Fact Finding

A professional opinion based on assumptions rather than the relevant facts is usually worthless.

Fact finding is the process of gathering information about you. Questionnaires may be used to gather "hard data".


Filling out questionnaires is not particularly interesting, but does help in the development of appropriate solutions.


Questionnaires are helpful in

  • Providing Documentation
    • can you and your advisor can keep all the information in your heads
    • changes in your situation may require changes to your financial plans
  • Monitoring Progress
    • saving the questionnaires gives a chronological perspective
    • shows progress and setbacks
  • Inspiring Confidence
    • an advisor who follows a system demonstrates concern for you in a way that verbal assurances can't



Here are misconceptions about questionnaires

  • too time consuming
    • the recommendations can be simplified, but not the process of gathering the information on which they are based
    • e.g., lawyers must understand all the information to ask the right questions during a cross examination
  • shorter is better
    • limited information —> many unanswered questions
  • only needed for comprehensive estate planning
    • can be useful in other situations also
  • rough answers will do
    • definitely not … need precise, accurate information
    • you should let your advisor review your will, shareholders’ agreement. etc
  • a completed questionnaire is a complete fact find
    • “filling in the blanks” is hardly enough
    • your advisor should think about your answers and probe further

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