Financial planners often get bad press but that doesn’t mean the whole industry should be tarred with the same brush. The relationship you build with your chosen planner will play an integral part in getting the best information and plan for you.
What creates a good relationship with a financial planner?
Understanding what you expect from a financial planner and how you can judge whether you would be confident working with a chosen planner is the first step in cultivating a good working relationship.
So, aside from the necessary qualifications and proven track record, what makes a good financial planner? They should:
- make you feel at ease
- listen to and take on board your opinion and treat you as an individual
- demonstrate knowledge and expertise, including how they’ve handled similar situations to yours
- provide clear and easy-to-understand explanations
- provide you with options and choices tailor-made to your situation
- be accepting of choices and options which generate ‘no remuneration’ for them (e.g. property investment)
- be non-judgmental of any past decisions you have made or situations you may have found yourself in, but show understanding and/or empathy to your individual situation
How would a financial planner benefit you?
It’s all well and good being told by others that a financial planner is your key to successful wealth management but consider what you really want to achieve. Perhaps you would like to:
- be in a better financial situation by achieving or being on your way to achieving financial goals faster
- feel more secure (comfortable, confident) about your finances and financial position
- feel you are more knowledgeable about, and have more interest in, financial issues.
How do you find a good planner?
Recommendations are a good place to start but you need to be sure that the planner you choose will work best for you. The following questions will help you assess whether a planner will be a good match for you:
1. How long have they been a planner? Find out about the planner’s background
2. Which product areas can they provide advice on? Ask about their areas of specialisation
3. Do they have experience in advising clients similar to you?
4. Who owns their business?
5. What sort of backing or support do they receive?
6. What are their fees? How do you pay for their advice and ongoing service?
How much does a financial plan cost?
The overall cost of a financial plan may depend on the complexity of the advice provided and any other services you might be receiving from the planner. The first consultation with a planner is usually free. During this meeting you should discuss your situation and what you are trying to achieve. Your planner should also discuss with you the next steps and agree a cost for any advice, should you wish to take the next step.
A note on fees
Fees are negotiated between the planner and the client, depending on the complexity of the advice and the services offered. This will range from client to client and should be openly discussed in your first meeting with a planner.
There are generally a different number of ways from which you may choose to pay your planner, depending on the services. For instance, you may agree to pay a fee for the advice provided in the Statement of Advice. The choice of payment method should be agreed between the client and their planner, supported by clear disclosure.
If you are receiving ongoing services, then you might also agree with your planner to pay an ongoing fee for these services each year. You can pay this as a percentage of your investment each year, or as an agreed dollar amount.
Remember – you are the ‘buyer’ and it is up to you to understand fully the type of fees the planner will charge and to be happy that this will suit your individual situation.
How realistic are your expectations?
If you would like to know more about the costs involved in providing a certain standard of living in retirement, you should read the report, Spending patterns of retirees as they age – the needs of older retirees, produced by the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA).