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Is It Time to Find a Financial Planner? (your full guide)

January 14, 2022

Why Do You Need a Financial Planner?

Looking to find a financial planner? If you need someone to help you set financial goals and create a plan of action, then a financial advisor – or financial planner – is what you need. A financial planner can advise you about superannuation, investments, estate and retirement planning, insurance and risk management on a one-off basis, or ongoingly. Some financial planners are also qualified to offer tax advice.

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As financial planners, we are passionate about giving our clients peace of mind, in the knowledge that their financial future has been taken care of. We do this by helping identify short, medium and long-term goals, building practical and realistic strategies. This may look like creating an investment plan, helping them plan for retirement and life milestones, ensuring all assets are protected and perhaps most importantly, that our clients feel more in control of their finances.

Financial planners must have an Australian Financial Services (AFS) license or be authorised through some that does. You’ll find our licensee’s license number at the base of this page. This is issued by ASIC and ensures that all financial planners abide by professional standards, which include compliance with a Code of Ethics requiring them to act in the best interests of clients and avoid conflicts of interest. Additionally, financial planners must have the appropriate qualifications and pass a Financial Planner Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) exam.

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Here’s our guide to what a financial planner can do for you:

Financial Planners provide the best financial advice

As qualified professionals, financial planners advise and assist you as you make long-term financial plans and decisions, making sure you know what to expect in different scenarios and helping you stay on track with your plan and goals.

Financial Planners help you set and achieve your goals

As financial planners, we sit down with our clients and talk about their plans, goals and dreams, so we can help them set financial goals which will enable them to be achieved. It’s important to us that our clients feel confident that their dreams are achievable. If ever something happens and they find themselves off track financially, we help our clients get back on track and revise their goals and plans as necessary.

Financial Planners help you mitigate life’s milestones

There are so many milestones in life, which have a financial impact and which we need to be prepared for. For example, starting a family, changing career or retirement all have a big impact on our financial situations. We help our clients plan for these situations, ensuring they are ready, when things happen unexpectedly, or when these milestones come.

Financial Planners help you plan for retirement

One of the main things we’re asked about, is retirement planning. While buying a home, receiving an inheritance and preparing to start a family is important too, many of our clients are firmly focused on preparing for and enjoying their retirement years. Once you’ve reached your preservation age, speaking to a financial planner will become even more important.

How To Find a Financial Planner (that’s right for you)

Choose the best financial advice for your situation

Before you start searching for a Financial Planner, it’s important to decide what you want and need, when it comes to seeking the best financial advice.

You have the option to seek either general, personal, simple, single-issue, comprehensive or ongoing financial advice from your planner. Depending on what you need, general financial advice may be useful for simple decision making or goal setting situations, as this doesn’t take into account your personal situation but is useful when making simple decisions.

Personal financial advice takes into consideration your personal situation and goals, as well as how a particular decision may impact your financial future.

Simple, single-issue advice is useful when considering just one, relatively simple financial issue, such as what to do if you inherit shares or how much to contribute to your super.

Comprehensive financial advice helps you develop a set of financial goals and a plan to help you achieve them. Topics covered may include insurance, super, investments, savings and retirement planning.

Ongoing advice can be given by your financial planner over time, as we monitor your financial plan, situation and goal progression.

Robo-advice is an automated, online financial advice service which requires you to provide personal information, including your personal details, investment goals and risk tolerance. Advice is then generated based on digital technology and algorithms. While this is a cheap, convenient option for attaining financial advice, its limitations are clear. Robo-advice’s range of options offered is quite narrow and of course, without the human-touch, it is unable to offer you a personalised service when setting goals, creating a plan and setting objectives. It is unable to ask and answer questions, or to discuss complex financial situations. Please note, robo-advice is quite likely to not be the best financial advice for your particular situation.

Learn more about how we can help you here.

Do your research

Once you know what you want, find a financial planner who offers the right services for you.

There are a few ways to find a Financial Planner in your area:

  • Search an online financial advice association, eg. The Financial Planning Association (FPA)
  • Ask your super provider to recommend a financial planner in your area
  • Ask your bank or lender to recommend a financial planner in your area
  • Search the Financial Planners Register for a licensed planner near you
  • Ask around. It’s always good to know whether your friends and/or family have had a positive experience, before making your decision.

