Are We a Fit? Introductory Phone Call: Why It Is Important and What You Can Expect


The “Are We a Fit? Introductory Phone Call” is the first step of a two-step process to help you make an informed decision about my financial planning firm, Milestones Financial.

Our objective during this 30-minute phone call is to figure out if we can help you solve whatever the problem is that prompted you to reach out. It is important to establish that we are both in alignment on what it means to have a successful financial planning partnership. Solving your immediate pain point will set us up to help you achieve any other, long-term financial planning priorities.

As a fiduciary financial advisor, I believe it is important to help people buy only what is appropriate for their situation, so our focus is on helping you make a befitting choice.

The bottom line is that the value we provide is whatever you perceive it to be. The “Are We a Fit? Introductory Phone Call” will help us uncover if the services we provide are actually what you are seeking.

Communicating realistic expectations

Our structured meeting process, which can be covered during the introductory phone call, can help clarify your expectations so that you will feel poised when it comes time for the call.

My hope is that being transparent will also help to manage any anticipation anxiety you may be feeling and lead to a relaxed conversation that begins to explore possibilities together.

We will be perfectly honest, authentic, and candid with you, and encourage you to always do the same. There will not be any bait-and-switch with the information we share.

6 questions to gauge appropriateness and readiness

Since the “Are We a Fit? Introductory Phone Call” lasts only 30 minutes, it is important that we ask the right questions to gather the most helpful insight. That is why we let you know what questions are coming in advance to keep us both on track and alleviate any potential anxiety before the call.

We are always mindful of your time, and should we move forward together, we will have many opportunities to discuss all that is important to you.

This conversation is designed to be a dialogue (not an interrogation), so we provide opportunities for you to give input.

The following six questions are the simple agenda to guide our discussion:

• What has prompted you to contact us?
• Have you ever worked with a financial professional before?
• What questions do you have about our process?
• What other questions do you have?
• When are you looking to get started?
• How would you like to proceed?


1. What has prompted you to contact us?

You likely reached a tipping point in a problem that ultimately resulted in you scheduling the “Are We a Fit? Introductory Phone Call”.

This all-important question is where we will spend the majority of our time. We want to learn as much about this pain point as possible and discuss how you envision solving that problem.

Additional follow-up questions that we may ask to get a clear picture about the issue could include:

• Why did you decide that now, specifically, was the time to talk to a financial advisor?
• What have you tried in the past?
• What would it look and feel like to have this problem totally resolved?
• How do you envision us working together to solve the issue?
• If we were having this discussion three years from today, and you were looking back over those three years today, what has to happen, both personally and professionally, for you to feel happy about your progress?1

While we are grateful and appreciative of the opportunity to talk with you about what was on your mind when you reached out, out of fairness to clients who pay us to receive specific financial advice, we do not impart specific financial advice in these types of appointments.

2. Have you ever worked with a financial professional before?

This question helps identify your expectations about a future relationship with a financial advisor. It also allows us to be introspective about our own service model and to determine how it may benefit you.

As a fee-only financial planning firm that does not accept commissions or referral fees of any kind, we are not asking this question to determine how to pitch some financial product to you that you do not really need. It is to help both of us decide if a financial planning partnership can be beneficial and, possibly even more important, one that we will both enjoy.

Additional follow-up questions for people who have previously worked with a financial professional could include:

• How long ago was the relationship with your previous financial advisor?
• Why did the relationship with the last financial advisor ultimately end?
• What did your previous financial advisor do that was most beneficial for you?

Additional follow-up questions for people who have not previously worked with a financial professional could include:

• What led you to take action now?
• With whom do you talk about your finances with right now?
• What questions do you have about the client-advisor relationship?
• Tell me about your past investment experience.

For anyone who has not worked with a financial professional before, I want to take this opportunity to offer a sincere and well-deserved compliment! It is a big step for anyone to reach out to a financial advisor for the first time.

Money is an extremely personal topic, so I am honored that you are even considering us.

