You’re ready to get organized, grow your money and get a jumpstart on big goals like retirement, paying down debt or even that family vacation you’ve been dying to take — so you finally take the plunge and book an appointment with a financial advisor.

Except now you’re not sure what you’re supposed to bring to the table (other than yourself, of course). And we don’t blame you — sifting through financial paperwork is not fun (for most of us, at least).

But it’s key to have the right information with you because the more transparent you are, the more your advisor can help you make progress on your goals, budget for the things that are important to you today and see your financial big picture. Here’s what to know before meeting with a financial advisor for the first time.

What are the basics I should bring to a meeting with a financial advisor?

First, bring your significant other if you have one, because you both need to be involved. And bring pen and paper, because you want to take notes and really be open-minded about the process. As far as the actual paperwork to bring, here are a few things that would be helpful:

  • A budget, if you have one

  • Pay stubs

  • Statements/details about any investments

  • Any insurance policies you have

  • An employer benefits statement

  • Tax returns for the past two or three years

  • Statements/details on any debt you owe (mortgages, credit cards, student loans, business loans, personal loans, etc.)

  • Information on any trust funds you may be a beneficiary to

Your financial advisor wants to get a sense of your assets and liabilities so they can assess your situation. And if you’ve ever had a financial plan in the past, bring that so your advisor can understand what you’ve been working with.

What if I don’t have a budget?

A financial advisor will want a decent idea of how you’ve spent your money in the past, so even having an informal budget you just wrote by hand can help. If you don’t have that, bring your credit card or debit card statements, which can help them see trends in your spending.

What is important not to overlook in a first meeting with a financial advisor?

Don’t be reluctant to talk about any debt you have, whether that’s student loans or credit card debt. It’s natural to feel embarrassed by credit card debt in particular, but a personalized financial plan will include ways to manage your debt while also making progress on other goals.

Also, it’s not uncommon for people to forget about their benefits statement, but try not to forget this. Your benefits statement helps an advisor see what your total compensation really includes — things like incentive pay or stock options, for example — and also helps them see how much disability or life insurance coverage you’re getting through your employer.

Recommended Reading