Ensure they are up to standard

Before booking in an appointment, make sure you do your homework. Thankfully the financial advice industry has regulations, ensuring a high standard of ethical and professional practice.

Make sure you check their:

Financial Services Guide (FSG):

This should be available on their website. Take a look at our FSG here. An FSG provides information on the services offered as well as fees and charges. You will also be able to find out who owns the company as well as any links or affiliations. For a rough guide on how much financial advice generally costs, visit: https://moneysmart.gov.au/financial-advice/financial-advice-costs.

Australian Financial Services (AFS) License:

When working with anyone giving financial advice, make sure they have an Australian Financial Services (AFS) license. You can find out more about how we’re licensed at the base of this page.

Have an initial meeting with a few local financial planners

The first meeting will generally be free, giving you a chance to meet with a few different local financial planners, to ascertain which is the right fit for you.

Before your appointment, take a moment to write a list of things you need from your financial planner. Include any expectations you may have, so you can discuss this when you meet with them. Some questions you’ll want to ask include:

  • What are your qualifications?
  • What is your main client base?
  • Do you have a specialty area?
  • What is your fee structure?
  • Payment options?
  • How will you manage my money?
  • How often will we meet?
  • How often will you send me updates and what information will these include?
  • How will you consult me, when decisions need to be made?
  • How will you manage and monitor my investments?
  • What incentives, gifts and/or commissions do you receive from financial product providers?
  • What method will you use to select product recommendations for me?
  • When you’re away, who will look after my account?
  • If something goes wrong, how will you deal with it?
  • If the time comes to end our agreement, what will the process be? Will there be penalties or notice periods required?
  • What advice is and isn’t included (scope)?
  • Under what circumstances will you consult me for permission?
  • What level of authority will you require, to enable you to manage my investments and access my money?

Financial Advice (what to expect)

So you’ve chosen a financial planner. Now what? Here’s what to expect when you begin working with a financial planner.

Before your meeting

It’s important to know exactly what you want, before you first meet with your financial planner. Here’s how to prepare for the initial meeting:

Be clear on what you want 

Take a moment to review the list of expectations you wrote when searching for a financial planner. Has anything on that list changed? Are there things you need to add or remove? Have your priorities changed at all? A good financial planner will take the time to get to know you – and to find out what you need from them.

Write a list of questions to ask 

If you haven’t already, be sure to ask them the questions listed above, to make sure you know exactly what you’re agreeing to and to make sure your expectations match the service offered.

Come prepared 

Bring all relevant paperwork and information with you, to the first appointment. Make sure you provide accurate information, so that your financial planner can ensure they are providing the best financial advice for your situation.

This may include: 

Personal information including age, job, relationship status

Assets information including your home, super, savings, car, shares and other investments

Debts information including any type of debts; mortgages, loans, personal and credit cards

Income information including all types of pay, investment and government benefits

Insurance policies including payments and how much you’re insured for

Estate plans including power of attorney and wills

Lawyer and accountant contact details

Expenses information including all bills, living costs and recreational activities. This simple budget planner is helpful in making a list of all expenses regularly incurred.

What to expect at your first meeting

We spend a lot of time in conversation, during the first meeting. We like to ask a lot of questions about your goals during this discovery conversation. I’ll ask about why you booked the appointment – your answer will show me how to best look after you.

If there’s anything you don’t understand during this first (or any) meeting, or if you have any questions, it’s important to ask them right away. It’s important that you feel comfortable with your planner.

Questions we will ask

What are your retirement goals? 

This may include conversations about fears of not having enough money to retire, wondering about qualification for the age pension, superannuation questions and often, people have never spoken to a financial planner so are interested to know how it all works.

What dreams do you have for retirement? 

This is where we start talking about the fun stuff – the future! What do you actually want to do in the next 3-5 years? Retire? Do you want to have a similar lifestyle to the one you have now? Would you like to go out for dinner a couple of times a week?

Would you like to go on regular holidays?

Are you wanting to get away once a year? Or are you dreaming of travelling to Canada? Perhaps a Mediterranean Cruise?

Would you like to buy a new car?

Often people come to us, wanting to get a new car prior to retirement so they don’t have to worry about it later in retirement. Maybe it’s been a long time since they bought a new car and they feel like it’s time to splash out!

