Retirement Age

Questions to Ask Your Financial Advisor: Key Topics for Annual Review

Last Updated on:
November 24, 2023
Edited By:   Bryan Henry
Advertiser Disclosure
At RetirementAge we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict editorial integrity, this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for how we make money . The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

Meeting with your financial advisor for an annual review is an essential part of maintaining a strong and successful financial plan. By asking the right questions during this review, you can ensure that your financial strategy remains aligned with your goals, risk tolerance, and life changes. Regular conversations with your advisor allow you to stay informed and make better decisions when it comes to managing your financial future.

During your annual review, it’s crucial to delve into various aspects of your financial plan, such as investments, retirement goals, tax strategies, and insurance needs. By discussing these topics, you and your advisor can identify any potential gaps or opportunities for growth in your financial strategy. Preparing a list of questions beforehand can help you make the most of your meeting and leave confident that you are on the right track towards financial success.

To make your annual review as productive as possible, here are some questions you can ask your financial advisor, based on this Forbes article and this Enlightio article. Remember, staying engaged and proactive in your financial planning is key to achieving your long-term goals and maintaining a healthy financial life.

Understanding the Role of Your Financial Advisor

It is essential to have a clear understanding of what your financial advisor does and the scope of their responsibilities. This will help you know what to expect from your advisor and ensure that you’re on the same page regarding your financial goals.

Your financial advisor is a professional who assists you in making informed decisions about your financial situation. This includes investment management, retirement planning, tax planning, and more. When you have your annual review, it is essential to ask your advisor about their role as a fiduciary. A fiduciary is someone who is legally required to act in your best interest, prioritizing your needs above their own. Not all financial advisors are fiduciaries, so clarifying their obligations to you is important.

Financial professionals come with various credentials, and it’s essential to ask about your advisor’s qualifications during your annual review. Some common credentials include Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), and financial advisor series licenses. Knowing their qualifications helps assure you that they possess the necessary expertise to guide you in your financial journey.

Maintaining a strong relationship with your financial advisor is crucial for achieving your financial goals. To build this relationship, communicate openly about your expectations, concerns, and any changes in your circumstances. Here are some questions to ask:

  • How often should we meet to discuss my financial plan?
  • What is the best way to communicate with you (in-person meetings, phone calls, or emails)?
  • How do you stay updated on industry trends and market changes?
  • What is your investment philosophy, and how will it help me achieve my financial goals?

Finally, don’t hesitate to inquire about the fees and compensation structure of your financial advisor. Some advisors charge a flat fee, while others may work on commission or a percentage of assets under management. Make sure you understand how they’re compensated and if there might be any potential conflicts of interest.

By asking these questions and understanding the role your financial advisor plays in achieving your financial goals, you’ll be more informed and confident about your financial future.

Preparing for The Annual Review Meeting

As you prepare for your annual review meeting with your financial advisor, it’s crucial to know the right questions to ask to assess your current financial situation and plan for the future. First, take the time to reflect on your financial goals and any major life events that have occurred in the past year. This information will help you and your advisor determine how to adjust your financial plan accordingly.

To ensure a productive meeting, create a list of questions that are relevant to your financial situation. Some key questions to consider include:

  • How am I doing compared to my financial goals?
  • What can I do to improve my financial situation?
  • What are some potential risks to my financial future?
  • What can I do to reduce those risks?
  • Should I be saving more money? If so, how much?
  • Should I be investing more money? If so, where?

Additionally, don’t forget to discuss any life events that may have an impact on your financial plan, such as:

  • Getting married or divorced
  • Having a child or becoming an empty-nester
  • Changing jobs or experiencing a significant change in income
  • Moving or purchasing a new home
  • Suffering a serious illness or disability

Communication plays a vital role in maintaining a fruitful relationship with your financial advisor. Ensure that you clearly convey your concerns and ask for any necessary clarifications. Remember, your advisor is there to guide you and provide insights. Thus, you should be open about any changes in your life, financial priorities, and long-term goals.

