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How should you start your search for a financial planner? There are some fundamentals you should look for in the first instance.
A license to provide financial advice – Always look for a financial planner who works for a firm that holds an Australian Financial Services (AFS) License issued by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). You can verify the financial planner is licensed by checking ASIC’s Financial Adviser hosted on the MoneySmart website.
Professional membership – Look for a financial planner who is a member of a professional body, such as the Financial Planning Association (FPA). Members of the FPA must meet stricter criteria and higher standards than currently required by law.
Education – Make sure your financial planner is properly qualified and trained to provide you with financial advice. Ask them about what financial planning qualifications they have achieved.
Here we look at a few suggestions that go beyond the basics, including some from Sydney-based financial planner, Adrian Patty, from AP Financial Solutions. Patty set up his firm over three years ago to add value to peoples’ lives through the delivery of great financial advice.
Ask family and friends
The first thing Patty recommends is asking family and friends if they have a financial planner they would recommend. “Usually if you find a friend or family member who is in a similar life stage or situation as you, they should be able to recommend a good fit”, says Patty.
Go with your gut
In one respect, like many of life’s decisions, going with your gut feeling is how you may end up choosing a financial planner. If you meet with three and they are all of similar capabilities, but you like one of them and don’t like the other two so much, then the one you like is the one you are going to pick. As you may be dealing with this person for the next few decades, a good match is very important.
Don’t be embarrassed about discussing your finances
Remember it’s YOUR money, the financial planner is working FOR you, not the other way around. Don’t be afraid of asking as many questions as necessary to determine if this is going to be a good relationship for you. It is important that you understand exactly what is happening with YOUR money. Ask what the proposed outcomes are. “Define exactly what you want out of it and what are the benefits to you of having a financial planner, what can they advise you about and what are the likely outcomes”, Patty adds.
Look for a financial planner who covers your demographic
By checking out financial advisers on social media such as LinkedIn and their Facebook pages, you can get an idea of who they are and what they do. If they sound like they’re experienced at advising people like you – or perhaps they themselves are similar to you in terms of life stage, with parallel challenges – they probably are going to be a suitable choice.
Red flags – what to look out for and what to avoid
If the financial planner seems to be more interested in selling products rather than focussing on your personal situation and offering tailored financial advice to suit your needs, it would be advisable to give them a wide berth. Good planners generally focus on good “pure” financial advice and NOT selling products, with a “one size fits all” default.
To find a financial planner to meet your needs, use the FPA’s Find a Planner tool.
This article contains general financial advice only. It is provided by an Australian Financial Services licensee (AFS licensee) or the employee or authorised representative of an AFS licensee as identified in the article.
General financial advice does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs, and you should consider seeking professional financial advice before acting on the general advice provided.
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