What to ask a financial adviser?

Whether it’s for tax planning, investing, estate planning, debt management or during a time of change, everyone could benefit from the help of a financial adviser. Still, it’s important to go into a relationship with a financial adviser with your eyes wide open, and this means asking your financial adviser a series of questions. Here’s five to get you started…

1. How do you get paid for services?

It’s important that you understand how your financial adviser is compensated for what they do. The days of financial advisers providing a ‘free’ Statement of Advice and earning their fees from commission on investments they are selling is now past, thanks to the Future of Financial Advice reforms that commenced in 2013. Now, you can expect to pay an Advice Preparation Fee (or ‘Plan Fee’) that covers the planner’s time in meeting with you, discovering more about your personal situation, objectives and any existing products. If you decide to proceed with implementation of the advice, you should expect to pay for the planner’s time in completing, lodging and following up the paperwork to put your financial plan into action. The most important part of having a plan is ensuring it is monitored and reviewed regularly, so you should expect to pay an Ongoing Advisory Service Fee to have continued access to your adviser. 

2. What’s your own investment philosophy?

It makes sense to ask your financial adviser how they would approach your financial plan based on both their understanding of your personal circumstances, and what their investment philosophy is. This will give you an idea as to what the company’s asset management view is, and also the different investment approaches they may take in relation to your finances. 

3. What are your credentials? 

All authorised representatives of a financial planning business must now complete a minimum of 40 hours continued professional development annually. They are also required to have a minimum level of education to remain in the industry, for which you can find information on the FASEA website. This mandatory continued professional development can provide you with confidence that your adviser is up-to-date with industry news and opportunities available to their clients. 

4. What’s included and what’s extra?

If you’re paying an adviser to manage your money for you, you should expect a fee for that service. But what does that include? Many financial advisers charge extra for optional or more complicated services, or if they need to seek help from an alternate professional. An example would be a lawyer writing up a Will that’s recommended as part of the plan. 

5. How often will we meet? 

Early in your working relationship you’ll want to keep closely connected with your financial adviser. Once you’ve established a solid plan, however, things can operate on autopilot a bit more. As a general rule, you should meet with your financial adviser at least once a year, and if you are at all uncertain regarding your financial adviser’s wealth management approach, you should reach out to them (via phone or in person if they have an open door policy, as Prime Financial do) to discuss your financial plan and what your concerns may be.  

What our clients say

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Robert Kerr, Enopte Solutions

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Alan King, VIC

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Gavin Lowe, UDL Group

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Karen & Russell, QLD

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Kathryn, WA

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Vern Brickman, Adverto

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James Reti, Reti Consulting

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