In summary, when preparing for your annual financial review meeting, reflect on your goals, consider major life events, and create a list of questions tailored to your financial situation. Engage in clear, open communication with your advisor to ensure a productive meeting and a successful financial plan.

Discussing Your Financial Goals

During your annual review with your financial advisor, it’s crucial to discuss your financial goals. This conversation ensures that your objectives and strategies align with your current circumstances and long-term vision.

One important aspect to address is your retirement planning. Assess if your current savings and investments are on track to meet your retirement needs. Your financial advisor can help you determine your projected retirement income and whether any adjustments are necessary. For example, you might consider increasing your retirement savings contributions to achieve your retirement goal.

You should also evaluate your budget. Review your income, expenses, and any outstanding debt. Consider discussing the following with your financial advisor:

  • Are there changes I can make to better allocate my resources?
  • How can I reduce unnecessary expenses to free up more income for savings or investments?
  • What debt repayment strategies should I prioritize to improve my financial situation?

Establishing a trust might also be a topic of interest during your annual review. Trusts can play a vital role in estate planning and asset protection. The advice of your financial advisor can be invaluable in deciding whether a trust is appropriate for your situation, as well as guiding you through the process of setting one up.

Lastly, gauge the success of your financial plan. Reflect on past milestones and evaluate your progress, keeping in mind that factors like market fluctuations and personal situations could necessitate adjustments. Revisiting your investment strategies and seeking expert guidance ensures that you stay on track to meet your financial goals.

Assessing Current Financial Status

Before diving into the questions to ask your financial advisor during the annual review, it’s crucial to assess your current financial status. This will help you gather essential information necessary for a productive conversation with your advisor.

Evaluating Your Assets: Start by taking a closer look at your assets. These include your home value, savings accounts, investments, retirement funds, and other valuable possessions. Make a list of these assets and firm up their respective values to determine your overall net worth.

Considering Your Liabilities: Pay attention to your liabilities, such as mortgage, car loans, student loans, and credit card debts. Be sure to consider both short-term and long-term liabilities. It’s essential to have a clear understanding of your total debt to keep them in check and align them with your financial goals.

Monitoring Your Progress: To assess your financial progress, compare your current net worth with the previous year’s figures and check your progress towards your financial goals. This comparison will give you an idea of whether you are on track or if you need to make adjustments to meet your long-term objectives.

Reviewing Your Budget: Have a solid grasp on your current budget to discuss it effectively with your financial advisor. Analyze your income, expenses, and savings rate, and be prepared to present this information during the review. Knowing your budget well will allow you and your advisor to make informed decisions to optimize your financial situation.

As you prepare for your annual review, keep these essential points in mind. This will help you and your financial advisor have a clear, productive conversation and ensure you stay on track with your financial goals. Remember, assessing your current financial status is a crucial step towards taking control of your financial future.

Evaluating Your Investment Portfolio

During your annual review with your financial advisor, it’s essential to assess your investment portfolio thoroughly. This exercise allows you to determine whether your current investments, strategies, and risk tolerance align with your financial goals.

A vital question to ask your advisor is how your investments performed compared to market performance. By understanding the relative performance of your portfolio, you can determine if adjustments to your investment strategies are necessary.

Routinely reviewing your investment strategies ensures that they remain tailored to your needs. Go over your investment portfolio with your advisor and discuss if there are any changes in your life, like a new job or retirement plans. These changes might impact your financial objectives and risk tolerance, prompting adjustments to your investment strategy.

Another crucial aspect to discuss is the diversification of your investment portfolio. Make sure your asset allocation includes various types of investments, such as stocks, bonds, and cash, to manage risk effectively. Evaluating the volatility of your investments can help you gauge if you need to reallocate your assets to align better with your risk tolerance.

Consider asking your financial advisor to clarify the impact of fees and expenses on your investment returns. Ensure that you understand all associated costs, and if needed, explore alternatives such as low-cost equity mutual funds.

Lastly, discuss your Internal Rate of Return (IROR), which reflects the performance of your investments. This metric enables you to track your progress toward specific financial goals and compare your portfolio’s performance with benchmark indices.

