Helping your people manage their money

Who is this guide for?

If you’re a leader, or are likely to become a leader in the ADF, this guide is for you. It will show you how you can help your people find the right resources to successfully manage their money. Importantly, it explains how to direct your people to reliable sources of information without giving advice.  

How do I use this guide?

This guide is designed to be read from top to bottom. Some sections contain a short video that provides an overview of the topic. Some also have activities to help you become more familiar with available resources. If you have limited time now, we suggest reading each section and watching the videos, and perhaps completing activities later. If you have more time and are motivated, you might read one section at a time, completing relevant activities as you go.  

How long will it take?

We estimate it will take around 30-35 minutes to read the guide and watch the videos. Expect to take longer if you want to do some or all of the activities along the way. 

Leading a financially fit workforce

Being financially fit will help you set a good example for those under your command. This short video will give you tips on how to set yourself, and others, up for financial success.

ADF leaders play an important welfare role for those in their unit and have an opportunity to foster a culture of personal and financial discipline.

Members will come to you for information and advice. Some questions will relate to their personal finances, which may include problems with debt, questions about super, salary packaging, or even for recommendations on financial products or services. Or you may become aware that a member needs assistance.

It’s important that you understand the difference between factual information, general assistance and financial advice, because it’s illegal for you to give financial advice without an Australian Finances Services Licence (AFSL). When members take a disciplined approach to their money they are likely to be less stressed and more focused on the job, making them more effective and improving the capability of the ADF as a whole.

The resources on this website will show you where to find independent, reliable sources of information to guide you along your own path and help ADF members make better financial decisions.

Information vs advice

ADF members are not permitted to provide financial advice to other members. You must make sure that when you are talking to members you never give them financial advice. Any information you give others about their finances should be factual, general in nature, and educational only.

Be careful not to express an opinion or make a recommendation about a financial service or product, as this could be perceived as advice.

For example, if you talk about banking products, insurance policies or investment products, you may talk generally about what they are and suggest places the member could find more information, but you shouldn’t mention a company or institution by name.

If you would like more information, please contact us.

Example – member in financial difficulty

A member comes to you for help because they can’t pay their bills and they’re feeling stressed.

Encourage the member to contact each of their service providers to get an extension to pay or negotiate a payment arrangement under hardship provisions, or ask them to contact us for information and referrals. Our Problems with debt money guide is a good source of information in this situation.

Example – overheard conversation

There may be times when you are not asked questions directly but may overhear conversations between other members.

For example, you may hear a member promoting a financial product or service to other members. In this case, consider intervening and cautioning members that a product suitable for one person is not necessarily right for someone else.

Encourage members to do their own research, consider their own personal circumstances, and get advice if they need it.

The money guides on this website and the Moneysmart website provide members with information they can use to make informed financial decisions.

Get familiar with the money guides and videos available on this website so that you know what’s available when members ask you questions related to their personal finances.

Complaints about financial service providers

ADF member may complain to you about a financial services provider, such as a financial adviser or advice licensee, an insurance company or broker, a bank or mortgage broker, or an investment scheme manager. In most cases complaints will be directed to the company’s internal dispute resolution scheme and if they don’t get a satisfactory response they can escalate their complaint to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).

If you are unsure of the appropriate course of action, contact us via this website and we can advise on the correct agency to contact.

Trouble with debt

Managing debt is a critical part of good money management. Here’s a short video to explain the importance of keeping debts under control.

Just like the general population, sometimes ADF members get themselves into trouble with debt. Some examples include:

  • having taken on a large loan only to suffer a drop in pay or an interest rate rise.
  • using credit to purchase household items or racking up credit card debt.
  • acting as co-borrow or guarantor on a loan for someone else (often an adult child) and the other party defaults on repayments.

If these issues are not dealt with, the member’s financial situation may continue to deteriorate, possessions may be repossessed or they may even consider a debt agreement or bankruptcy. Any act of bankruptcy, including debt agreements, can lead to a loss of security clearance and ultimately loss of employment.

How can you help a member in financial difficulty

Encourage the member to seek help before they default on a debt. Options include contacting:

  • credit providers to organise an extension or a repayment arrangement under hardship provisions.
  • a free financial counsellor, who can advocate for the member and help them work through their financial issues.

Each of the Services operates a Relief Trust Fund that can provide assistance to members experiencing financial difficulty.

We are able to help with referrals to financial counselling services for members and families who are suffering financial difficulties. Please contact us or read our our ‘Problems with Debt’ money guide for more information.’

Credit reporting

One really important reason for members to stay on top of debts and pay bills on time is the effect it can have on their credit rating. This is something that everyone should be aware of. A black mark on your credit report can affect your ability to have services connected and borrow money in the future.

Your credit report is a comprehensive record of your credit history. It lists personal details, information about the credit products you currently have, and any credit you’ve had, or applied for, in the last 2 years. It also lists any missed or partial payments.

