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How to find a financial adviser: a complete guide to picking the perfect planner.

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25 November 2022 Read time: 8 min

 

If you’re wondering how to find a financial adviser… well it’s no easy task. 

First you have to figure out what you need (and don’t). Then you have to find a good adviser you actually ‘click’ with. And, that’s just the start of your advice journey.

One thing’s certain though: putting in the hard work at the outset can make the difference between an average fit, and a match made in heaven. 

With this in mind, we’ve broken down the tricky task of picking a financial planner. Read on so you don’t get caught down a (financial) rabbit hole.

Here’s our guide:

  1. Do I need a financial adviser?

  2. Who should get financial advice?

  3. When should I get financial advice?

  4. What does a financial planner or financial adviser actually do?

  5. What does a financial plan cover?

  6. How do I find a good financial adviser?

  7. What questions should I ask a financial adviser at our introductory meeting?

  8. Which questions I should ask when doing a reference check on my financial adviser?

  9. What accreditation do financial planners need?

  10. How do I confirm if my financial adviser is registered?

  11. What does a financial plan cost?

  12. What should I prepare for my first meeting with a financial adviser?

  13. Who is the best financial adviser in Australia?

1. Do I need a financial adviser?

 

If you’re asking the question, chances are you probably do!

And if you’re working towards a big life goal like buying a house, paying off some debt, making a career change, facing a health challenge or looking to retire early – consider this your sign. A little advice can go a long way.

The truth is, most of us don’t realise how much we’d benefit from financial guidance until we face a crisis or take the time to carefully consider our future goals. We meet people every day who tell us their only regret is not coming to get advice sooner.

2. Who should get financial advice?

 

Simply put – just about everyone can benefit from a little (or a lot) of advice. You don’t need to be rolling in dough or planning for retirement to get some professional guidance.

In fact, getting a financial strategy early in life can help you set a really positive course for your future. And, when you don’t have a stack of cash, the little wins make a huge difference.

Of course, the kind of advice you need will depend on your personal goals, the complexity of your affairs and the life stage you’re at. And, it’s likely your advice requirements will change over time. So be ready to flex and weave.

That said, it’s never too late to get a financial plan. Even if you choose to do so in your sunset years, think of it as legacy work; you’re setting the next generation on a good course, even if you don’t get to enjoy the many benefits fully yourself.

3. When should I get financial advice?

 

We’re hopeless optimists and think everyone should be entitled to good financial health. We also know that getting financial advice – proactively, early and often – is the way to financial wellbeing. The realists in the room know most of us wait until we face something big.

You should definitely consider chatting with a financial adviser if you’ve encountered a life change. Good financial advice can set you on track to make the most of an opportunity or correct course, if needed.

So take a moment to consider what’s happened in your life. What’s changed? What’s on the horizon? And how might that impact your financial future?

You may have just had a child, bought or sold a house, got married or divorced (eek!), switched jobs, bought or sold a business, or come in to some money, etc.

Any big life event is a loud, red flag. This is your moment to seek advice.

4. What does a financial planner or financial adviser do?

 

First off – full disclosures. Not all financial advisers are created equally. But at Kearney Group, we’ve been setting and exceeding the standards for our profession for years. When the Royal Commission came down, we cheered. The riff-raff of our profession was getting swept out by fierce legislation. Finally, ethical, well-trained, professional advisers have the chance to shine.

So to be clear, when we speak about what an adviser does, we’re talking about advisers at Kearney Group. We know others in the field don’t operate the way we do. But we believe our way is the way of the future. So humour us, will you?

At Kearney Group, a financial planner or financial adviser:

  • gathers information about you and your financial situation.
  • meets with you to deep dive into your life goals and financial objectives.
  • expertly models various scenarios and gives you a look at a number of possible financial futures.
  • crafts a financial plan that acts as the backbone of your strategy.
  • presents your financial plan and plots how you’ll execute your strategy – a step-by-step roadmap, so to speak. You’ll also discuss any alternative strategies that may be useful.
  • helps you execute and implement your chosen financial strategy.
  • provides a cyclical review service in which you track your progress towards your goals, adjust for any changes and ensure your financial strategy remains fresh and relevant.
  • works as part of an Integrated Advice Team that’s able to support your broader tax, business, lending and personal financial needs.

5. What does a financial plan cover?

 

Of course, every scenario is different and will result in tailored advice, specifically designed for you. However, Kearney Group‘s financial advisers typically assist with:

  • financial planning which takes the goals of yourself and your family into account.
  • cashflow management and comprehensive budgeting.
  • income targeting and career mapping.
  • superannuation and investment strategy.
  • portfolio management services, including access to Ethos Managed Portfolios.
  • debt structuring and analysis, with support from Kearney Group Strategic Lending.
  • risk management and insurance advice.
  • dedicated retirement, succession and inter-generational wealth planning.
  • referral to Kearney Group Business Advisory for your personal tax or business needs.

6. How do I find a good financial adviser?

 

Finding a financial adviser is easy… Finding a good financial adviser that you really ‘click’ with requires a little more discernment.

The best way to suss out a well-suited financial adviser is to:

  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

Want some tools and templates to help you on your search? Here’s a full step-by-step guide on how to separate good financial advisers from the rest of the pack.

