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Is It Time for Your Annual Portfolio Review?

December 16, 2023 6 mins

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “The only constant in life is change.” His quotation rings true 2,500 years later: markets fluctuate, our lives change and our priorities shift. In this ever-changing world, an annual portfolio review is a smart way to check in with your long-term goals and revisit your budget and investment portfolio.

What is an annual portfolio review?

Like an annual physical, your annual portfolio review can take place any time of the year; it’s meant to provide a look at your overall health – in this case, your financial health. Whether things seem “healthy” or not, a yearly look at your portfolio lets you reexamine your financial goals, whether it’s saving for a home, or for college and retirement.

You can check up on your financial health yourself, but working with a financial advisor can help you better understand market trends and how to maximize your investments for a richer future.


When you meet with your financial advisor for a portfolio review it’s good to ask whether you’re on track and to see how your portfolio compares to the overall financial markets, like the S&P 500 for example.”

What is a financial advisor?

A financial advisor provides financial guidance to customers. Their services may include tax planning, wealth management, estate planning, and investment management. A financial advisor will also create and implement an investment strategy for you, monitor your portfolio, and rebalance your assets as needed.

Before working with a financial professional, be sure they are registered. You can research their status on BrokerCheck, a database maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

What to expect at an annual portfolio review

When you meet with a financial advisor for an annual portfolio review, it’s good to ask whether you’re on track and to see how your portfolio is doing vs. the overall market, like the S&P 500 for example. It’s also good to bring along your most recent financial documents, says Jane Krueger, a CFS1 Financial Advisor at Patelco Credit Union. Here’s a list of what you might want to bring:

  • Recent pay stubs (for both spouses, if applicable)
  • Credit union and bank account statements
  • The latest statements from your:
    • IRAs (Traditional, ROTH or educational)
    • SEP, SAR-SEP or Simple IRAs
    • employer-sponsored retirement plans, such as a deferred profit-sharing plan (DPSP), RP, or TAXCAP
    • previous employer-sponsored retirement plans, including 401(k) and HR-10 Keogh plans
    • brokerage accounts
    • mutual funds
    • other investment accounts
    • life insurance policies
    • long term insurance policies
  • Details about your current debts, including:
    • loan balance
    • current interest rate
    • monthly minimum payment
    • payoff date, if applicable
  • Any other documents significant to your current or future financial wellbeing

Your investment plan and life events life events

Whether it’s your first meeting or your tenth, your annual portfolio review will follow a similar format. Your financial advisor will especially want to know if you’ve experienced any significant changes in your life, such as:

  • Changed marital status
  • Had or adopted a child
  • Have a child starting or graduating college
  • Started a new job
  • Received a raise
  • Enrolled in a 401K
  • Opened an IRA
  • Started your own business
  • Bought or sold a home
  • Finished paying off an auto loan
  • Retired
  • Applied for Social Security
  • Disposed of financial assets
  • Acquired or inherited assets
  • Received an insurance settlement
  • Created or changed your will or trust
  • Have a family member who passed away or became disabled

Other topics to discuss at your annual portfolio review

In addition to major life events, your financial advisor will probably want to cover the following topics with you:

  • Your goals. How have your financial goals changed in the past year? Whether you’re trying to buy a new home, paying for college, or estate planning, you’ll want to discuss your current goals with your advisor.
  • Monthly expenses. “Your budget changes every year, so we’ll always review your monthly income and expenses,” says Krueger. This will not only keep your budget on track, but also help with your retirement planning.
  • Retirement goals. Each year, you and your financial advisor will review your retirement plan, consider your fixed monthly expenses, current values and your risk tolerance, to make sure you’re still on track to meet your goals. Depending on your age, your advisor may also bring up topics like long-term care. “We usually start this discussion with clients in their 50s and 60s,” says Krueger. You can work with your advisor to decide whether self-insurance (where you invest money to be used for long-term care later in life) or insurance is the better option for you. “Self-insuring won’t be appropriate for everyone, particularly if you can’t afford it or if you don’t have heirs. If that’s the case, we’d recommend that you spend down your estate to cover those costs, instead.”
  • Insurance policies. Your financial advisor may review your life insurance options, especially if your family is growing. They will also want to know if any existing policies are about to mature or expire.
  • Your risk tolerance. Do market swings cause you anxiety? Are you approaching retirement? Sharing this information with your financial advisor can help you create an investment portfolio that suits your personality and overall goals.

It’s important to take the time to have a financial check-up once a year to make sure you’re on track with your finances. A financial advisor can help you refine your portfolio to prepare for the future and protect your loved ones if the unlikely happens.

Members of Patelco Credit Union have complimentary access to financial advisors through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (CFS). They’re available to discuss your unique needs and create a plan that will help you achieve your financial goals.

1 Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. ("CFS"), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS: are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. Patelco Credit Union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members.


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