3. What questions do you have about our process?

This question shifts the conversation towards your readiness.

We can share with you what comes next, and we can also identify questions or concerns you may have about our process.

Because we now have insight into your particular problem, we can paint a picture of the actual steps we will take to help solve the issue.

We can also discuss the fixed fee schedule for the engagement that may be a good fit for you (i.e., either the Wealth Planning or Project-Based Financial Planning engagement) and the unique ways clients can pay their fee.

4. What other questions do you have?

It is common for people to bring their own set of questions into this phone call, or that questions have arisen during the conversation that you have not had a chance to ask yet.

So at this stage of the conversation, we make time for these questions before talking about next steps so that you do not feel pushed towards making a decision before having a chance to speak your mind.

5. When are you looking to get started?

This question helps us to understand how ready and motivated you are to get started.

Simply knowing you should be doing something about your taxes or lowering the overall costs of your investment plan, for example, does not mean that you are ready to take action.

For some people, it can be very difficult to commit to any action. For other people, it can be comforting and energizing since they are excited about the idea of making progress!

6. How would you like to proceed?

We are empowering you to make this decision.

People have a very keen sense when they are being sold. I know I do.

We do not want to create any stress by trying to sell, persuade, or ask you to commit to something. We want to empower you to make this decision on how you would like to proceed with confidence.

If you say you are ready now, that’s great! We will collect the information needed to fill in an engagement agreement that we will send electronically for you to review and sign.

If you decide you would rather take some time to reflect before having a follow-up conversation, we can schedule the next appointment (i.e., the Plan of Action Conversation) at the end of this introductory phone call. If you are married or in a relationship in which funds are comingled, we politely ask that both decision-makers be present during the next appointment.

If you decide you are still shopping or just getting started, with your permission, we can make a note to follow up with you later. The next step here can simply be a follow-up email just to check in.

If you feel the relationship is not for you, or if we believe that we would not be the right-fit advisor for you, then the only win-win choice is to not enter into an engagement agreement together.

Because we are fiduciaries, if what you truly want does not match our expertise, we will share where we think you should look to find a right-fit advisor. By offering this consideration, we are striving to create no pressure, but rather a focus on serving at a high level.

If you are meeting with another financial advisor, I encourage you to ask him or her the following questions (in addition to the questions you want bring to that meeting):

• How many clients does that financial advisor work with or serve?
• What percentage time will you get to work with the person you are having the meeting with if you became a client?

Completing the first step towards meaningful progress

The intent of the “Are We a Fit? Introductory Phone Call” is to discern if the services we provide are actually what you are seeking.

Preparing someone for the introductory conversation can lower any anxiety about the phone call and, at the same time, help us get the information we need to assess that person’s appropriateness and readiness for our financial planning services.

Letting you know what to expect can also keep you from feeling like you are being rushed or that we are insensitive to what you want to share. We do not want this discussion to feel impersonal or for you to feel unfairly judged.

30 minutes goes by quickly, and keeping within the boundaries of the introductory phone call leaves little room for straying off-topic. It can be tempting to linger with small talk to try to establish rapport with you, but getting down to business early shows respect for your time and demonstrates that we care about what has caused you to reach out.

If you decide that you would like to schedule a follow-up conversation (i.e., the Plan of Action Conversation), we will send an email with a simple agenda and limited number of questions for you to consider before the next discussion together.

We are intrigued to learn how we may be of service! Thank you for exploring the financial planning services my firm, Milestones Financial, has to offer that could be of benefit to you.

1 Sullivan, D. (n.d.). How to sell transformation using this one question. Business Growth Resource Hub | Strategic Coach.
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Joshua A. Gallogly, CFP®, EA

Josh Gallogly, CFP®, EA is the Managing Member and Founder of Milestones Financial, LLC in Columbus, Ohio. He serves clients age 50+ who like maintaining full control over their money and provides professional advice on things like reducing their tax bill, investing smarter, and creating retirement income.