Financial Discussion

Explore Yourself

Financial Discussion

For Financial Advisors: if you adapt from this document please send us a courtesy email with any improvements or corrections.


  • What brings you to a planner?
  • What do you think financial planning can do for you?
  • What past planning or financial experiences have you had?
  • Are you committed to being involved in the process?
  • How will you define planning success?

Goal Development

  • Who and what do you care about, and why?
  • How would you know if you were living life the way you want to?
  • What would your ideal day look like? Your ideal year? How do you know?
  • What is your wildest unfulfilled dream?
  • If money was no issue: Where would you go, what would you do, who would you be with?
  • If you had only one year to live would you have any regrets? Anything you want to address?
  • What are you willing to do to live the life you want? What are you not willing to do?
  • What makes you fret?
  • What is your greatest fear?
  • What one thing would you change about your life for the next year?
  • What would happen if you don’t change it?
  • How do you feel about money? About wealth?
  • What do you think about money?
  • What is important about money to you?
  • What does success look like? What could happen to ruin your vision?
  • Describe your personal wealth (life lessons learned, wisdom, knowledge)
  • Describe your social wealth (family, friends, community)
  • Five years from now, what personal and financial events would have happened for you to consider our relationship a success?

Budget and Discipline

  • Do you spend less than you earn?
  • Do you pay yourself first?
  • Can you define your financial priorities?
  • Define your true necessities.

Balance Sheet

  • Do you have many accounts in different places?
  • Are all of your assets supporting your goals and visions?
  • Itemize your financial wealth (assets, liabilities, net worth)
  • Are there any assets in another state? Country?
  • Assets include: Cash, Savings/Money Market Accounts, Investment/Retirement Accounts, Options, Annuities, Real Estate, Business Interests, Personal Property (cars, furniture, jewelry, collections), Loans Payable to you, etc.
  • Liabilities include: Loans, Mortgages, Taxes Payable, Alimony/Support Payments, Credit Card Balances, etc.

Emergency Planning

  • Do you have ownership interest in a business? Is there a buy/sell agreement in place?
  • Are there any current or potential health issues? With Parents? Children?
  • What is the plan should an emergency occur?
  • Cash on hand
  • Family Support
  • Insurance
  • Homeowner’s/Renter’s
  • Liability
  • Car
  • Life
  • Disability
  • Health/Dental/Vision/Drug
  • Other


  • Carrying any credit card balances?
  • What are your rates on major loans? How do they compare to what you’re earning on your investments?
  • Do you have a home equity loan or creditline?

Employer Benefits

  • If you own your own business, are your benefits sufficient?
  • Are you utilizing your employer benefit plans to their fullest?
  • Tax deferred retirement savings/matching
  • Pre-tax accounts for Health Care or Dependent Care
  • Cost-effective Health/Dental/Vision/Drug Care Choice
  • Reasonable Insurance Coverage
  • Life
  • Disability
  • Long-Term Care

Financial Freedom (Retirement) Planning

  • How do you define Freedom?
  • What does Freedom look like?
  • Where will you live? Where will you travel?
  • Will you want to work part time? What will you do with your days?
  • Will you volunteer? Where? Will you seek more formal learning?
  • At what age would you like to achieve financial freedom? (Defined as: A time where you do not need to earn an income through working.)? Why?
  • Would you like to support your children’s/grandchildren’s education?
  • What will you be spending each year?
  • What steps do you currently take toward financial freedom?

Legacy (Estate) Planning

  • How would you like to be remembered?
  • What do you want for your heirs? Why? Is your legacy only monetary?
  • Do your heirs know why they will be receiving assets? Do you?
  • Are you interested in watching your heirs enjoy their inheritance?
  • Would you rather give money to charity or the government? What if your heirs get less?
  • Who would you like to receive your assets should you die unexpectedly?
  • Who would you like to manage your assets should you die unexpectedly?
  • Who would you choose as custodian for your minor children?
  • Do you know where important papers are? Original Wills/Trusts? Does someone else?
  • Who else knows the location and combination to your home safe(s)?
  • Does someone else know how to access your cell phone? Email? Computers/Tablets? Online Accounts? Password Manager? Home Wi-fi Network? Other Electronics or Cloud Storage?
  • What would happen with your Digital Assets? Email, Cloud Storage, Ancestry Records, DNA results, Entertainment/Shopping accounts, Bank/Brokerage accounts, Social Media, Software Licenses, Website (hosting, blogging, domain names, content), Virtual Fax (eFax or equivalent), Travel Accounts, CSA/Wine/other subscriptions, online Photos, etc.
  • Do you have any of the following: wills, living wills, powers of attorney, health care powers, trust documents?
  • If you have a trust, is it funded? Do your asset titles support your plan?
  • Are your beneficiary designations consistent with your wishes and tax deferral goals?
  • Have you filed any gift tax returns for taxable gifts?
  • Do you anticipate inheriting property of significant value?
  • Are you a beneficiary of an existing trust?
  • Have you considered lifetime gifts to reduce estate taxes?
  • Are there enough liquid assets available to avoid rush sales of real property to pay taxes?
  • Have you named backup executors or trustees in estate planning documents?
  • What would happen if your chosen executor or trustee refuses to serve?


  • Describe your past experiences with financial advisors of all types. Good? Bad?
  • Why do you invest? How have you made investment decisions in the past?
  • Are there any particular investments you like? Dislike?
  • How do you react emotionally when you see ‘the market’ make large moves up and down?
  • What is your need for current income from your investments?
  • Describe your current investments:
  • Cash
  • Home/Mortgage
  • Cars/Loans
  • Personal Possessions/Liabilities
  • Life Insurance/Policy Loans
  • Collections of coins/stamps/antiques and art
  • Other real assets and liabilities used to finance them
  • Bank accounts and other money market securities
  • Stocks, bonds, options and other capital market instruments
  • Investments in real estate and mortgages on them
  • Insurance

Tax Considerations

  • How do you feel about your tax situation?
  • Are you paying sufficient taxes to avoid penalties?
  • Are you using tax deductible and/or tax deferred accounts?
  • Which funds do you use for charitable donations?
  • Have you considered taxes while saving and paying for college?
  • Have you considered tax implications of your estate plan (or lack thereof)?


  • List your advisors and indicate permission to contact directly:
  • Accountant
  • Trust and Estate Attorney
  • Investment Advisor
  • Insurance Agent
  • Business Attorney
  • Other
  • Have you been married more than once?
  • Do you have any children from a prior marriage?
  • Are you a U.S. Citizen?
  • Do you have any other dependents?