Anyone who has transformed their life in some way knows the value of professional advice – whether it’s building fitness at the gym, learning a language or setting financial goals for the future.
If you’re looking to take control of your finances, then a financial planner could be your greatest asset. But how do you find a good one? We’ve developed a step-by-step guide to help you do just that.
If you’re looking to make a plan to reach your financial goals, a financial planner can make a big difference to your success. Before you choose the right person for the job, you’ll need to know what you want to achieve from your financial planning journey.
Before you work that out, let’s take a step back and talk about what a financial planner actually does.
According to ASIC’s Money Smart website:
A licensed financial adviser [or financial planner] can help you identify realistic goals, and put strategies in place to achieve them.
More specifically, a financial planner can assist you with investing, superannuation, budgeting, retirement planning, risk management, estate planning, insurance and tax.
They can also help you with:
Now you know what a financial planner can assist you with, it’s time to decide if you need support in any of these areas. Perhaps you need assistance with managing your money more effectively, maybe you need a fully-fledged financial plan.
ASIC explains that financial advice is most useful during times of change.
Professional advice is most valuable when you're going through, or planning for, a big life event, like starting a family, being retrenched, planning for retirement or managing an inheritance.
Don’t get too worried if you’re not exactly sure what you need assistance with. A good financial planner will be able to help you set realistic goals, based on where you’re at and where you’d like to be in the short and long term.
Now you have a rough idea of what you’d like support with, it’s time to see who is out there. A simple Google search for financial planners in your area, who specialise in the areas you need assistance with, is a good first step.
For example, if you’re looking for support with retirement planning, you may like to enter the following key terms in your search engine:
‘retirement planning’ ‘financial planner’ ‘your location’
See who comes up and make a list of individuals or businesses that specialise in the right financial area. ASIC also recommends using the ‘find an adviser’ service available through most industry associations.
If you need help, The Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA) has an online service, which you can use to find a financial planner near you. We can also connect you with a financial planner in your area, if you need us to.
Now you have a list of financial planners in your area, we recommend checking to see if they are on the Financial Advisers Register. This register is mandatory for any person who offers personal advice on investments, life insurance or super.
The register also provides information about a financial planner’s experience, employment history, qualifications, and the kinds of products they’re qualified to advise on.
You’ll also learn if a financial planner has been disciplined by ASIC, and other important information about their industry associations and licenses.
If a financial planner is not on this register, they do not have a license and are operating illegally. This means you’ll be afforded limited protection if things don’t work out with them.
Do not deal with any financial planner who is not on the Financial advisers register.
Narrow your list further by asking each prospective financial planner for a Financial Services Guide (FSG). This Guide contains a list of services provided by the adviser, as well as charges, their AFS license number and other key information.
A financial planner’s FSG can often be found on their website, or ask them to email you a copy.
Asking the right questions will help you discern whether a prospective financial planner is a good fit for you. While you’re listening to their responses, consider whether this person is someone you could work with.
If you don’t feel they understand or connect with you, it may be worth going with a professional who has the skills and aligns with your communication style. Ask yourself, is this person on my wavelength?
Other questions to ask the financial planner directly are:
Talk to us about connecting with a qualified financial planner in your area. Our financial planners tailor a strategy to match your needs, so you feel confident and focused on building a financial future that fits you.
Get started now.