Prepare to meet thy tax accountant with your records in order
Many people dread the prospect of visiting their tax accountant, financial adviser, or banker. There are all those numbers to pull together, all those questions to answer, plus the concern that if someone is not a ''big'' customer with a fortune he won't get the best service.
But tax accountants, financial advisers, and bankers also dread seeing some clients. These are the clients who come to appointments unprepared, who arrive late, who don't tell everything the professional needs to know, or who have a misguided idea of what the adviser is supposed to do for them.
Going to a financial professional unprepared not only makes the adviser unhappy, it is also likely to use up more of these experts' time, which will very likely cost you more money.
So with saving money as an incentive, some tips on better preparation have been put together by The Moneypaper ($39 a year, 2094 Boston Post Road, Larchmont, N.Y. 10538), a monthly publication that offers a variety of financial ideas. The editors have subtitled the periodical A Financial Publication for Women, but like many of these magazines and books aimed at women , most of the financial advice is as useful for men as for women.
* Come to the meeting well prepared. Spend time beforehand preparing a list of the topics you want to cover and the questions you want to ask. Even though you are paying for the adviser's time, try not to use too much of it, lest you antagonize him.
* Bring all relevant records, and put them together in an organized manner. A shoe box full of every financially related piece of paper you have is probably not going to endear you to the financial adviser or banker. Think about what you need for the interview and put it in a neat folder for the occasion.
* Include all the facts. This is also related to being well prepared, but professionals can't give good advice if they don't have complete information. If you come back with new information later, the whole problem may have to be rethought, costing the professional more time, and perhaps costing you more money.
* Don't be shy about questioning something that seems wrong to you. If the professional says or writes something that doesn't make sense, have it explained. If it still seems wrong, ask him to run through the figures again. You may head off a mistake.
* Ask for printed material. Sometimes an oral explanation needs to be supplemented by things you can take home and study. If, after all your reading and additional explanation, you still don't understand, maybe you need another adviser.
* Take notes. If you've written down what was said at the meeting, you won't have to waste time at another meeting or with a phone call going over the same territory a second time.
* Pay the bills for these services. If you think you're going to have a problem paying or if you need to stretch out payments, tell the professional in advance. The two of you may be able to work something out. If you find an adjustment is needed after you receive the bill, or if you don't understand some of the charges, get it cleared up immediately. It is better to pay part of the bill with an explanation than to ignore it until you can pay it all.
If you would like a question considered for publication in this column, please send it to Moneywise, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, Mass. 02115. No personal replies can be given by mail or phone. References to investments are not an endorsement or recommendation by this newspaper.m