How would you like to help your children?

Perhaps you’d like to assist with a first home deposit or take the kids on a family holiday? Would you like to create a trust fund for your grandchildren?

What are your ultimate retirement dreams?

Everyone is looking for something different – but everyone needs financial support to enable them to achieve these dreams.

Often people underestimate what they’re capable of in retirement so may not mention what’s important to them. In this meeting we take the money side out of it so we can have a proper conversation about what you want and need. Then we go into further detail and think even bigger.

Here are some big picture questions to ask yourself:

When we talk about retirement, what would you really like to do?
  • Spend time with the grandchildren
  • Take regular holidays
  • Play more golf
  • Travel the world
  • Travel around Australia in a caravan
What personal dreams would you like to have accomplished?
  • Become a single figure golfer
  • Own your home
  • Take the grandchildren to Disneyland
If you had enough money, how would you live your life and what would you like to do?
  • Get a bigger boat
  • Buy a holiday home on the beach
  • Go on an around the world cruise
  • Take a train ride through the Rocky Mountains

What concerns do you have about retirement?

It’s fantastic to dream but it’s also good to voice the worries in the back of your mind, so they can be taken into account when making decisions. Typically, people are worried about not having enough super – or not being healthy enough to fully enjoy retirement. Bring your concerns to our meeting, so we can discuss them.

Are you worried about not having enough money?

Many people worry that they won’t have enough superannuation to enjoy retirement, or that they’ll get stuck trying to make ends meet on the age pension.

Are you worried about your health?

Some people are concerned that their health won’t allow them to do the things they want to do during retirement, or that they’re leaving retirement too late.

Let’s take an honest look at your financial health

The next part of the meeting involves taking a look at your financial health. We will take all the information you have provided and model it out, giving you an idea of how you’re progressing toward retirement, and an understanding of how you’re currently financially positioned. This is where we’ll chat about your income, budget, assets, debts, expenses, superannuation, insurance and estate planning (wills, powers of attorney, desire to leave inheritance etc).

Our financial planning software enables us to model some of your retirement desired outcomes, so we can see what will happen if, for example, you do some salary sacrifice, or make some extra financial contributions to your super between now and retirement.

We can play around with the numbers to come up with a plan which suits your present and future wants and needs, giving us a better picture of what the future will look like. This means we can start planning, to make sure retirement better suits what you’re after.

If you’ve never been through this process, I’d love to chat with you about it and help you see how you’re progressing to your retirement financial goals.

I’ve received a statement of advice. Now what?

Once you’ve had an initial meeting and discussed your financial situation, wants and needs, your financial planner will create a statement of advice, outlining their recommendations for your situation. Make sure you read it thoroughly, asking any questions you may have along the way.

When you are provided with a statement of advice, make sure that it:

  • Takes into account your personal situation and goals
  • Lists accurate information about your personal and financial information, debts, assets, income and expenses
  • Has a level of risk you’re comfortable with
  • Answers any questions you may have
  • Outlines what is and isn’t covered
  • Outlines investment management plan, including investment platform details and any recommended products and their features
  • Outlines how the recommended strategy will help you achieve your financial goals
  • Outlines how the recommended strategy will work with your time frame, financial situation and risk profile
  • Outlines the pros and cons of moving to other financial products if a switch is recommended
  • Outlines all fees, payment requirements etc.

Never feel pressure to accept a statement of advice received by your financial planner, or to sign anything before you’re satisfied that it’s the best solution for your situation.

Financial Advice (what to expect)

Where to from here?

Ready to start working with a financial planner? we’d love to see how we can help you towards your financial goals. Contact me anytime to get the conversation started.

Previous | Next

Help With Age Pension Application: A Comprehensive Guide
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Micheal is a financial expert with over a decade of experience in the field. Growing up in countryside Victoria, and later moving to Melbourne to pursue higher education, Micheal has since then been working in the financial industry for over 13 years with much of his career spent as a financial advisor. He holds the prestigious Certified Financial Planner designation and is a registered member of the Financial Planning Association of Australia. Micheal is also a dedicated family man and proud father of 3 amazing children. When he isn’t working or spending time with his family, he enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking and camping.

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