Remember to keep an open channel of communication with your financial advisor to make informed investment decisions, adjusting strategies as needed to stay on track toward reaching your financial objectives.

Understanding Risks and Opportunities

When discussing your financial plan with your advisor, it’s crucial to address both the risks and opportunities associated with your investments. Start by asking about risk management strategies they recommend for your portfolio. Some popular options include diversification, asset allocation adjustments, and the use of stop-loss orders.

It’s also essential to inquire about market timing and its role in your investment plan. While trying to time the market may seem attractive, it’s generally not a reliable strategy for long-term success. Ask your advisor how your investment plan accounts for market volatility and whether it’s based on a long-term, disciplined approach rather than attempting to capitalize on short-term fluctuations.

Market volatility is an inevitable part of investing, but understanding how your portfolio will react in different market conditions is essential. Use the following questions to gain insight into your portfolio’s volatility:

  • How has my portfolio performed in various market conditions?
  • How does this compare to relevant benchmarks?
  • What measures have been taken to reduce my portfolio’s exposure to market volatility?

Lastly, consider discussing investment opportunities that may have arisen since your last review. Ask your advisor about any new asset classes, industries, or regions worth considering for your portfolio, based on your financial goals and risk tolerance. Evaluate these opportunities critically, and ensure that any changes made align with your overall investment strategy.

By asking targeted questions about risks and opportunities, you can gain valuable insights into your financial plan and make more informed decisions for your future.

Retirement Planning and Accounts

When discussing your annual financial review with your advisor, it’s essential to focus on the retirement planning and accounts aspect of your financial plan. The following are some questions and considerations to keep in mind during your review.

First, assess your retirement goals and your progress towards them. Ask your financial advisor if you are on track to achieve your retirement goals. Based on your current savings and investments, ask them to provide an estimate of your potential retirement income.

Review your current retirement accounts, including 401(k) plans, traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, and annuities. Ask:

  • What is the performance of my accounts?
  • Are the investment allocations still appropriate for my retirement goals and risk tolerance?
  • Should I adjust my contribution levels to any of these accounts?

In addition, if you are nearing retirement age, explore retirement income strategies like setting up a systematic withdrawal plan or purchasing an annuity, to provide you with consistent income during your retirement years.

Consider the following questions when discussing retirement planning with your financial advisor:

  1. Do you foresee any significant changes to my retirement plan in the coming year?
  2. How can I maximize my tax efficiency in retirement?
  3. Are there any new investment opportunities or products that I should consider for my retirement portfolio?

By addressing these key questions and discussing your retirement accounts in detail with your financial advisor, you can ensure that your retirement planning remains on track and continues to evolve with your changing financial situation and goals.

Insurance and Estate Planning

When it comes to insurance and estate planning, it’s essential to review your current plans and strategies during your annual financial review. This allows you to make any necessary adjustments and protect your wealth in the long run.

First, let’s discuss your estate plan. Evaluate whether your estate plan is up-to-date and accurately reflects your wishes. Ensure that all beneficiary designations and pertinent legal documents, such as wills and trusts, are in order. Additionally, consider discussing with your financial advisor potential strategies for minimizing the tax burden on your heirs, maximizing your wealth transfer, and protecting your assets.

When it comes to life insurance, take the time to evaluate your current coverage to determine if it adequately meets your needs and the needs of your dependents. Some factors to consider are:

  • The financial obligations of your dependents
  • Potential changes in your income
  • Whether your policy is suitable for your current age and health situation
  • Any significant life events, such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child, which may change your insurance needs

Don’t forget other insurance coverage to protect your assets and maintain your quality of life during unexpected situations. Review your disability insurance policy to ensure it reflects your current income, lifestyle, and employment situation. If you are uncertain about your disability coverage, discuss the available options with your financial advisor.

