Could financial advice help you?

If you need help developing a plan to reach your financial goals, financial advice can really make a difference. A licensed financial adviser can help you identify realistic goals, and put strategies in place to achieve them.

Here we explain what financial advice is and how it could help you.

What is financial advice?

Financial advice is a service provided by a licensed financial adviser (also known as a financial planner), that can help you make financial decisions. Financial advice can help you with budgeting, investing, superannuation, retirement planning, estate planning, risk management, insurance and taxation.

To provide you with advice some, or all, of these areas, a financial adviser must be licensed by ASIC, or be an authorised representative of an organisation licensed by ASIC. Use the financial advisers register to check that the person you are dealing with is authorised to give you the advice you want.

How financial advice can help you

Financial advice can help you:

  • identify short, medium and long-term goals
  • develop strategies to achieve your financial goals
  • better manage your money
  • develop an investment plan
  • choose tax-effective investments
  • make the most of your superannuation
  • find out if you’re eligible for any government assistance
  • work out your insurance needs
  • plan for your retirement
  • consider your estate planning needs.

Start by considering whether you need help you with a single issue, like consolidating super or choosing investments, or are you after a more comprehensive financial plan.

Advice is helpful in times of change

Professional advice is most valuable when you’re going through, or planning for, a big life event, like starting a family, being retrenched, planning for retirement or managing an inheritance.

Alternatives to financial advice

Not every situation calls for advice. You may simply want factual information about different investment products and strategies or need to understand more about financial services generally.

Smart tip

If you need financial advice because you’re having trouble paying your bills or need to sort out your debts, see a financial counsellor first.

Here are places you can get free or low cost factual information about different financial products and strategies.

Online

ASIC’s MoneySmart website has information to help you manage your day-to-day finances. You’ll also find a suite of calculators to help you plan and manage your money. They include:

Other websites that can also help answer your questions include:

  • The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) – has an education section on its website
  • The Financial Planning Association (FPA) – has a blog and an Ask an Expert forum
  • Financial columns and blogs.

Banks, credit unions or building societies

Bank, credit union and building society staff can be a good source of factual information about products such as savings accounts and term deposits. This might be all you need if your goal is to save for a home or build a savings buffer.

Remember to shop around and compare products.

Your super fund 

Your super fund can provide factual information about your super account, including:

  • investment options
  • how to make extra contributions
  • how to consolidate multiple super funds
  • insurance options.

Free seminars

The Department of Human Services’ Financial Information Service offers free money seminars all over Australia. Topics include:

  • Managing your money
  • Reducing your mortgage
  • Investing
  • Understanding superannuation.

The financial advice process

If you do decide you want financial advice, here are the steps to take:

  • Decide what type of financial advice you need – Do you need general advice, personal advice, or even robo-advice? The kind of advice you need will depend on your life stage, the money you have to invest, and the complexity of your affairs.
  • Choose a financial adviser – Find an adviser that is appropriately qualified, licensed, and has experience on advising people with similar needs to you.
  • Financial advice costs – Find out about the cost of advice and understand what you’re paying for. Make sure the adviser does not receive any sales incentives for recommending particular products.
  • Working with a financial adviser – Make the most of your first meeting by being clear about what you’re looking for. Find out how to make the most of ongoing advice and what to do if you want to end your relationship with the adviser.
  • Problems with a financial adviser – Find out what to do if things go wrong with the adviser. What is their dispute resolution process?
  • Financial advice toolkit – This resource can help you confidently navigate the financial advice process by explaining the steps involved at each stage.

There are times when you can make your own financial decisions. At other times it’s reassuring to be able to consult a professional. Getting financial advice can help you plan and manage your big financial decisions.

Call us today to arrange your first appointment; the initial consultation is always free.

Article provided by MoneySmart (ASIC)