How often do you meet the advisor? How does the consultation take place: virtual or in person? What are their working hours?

You should leave the meeting with an idea of ​​whether you like the advisor and how their services will work with your financial goals, Xiao says. You should not feel pressured to hire the consultant on site.

“A good financial planner probably won’t pressure you into making a commitment,” he says. “I always tell my clients to sleep on it. But if [an advisor pushes] before making a decision, you can just politely thank them for their time and explain that you want to take some time to consider such an important decision.”

Prepare for the discovery meeting

After you’ve talked to a few candidates and selected a consultant, they should schedule a longer exploratory meeting, usually one to two hours, to get to know you better, including your lifestyle, specific needs, and financial picture.

To prepare for the meeting, gather your past tax returns, insurance policies, group benefit information, retirement statements, shareholder agreements, mortgage or debt terms, and any other documents relevant to your needs. The discovery call is also your chance to get to know the advisor, so write down the questions you want to ask.

The advisor asks about your financial goals, discusses your comfort level with investments and maps possible investment scenarios. This could be optimizing a nest egg by “creating retirement income in an efficient way,” Xiao says, adding, “it’s important to go down” and not only determine a client’s financial priorities, but also what may be missing from their larger financial roadmap.

The advisor may ask you to authorize access to your account on the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website, Xiao says. “We want to know everything that is important to them,” he says of his customers.

View the engagement letter from the consultant

It is common for clients and consultants to sign an agreement before any planning work is done. This is a legally binding contract detailing the scope of work, time frame and cost, Xiao said. The letter will include agreed financial strategies, plus wording acknowledging that these plans may be revised if necessary.

The letter also states how often the advisor will meet you. It will include the advisor’s relationship with other financial services providers, and it will indicate when the advisor is legally able to share your personal financial information with the custodian of your assets or a portfolio management service provider. The engagement letter should include language about what will happen if you are not satisfied with the consultant’s services.

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