You’re prattling on about your $8,000 roof repair, but is your financial planner really listening…or stewing over the thing you said two minutes ago. According to Jacki Purcell, a financial advisor for Northwestern Mutual, there are things a good financial planner loves to hear, but there are also a couple of talking points she’d rather you check at the door. Here, the details on what to bring up (and what to avoid).
Things She Loves to Hear:
1. “Roth, Bitcoin, Mutual Funds.”
The list goes on, but the theme is specificity. “401k, Roth, Bitcoin, IRA, ETF, mutual funds, stimulus checks—these all signal to me that my client wants to take an active role in the planning process for their financial future,” Purcell says, because by bringing these terms up in appointments, it shows that they’ve done their homework. “Typically, people who are this well-informed and up-to-date on topical financial terms are also willing to implement the behaviors it takes to have a healthy financial approach.”
2. “My spouse and I would like to meet with you.”
Mentioning both you and your partner at the outset is a huge pro, says Purcell. “Finance is one of the primary reasons for conflict in relationships and, ultimately, separation,” she says. “I’ve always believed that financial planning is one of many guards you can place around your relationship and having both spouses engaged is a smart move.” More than anything, it gets you both on the same page so you have a more unified approach to how you’re spending your cash and what your long-term goals may be.
3. “I’m nervous about [fill in the blank].”
Like any relationship that’s built to last, the one you have with a financial planner requires healthy communication from both parties. “I really admire my clients who are willing to share their doubts and fears with money—or with the financial plan that we have in place—so that we can make changes that are necessary,” she says.
Things She Hates to Hear:
1. “Let’s wait until X milestone to save.”
Maybe you’re waiting until you’re married to think about retirement. Or until you find the home of your dreams to think about a down payment. Great financial planning requires implementation, says Purcell, and good intentions aren’t enough. “Surely, no one wakes up on January 1 and thinks, ‘This is the year I want to spend more than I earn, take on debt and forgo saving for my future,” she says. “Yet, sometimes, it still happens because intentions require implementation for true change to take place.” Bottom line: Don’t wait. “Good financial planning helps you juggle competing goals and challenges simultaneously.”
2. “I heard from my parents/grandparents/coworker that I should do X with my money.”
Reality check: No two financial plans should look the same unless those two people share the exact same financial picture, behaviors and beliefs about money. “Since this combination is very rare, it’s important to find a financial advisor that helps you to create a customized financial plan for your unique situation,” Purcell explains. Yes, you can find plenty of money insight online, but it’s not likely to translate to your own unique situation. “That relative who shared advice is missing what is most critical: the context of how it applies to your life.”