How to prepare for your next meeting with a financial advisor

Over the past few months, many Canadians have seen their finances disrupted due to the unprecedented events surrounding COVID-19.

Now, as governments in many jurisdictions begin the process of re-opening their economies, many Canadians are looking to the future, and re-examining their financial situation. For many, that can mean a call to their financial advisor to better understand their current financial situation, to reassess their short- and long-term goals, and decide how they can move forward.

Whether you've had to dip into your savings, defer your mortgage payments, or adjust your retirement plans, here are a few things to consider before booking your next meeting with a financial advisor to help ensure you get the most out of that meeting.

Gather and review your financials before meeting with your advisor

It's a good idea to gather up relevant financial documents before your appointment with your financial advisor, but it's also helpful to take some time to review those documents, as well as the status of your investments, before your appointment, according to Alex Hébert-Ben Dhaou, a TD Financial Advisor based in Montreal, Quebec.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many aspects of our day-to-day lives, including our finances and investments," Hébert-Ben Dhaou said.  

If applicable to you, you'll want to prepare documentation from the following financial accounts and investments and bring these with you to your next meeting with your financial advisor. Documents you may want to prepare include (but are not limited to):

  • personal tax information
  • mortgage statements 
  • health and/or insurance group benefits 
  • mutual funds statements
  • TFSA and/or RRSP statements
  • RESP statements
  • insurance policies
  • a copy of your household budget, if you have one

Prepare a list of questions you want to ask

In most cases, your financial advisor will lead the meeting and ask questions to get a better understanding of your current needs and personal goals. But it's important to bring a list of any questions you would like your advisor to address.

"Take advantage of your financial advisor's knowledge to clarify financial information you'd like to discuss," Hébert-Ben Dhaou said.

Some important questions Hébert-Ben Dhaou says clients may want to ask their advisors include:

  • Does my current investment strategy still align with my personal goals?
  • What type of investment products would be appropriate based on my goals, my investment time frame, and my investment knowledge and risk appetite?
  • When it comes to market activity, what should I be watching for as the year unfolds?
  • Based on my budget and monthly expenses, how much should I try to save as an emergency fund?
  • If I'm thinking about a real estate purchase or sale, what is important for me to know right now?

And remember – there's no such thing as a silly question.

"Don't be afraid to ask your advisor to clarify the advice or recommendations they're providing to help ensure you're both on the same page," Hébert-Ben Dhaou said.   

"Asking those 'simple' or 'silly' questions during your one-on-one meeting can help avoid misunderstandings down the road."

Be open to re-evaluating your financial goals and plans

Much has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020 and governments around the world began putting in place measures to protect public health and safety.

"The kinds of questions I now receive from my clients have changed dramatically over the last few months," Hébert-Ben Dhaou said.  

"Some of my clients – like many Canadians across the country – have lost their jobs or have reduced work hours, adding stress and instability to their households. Given their situations, their questions are now more focused on how to manage their monthly expenses rather than on their immediate investment goals."

In light of the financial impact of COVID-19 on many Canadians, TD recently launched TD Ready Advice, a response to assisting with financial recovery from COVID-19. From personalized advice to everyday banking information and helpful online tools, TD Ready Advice is geared to help address the current needs of customers' evolving financial situations.

"If you're adjusting your finances right now due to a lost job or reduced work hours, it might be worthwhile to re-visit your monthly expenses and prioritize those non-discretionary expenses which are essential – such as any  mortgage, car loan and/or credit card payments – and address your investments and savings goals a little later, at least for the short term," explains Hébert-Ben Dhaou.

Being open and honest with your financial advisor will help ensure that your immediate financial concerns are addressed first, whether they include your long-term investment goals or prioritizing your immediate expenses. That way, your financial advisor can help you create a solution that works for your specific circumstances.