needs.

Has my personal information changed?

This might seem pretty obvious, but it’s important your advisor has accurate information in your client profile. If you have changed either your contact information or legal identity, it needs to be updated as soon as possible. And even if nothing has changed, it’s a good idea to regularly verify what’s on file.

Has any of the following changed?

  • Legal name
  • Preferred name (and pronunciation)
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • Mailing address
  • Employer
  • Trusted contact

Has anything changed within my family?

We don’t typically build financial legacies just for ourselves. We also want to take care of people we love and care for. That’s why it’s important your advisor has the most up-to-date information concerning your family and how they relate to your financial plan.

Has any of the following changed?

  • Marital status
  • Deaths in the family
  • New children or grandchildren
  • Beneficiary information
  • Conservatorships
  • Financial Powers of Attorney
  • Healthcare Powers of Attorney

Have my income or expenses changed?

Financial advisors address the needs of clients at every stage of life. Whether you’re working or retired, it’s very unlikely your income and expenses will be flat over time. That means your financial plan needs regular updating.

When you talk to your advisor, make sure to communicate when you get that big raise at work, buy a home, or suddenly incur significant healthcare expenses. These changes matter within a finely tuned financial plan, and they can have negative tax implications if not properly handled.

Has any of the following changed with your income? 

  • Job change
  • Salary income
  • Bonus income
  • Spouse income
  • Rental, royalty, pension, annuity income
  • Sales of properties or automobiles
  • Sales of all or part of a business
  • Stock sales or distributions in outside accounts

Has any of the following changed with your expenses?

  • Bought a second home
  • Purchased an automobile
  • Paid for a wedding
  • Took an expensive vacation (or making plans for future travel)
  • Donated money to a charity (or making plans to give)
  • New healthcare needs
  • Home renovations or repairs

Basically: If your household balance sheet is suddenly tipping one way or another, your advisor needs to know. Make sure to proactively reach out so that your plan stays on track.

Have you scheduled a plan for Roth conversions?

If Roth conversions are part of your financial plan, it’s important to initiate that transaction well in advance of the annual December 31 deadline.

When you have a discussion with your advisor, make a decision about if, and when, it’s appropriate to do a Roth conversion, and how to confirm the immediate tax implications with your CPA prior to setting the transaction in motion.

Have your investment needs changed?

A truly custom portfolio allocation will change a lot over time. That’s because your growth vs. protection needs will evolve as you near retirement. 

There’s less need to aggressively chase market returns once you decide you’ve saved enough for your post-work years. In the industry we call this Risk Tolerance, or the extent to which you would endure a significant market loss in order to keep pace with market returns. 

Retirement doesn’t necessarily mean you stop trying to grow your savings, but when you decide to stop earning salaried income, an advisor will generally transition you to an allocation strategy that reduces the likelihood of downside risk. As you progress through different stages in your life, your advisor will work with you to help determine an appropriate allocation strategy.

Make sure to ask yourself:

  • Do my investments still align with my needs?
  • Might I benefit from different fixed-income solutions?
  • How comfortable am I with market volatility?

Is my annuity still right for me?

A properly structured fixed-index annuity can be an effective tool in many financial plans. But in today’s elevated interest rate environment, many policies issued in years prior are underperforming newer products.

That’s why it’s important to know when your annuity investments are set to mature. That way you can have a conversation with your financial advisor about (1) whether such a solution is still appropriate for you and (2) what options are available to you when the time comes.

Have my life insurance needs changed?

Life insurance isn’t just for rock climbers and hang gliding enthusiasts. We secure policies in order to make sure our families and beneficiaries don’t experience unnecessary burdens when we’re no longer around. As our financial needs evolve, so will our life insurance needs. It’s important to regularly evaluate coverage with your financial advisor so you can make sure your needs continue to be addressed. 

Has any of the following changed?

  • Employment status
  • Marital status
  • Birth of a child
  • Deaths in the family
  • State or federal tax laws
  • Your lifestyle
  • Your net worth

Do I need to update my estate plan?

It’s generally recommended you update your estate plan every five years. We recommend you consider any significant changes to your wealth, beneficiaries, or directives every time you meet with a financial advisor and discuss what that means for your estate plan. Any action items will likely warrant the involvement of an estate attorney, but it’s important to proactively consider how life changes might affect your will and trust documents.

Has any of the following changed?

  • New beneficiaries
  • Status of existing beneficiaries
  • Charitable inclinations
  • Special needs situations, or beneficiaries who struggle with money
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