- Financial planner Krista Cavalieri says her first meeting with a prospective client is about discussion, not numbers.
- For that reason, she doesn’t require anyone to bring anything specific to their first meeting unless they have an issue they want to talk about in detail.
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For financial planner Krista Cavalieri, your first meeting should be more about you and less about your money.
"People should expect that financial planning is far more about what someone wants from life," she says. To her, the first meeting is all about getting a feel for what you want to accomplish and where you’re coming from. Then, the money comes second.
For that reason, the Columbus, Ohio-based financial planner doesn’t require that new clients bring anything — not a budget, a spending log, a file folder of bills, or a bank statement — to a first meeting.
Leaving out the numbers helps her to get a better idea of the clients’ whole life and goals, she says, rather than just their financial life.
The only exception is if clients have something specific they want to talk about. "If they have debt, it’s helpful to know how that debt is structured, the amounts and interest rates," she says. "But I don’t require that they bring anything."
And her first question has nothing to do with dollars and cents. Instead, it’s meant to spark discussion. She asks: "What do you want to accomplish?"
She says she doesn’t expect, or even want, a prospective client to hire her straight out of that first meeting. "For me, a sign that someone might not be a good fit is someone who’s ready to sign on day one," she says. She’d rather have people not rush into hiring a financial planner; she prefers that a prospective client takes their time and sees it as they would any other financial decision.
And while a client might walk into her office empty-handed, she doesn’t want them to leave that way. "I want to make sure that the client walks away with something tangible," she says.
"I always send a follow up email with the things we discussed," she says. "I try to provide them with answers to the questions that initially brought them to me, or action items to help them get started toward their financial goals."
Just because you walked in without anything in hand doesn’t mean you’ll leave that way.
Want professional help with your money? SmartAsset’s free tool can help find a financial planner near you »
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