How to find the right financial planner for you


How to find the right financial planner for you

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.

1. Work out what you want

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:

  • Identifying goals for the short, medium and long term.
  • Developing strategies, to help you achieve your financial objectives.
  • Managing your money better.
  • Developing an investment strategy.
  • Selecting tax-effective investments.
  • Maximising your super.
  • Checking to see if you are eligible for Government support.
  • Ensuring insurances are taken care of.
  • Planning for your retirement years.
  • Estate planning requirements.

 

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.

2. See who’s out there

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. 

3. Check the register

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. 

4. Ask for a guide

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.

5. Question time

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:

  • Are you able to advise on the products I currently have? Make sure they’re not restricted to advising on products from an approved product list.
  • Who is your typical client? Do they have experience with clients who have similar requirements and objectives to your own?
  • How long have you been a financial planner? If your requirements are complex, you may need someone with greater experience.
  • How do you stay current with changes in the industry, which may impact your clients? Do they attend regular courses or belong to industry associations?
  • How do you work with a client that has different financial goals? You want a financial planner who knows how to prioritise goals, and then craft a strategy.
  • If their advice is accepted, who can you speak with about your investments? You need a financial planner who is available to discuss your concerns.
  • What is the plan for monitoring investments, and what updates will you receive? Regular reports are important, as are reviews to ensure your strategy remains on point.
  • For more detail about questions to ask a prospective financial planner, including how to discuss fees and commissions, please head here.

Looking for a financial planner?

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.

 

Financial Advice Disclaimer: The opinions and recommendations provided are not intended to be relied upon as personal advice as they do not take into account your personal circumstances. You need to assess your own position or call us for professional advice.

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