Click on the questions below to learn more about the process of engaging a financial planner.

Do I need a financial planner?

Financial planners can help you with many things, such as:

  • Retirement planning
  • Superannuation
  • Estate planning
  • Insurance – life, trauma, income protection and disability cover
  • Investing
  • Wealth accumulation
  • Social Security
What should I ask a financial planner?

The Financial Planning Association of Australia recommends that you ask these questions:

  • Could I have a copy of your financial services guide (FSG)? All financial planners must have an FSG. It is a simple document that gives you details on a planner. You should check whether the planner holds an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) or is an authorised representative of an AFSL holder. If they do not meet this criteria, then look for another planner who does.
  • What is your approach to Financial Planning? Ask the planner about the types of clients and financial situations they typically work with. This will help you establish whether the planner specialises in areas that relate to your situation.
  • How much do you typically charge? The planner should be able to give you an estimate of possible costs. This should include a flat fee for service that the financial planner charges for their time and expertise and any commissions (in dollar and percentage terms) they would receive as commission on products you may purchase.
  • What do I need to know about risk? Any investment involves ‘risk’, that is, the chance that you will not achieve your financial goals. Generally, the higher the expected return, the higher the risk.
  • Can I have a written statement of advice (SOA)? Your planner should provide you with a written financial plan or ‘statement of advice’ (SoA) whenever giving personal financial advice. This written plan should set out the basis for the advice and the reasons for the particular recommendations.
  • Will my financial plan change as my circumstances and needs change? Your goals will change over time, and so your financial plan should be reviewed and changed too.
How can a financial planner help me?

A financial planner will assist you in all matters financial, whether they are general or specific. There are many benefits to having professional financial advice. A financial planner:

  • provides direction and meaning to your financial decisions.
  • helps you to understand how each decision you make affects other areas of your finances. For example, buying a particular investment product might help pay off your mortgage faster or it might delay your retirement significantly.
  • can help you make the most of your money, responding to different stages in your life and changing environmental conditions to make sure you meet your goals.
  • When making financial decisions, there is a lot to consider and understand. A financial planner has the skills and training to guide you in the right direction.
What else do I need to consider?
  • Do some research to work out what you might need help with. For example, review your personal finances, and familarise yourself with common investment terms.
  • Ask the planner for an initial meeting to see if they are the right ‘fit’ with you.
Who else can provide advice?

To provide ‘financial service’ advice, a person needs to obtain an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) or become an authorised representative of an AFSL holder. Thus, an accountant or solicitor must have a Licence or be authorized before providing advice.

‘Financial Services’ is defined very broadly and includes providing financial product advice and dealing, or arranging to deal, in financial products. So, unless they are covered by an AFSL, an accountant or solicitor cannot offer investment advice or recommend specific financial products.