How to prepare for a meeting with your financial professional | American Funds

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Retirement Planning

How to prepare for a meeting with your financial professional

Navigating the financial waters can be tricky, but your financial professional can help. Use this three-step guide to help you prepare for a productive meeting.

Step 1: Write down your financial goals

To create a realistic plan, think about what your biggest financial goals are. It may also help to prioritize those goals and to decide which ones you’re willing to compromise on. Here are some examples:

  • Retirement ‒ When do you want to retire? What kind of lifestyle do you want when you retire?
  • College ‒ Do you need to set aside money for a child or other family member?
  • Home purchase ‒ Are you saving for a down payment?
  • Pay down debt ‒ How much debt do you have? Is paying it off a priority?
  • Planning for the unexpected ‒ Do you have an emergency fund?

Step 2: Make a list of any questions you have

To get the most out of your meeting (whether it’s your first meeting or an annual review), come prepared with questions that your financial professional can help you answer. Here are some to consider:

  • What is my financial situation?
    • Re-examine your investment goals, time horizon, risk tolerance and financial circumstances. Have any of these objectives or circumstances changed since your last meeting?
    • Have you recently moved into more conservative investments? If so, make sure to ask your financial professional if your current mix will still allow you to meet your long-term goals.
  • Do I need to reconsider my time horizon?
    • How long is your time horizon? Your investments can be more growth-oriented if you have a longer time horizon.
    • Do you have multiple time horizons for different financial goals?
    • Can you adjust your plans to retire?
  • Have recent changes in my personal life affected my financial situation?
    You may need to adjust your investment mix to provide for changes such as:
    • A job change or early retirement
    • A change in marital status or the birth of a child
    • A child or grandchild entering college
    • Grown children or parents who need financial assistance

    This is also a good time to review your beneficiary information.

  • Am I on track with my retirement savings?

    If not, your financial professional may suggest a number of strategies to help build up your assets prior to or during retirement, such as delaying retirement until you’re at full retirement age or working part-time in retirement.

  • Is my portfolio properly diversified to meet my financial goals?

    Ask your financial professional if you should adjust your investment mix in either of these categories:

    • Asset types ‒ such as stock, bonds and cash
    • Geographic regions ‒ U.S.-based, international or global

Step 3: Gather documents to bring to the meeting

Your financial professional won’t be able to get into specifics without an accurate picture of your situation. Save time by bringing this information to your meeting:

  • Latest statements for all your accounts (e.g., IRAs, 401(k)s, college savings accounts, other savings accounts and checking accounts)
  • Information about other investments or assets (e.g., information about stocks you own and real estate investments)
  • Compensation details (e.g., pay statements, pension information, Social Security benefits and inheritance money)
  • Monthly expenses (e.g., credit cards, mortgage/rent and loans)
  • Recent tax records
  • Estate planning information (e.g., your will or life insurance information)

Remember, you don’t have to go it alone. Your financial professional is a valuable resource who can help you create a financial strategy that meets your needs and goals.                         

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Investments are not FDIC-insured, nor are they deposits of or guaranteed by a bank or any other entity, so they may lose value.

Investors should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. This and other important information is contained in the fund prospectuses and summary prospectuses, which can be obtained from a financial professional or downloaded and should be read carefully before investing.