What You Need to Start a Financial Planning Discussion

Green checks being made on checklistThe list is long, but some documents take only a minute to review.

By Ed Mendlowitz
The CPA Trendlines Practice Doctor

You have a client who is open to financial planning, but how do you get started?

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Here is a checklist that can be provided to a client requesting information for a comprehensive financial planning engagement.

Financial Planning Engagement

Initial document request, including memo to client

Following are some things you can bring when we meet. This is not all-inclusive and you can bring anything else that might not be on the list that you think is relevant or that you want to discuss.











Memo to Client

If you do not have everything, or if it is too difficult to get the information, do not spend a lot of time before the meeting creating the information. If it is needed for a future meeting, you will have time afterward to get or recreate the information. The more info you bring the better, but it is more important to come to the meeting and not to delay it.

Everything listed above is pertinent to our discussion, but we will only spend minimal time on some of the items. For instance, the information I could get from your will in a 30-second look could save a few minutes of questions and answers. A less than one-minute look at your tax returns will provide me with information that could take you 45 minutes of filling out an investment profile questionnaire. Note that I DO NOT need copies of anything to keep.

The above information request seems like a lot and might seem overly voluminous.  You should consider the meeting as something that might alter the course of the rest of your life, and the degree of financial security you should have. In that case, shouldn’t we use as much information as possible? The greater the input, the more applicable the output will be.

When we start our meeting, I will ask you why you came and what you hope to accomplish. Please try to jot this down before you come so your responses would flow easier and quicker. If you have broad financial security goals, also jot these down for you to use at our meeting. I do not want you to give me your notes – I will ask you questions and will mark down your replies in a way that I could use them to advise you. I will likewise provide you with no copies of my notes. You can however take any notes you want.

To maximize the benefits from our meeting, and to accomplish what we need to, the better prepared you are will result in a more efficient meeting. Keep in mind that our goal is to determine if your investment holdings and strategies are consistent with your goals, and if not, what tweaks or changes are in order.

Note that no estate or tax planning will be done at our meetings, and none should be inferred or expected. No investment advice will be provided other than asset allocation and financial security risk/reward discussions and none should be acted on without you discussing it with an investment adviser.

2 Responses to “What You Need to Start a Financial Planning Discussion”

  1. Dan Domancich, CPA, CFP(R)

    Excellent list! Well done!

  2. Frank Pasternak, CPA

    Thank you . Very well done.