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Five questions a financial planner should ask you – Life Inc.

By Jacoba Urist, TODAY contributor

Preparing for your first sit-down with a financial planner can be more than a little intimidating. After all, a good planner covers a lot of terrain, from analyzing your investment portfolio, estate plan and health care costs, to helping you figure out how to fund college or retirement accounts, to making sure you’ve got a healthy day-to-day budget in place. Chances are he or she may be the only professional who takes in your whole financial picture — with both a wide-angle and a zoom lens.Experts agree that finding the right fit between you and your financial planner is the key to making the relationship worth your while. To that end, most of us concentrate on what we should ask a potential adviser during the initial consultation. Many people don’t realize that a good financial planner should also be asking you at least five questions at the first meeting.

1. What is it you hope to accomplish by visiting a financial planner?A good financial planner needs to know exactly what you want from the relationship, explained Lauren Locker, chairwoman of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors “Are you trying to save for your kids’ college and a house?” Locker said. “Are you here because you’re worried about retirement? Do you need guidance with respect to insurance issues? You might need a whole financial plan — and you might only need a few hours. It all depends on what you are looking for and why you’ve decided to meet with someone.” According to Locker, financial planning is a lot like a cooking recipe. You start with your goals and what you hope to achieve financially imagine trying to bake something without really knowing what you’re trying to make in the first place. Then, she said, a good planner will add in your current investments to see how far they’ll take you into the future, and sprinkle in your estate planning, taxes, lifestyle issues — whatever else you want help with — on top.

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