Planners, whether they sell products or not, generally take time to listen to your whole financial circumstances, not just one part of it. For example, if you are looking for retirement advice and an advisor helps you max out your retirement savings, s/he may not know that you are also planning to start your own business in three years with funds you will receive from an inheritance. This fact could impact your retirement decisions.
Questionnaires have been the traditional method of fact finding from clients, but most focus on the numbers and not the information behind the numbers. Pathfinder Planning LLC uses an online questionnaire, PreciseFP, to collect the facts, then we print it out, and use as a jumping off point for client discussion. This helps us improve our processes in multiple ways. Clients have the opportunity to get close and personal with their own numbers, making them more involved in the process. Advisors have the opportunity to spend time really talking with clients about the "why" behind the numbers instead of spending time with data input. And isn't that what you pay your advisor for anyway?