How do I find a good financial adviser?

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25 November 2022 Read time: 5 min


How to find a good financial adviser? Well, finding any old adviser is easy but finding a good financial adviser? That takes a bit more time and effort. 

Like all relationships, you get what you give, and picking a financial planner is no exception.

Your adviser will be involved in some of the most intimate conversations you’ll ever have. And in our view – you can teach the technical, but the humanity and bedside manner of your adviser is equally important. It’s also absolutely vital for a healthy, long-term connection.

That’s all to say, finding a really good financial adviser that you also click with requires a bit of effort and discernment at the outset. Take a systematic approach and you’ll be more likely to find a good match.

Here’s how to find a good financial adviser:

  1. start by building a shortlist
  2. narrow your shortlist with a little research
  3. interview your selected advisers
  4. do a few reference checks


1) Get referrals and build a shortlist of advisers.


Ask someone you trust for a referral.

You’d be surprised how many people work with financial advisers. So ask around. A friend, family member or colleague you trust might be up to recommend someone good. Further, if there are issues or people to be wary of, they’ll be likely to let you know as well.


Chat with your accountant.

Does your accountant know a decent financial adviser? Just ask! They also may have a specific referral partnership. In the event that they recommend someone, they *should* disclose any benefits or incentives they get for referrals. This helps them avoid any perceived conflicts of interest. If they don’t mention it, don’t be shy. Ask them directly how they’re compensated for recommendations.


2) Narrow your shortlist of advisers with some research.


Once you have a shortlist, it’s time to narrow it down.


Get online.

Search for your shortlisted financial advisers online. Do a little sleuthing. How’s their website? What do they say about themselves? And if you read between the lines online, what can you learn?

Are they a 1-person, tin-pot who hasn’t updated their website since Altavista? Or, is it clear they continue to invest in their firm? In their people? In their clients? Their technology? If  you’re a time-pressed tech head who likes video appointments and digitally signing documents on the loo, this could reveal a deal-breaker.


Cross check their claims and awards.

With so many self-proclaimed “award-winning” financial planners, our advice is to fine tune your internal radar to “tall poppy” and do your research.

Awards are incredibly important in the profession; the good ones help highlight the great work of fabulous advisers and leading practices. We’re incredibly proud of our many awards. But it’s right to be a bit suspicious.

Lots of industry operators and media organisations have learned they can turn a pretty penny by running their own award processes, under the guise of revealing the “Best Financial Advisers in Australia”. Firms pay a few thousand dollars to enter a contest with very little assessment or validation happening behind the scenes. Amongst advisers, these kinds of awards are well known to be high-cost, low-effort branding exercises. And if they’re being honest, the awards aren’t worth much, except as a tool to puff resumes and sell to undiscerning clients.

For this reason, Kearney Group does not enter awards where payment is required. We also recommend you research and trust only awards given by credible sources. We like those given by the Financial Planning Association, the Association of Financial Advisers and by licensees and dealer groups. These parties all have skin in the game. They know what good advice looks like and are interested in improving the reputation of advice.

Eeek, pretty damning right? We know – Sorry, not sorry, AFR / Financial Review Boss Awards…


Check the news and reviews.

More important than what a financial adviser says about themselves online: what do others say about them? 

Search for recent news and articles about your chosen firm or financial adviser. Give a good read of their Google Reviews. Do they include any testimonials or case studies on their website?

Be wary of “best of” lists. You know the “Top 10 Financial Advisers in Australia” articles? Most of them are actually advertorials. That is, financial advisers pay a considerable sum to appear on blogs that appear to be genuine assessments, and listings of the best of the best.


Check the Financial Advice Register.

If you do nothing else, check ASIC’s
Financial Advice Register (FAR). 

Anyone who calls themselves a Financial Adviser or Financial Planner in Australia, must be registered and listed on the FAR.

Cross-checking the Register ensures any adviser you intend to work with is authorised to provide financial advice. It also details the adviser’s qualifications, experience, employment history in financial advice, any disciplinary action against them and what sort of advice they’re allowed to provide.

Here’s more on this subject.


3) Meet with your selected financial advisers.


Once you’ve done your homework, it’s time to meet with your selected advisers.


Phone screen.

A phone call will tell you a lot about the adviser and/or firm.

Here you can go over some of the basics and get a bit of an introduction. What’s the firm all about? What does it stand for and specialise in? Why might the adviser be a good fit for you (and you for them!)?

At Kearney Group, you’ll almost always be put through to Jen Purnell in the first instance. She’s our Business & People Partner and she’s got a knack for sussing out who in our organisation will work best with you. 

And at the end of your call, if everyone’s on the same page, she can schedule an introductory meeting with an adviser or an IAT (if appropriate).


Introductory meeting.

Advisers are happy to meet with you, at no charge, to loosely discuss your needs and goals – before you commit to going ahead with a plan.

Have a list of questions handy for this meeting, and don’t be scared to ask them! 

Think of this as a first date. The adviser will be suited, booted and putting their best foot forward.

And – like any first date… if you don’t click or they don’t bother to call you back, you should feel free to say adios! Now, on to someone new!


4) Reference check.


Before you dive headlong into your shiny new adviser relationship, it’s worth doing one last bit of due-diligence. A reference check or two. This is especially important if the adviser didn’t come to you via a personal referral.

After your intro meeting, if you think the financial adviser could be “the one”, it’s worth following up with a few of their current or former clients to discuss their experience.

Here’s a handy list of questions you can use to do a Financial Adviser Reference Check.


Think we might be a good fit?


We’ve been recognised, time and again, for our impact on people’s lives and our unrivalled Integrated Advice model.

But truly – picking a good financial adviser all comes down to connection. Trust your gut and remember this is a relationship. And, like any relationship, there’s just that ‘je ne sais quoi’ factor you need to be looking for.

So take your time. Ask your questions. A good adviser and firm will be supportive of your desire to dig deep at the outset. It saves everyone a lot of time and sets up the foundations for a healthy, long-term advice relationship.


Need a bit of advice before you get advice?


Still wondering how to find a good financial adviser? Think you’d like to speak with an adviser but not certain where to start? We can help!

Lock in a quick chat with Jen Purnell on +61 3 9428 8822.


Other Articles in this Series:


  1. How to find a financial adviser: a complete guide to picking the perfect planner.
  2. How do I find a ‘good’ financial adviser?
  3. Questions to ask a financial adviser in an introductory meeting.
  4. 10 questions to ask during reference checks on your financial adviser.
  5. Private Wealth.

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