7. What questions should I ask a financial adviser at our introductory meeting?

 

Introduction meetings with financial advisers are incredibly important. They’re usually free for you and a great way to dot the “I”s and cross some “T”s.

So here’s a list of the most important questions you should ask at your introductory meeting with a financial adviser.

You can even print off our handy PDF and bring it with you to your adviser interviews.

8. What questions should I ask when doing a reference check on my financial adviser?

 

Yep. We said it. We think you should reference check your adviser – especially if they didn’t come via a personal recommendation.

Click here for questions that need to be asked before you pick your financial planner.

Print off the PDF for this one as well.

9. What accreditation do financial planners need?

 

Financial planners or financial advisers in Australia must complete an approved bachelor’s degree (AQF7 level) comprising 24 subjects, or above or equivalent.

An accredited financial adviser will also need to be authorised to provide advice by an Australian Financial Services Licensee (AFSL). The AFSL does relevant background checks, education and accreditation checks, and updates ASIC’s Financial Advice Register (more on that below) before a Financial Adviser can begin providing advice.

At Kearney Group, we go above and beyond the national standards. Each of our senior advisers are also CFP® Certified Financial Planners, registered with the Financial Planning Association of Australia.

10. How do I confirm if my financial adviser is registered?

 

Check ASIC’s Financial Advice Register (FAR) to confirm your financial adviser is registered.

The FAR ensures any financial adviser you intend to work with is authorised to provide financial advice. It also includes other important information about the adviser, like their qualifications, experience, employment history as an adviser, any disciplinary action against them and what kind of advice they’re allowed to provide.

11. What does a financial plan cost?

 

Oh yes, the elephant in the room.

So, personal financial advice comes at a cost. To be fair, not getting financial advice is very expensive (often more so); the cost just isn’t as evident. But sticker shock is real. So here’s the deal.

Ultimately, the price of advice depends on a few things:

  • who you choose to work with;
  • the extent or type of advice you’re seeking; and
  • how you pay.

That’s all to say, there’s no set cost for personal financial advice (because how long is a piece of string?). However, average prices start around $3,500 for a financial plan. We’re not going to lie though: $3,500 makes for pretty average ‘advice’ (that is, not much more than some very basic product recommendations).

If you’re needing a more detailed strategy and modelling like we provide at Kearney Group, it does cost more but the rewards are profound. In fact, we often find our financial plans pay for themselves almost immediately. For example, good debt structuring can save you tens of thousands. Moreover, how does one appraise the value of peace of mind? For example, a recommendation for better insurance might mean you’re now covered for conditions that would otherwise have been excluded. So, how do you put a price on that?

 

Get your advice scoped at the outset.

Whatever you do, once you’ve settled on an adviser, they’ll scope out your needs. They’ll also provide an outline of costs and payment options before you agree to go ahead with their services. Be aware that fees can fluctuate if you ask for additional advice or services that are considered ‘out-of-scope’. Any additional charges should be documented in a separate engagement letter or invoice arrangement.

Your financial planner is also required to provide you with a Financial Services Guide and Adviser Profile. These documents outline the adviser’s fees, the services they offer, their accreditations, how they’re remunerated and how to manage complaints.

Regardless of what you end up paying, financial advice costs should be discussed upfront when you meet with (that is: interview) your potential advisers. Make sure you understand what’s included in a fixed price and if there are additional costs to:

  • provide ongoing advice;
  • review your strategy;
  • implement your advice (e.g. set up accounts, fill in forms, contact insurers);
  • recommend or manage investments (e.g. platform fees, fund manager fees).

12. What should I prepare for my first meeting with a financial adviser?

 

Before your first meeting, your adviser will likely send you a list of items to have ready. To help you make the most of your first meeting with a financial adviser, here’s our suggested list of things to prep and bring along:

  • a list of your assets and liabilities;
  • details of your superannuation fund(s);
  • details of any life, disability, or income protection insurance you might have;
  • an outline of your income and expenses;
  • your goals, dreams, wishes, etc;
  • your risk appetite(s) (i.e. are you cautious, conservative, or moderate when it comes to finances, etc?);
  • questions and more questions! You can also download and print a PDF questionnaire to bring to your meeting.

13. Who is the best financial adviser in Australia?

 

Well Kearney Group is home to the best financial advisers in Australia – obviously.

All ego aside, what we do at Kearney Group is pretty extraordinary. We get to work with people and deal with the most intimate details of their lives. We know this is a privileged place. And we know what we do can make or break a family, a business, a marriage, a friendship.

We’ve been recognised, time and again, for our extraordinary advice and unrivalled Integrated Advice model.

But truly – it all comes down to connection. Trust your gut when meeting potential advisers. If you don’t feel it, don’t force it and find someone else. You’re entrusting someone to manage your money and to know every aspect of your financial situation.

In short, there needs to be a strong and healthy relationship for your advice experience to be a success.

Ready to get moving? Still not quite sure how?

 

Wondering how to find a financial adviser but still not certain where to start? We can help!

Simply make a quick call to Jen Purnell on +61 3 9428 8822 or contact us.

Also, be a good mate… Share this article with your friends. They’re probably wondering how to find a financial adviser as well.

 

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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