Sub category: News
25 March 2014

Six questions to help you choose a Financial Planner

Going to see a Financial Planner can appear daunting, especially if you haven’t sought professional financial advice before, but it could be a hurdle worth getting over if you want help with putting together a tailored financial plan.

People often visit a Financial Planner for the first time when they are seeking a mortgage, and then they focus on wealth creation later – but it could be worth building a relationship with your Adviser early on. A good Planner should be able to help you take a holistic approach to your finances, and advise you on other aspects of your finances, such as investing or superannuation, as well as just your mortgage.

Not sure how to go about choosing the right Financial Planner? Here are six questions to ask to help you decide if they are right for you:

1. Expertise: Are you qualified and experienced in giving financial advice?

Let’s face it, if you’re going to see a Financial Planner it’s because you’re looking for some expert guidance – so you want to be assured that your adviser knows what they’re talking about.

Check they are registered with a professional body such as the Financial Planning Association (FPA) or Association of Financial Advisors (AFA), and check their work history, experience and qualifications – including that they hold an Australian Financial Services license and are permitted to give advice.

2. Independence: Are you aligned with an institution?

Bear in mind this doesn’t always mean that the more experienced adviser is necessarily the best fit for your needs. According to a recent news report, around 14,000 of the 18,000 Financial Planners in Australia are aligned with, or directly employed by, a bank or insurer which means their product range is most likely limited to certain providers.

Not all Advisers cover all products and providers, so ask about the range and extent of their advice so that you are aware how much of the market they cover.

3. Clients: What is your current client mix?

Asking about the types of clients you have doesn’t mean you’re being nosy; it’s a good indicator as to the type of experience your adviser has in dealing with the financial issues that are relevant to you.

For example, if you’re at the earlier stage of your financial lifecycle – where you are seeking to accumulate wealth and may be prepared to take more risk – then teaming up with a Financial Planner who spends 95% of their time helping retirees manage a low-risk portfolio might not be the best fit for you.

4. Fees: How much will it cost – and what do I get for my money?

Be prepared to pay for the advice you receive, but do check how much it will cost you – for your initial consultation as well as for ongoing maintenance and future financial health checks.

In 2013, the Financial Planning industry transitioned to a fee-for-service model, which means that planners are no longer allowed to receive commission from any products they recommend as part of tailored advice. This is good news for their customers as it allows for greater transparency around how Advisers make their money; lifts the quality of the advice provided; and paves the way for advice which is more suited towards the needs of their customers.

5. Reputation: What would your current clients say about you?

If you have an adviser in mind, then do some more research on them prior to getting in touch. Check their website, and any testimonials online so that you know they have happy customers.

Word of mouth is a great way to find a Financial Planner, so ask friends, family and colleagues for their personal recommendations.

6. Relationship: Who will be looking after my interests, and how often will we talk?

To get the most out of the financial advice partnership, it’s important to build a relationship with your adviser over the longer term, so check that you’ll be dealing with the same person.

You don’t want to be in a situation where you find an Adviser who meets all your criteria, and then realise that they won’t actually be the one dealing with you going forward.

The information is current as at publication. Any advice on this website does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs and you should consider whether it is appropriate for you. Deposit products, savings products, credit card and home loan products are issued by ING, a business name of ING Bank (Australia) Limited ABN 24 000 893 292, AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 229823. ING Living Super (which is part of the ING Superannuation Fund ABN 13 355 603 448) is issued by Diversa Trustees Limited ABN 49 006 421 638, AFSL 235153 RSE L0000635. The insurance cover offered by ING Living Super is provided by Metlife Insurance Limited ABN 75 004 274 882, AFSL 238096. ING Insurance is issued by Auto & General Insurance Company Limited (AGIC) ABN 42 111 586 353 AFSL Licence No 285571 as insurer. It is distributed by Auto & General Services Pty Ltd (AGS) ABN 61 003 617 909 AFSL 241411 and by ING as an Authorised Representative AR 1247634 of AGS. All applications for credit are subject to ING's credit approval criteria, and fees and charges apply. You should consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement, Terms and Conditions, Fees and Limits Schedule, Financial Services Guide, Key Facts Sheet and Credit Guide available at when deciding whether to acquire, or to continue to hold, a product. Before interacting with us via our social media platforms, please take a minute to familiarise yourself with our Social Media User Terms

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