Sometimes when we meet with prospective clients, they ask us, “why so many questions?” Typically they expect us to ask about their financial situation and retirement expectations, but we go well beyond that. The reason is simple – how can we develop and implement an effective financial plan if we don’t know you well – really well.
It’s not enough to know about your current financial situation. We want to know your attitudes about money, what lessons (or baggage) you may have from childhood and how that may inform your relationship with money (or with your partner.)
It’s not enough to know your kids’ and grandkids names and ages and where they go to school. We want to know what they like to do and what sports and activities they enjoy. We want to hear about their college and career plans; about marriages, children and challenges.
It’s not enough to know that you’re planning to retire early (or late) and buy a second home in the mountains (or at the beach), domestically or someplace exotic. Such plans are exciting and we will focus on helping you achieve them. But if non-financial challenges arise that alter those plans, we want to know you well enough to understand your disappointments and have a sense for what support you may need as we seek an alternative.
It’s not enough to know that you want to make annual gifts to your children or grandchildren. We want to understand your thought process around not enough or too much so that we can help you if a situation arises where you have to make hard decisions.
It’s not enough to know your risk tolerance. We want to know what keeps you up at night (if anything), what worries you about the world we live in, what excites you the most, or what financial fears you have that we can help with.
It’s not enough to know that you have good relationships with your adult children. We want to know whether you’ve talked with them about aging and end of life issues so that we can help facilitate those conversations if necessary.
Some questions are hard, some are emotional, some elicit groans or laughs, tears or anger, and some end up being take-home questions for you to think more about. But the end result is that we know you (sometimes even better than your spouse…) and that’s the foundation we need to serve you well.
Over your lifetime, you will face many important decisions and issues, and we want to be there to provide objective and personalized counsel. The longer and better we know you, the more valuable our advice becomes and the better we can serve you. That’s why we ask so many questions.