Carrie Sigler, Financial Advisor
The bulk of the Advisor Team’s time at Horizon Financial is focused on client reviews. We are constantly trying to improve ourselves to make our client experience better with every visit. These reviews are a forum where we can get to know our clients and their financial situation better, and of course, clients can get to know us better!
Clients who have been with us for a long time, and soon-to-be-clients, should know that we view finances in a holistic manner, as our motto is to provide advice “anywhere money touches life”. The highlights of these reviews are often centered around sharing stories with clients on various topics including vacations planned, milestones for family and friends, hobbies, etc. These conversations usually incorporate any big updates in your lives that have occurred, which help Advisors understand what your current goals are, because we understand life can change these goals over time.
At Horizon, we follow a similar process for every review, to gather all information necessary to provide quality service. Over the years we have found that what makes each review unique is the client’s overall involvement, preparation for their appointment, and the accuracy of the information they provide. Coming prepared with up-to-date information to discuss during the meeting can make a review go from good to great. We’re proud to announce that last month we unveiled a new review agenda that helps clients come prepared and be even more involved and informed on their financial situation than ever before.
Below is a list of some of the information we would appreciate you bringing to your next review, and where you can usually find it. While conversations about life updates and your goals point us in a general direction, having the information listed below available at reviews will allow your advisor to provide specific advice on how to try and achieve those goals:
- Your most recent income tax return
- We ask clients to provide this information once annually. The information on the Federal 1040, state return, and supporting documents that were provided to accountants are helpful for interpreting information on the return.
- Social Security and Medicare information
- We prefer to get a breakdown of gross and net amounts to know what’s being withheld from the Social Security payment for taxes and Medicare. The easiest way for us to gather this information is through the annual Social Security benefits letter that is sent in December of each year.
- Gross and net income amounts (if still working)
- Copies of recent paystubs give us all the information necessary. We’re able to see tax withholding, health insurance deductions, and contributions to company retirement plans.
- Pension amount and details
- We can gather the payment amount through the annual tax documents issued. We’d also like to know if these pensions are single or joint life, which are often found on the original documents.
- Assets outside of Horizon Financial
- Most recent monthly statements or online account access are helpful for gathering this information. This information is really important for helping with decisions centered around taking funds to pay for expenses and making sure client accounts are properly allocated based on their entire asset holdings.
- Liability details
- We want to possess an understanding of the debt each of our clients has and the impact it has on their monthly budget. The amount owed, monthly payment, interest rate and time left can be found on statements or through online access.
- Life insurance details –
- Horizon prefers to gather the type of insurance (term vs. whole life), the death benefit, cash value, premium, and relevant dates. This information can be found on the original paperwork and annual bills/statements.
- Estate information
- To make sure our clients are prepared for life’s events, we like check to make sure our clients have wills, power of attorney, health care proxy, and living wills.
To attempt to avoid having clients stressed by the review preparation stage and to avoid the need to scramble in the days leading up to a review here are some steps that can easily be taken to be prepared with the information:
- Create a folder to collect all the information to bring to the next review.
- Create spreadsheets with all the information. This spreadsheet acts as a guide for the information needed and can be updated rather easily.
- Utilize Horizon’s recently unveiled review agenda as a reference going forward, to all the information we’ve collected the last time we met and ask for updates on when we meet
Lastly, how you provide us the information is completely up to you! Here are some options available:
- Bring everything to your next scheduled review.
- Send it to Horizon ahead of time (we ask for at least 3 days in advance) via email or through our secure portal at: https://www.encyro.com/horizonfinancial. It is fully encrypted for your security and highly recommended for information containing personal information such as account numbers.
We understand that gathering this information may be time consuming, but having it available will truly make your review meetings more meaningful. Our hope is for clients to better understand why we ask for certain information, and also understand how we provide client-specific advice by looking at your entire financial situation.