Lastly, consider your long-term care plan. As you age, long-term care costs can put a significant strain on your wealth management and retirement planning. It’s essential to evaluate potential coverage options and determine if a long-term care policy is right for you. By discussing these matters with your financial advisor, you’ll be better prepared for the future and ensure that your estate planning and insurance coverage are aligned with your financial goals.

Taxes and Your Financial Plan

When meeting with your financial advisor during your annual review, it’s crucial to discuss your tax situation and how it ties into your overall financial plan. Understanding tax implications on your investments, savings, and other financial decisions can help you make the most of your hard-earned money.

Begin by asking your financial advisor about your tax bracket and how it may have changed throughout the year due to factors such as income increases or life events. Your advisor should help you understand current tax law and anticipate possible changes that could impact your financial situation.

Thoughtful tax planning can lead to significant savings. Consider the use of tax-advantaged accounts to grow your wealth while reducing the overall tax burden. Some examples of these accounts include:

  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • 401(k)
  • Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)
  • 529 college savings plan

These accounts offer various tax advantages for your contributions, investment earnings, and withdrawals. Your financial advisor should help you navigate the features of each account and guide you in choosing the best options for your goals and circumstances.

Another vital topic to discuss with your advisor is the tax implications of your investments. Well-diversified investment portfolios should take your tax situation into account. For instance, holding interest-generating assets in tax-advantaged accounts can help maximize after-tax returns. Conversely, investments that produce qualified dividends or capital gains may be suited for a taxable account due to their preferential tax treatment.

Overall, it’s essential to weigh the potential benefits of different tax strategies against your financial goals and personal risk tolerance. By doing so, your financial advisor will help you develop a tax-efficient plan tailored to your unique circumstances. Remember, understanding and managing your tax situation can significantly impact your overall financial success.

Understanding Advisor’s Fees and Charges

When discussing your financial plan during the annual review with your advisor, it’s essential to understand the fees and charges associated with their services. To gain clarity on this aspect, you can ask the following questions.

First, inquire about the fee structure they follow. Financial advisors have different ways of charging their clients, such as percentage fees, fixed fees, hourly rates, or a combination of these. For example, they might charge a percentage of your assets under management (AUM), which could be around 1.02% for a $1 million AUM, amounting to $10,200 yearly. Remember that this percentage might vary depending on the size of your account.

It’s also crucial to ask how those fees are invoiced and paid. Some advisors might deduct fees directly from your account, while others will send you a bill. Knowing this information can help you plan and avoid surprises down the line.

Additionally, ask if there are any additional costs associated with their services or the products they recommend. These could include expense ratios of the mutual funds or ETFs in your portfolio. You may also want to clarify if there are any transaction fees, account maintenance fees, or commissions.

Lastly, don’t hesitate to ask for benchmarks and comparisons. Request your advisor to explain how their fees compare with industry standards or their competitors’ charges. Having this information at hand can help you better assess the value of the services provided.

By addressing these topics during your annual review, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of your advisor’s fees and charges. This knowledge can be essential for your long-term financial planning and ensuring that you’re getting the best value for your investment.

Conclusion

In your annual financial review, it is essential to ask your advisor the right questions to ensure your financial goals are on track. Here are some key areas you should cover:

  • Financial Goals: Discuss your progress toward your financial objectives. Example question: How am I doing compared to my financial goals?
  • Improvement Strategies: Talk about ways to enhance your financial situation. Example question: What can I do to improve my financial situation?
  • Risk Mitigation: Identify potential risks to your financial future and discuss steps to reduce those risks. Example question: What are some potential risks to my financial future, and what can I do to reduce those risks?

Remember to inquire about your asset allocation and establish goals for the coming year with your advisor, as suggested by Avidian Wealth. Additionally, Fidelity recommends asking the following key questions:

  1. Is your investment strategy on track?
  2. Are you saving tax-efficiently?
  3. Are you protecting your income?
  4. Are you preserving your assets?
  5. How does your plan affect your family?

By addressing these topics and ensuring open communication with your financial advisor, you can confidently navigate your annual review and work towards securing your financial future.

Written By:
Debbie Wheeland
ON THIS PAGE