What to Expect: The Working Relationship between You and Your Advisor
When you first contact an ACP member, he or she will be interested in learning a lot more about you and your situation. You'll be asked questions over the phone, and then you will probably be invited to come in for either a no-cost, no-obligation consultation, or a paid financial review that allows you to test drive the relationship.
You'll be asked to share a list of your assets and liabilities, along with copies of your tax returns for the prior three years. This helps your advisor determine if he or she is the right advisor for you, and for you to decide if you are comfortable with the advisor,which is key to the relationship's success.
Your advisor will go over the agreement with you in detail, explaining the costs, what services you can expect to receive (and any excluded services), what he or she expects from you, and how the agreement is terminated or renewed. Our advisors never want you to sign something you don't understand, and that starts with the advisory agreement.
There is a lot of work to be done during the first year. Your advisor will be systematically reviewing every aspect of your financial situation and making appropriate recommendations.
Your tax-related appointments may include income tax preparation, amending prior tax returns, and tax planning for the current year and beyond. Many clients find that the tax savings realized during these appointments more than cover the cost of their retainer. To maximize your tax savings in future years, your advisor may also schedule a record-keeping appointment to get you up and running on an easy-to-use system.
During the portfolio inventory and analysis appointment, your advisor will work with you to construct a detailed listing of your assets, liabilities, and investments.
For your insurance review appointment, your advisor will want to see all of your existing insurance policies and employee benefit handbooks. To the extent allowable by law, he or she will take the time to make sure you understand your existing policies and provide any recommendations for changes.
During your estate planning appointment, your will or trust (if you already have one in place) will be reviewed to make sure it is current and consistent with your goals. If it is not, or if getting a will or trust has been on your to-do list, your advisor will work with you to put the appropriate plan in place at the best cost—and make sure you understand what you are getting.
Goal setting is a critical appointment in the holistic financial planning process. ACP members consistently find that when clients identify what is most important in their lives, they rarely select "things." Instead, it is almost always doing what they most want to do, with the people most important to them, in the places they enjoy the most.
Investment Strategy and Implementation
Once you and your advisor have defined financial independence in your unique terms, it's time to fully focus on the strategies and vehicles that will allow you to live out your dreams.
It may take six months or more to complete the initial holistic review described above, but your relationship with your advisor doesn't end there. Your advisor will continue to review each area of your financial plan on a regular basis, making adjustments as needed. And, of course, you have open access to your advisor whenever you have a question, or if there's a change in your situation. Together, you and your advisor will craft a plan that can handle whatever life throws at you.