How do you choose a reliable financial adviser for retirement?

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Jan is finding retirement confusing but is worried about dodgy financial advisers.


Q. Jan
I must say I find all this retirement thing confusing to say the least! My partner and I would like to sit down with an adviser and discuss our options. Should we see a Centrelink adviser first or an independent adviser? How do we choose a reliable financial adviser?

A. Jan, working out where you stand financially is the critical first step in planning your retirement.

At any time, you can make an appointment to speak to a Centrelink Financial Information Services Officer (FISO) who will be able to discuss with you whether your assets and income will affect payment of the Age Pension, how to claim and which concession cards may be available. You can make an appointment by calling 13 2300.

However, engaging a good financial adviser can also prove useful in helping you set financial goals for your retirement and creating a plan to achieve them.

The Financial Planning Association of Australia offers a ‘Find a Planner’ tool that will list advisers in your area and the Association of Financial Advisers offers a similar service.

When you have created a short list of advisers you can check their history, qualifications and current employment status on Moneysmart’s financial advisers register before you approach them about getting advice.

The register tells you:

  • the adviser’s qualifications, experience and employment history
  • the types of products the adviser can provide advice on
  • if the adviser is a member of a relevant professional body or industry association
  • whether the adviser has been the subject of disciplinary action by ASIC
  • the name and number of the Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence holder who employs or authorises the financial adviser to provide advice
  • details about who owns or controls the licence holder.

If the adviser is not operating under a licence, do not deal with them – they are breaking the law and you will have little protection if things go wrong.

Find out what they offer
Read the financial services guide (FSG) of any financial advisers you are seriously considering. You can find the guide on their website or ask them for a copy.

The guide will tell you:

  • what services the adviser offers
  • how they charge and whether they receive any additional payments or benefits
  • who owns the company that employs the adviser
  • if they have links to a product provider, such as a bank, fund manager or life insurance company, that may affect the products and services they offer
  • their AFS licence number.

Ask the adviser about their typical clients, to see if they have experience dealing with people who have similar issues and goals to you. For example, are the adviser’s other clients planning for retirement?

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Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for the ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

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Written by Ben


Total Comments: 5
  1. 0

    The financial advisor will ask you for details of all your assets ie what are you worth? So ask him/her what s/he is worth too, you don’t want an advisor who can’t manage their own affairs and some can’t.

    • 0

      I agree. Always find one that is worth more than you as they not only know their stuff but they have done well with it themselves.

      That said I am yet to find one myself.

  2. 0

    I find it pretty appalling that the answer to Jan does not look at the point she was making rather what it said what she needs to find out and do and the fact that people should make appointments with centrelink officers, yes, they should , but they give you a scenario you may face , thats all, my time a 2 to 3 years ago, in my battle with centrelink applications, even an officer of the office I attended could not get onto the Mygov account for me , or set it up , it was a nightmare I GAVE UP ON AT ONE STAGE ,but reading in Life Choices I found people were writing in and saying how they had this and that and were questioning about the amount they were allowed, WELL I HAD NO AMOUNT TO QUESTION FULL STOP! So I went again after nearly 8 months of waiting and sending and visiting I finally got a pensioner card and $71 dollars a fortnight, that has changed now over the years, and is better, but I was only looking for a health or pension card initially .
    What I think Jan was asking is not what? BUT WHY?
    We all know what centrelink is NOT, and that it is also a deliberately ( I think!) difficult
    operation to deal with. Because I gave up at one stage.
    Remember we are not talking about unemployed or the ridiculous hoops TO BE JUMPED THROUGH WITH, JOBSEARCH , WHAT EVER THAT IS MEANT TO DO??? We are talking about pensioners with a life time of employment finished , they have a right to financial security, and the governments what ever colour have an obligation to see to that happening. Centrelink, is to some a horror and a nightmare, Australian should be ashamed of this trickery!

    • 0

      No mate, Jan is not asking that you are putting words in her mouth. You must have had a fair amount of assets/income to only get $71/ftn. Gone are the days that working/paying taxes etc guarantees a Pension, it has been means-tested for quite a while. The process of applying is pretty straight forward these days for most, thousand done without a hiccup, you
      never hear of those though, except for some long waiting times, unfortunately.

  3. 0

    I was on Disability pension for several years. Then Centrelink sent me a letter asking, did I want to transfer to Age Pension?Decided I would. They did it in advance of my relevant birthday. I assumed it would be a straightforward transfer! But no; the process was similar to anyone applying for the Age Pension.I cannot remember now where I found out what information I needed. Finally got all that paperwork sorted. Went into the quietest of the 3 Centrelink buildings available to me. Went as soon as they opened so I didn’t have to wait long. Then it did go smoothly.



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