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So, you’re facing some important decisions in your life.  Your retirement is appearing on the horizon and you know you need to start getting your act together.

You’ve got various pensions, some savings and maybe some investments but you’re not really sure if they’ll be enough.  You don’t know exactly when you’ll be able to retire and are a bit baffled by it all.

Making That Call…
You know you need to get it right and you may only have one shot at it.  You may (or may not) feel confident enough to work this all out for yourself but you think there might be some benefit in seeking a bit of help from a professional, even if’s just to confirm what you were thinking in the first place.

You contact a financial planner… financial adviser… IFA.. (call them what you will) and you arrange a meeting.  You’ve probably got plenty of ideas as to how the meeting will go, but the truth is you’re probably not sure and have a slight feeling of trepidation as you get in the car (or bus, or your trainers!) to go to the meeting.

You’re met at the door and you’re made to feel very welcome by a friendly face. You’re invited in and you see the office is to your liking. Looks welcoming but professional. ‘Can I take your coats?’  ‘What would you like to drink?’  ‘Please take a seat’ (in a comfortable and relaxing meeting room).

You’re given time to get used to your surroundings and settle in. Hopefully, you’re feeling a bit more comfortable. So far so good.

Let’s Get Started…
I think people would like to know what the format of the meeting will be. How long it will last, what will be covered, etc. You’ll want to know what’s ahead, no surprises.  You feel more at ease.

Your first meeting with a financial planner should be all about you.  You’re not subjected to presentations of their ‘amazing-ness’ or statements of their ‘superb-ness’.  That’s boring.  Sure, you can ask about credentials if you need to but you’ll probably suss out their competence for yourself.

Time to Explore
How often do you get the chance to talk about what you want from your life?  When do you have the space, safety and freedom to express how you feel about money and what importance you place on it?

Money is a surprisingly emotional subject.  It’s something we don’t often talk about in a healthy way, even with our loved ones, but it’s such an important part of life.  I think this stuff really matters and I also think you should be given the encouragement and space to talk about it.

You First… Your Money Second!
This is one of my strongest beliefs.  How can you understand what you want your money to do for you until you understand what it is you need from it and how you relate to it?  Big questions.

Asking searching and genuine questions are key.  Thought provoking questions that encourage and guide you to think about this stuff.  But asking these questions in a safe and non-judgemental way so you’re always comfortable.

You might think this isn’t you.  A bit too ‘touchy-feely’.  That’s natural but it’s a place you can go to if the financial planner you’re with focuses only on you, has no hidden agenda, and has a desire to have a positive impact on your thinking and your life.

The Next Steps
I’ve often found that initial meetings with clients can be emotional.  A lot of ‘stuff’ comes out that may have been bottled up for years.  It’s healthy, believe me.  You’re now starting to get clearer about what’s REALLY important to you about money and what it needs to do for you.But moving things forward in a practical way is also important.  My feeling is that, at the end of an engaging and thought provoking initial meeting, you’ll want to have a clear plan of action laid out with specific tasks that need to be done and costs clearly stated.  No surprises.

You should leave that initial meeting feeling energised, enthusiastic, clear on what’s going to happen and, possibly, a bit surprised at what you talked about.  There’s a bit more to it than just finding out if your pensions are ‘any good’.  It might be that financial products weren’t even discussed!

What should happen now is the financial planner does what they said they would.  This will probably involve some of things you expected (getting facts and figures from you, contacting your product providers, spreadsheets, etc.).

But this should all happen with YOU in mind and what YOU said was important.  The process continues but I’ll pick that up in a future blog.  Here, I just wanted to set out how I think you might want an initial meeting to go.  What do you think?  Interesting?  I hope so…

Anyway, I need to go and do some work now, so I’ll say goodbye and catch up with you soon…