Key Documents Advisors Use for Client Plans | Financial advisors

In a recent LinkedIn poll conducted by Chartered Financial Analyst Sara Grillo, 39% of 221 respondents felt that the best time for clients to bring documents was after the first meeting with a Financial Advisor. This gives the client the opportunity to gauge the advisor and vice versa before revealing their financial situation. Another 28% of advisors and financial professionals surveyed felt it was best for clients to bring them to the initial meeting to use as a discovery roadmap.

In both cases, advisers warm to the idea that the human side of the conversation should take the lead in opening up conversations with customers. The documents are then an excellent tool to understand the planning and investment needs of the clients.

The list of documents that most financial advisors want to see can be long, encompassing 15-20 documents. This can be overwhelming for customers, so it’s important that they understand why a particular document is needed. Boston Cardinal, founder of Vantage Impact in Minneapolis, recommends that advisors have a visual that displays their client’s onboarding process, where the client can see the steps and how each document contributes to the overall picture.

Advisors and clients may not realize how much information certain documents may disclose. There are six main groups of documents that state the client’s goals, desires, and pain points:

  • Investment declarations.
  • Savings plans and employer benefits.
  • Risk management documents.
  • Debt statements.
  • Commercial documents.
  • Marriage and property documents.

Investment statements

These documents include brokerage accounts, mutual fund statements, annuity policies and checking/savings accounts. These documents explain what a client has learned about investments to date.

A shrewd advisor can see how much a client already knows about their options and how much risk they’ve been willing to take. A large cash balance in their checking account may draw attention to short-term goals or indicate that a client has strong concerns that the current economy will jeopardize their job or jeopardize an important financial commitment, such as construction. of a house or the payment of a child marriage.

Federal and state tax returns can be an opportunity to discuss the impact of taxes on investments and how different strategies can mitigate them. Pension statements lend themselves to a follow-up tax discussion since they offer distinct benefits that complement any tax conversation.

Savings plans and employer benefits

Social security statements are important to ensure that a customer gets full credit for their dues and that the amounts are accurately represented. In addition, Social Security is an invaluable source of income for most retirees.

Other documents may include qualified pension plan statements for 401(k), 403(b) and Roth IRA Accounts. These statements can help a client see if they are taking full advantage of all the account options offered by their employer or start a conversation about to diversify farther than these plans allow.

Estimates of the pensions of a defined benefit pension plan statement will include information on income available to both the retiree and their spouse. This can help an advisor discuss options for a client to maximize these benefits by using life insurance.

Employers can also offer their highly paid or key employees additional benefits such as stock option plans, non-qualified deferred compensation (NQDC) arrangements and supplementary pension plans for executives (SERPs). This can give the advisor insight into the client’s position within their company and even knowledge about the client’s employer.

Risk management documents

Life insurance policies can provide insight into a client’s relationship with other advisors, as well as the expertise of those advisors. For example, a large policy held by a trust indicates that the insurance professional can advise on estate planning in collaboration with a lawyer.

These professionals can become excellent advisers in whom the client already has confidence. The financial advisor will want to know these professionals and work with them as centers of influence, both for the current client and for future referrals.

With all potential irrevocable and spousal trustsa will be indicates an attorney relationship that has already helped a client understand their role in the future distribution of their estate. A special needs trust indicates that the client has a disabled beneficiary who will require specialized planning to maximize benefits for their ongoing care. A financial adviser can even glean whether a client is well advised by the projected premiums and financing methods the client is using with their insurance professional.

Business owners will want to show an advisor their risk coverages, such as work stoppage blankets. Having coverage for these risks shows a customer’s willingness to mitigate risk. Their absence is an ideal opportunity for additional planning in coordination with an insurance professional.

Debt statements

Cash flow is an important determinant in how to conquer debt. Customers job pay stub is essential in understanding the amount of incoming revenue so that a client understands what they can safely spend each month on their obligations and wants.

A client’s largest debt is usually their mortgage. Revision mortgage statements can reveal a client’s financial situation in the terms of the loan. A higher interest rate can provide insight into their credit rating which, together with their credit card statements, can lighten their cash flow. Even the amount of their down payment can provide insight into their feelings about debt and saving in general.

Student loans are usually the largest unsecured debt and can provide insight into the client’s ability to stick to long term goals. It can also shed light on their feelings about their current job and entrepreneurial aspirations.

Clients may also have second homes and investment properties; the details of these investments, especially if they are currently mortgaged, will be revealed in their loan documents.

Commercial documents

A business owner should be able to provide key business documents, such as a balance sheet and cash flow statements. They must also bring their incorporation documents and business tax returns. An advisor should also seek purchase-sale contractsa employee share ownership plan and pursuit of activity documents. Finally, a really savvy advisor can ask a startup founder for his table of ceilings understand the company’s growth trajectory and the equity allocations of the founders and their investors.

Marriage and property documents

If customers have a prenuptial agreement or one Divorce decreeit is prudent for an advisor to review these documents to ensure that they have been properly signed and that the property in question is still in play. Advisors and clients alike have been surprised to find significant assets encumbered simply because the paperwork has not been fully completed and filed, or the property is no longer available.

If a client owns a property, especially greenfield land, the advisor will want to review mining rightswhich have taken on greater importance with the country’s focus on renewable energy. Boats, collectibles and jewelry appraisals are also important to review, as these assets can fluctuate wildly in times of economic turmoil.


Whatever documents you request from clients, the request should be designed around understanding the client and what is most important to them. Bill Keen, Founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, even found that asking clients to draw their family tree provides important insight, opening up great conversations about caring for minor children, helping adult children, and ensuring aging parents can receive the medical care and life support they may need in their advanced years.

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