Setting up a one-time meeting with a financial advisor can offer a lot of value in a relatively short time. A financial advisor can provide clarity during financial turning points, answer pressing questions and give you a roadmap of next-steps.

A single meeting won’t offer the dynamic support and guidance on-going financial planning services can provide, but it can save you a lot of money. If you adequately prepare for the meeting, you might be surprised at how much you can accomplish in just an hour.

Here are some of the benefits of setting up a one-time checkup with a financial advisor, as well as tips for making your limited time together as productive as possible.

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How does a one-time checkup with a financial advisor work?

Most financial advisors let you schedule a one-time meeting to review your financial situation and suggest ways to achieve your goals. These are sometimes called discovery sessions. You might schedule a 15-minute or 30-minute free consultation with an advisor first so the advisor can get to know you and explain their services.

Think about your top three financial goals or concerns. Maybe you need advice about a financial turning point in your life, like expecting your first child, combining finances with a partner or starting your first high-paying job. Or maybe you just want someone to assess your current situation to make sure you’re on track to reach your financial goals.

After the consultation but before the meeting, an advisor will likely ask you to provide information about your current financial situation via an online platform or paper forms. The advisor uses these details to better understand your pain points and goals before meeting with you one-on-one to discuss your plan in detail.

During that one-time meeting, an advisor will offer insights gleaned from reviewing your finances before providing you with an action plan or next steps you can take. Most advisors charge a flat fee for one-time meetings.

Once the discovery session ends, you’re not obligated to meet with the advisor again, and will likely need to pay for follow-up sessions or on-going support.

Benefits of a one-time checkup with a financial advisor

Not everyone needs on-going financial advice. Sometimes you just need clarity around a single issue, or a second set of eyes to look over your DIY financial plan to ensure you’re on track.

A one-time checkup with an advisor can also save you money, especially if you’re young and just starting your financial journey. A single meeting might run you $100 to $300, while an extensive financial plan and on-going advising can quickly run into the thousands of dollars.

In situations when immediate decisions or problem-solving are essential, a one-time meeting can provide quick solutions. For example, getting advice about how to manage a recent inheritance or navigating a sudden change in income.

On the other hand, ongoing financial guidance — though more expensive — is suitable if you need long-term support. This is ideal if you’re managing complex financial portfolios, planning for retirement or need assistance with estate planning.

Regular consultations also offer flexible adjustments to your plan. Instead of a snapshot of your financial health and a brief bullet-point list of takeaways, you can benefit from a personal relationship with an expert source of unbiased financial information.

How to prepare for your meeting

You want to make the most of the limited time you’ve scheduled with a financial advisor, so it’s important to come prepared.

Follow these steps to ensure a productive session:

  • Define your goals: Clearly outline your financial objectives. Whether it’s figuring out how much you need to save for retirement, managing student loan debt or buying your first home, having an understanding of your goals will guide the discussion and help your advisor provide targeted recommendations.
  • Organize financial information: Gather and organize relevant financial documents such as bank statements, investment accounts, tax returns and insurance policies.
  • Budget and expenses: Create a budget that outlines your income, monthly expenses and discretionary spending.
  • Identify questions and concerns: Take the time to jot down questions or concerns you have about your finances. Preparing a list will help you stay focused and ensure that no important topics are overlooked.
  • Clarify fees and services: Before the meeting, ask about the advisor’s fees and the scope of services they provide.

During the meeting, take notes and try to stay on track. When the meeting comes to a close, ask any pressing questions you still need to clarify. From there, you can determine if additional sessions would be beneficial .

How to find a financial advisor

Most financial advisors offer one-time meetings for a flat fee, so it’s important to narrow down your search to find a professional who best meets your needs.

Start by gathering recommendations from friends, family or colleagues who’ve had positive experiences. You can also conduct your own research online. You might consider working with someone who specializes in the area you need help with, such as investing or paying off debt, or you can look for someone who shares similar values or characteristics as you, such as an advisor who serves the LGBTQ+ community.

Online databases from organizations like the CFP Board and XY Planning Network can also help you find financial advisors in your area and narrow down your options.

Next, interview potential advisors to gauge their investment approach, experience and fee structure. Make sure your communication styles align. Finally, conduct a background check on any potential candidates. Ensure they have expertise in the areas relevant to your needs.

Bottom line

A one-time checkup with a financial advisor can help provide clarity on a specific situation, or reaffirm that you’re on track to reach your goals. Make the most of this time by doing your research and coming prepared with a short list of key questions. An hour isn’t much time, but by making the most of it, you can save yourself time and money down the road.