How to prepare for an effective annual review with your financial professional

december 8, 2023


Follow six simple steps to help make the most of this important year-end planning session

If you want to turn casual aspirations into solid plans, partnering closely with a trusted financial professional can help motivate you to complete tasks and finalize decisions.

In fact, 63% of pre-retirees who completed a written retirement plan worked with a financial professional.1 That’s according to a recent survey conducted by Greenwald Research, which also found that 64% of consumers would be very likely to tackle uncompleted tasks if they had the right help.2

If you are working with a financial professional or planning to soon, one of the most important meetings you can take part in may be your annual client review. These valuable financial planning sessions often occur toward the end of the year and can accomplish several important goals. These may include:

  • Apprising your professional of new financial needs or circumstances
  • Reviewing your progress toward certain financial goals and revising certain goals as needed
  • Enabling you to articulate your plans and describe what you liked about your financial situation over the past year and what you would like to improve upon
  • Simply building a stronger relationship with your financial professional

Your annual review with your financial professional may include a combination of these goals or any other items that are important to you and your plans for your financial future. The key is that the discussion is open, honest, and productive and helps better position you to reach your near-term goals and — longer term — achieve financial freedom.

Any productive meeting usually involves at least a modicum of planning, and your annual review is no exception. To help ensure you can maximize the potential of this valuable opportunity and set a positive tone for the coming year, consider following six simple steps before you meet with your financial professional.

1.) Request a meeting agenda.

Having planned discussion topics for your meeting will keep it focused on key items you want to cover with your financial professional. If the agenda is prepared beforehand, you can review and add topics as needed. Identifying and reiterating short and long-term investment objectives is a fantastic way to get the meeting started.

2.) Inventory and assemble key documents. 

Collecting relevant information before the meeting — including your tax returns, life insurance policies, and other account statements — is a great time-saver. In support of this goal, financial professionals may send a pre-meeting questionnaire or checklist.

3.) Prepare questions to ask your financial professional and be an active listener.

The best meetings are those where you can be comfortable speaking freely and expressing your concerns or worries. Also, consider the importance of taking accurate and detailed notes — these can be particularly useful for conducting follow-up questions after the meeting.

4.) Suggest the use of graphs and charts to help clarify complicated points. 

Visualization can be a powerful tool when reviewing complex financial information. Data viewed visually can enhance how you understand your investment direction and help product offerings seem less abstract. If you are a visual learner, advise your financial professional ahead of time so they can adequately prepare. If your meeting will occur virtually, adjust your monitor and display settings ahead of time so you have a clear view of what will be presented. 

5.) Update and ensure the accuracy of your beneficiary designations.

Life events frequently change family dynamics. Ensuring your beneficiary designations are accurate and current is essential to the planning process. When your legacy is at stake, you never want to be out of date.

6.) DWYSYWD.

After your meeting, Do What You Say You Will Do. The plans you make will ring hollow if you don’t take action and follow up on any agreed-upon steps.  Your annual review is an essential checkpoint for maintaining your financial stability. 

By following these steps and engaging candidly with your financial future at your annual review and throughout the year, you can make solid financial plans that help ensure you can realize all the potential today’s modern retirement holds. 

 

 

1. Greenwald Research, “2023 Retiree Insights — Survey of Consumers,” August 2023.

2. Ibid.

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