A financial planner can be an essential partner in helping you set goals, formulate a sound financial strategy, and achieve your money and life goals. However, you need to first find a qualified, ethical adviser who will act in your best interests.
So, how do you go about identifying the right financial planner? We’ve set out the top tips and insights you need to know to research and screen suitable advisers.
1. Identify your advice requirements
The role of your financial planner is, at a basic level, to help you achieve your financial and life goals. They can assist if you need to tackle a specific goal, whether it’s budgeting, investing a windfall, buying a home, or optimising your superannuation for retirement.
Alternatively, you might be looking for advice on how to get your money and assets working harder for your long-term goals. Knowing exactly why you’re looking for a financial planner lets you find one that really matches your requirements.
2. Research, research, research
To start your search, consider doing a general internet search for financial planners, searching in the financial planner databases of industry associate websites, and asking for recommendations from family and friends.
Does the adviser have solid qualifications and experience? Look for qualifications like a degree in financial planning, finance, economics, or accounting. The financial planner might have specific experience in areas like investments, self-managed super funds, insurance, estate planning, tax, or retirement planning. Create a shortlist of potential advisers so you can do research and due diligence on each adviser.
3. Check the financial advisers register
Once you have a shortlist of prospective financial planners, check ASIC’s financial advisers register. The register is useful for basic information like the adviser’s history, qualifications, and current employment status. It also gives you information about the types of products they can advise you on, their professional body or industry association memberships, and whether they’ve faced disciplinary action by ASIC.
4. Review their financial services guide and Adviser Profile
Next, request a financial services guide (FSG) from your shortlist of advisers. Anyone giving financial product advice to retail clients is required to offer an FSG. Usually you’ll be able to download their FSG from their website. The FSG will tell you their scope of services, how they charge, whether they receive additional payments or benefits, and any links they have to financial product providers.
In conjunction with the adviser’s FSG, they will provide you with their Adviser Profile, which is an outline of the adviser’s qualifications and experience, the services they provide, the types of product they are licensed to deal in and how they are remunerated.
5. Book an initial consultation
Financial planners often offer free initial consultations, which are a great opportunity to get a sense of whether the adviser is a good fit for you. Prepare for your consultation by making a list of questions to ask during your meeting.
Some good questions to ask include:
- What’s your fee structure and what am I likely to be charged for this service?
- What areas of advice do you specialise in?
- What’s your level of experience?
- What type of client do you normally see?
- Do I need to proceed if I don’t like the plan? Can I change the plan?
- Are you licensed to give advice on my current products?
- How can you add value for me?
- Do you have financial relationships with financial institutions and product providers?
- Will you regularly monitor my investments and keep me up to date?
- Do you receive commissions, bonuses, or other payment for selling me a product?
- Do you provide ongoing review services?
- How do you keep up with legal changes, economic trends, and other things that affect your clients?
6. Assess criteria and attributes
Once you have a good sense of each financial planner’s communication style and approach, you’re in a good position to take a step back and consider their overall fit for you.
Check their references and customer testimonials, and consider whether the financial planner seems able and willing to understand your goals, needs, and level of risk. Does the adviser seem interested in building rapport with you, and do you feel comfortable with them? Are there any potential conflicts of interest, such as relationships with financial institutions and their products?
Also consider whether the financial planner has a complementary outlook to you. For example, are you comfortable with how they will handle your financial plan if there’s an economic contraction or recession? Be clear about the financial planner’s approach, whether it’s aggressive, conservative, or moderate – and ensure it’s harmonious with your own philosophy.
7. Clarify financial terms before committing
If you’re confident that you’ve found the right financial planner for you, the final step is to clarify your financial or payment terms before you commit.
Take charge and find a trusted financial planner now
Finding the right financial planner will require a proactive approach on your part, but the outcome could be a trusted long-term guide who acts in your best interest and delivers significant value for you and your goals in life. Consider what advice you’re looking for, research prospective advisers, and meet with them before committing.
At Prime, our wealth management services help clients protect their assets and build wealth. To find out more about how our licensed and experienced financial planners can work with you to secure your financial future, contact us today.