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Next up in our guide series is fact-finding! It’s kinda what it says on the tin; we want to know all about you. 

This isn’t to judge you or your situation in any way. It’s to explore your hopes and dreams, your motivation and find out what you already have in place. We stick a pin in your journey so far and use this as a starting point for your onward planning.

In order to get the best out of this first step, you have to feel comfortable. So, maybe even before this process starts - whether it’s with Jacksons or another practice - one of the most important decisions right at the beginning should be, who can I talk to who is on the same page? Who is going to hear and understand me? Can I talk openly and honestly and do I feel comfortable to ask any question and challenge anything I don’t understand? You will know what feels right - being at ease with an adviser that shares your values and thought process and allows you to build strong foundations.

There are two different sides to a fact find. One is all the fun stuff (let’s call this discovery), where we ask you to talk about your plans for now and the future. We explore what is important to you and why. We clarify who your plans impact and challenge your thought processes. The second, is perhaps a little more practical (we can call this ‘what we know’), giving us all your financial details, your current standpoint including pensions, savings, mortgage etc. This helps us build context for your plans and tells us a little about past financial behaviours. Together, it helps paint a picture that is unique to you.

Why do I have to do it?

I would say, why wouldn’t you want to do it? If you have come as far as picking up the phone or sending us a message, then you are ready and if you are ready, you should be excited! You’re about to finally getting organised and having a plan that could change your entire future. Together we are about to write the beginning of your new story …

Is it necessary?

Yup! First, it’s a regulatory requirement, so no wiggle-room there! But if we are to do our best work, we need to know what we’re working with – it’s all about you.

Discovery – easy. We just want you to tell us what you want to happen. Let us know what you are passionate about, what motivates you and what worries you. This only needs an open mind, the safety of speaking freely and open dialogue. We might encourage and prompt you by asking emotive questions, but this is really where we find the ‘thing’ that is going to drive you to reach your goals.

What we know – full disclosure, this could require a bit of time and effort. You are going to have to dig out that ‘paperwork’ box or do a bit of calling around to get some up-to-date info. I would go as far as saying we want you to have a look at your income and expenditure! But, once it’s done, it’s so easy to update and it’s cathartic getting all the info in one place. I may be doing you a disservice here, you might already be on top of this stuff and have it ready to present, which is really organised and helpful - thank you!

What impact does it have?

The devil is in the detail! Having accurate information about existing plans, savings, any debt and your tax position stops us from guessing. If we are taking the time together to figure out a plan, then we should always start with the facts. It could be that you have more in your pension pot than you thought or a plan with benefits that you would never want to give up. It might be a simple benefit but it could give you a lifetime of security.

Single or Joint?

If you are single, great, it’s only you that you have to think about! If you have a partner, wife or husband then we advocate you talking about what you want to achieve together and maybe what you each have before you get in touch. One of you may have the golden ticket that could help you reach those dreams earlier.

Time well spent?

We equate most things in our everyday to time. Ask yourself the question, is it worth the time and energy?! Let me rephrase that in a way that might clarify if it’s worth the effort:

Is spending a couple of hours to build a file of your life’s work of financial decisions so far worth it, if it helps you to see if you can achieve everything you dream of within the timescales or sooner?

I am guessing it’s a yes. What might feel a little mundane could be the catalyst to a conversation, that leads to a plan that sets you on a different path that you never knew you could follow!

You see, it’s one thing to talk to amongst your friends, family or with your partner of ‘one days’, it’s another to talk to someone who can help you take action and make a plan to push the button on a commitment to those dreams.

Top tips

  • Ask yourself, am I ready to jump into the process, am I in the right head space?
  • This is fun! Enjoy the getting to know you process, it will help you relax.
  • Be open to learning, we always try to educate you along the way!
  • Fully engage to get the best out of your planning, you may be given some work to do!
  • When completing the ‘Profile’ page on the Jacksons portal, allocate plenty of time and have all your paperwork to hand. This is a place that you can refer to again and again, make it all yours, you can even add a photo 😊
  • If in doubt add it in, it’s all important, whether it’s a small plan or a pipe dream!

We try and empower you to really understand what your money allows you to do. It’s hard to consider your situation without putting your own filter on it. Our job is to bring an experienced, professional eye to your current situation, your hopes and your dreams. With the information you provide at the fact-finding stage, you’re giving us the best possible start in helping you to live your life well.

Sharon Bray