A financial planning firm like ours thrives on the ability to help people save more, pay down debt, and budget more efficiently. But we aren’t able to do any of those things if clients aren’t willing to meet with us. One of the most common reasons that people don’t meet with us is because they are nervous about the first meeting. Either they aren’t sure if they have enough money to need a financial planner, or they don’t know what to expect from us, or they aren’t sure if we are going to try to sell them products they don’t need. All of these are valid concerns, but they are holding people back from receiving the financial help they really need. This article will outline the process that we follow, so that you can calm those nerves, and hopefully contact us for your first financial planning appointment.
The very first thing that happens is that you contact us about scheduling an appointment. Sometimes people call us with specific problems, like they have too much credit card debt, and they need help to get it paid off. Or they can’t afford their student loan payments and they don’t know what to do. But sometimes people contact us without a specific problem, they just know they need to be adults about their finances, and they don’t know where to start. We can work with either case, and we don’t ever look down on someone who feels lost or alone with their finances.
We usually meet for the first time at a coffee shop or a local restaurant to make you feel more comfortable. (Don’t worry, we pick up the tab) People sometimes get nervous about inviting a stranger into their home, so we make sure to meet for the first time at a neutral location, so we can get a feel for each other. Occasionally we do a Skype meeting if you live outside the Chico, CA area.
There are some regulations that all investment advisers are required to follow, and that means that our first meeting will be mostly about paperwork (ugh). We’ll give you a “Client welcome folder” that has all of the information you could ever want to know about our business and our process. Inside the folder are the following documents:
- A copy of our “ADV” form, which tells you everything you could ever want to know about our company. (Check out our ADV online here)
- Our client contract so you can see exactly how we do business before you sign up for anything. The contract outlines our fees, ($75/month as of Feb. 2016) and what we can and can’t do regarding your account. For example, our contract outlines that we have to have your written permission before we can make any investment buys or sells within your account. We’ll never spend your money without your explicit authorization.
- A “Fact Finder” questionnaire this helps us get the preliminary questions out of the way so we don’t miss any important info, it covers contact information, risk tolerance, and your thoughts about money.
Once we have the paperwork out of the way, if you are feeling comfortable with the process, we’ll ask you a series of questions about your current financial situation and your financial goals. These will help us in the future to determine what to advise you on and how we will know when we are successful. Goals are probably the most important aspect of the process, because without a clearly defined objective, we will just be running blind. Having your debt paid off is great, but it won’t mean anything if we don’t have a target to aim for with your new found cash flow.
Everyone that we meet with will have solutions that are unique to them, some people will need to prioritize paying down debt, while others will need to focus on saving. And of course some people are doing just fine and only need some reassurance from us to make sure they are on the right track. One thing that differentiates us from other firms is that we’ll actually let you know if you are doing fine without us. We want every client to feel like they are getting their money’s worth from our services.
The final step is that we meet regularly. At a minimum we meet monthly to go over your progress on the goals, define new objectives if need be, and adjust our trajectory. Sometimes we need to meet more often, especially as big life events come up, we’ll want to make sure we’re both on the same page when you make large purchases, like a new car or your first house. We make sure to follow up with everything you need. We might create a spending plan together (see image above) or we might call your creditors for you to negotiate your debts. Regardless of where you are in life, we’ll make sure you’re getting the financial help that you need.
You might be surprised to hear, all this comes for the low cost of $75 a month. No commissions, no fees. Most financial planners don’t like to post their prices on their websites or blogs, but we want you to know everything going into it. Like it says on our website, this is financial planning for the average person, not wealthy retirees.
If you’d like to schedule a free consultation, please call (530) 4-PLAN-55 or email us at info@ArbogastAdvisers.com