One of the most important responsibilities one has is making and keeping their finances on track. This can be done in a variety of different ways from monitoring the plan and investments yourself or working with a financial advisor who will look at and keeptrack of your plan for you.
If you chose to work with a financial professional there is a critical role you play as the client: staying active with your advisor and plan. Many people who chose to work with a financial advisor have their own way of managing their relationship. However, with all of the daily activities and moving pieces of life, sometimes meeting with your advisor and keeping up to date with your plan can unintentionally take a back seat.
To prevent this from happening and to stay proactive with your planning here are some quick and easy ways to ensure you are current with your financial advisor and financial plan. Here are a few ways you can accomplish this.
Set up regular appointments
When meeting with your advisor be sure to set up regular meetings. These can be in person, Zoom or a phone call. I tend to recommend to my clients that we touch bases quarterly. One of those meetings is always an in person or Zoom annual review of the overall financial plan to see if there are any changes that need to be made. From my experience most clients elect for 2 in person/ Zoom meetings a year and then 2 phone calls to quickly review investments, economic conditions and discuss any changes they may need to make.
By setting up your meeting schedule it keeps everything current and the advisor knows your exact needs and goals for the quarter. This is always subject to change and if there is ever a need to make changes before you meet with your advisor call them and have a discussion as to the changes. They are here to help you and the only way to do this is to keep an open dialogue.
Reach out to your advisor with questions
Always ask your advisor any questions you may have. It is highly important to ask questions when they arise. It keeps you hands-on with your financial plan and can reduce the stress of not being completely sure what is going. As an advisor I prefer when clients reachout to me with questions instead of letting that bottle up and cause anxiety or uncertainty. I want my clients to be confident in the plan we created and have a clear understanding of what investment vehicles are being used and why. It is critical that you and your advisor are on the same page with a plan and if there are questions or concerns about that reachout.
Providing education is a key role advisors play so always send the email or make the call. Your advisor will be happy to explain their thoughts and reasoning. It also allows for you to do a quick check in and keep your relationship active. Your advisor is your partner in your financial plan. You should never feel like you are bothering them no matter what the question is. Your advisor’s job is to assist you in pursuing your goals and making sure you are in alignment with the plan you both created.
Make sure to have a team of financial professionals working with you
When creating a financial plan there are many complexities and moving parts that range from tax strategies, estate planning, insurance needs, and investment management. Some firms offer all these services to their clients, others do not have these services in house but can refer you to someone they know and have worked with before. You may also be all set and already have someone who handles that part of your financial plan.
The most important part is to make sure everyone is on the same page and to give permission for all the parties involved to meet, speak to each other and work as a team in your best interest. This will allow you to create a plan with as little gaps as possible. There may be times when there are unforeseen circumstances but, when you work with a team the chance of this will be minimized. By having an active team working on your financial plan you can benefit from the different areas of expertise and perspective each professional has.
Make contributing to your accounts easy
Ask your financial advisor if there is a way to make your contributions automatic and what those options are. Whether you contribute weekly, every other week, monthly or quarterly you are taking one task off your plate. As part of your plan you should have a contribution strategy in place. This will keep you active and up to date with an important part of your plan. It will make annual contributions less stressful than attempting to make your contribution goal all at once. I always discuss this with my clients.
Even if you are setting aside $20.00 a month it is much better than contributing nothing at all. If you are worried about starting a contribution strategy and how that will change your budget, start smaller to adjust to the new routine. Once you adjust it is an easy way to feel like you are taking steps to work towards your goals and be empowered. You are taking the initiative to set some money aside for you at a later date. Keep in mind it is easier to contribute a smaller amount than to remove the money from your account depending on the account type.
At the end of the year you can always assess where you are financially and make an additional contribution to your account to pursue your goal. When you have meetings or reviews with your advisor this will allow you to change the typical meeting conversation of how much you would like to contribute to your account and try to figure this out on the spot. Instead it will allow a more substantial conversation of goals, objectives and future planning.
Think of your goals as short, medium and long term
When you create a financial plan at first it is exciting, you are all on board and ready to stick to it. However, as time goes on it can feel long winded and that you are no closer to your overall goal which can be frustrating for most people. This is where perspective comes into place and is critical. Label your goals as short, medium and long term. Your longer term goals will naturally take longer to achieve than your short term goals.
However, As you accomplish the shorter term goals your medium term goals will seem more obtainable and then the longer term goals. If you set up checkpoints and celebrate achieving your goals the process of working with your advisor will be more positive and rewarding. This doesn’t mean going out for lavish dinners or shopping sprees all the time. It means if you achieve a goal,you may consider buying that designer bag you wanted or go on that girls weekend with your friends.
As always in life our goals can change. Let your advisor know and take advantage of your meetings to review the change. This is always a great topic of discussion and your advisor will be able to adjust your plan and strategies to align with your new goals and objectives. By staying on top of your financial goals and defining what they are you will be able to partner well with an advisor to create and stick to a plan no matter the duration short, medium or long term.
Never stop investing in yourself
This is what I believe to be the most important of all ways to keep your financial goals and planning relevant. As women we are naturally givers whether that be to spouses, children or your parents. We tend to sacrifice investing in ourselves to take care of our families. As a financial advisor I always tell my clients the best investment you can make is in yourself. This can look different depending on the person. It can be a time investment, educational or even a hobby.
As an advisor I always recommend that my clients continue to invest in themselves. It is critical for your overall success and the success of any plan you create. If you work a profession where you are with people and professional appearance is important, have your nails painted and hair done. If you need to take a certification for work to further your career take that class to prepare you.
Investing in yourself ties back to your overall financial plan and goals. As you evolve as a person and continue to grow you will see your plan and needs change. Keep an open dialogue with your advisor and update them on any changes so they can make adjustments to your plan. Your advisor is there to cheer for your successes and help you to create a plan that you feel comfortable with and self investment is the keystone to pursue your financial goals.
As you work with your advisor, never be afraid to keep active with your financial plan. It is imperative that you know what is going, ask questions, make changes and feel comfortable with who you are working with. In personal finance your financial advisor is there to help you. Anyone can hire a financial advisor and if you take some of the tips from above you will be able to cultivate an active and positive relationship with your advisor and overall financial plan.
Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor. Member FINRA /SIPC.
Flavia V. McCaughey
Flavia V. McCaughey is the Vice President of the FR Investment Group. Ms. McCaughey earned a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance, and a Minor in History from Boston University in 2020. Having always been interested in business and finance, she began as an administrative assistant at the firm in 2015. She became a Managing Director after two years before working her way up to Vice President. She holds a Series 7 and 66 securities registrations through LPL Financial. Ms. McCaughey is registered to service clients in CT, MA, NY, RI, and VT. In addition she holds a life insurance license and health insurance license in MA and CT, as well as, the AHIP Medicare Certification and Long Term Care Certification.