Levin: What your financial planner should be asking you

In the hunt for good help as you build your life and wealth, rather than reflecting on what you need to ask a financial planner, think more about what your financial planner is asking you.

The ultimate question you need to answer is: “Does my financial planner get me?”

Does your planner want to understand your family background to get a sense of the framework from which you make your decisions? Are they curious about things that have gone well in previous professional relationships? Are they paying attention to the clues you give them when you are uncomfortable with something they are saying? Are they aware of when your eyes glaze over because they are using language with which they are comfortable but may be foreign to you?

Do they want to know whether you wish to treat your children equally or equitably? When you are thinking about moving are they trying to understand the reasons behind your wishes before they pull out the mortgage calculator to determine what you can afford? Are they helping you think ahead about activities you will be replacing your work with when you are contemplating retirement?

Do they know you well enough to understand your proclivities in taking care of your spouse should they need long-term care before you? Are they fluent in your family dynamics to know when a meeting needs to be called to talk about issues like passing on the cabin or who should be responsible for health care directives?

Do they help you see that everything involves trade-offs? When you want to move out of state for tax reasons do they also help you see the hidden costs of losing community or care providers or family? Can they see when a decision you have made is in conflict with your values and help you chart a new course?

When you ask questions regarding your plan are they curious about what you are asking? Are you being seen as a couple as well as individuals? Are they asking questions to understand your charitable wishes and understanding what would make you feel personally safe enough to pursue them?

Good financial planning understands that people and families are not particular types, that there are just people and families. Each one is unique, so the questions your planner asks you may matter more than the answers they give you.

Spend your life wisely.

Ross Levin is founder of Accredited Investors Wealth Management in Edina. He can be reached at [email protected]

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