What to expect from a Financial Planning surgery meeting?

The Financial Planning surgeries are one of the highlights of UK Financial Planning Week. How else can you get access so easily to a financial planning expert who can help you to answer important questions that you may have about your future? You may be worried about things like:

  • Am I saving enough for the future / retirement / grandchildren/ a special event?
  • When can I afford to retire, and if it’s not at age ‘x’ what do I need to do to change that?
  • I want to be debt free by age ‘x’. What do I need to do to achieve it?
  • Is there any way of making my money work better for me?
  • If something happened to me or my partner, what would happen to us financially?
  • How can we make sure that our money goes to the people we want it to after our days?
  • If my partner or I need to pay for care in the future, what impact would that have on our wealth?

These surgeries may give you many of the answers you seek, enabling you to go away happy in the knowledge that what you’re doing is the right thing for you. CISI CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professionals and CISI Accredited Financial Planning Firms have been assessed by CISI to ensure that they can provide a comprehensive financial planning service that focuses on you and your specific goals in life. More broadly, CISI members are all committed to providing a highly professional service and abide by the CISI code of conduct.

Alternatively, based on the answers you get, you may feel that you need further help in some areas. In this case the planner you see can help you identify where this help should come from. That may be from them, or they may suggest you do some research yourself or speak to another expert or specialist.

What is the aim of the surgery?

The aim of the free surgeries is to make you feel more confident and secure about your finances and your future, by doing some planning. They are designed to provide you with useful guidance and information rather than providing personal advice on areas such as investment, which involves regulatory requirements. You could discuss with the planner how you could organise such advice following the meeting if you choose to do so.

Getting the most out of your meeting

The meeting is designed to be a way for you to ask questions of someone who is an expert in their field. It is a way for you to cut through the jargon and sheer volume of information that is available today, with the aim being that you get some answers to whatever issues you have that are concerning you.

Prior to the meeting:

As you will have a limited time to speak to a planner, preparation is key. The ideal way to prepare is to complete Truth Lite, the online Cash Flow Planning tool free from Prestwood software.

  1. Gather together any documentation you feel may be relevant to what you want to discuss with the planner. This should include statements relating to savings, investments, mortgages, loans or other debts, plus details about your income and outgoings.
  2. Think carefully about your financial situation, in particular what your objectives are from them meeting. This could be to get more information on a particular topic (e.g. “Am I on the best mortgage deal?”), or it could relate to broader issues (e.g. “I’ve been told mum’s got to go into care. What do I do?”). 

Booking the meeting:

  • Contact one of the firms that are offering the free surgeries. In some cases you can book a place at surgeries on set days during Financial Planning Week, and in others it simply means contacting them during the week to set up a meeting at another time which is convenient to both you and the financial planner.
  • When you ring, make sure you mention that you got their details as part of the CISI’s Financial Planning Week and that you’d like to arrange to meet during one of the surgeries. The firms taking part are amongst the best in their field, so they get a large volume of calls. Knowing what it is in connection with will help to speed up the process for you.
  • Some planners will ask you a few questions on the phone at that point, mainly around the reasons you want to meet. This may be so that they arrange for you to meet the right person, or it could be so they can advise you to bring certain information with you. The clearer you are on the reason for requesting the meeting, and the better the preparation you do, the more likely it is that you will get the answers you want.

On the day:

  • Turn up on time to the meeting. If you are late it may mean that you get less time with the planner which, ultimately, could restrict what help they can give you.
  • During the meeting the planner will ask you to outline any concerns, and any particular reasons why you have asked to see them. They will ask you questions, and provide pointers and suggestions where they can. If they can provide an answer immediately they will do so, or they may suggest you need to take remedial action after the meeting.

After the meeting:

  • Make sure you follow up on what has been suggested as soon as possible. Life has a habit of overtaking us all, so if you don’t take some action straight away you could find that this time next year you are in the same position, having not resolved anything.
  • Complete the surgery feedback form. We'd love to hear what you thought of your surgery experience.
  • Share your experience with us on Twitter #FPWUK or Facebook

“If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much!” Jim Rohn