Northwestern Mutual: How to Work With a Financial Advisor

Financial advisors can offer years of knowledge and experience to their clients. But this is only achieved if the client makes their intentions known, communicates outcomes they hope to see, and voices any concerns they might have throughout the process.

To help ensure a collaborative and fruitful relationship, here are five strategic ways a person can work with a financial advisor and reach their goals.

1. Define the Expectations

Most plans work best when they start with the end in mind, and this includes those that revolve around a person's financial well-being. This is why it's so important that the client clarifies exactly what they hope to get from the experience.

Some possible outcomes may include: 

  • Getting on track with preparing for retirement
  • Providing stable income for the rest of their lifetime
  • Leaving a legacy to their heirs

Before meeting with an advisor for the first time, a client should take the time to write down their goals. That way the advisor will know what emphasis and priority they should be given.

2. Come With Questions

It's critical in any client relationship that both parties work equally well together. A good way to ensure this is for the client to prepare questions in advance. 

Some typical things to ask may include:

  • How long have you been working in the industry?
  • How many clients are you currently serving?
  • Are you a fiduciary?

Just like a job interview, screening an advisor will give the client the confidence they need to know that they're in the right hands.

3. Bring Critical Documents

Especially for the first meeting, the financial advisor needs to get a comprehensive view of their client's situation. To help get this accomplished, the client should provide the advisor with the appropriate documentation. 

This may include statements from the following:

  • Workplace retirement plans (such as a 401k)
  • Personal retirement plans (such as a Roth IRA)
  • Pension information
  • Regular brokerage accounts
  • Bank accounts
  • Life insurance policies
  • Deeds to assets (i.e., house, vehicle)

Also, if the client has any outstanding debts, the documentation for these obligations should be provided as well.

4. Speak Up When Uncomfortable

Not everyone has the same tolerance for risk. And when it comes to financial matters, a person must make their position well known.

If the financial advisor ever recommends a product or strategy that makes the client feel uneasy, then they should express that concern. After all, it's the client's money and they're the ones who have to be able to sleep at night. 

As a professional, the advisor won't be offended. In fact, this is exactly the type of feedback they'll need to calibrate their methods and find alternate paths to get their client to where they want to be.

5. Do the Work

A financial advisor can provide their client with the tips and tools they'll need to understand their finances and work toward their financial goals. But ultimately, it's the client who will need to decide if they'll follow through with the strategies they were advised to do.

Clients can do their part by following the advice they were given and sticking to the plan that their advisor customized for them — or asking questions and talking it through with their advisor when they experience expected and unexpected life changes. There may be times when they have doubts or even get off track. But through future appointments and follow-ups, the two can work as a team to help the client achieve financial freedom.


Source: Northwestern Mutual

About Northwestern Mutual

Through a holistic planning approach, Northwestern Mutual combines the expertise of its financial professionals with a personalized digital experience and industry-leading products to help clients plan for what's most important.


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