Credit reporting agencies use this information to give you a credit score. Lenders and other credit providers use your credit report and credit score to decide whether to lend you money, how much to lend you, and even what interest rate to charge you. People with a higher credit rating will often be able to negotiate better interest rates.

It’s important to check your credit report and credit score to make sure there are no unauthorised transactions on your file. For example, someone having applied for credit in your name without your knowledge or authorisation.

You can get a copy of your credit report for free, once a year. It’s also free to find out what your credit score is.

Go to Moneysmart’s credit scores and credit reports page and use the links provided to get a copy of your credit report and find out what your credit score is. You can get your credit report and credit score from more than one company if you want to see how they compare.

Assistance for members

Sometimes the best way to help a fellow ADF member is to refer them to an appropriate external service.

Centrelink’s Financial Information Service (FIS)

This is a free service which can help members with personal and family financial matters and make sure the member is getting all the Government benefits they are entitled to. The service can be accessed over the phone or face-to-face. Members can find out more information on the Human services website or call 132 300 to make an appointment.

Financial counselling

Financial counsellors help people in serious financial difficulty. It’s a free service that can help a member manage their immediate crisis and develop strategies to help prevent future problems. They can advocate for the member and assist them to remain independent and take back control of their financial affairs.

Please contact us at the ADF Consumer Centre for help in finding an appropriate financial counsellor for the member.

Financial advisers

Some ADF members have proven to be good savers and money managers and may come to you for investment advice. If this happens it’s important that you don’t make suggestions in relation to particular investment products, or class of assets. Suggest the member read our Investing money guide and consider contacting an appropriately licensed financial adviser.

Financial advisers help people set and achieve financial goals, choose investments, and manage their money, for a fee.

Advisers often charge fees based on a percentage of assets under management, which can lead to conflicted advice. The ADF Consumer Centre administers the ADF financial advice referral program, which is a list of financial advisers that have made an undertaking to Defence that they will operate on a genuine fee-for-service basis, free from remuneration based conflicts of interest.

This list is not a recommendation or endorsement of the advisers on this list, and members need to be aware that any relationship is between them and the adviser, and is a strictly private relationship that Defence is not a party to.

Members considering financial advice may benefit from reading our Getting financial advice money guide and watching our video Financial advisers: the facts & the fiction, which will give them a good idea of what to expect when seeing a financial adviser and what to look out for.

Before choosing an adviser, suggest to the member that they make sure the adviser is qualified to give the kind of advice they’re after and have experience in dealing with people in similar circumstances. They should understand and agree the scope of the advice and the fees before proceeding, these should be outlined in an Engagement Letter.

Creating culture

This short budgeting and goal setting video from our Principles of Financial Success series shows ADF members how easy it is to get control of their finances.

As leaders, you have a responsibility to support a culture of organisational, personal and financial discipline. You can encourage members to take responsibility for their financial affairs, starting with a budget.

A budget is the foundation for good money management. Members will find a comprehensive budget planner here. There are also a range of apps available for tracking money on the go, many of which are free or offer a basic version for free. 

Members can also benefit from reading the Your money guides section of this website.

Will & power of attorney

This short video explains the importance of having a valid will, and what to consider before granting someone a Power of Attorney.


As you know, every Defence member should have a valid will. This is a legal document that dictates how their assets are to be distributed when they die.

For a will to be valid it must meet certain criteria; you must have been of sound mind when you executed the will, it must be in writing and not have been previously revoked, and it must be witnessed appropriately. Witnesses should not be beneficiaries, in most states this is not allowed, and it’s not good practice.

We don’t recommend members use a will kit, instead they should use a qualified legal professional. On-base legal officers will draft simple wills for full-time ADF members for free. Wills should be reviewed regularly and updated if necessary when personal circumstances change.

Power of attorney

While a will is something we recommend all members have, Powers of Attorney (POA) are something they should consider carefully before granting.

When you grant someone a POA, you are giving them the power to manage your money on your behalf. That means they can operate your bank accounts, buy or dispose of assets, and make financial decisions as if they were you.

You can limit a POA, for example, you could make it valid only for a specific period of time, or only allow transactions up to a certain dollar amount.

There are different types of POA, for example:

  • General – ceases if you lose mental capacity.
  • Enduring – continues to operate after you have lost mental capacity.
  • Medical – allows your appointee to make decisions about your medical treatment if you become mentally or physically incapable of deciding for yourself.

It’s important that members understand the implications of granting someone a POA, it’s a significant amount of power and responsibility to hand someone, so it should only be given to someone they really trust.

You can encourage your members to improve their financial fitness by using the resources available on our website.

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Here’s a handy checklist to help support your people manage their money.



Watch our short videos for useful information to support you in your leadership role.



Here you’ll find calculators and other resources to help you get your finances sorted.




Head to our Referral Program to find an advisor who is free from remuneration-based conflicts of interest.



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