Open up more than the books with your fi­nan­cial ad­viser

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - BUSINESS - BY BAR­BARA MARQUAND

You found a good fi­nan­cial plan­ner to help you man­age money and achieve your goals. Con­grat­u­la­tions, that's a big step.

Now comes a leap — open­ing up about money. There's a rea­son it's called "per­sonal" fi­nance. Al­most ev­ery­thing about your life can in­flu­ence your fi­nan­cial de­ci­sions, so get ready to talk about more than dol­lars and cents.

"The more open our clients can be, the bet­ter the plan­ning we can do for them," says Em­i­lie Schaf­fer, a cer­ti­fied fi­nan­cial plan­ner and as­so­ciate wealth ad­viser with Buck­ing­ham Strate­gic Wealth in St. Louis.

Work­ing with an ad­viser goes be­yond hand­ing off fi­nan­cial doc­u­ments. Here's what you can and should share when meet­ing with a fi­nan­cial ad­viser.

The facts — all of them

Your fi­nan­cial ad­viser will re­quest doc­u­ments as you start work­ing to­gether. That can in­clude any­thing from ac­count state­ments and tax re­turns to how much you make and how much you owe. The list might be broader than you ex­pect. Be pre­pared to share more than your 401(k) state­ment even if you think you only need re­tire­ment ad­vice.

"The best re­sult is when a client is will­ing to share all the rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion." says Carl Goodin, a cer­ti­fied fi­nan­cial plan­ner and pres­i­dent of Fi­nan­cial Plan­ning As­so­ciates Inc. in El­lisville, Mis­souri.

That in­cludes even those in­vest­ment ac­counts the plan­ner won't man­age, Goodin says. Know­ing the full scope will help an ad­viser cre­ate a prop­erly diversified plan.

Goals and val­ues

This goes deeper than gen­er­al­i­ties such as "I want to save more" or "I want to have a com­fort­able re­tire­ment."

"It's not just look­ing at num­bers," says Therese Nick­las, a cer­ti­fied fi­nan­cial plan­ner and owner of The Wealth Coach for Women in Rock­land, Mas­sachusetts. "You want to know what those num­bers are for."

Be pre­pared to think through such ques­tions as: What and who is most im­por­tant to you? What do you want to do with the rest of your life? What keeps you up at night?

Clients of­ten pause when asked these ques­tions, Schaf­fer says. "They of­ten come in think­ing they're just go­ing to talk about re­tire­ment goals and plan­ning."

Your val­ues give a fi­nan­cial picture color and shape. "The pur­pose is to get to know clients as in­di­vid­u­als, as hu­man be­ings," Schaf­fer says. "There's noth­ing off the ta­ble."

Ex­pe­ri­ences with money

At­ti­tudes about money get es­tab­lished early, so don't be sur­prised if a plan­ner asks about your ear­li­est money mem­o­ries. Know­ing about your back­ground can help your plan­ner un­der­stand your per­spec­tive — and can also bring bi­ases to the sur­face.

"A client will say, 'Don't talk to me about real es­tate. I bought a rental prop­erty one time, and I took a big loss.' Or 'Don't talk to me about stocks. I bought a stock one time, and it went down and I took a loss.' Or 'Don't talk to me about bonds.'" Goodin says. "This al­lows me to ad­dress mis­un­der­stand­ings that may oc­cur. My job is largely one of ed­u­ca­tion."

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