This guide is about how you, as a leader in the ADF, can play a role in helping your people find the right resources to successfully manage their money. It’s not about giving advice, it’s about knowing where to get good information. We encourage you to become familiar with these resources to help you in your leadership role.
As a leader, you are likely to have members come to you for information and advice. Some of their questions will relate to personal finances. It’s important that you understand the difference between factual information and general assistance and financial advice – because it’s illegal for you to give financial advice without the appropriate licence.
As a leader, you have an opportunity to foster a culture of personal and financial discipline. Members who take a disciplined approach to their money are likely to be less stressed and more focused on their job, making your job easier and the ADF more effective as a whole.
This site and the MoneySmart website provide sources of reliable, impartial information, useful tools and other resources to guide you along your own path and help you manage others.
As an ADF leader you will play a welfare role for those in your unit. At some stage you will be asked personal financial questions, which may include problems with debt, questions about super or salary packaging, or even for recommendations on financial products or services.
It’s important that you only give factual information, not advice. This section of the website will show you where to find independent, reliable sources of information that will help ADF members make better financial decisions.
To legally give financial advice you need an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) so make sure that you never provide financial advice. When you talk to members about their finances, keep it factual, general in nature, and educational.
Be careful not to express an opinion or make a recommendation as this could be perceived as advice.
For example, if you talk about banking products, insurance policies or investment products, you can 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.
Be aware of the ‘Limited Access to Bases for Financial Services Industry’ policy.
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, a product that is 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.
Resources on this website and the MoneySmart website provide members with information they can use to make informed financial decisions.
If an ADF member complains 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, an investment scheme manager or franchisor, contact us via this website to find out the best place to direct the member’s complaint.
In most cases complaints will be directed to ASIC, but we can advise on the correct agency to contact.
Sometimes ADF members struggle with debt. For example, they may have taken on a large loan only to suffer a drop in pay or an interest rate rise. They may have used credit to purchase household items or racked up credit card debt. It’s also becoming more common for older members to co-borrow or guarantee a loan for someone else (often an adult child) and then get into trouble when the other party can’t make 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.
Encourage the member to seek help before they default on a debt. Options include talking to credit providers to organise an extension or a repayment arrangement under hardship provisions, and talking to a free financial counsellor.
One really important reason to stay on top of debt and pay bills on time is the effect it can have on your credit report. 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 report on your credit history. It lists personal details and information about the credit products you currently have or you’ve had, or applied for, in the last 2 years, and whether you have missed any payments or defaulted.
Credit reporting agencies use this information to give you a credit score and rank you as excellent, very good, good, average or below average.
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.
MoneySmart has information on how to get a copy of your credit report and credit score. All members should get a copy of their credit report to make sure all the information is correct, and find out their credit score so they know how credit providers see them.
Sometimes the best way to help a fellow ADF member is to refer them to an appropriate external service.
This is a free service which can help members with personal and family financial matters and make sure the member is getting all their Government entitlements. The service can be accessed over the phone or face-to-face. Members can find out more information at www.humanservices.gov.au or call 132 300 to make an appointment.
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. This can assist someone in financial difficulty remain independent and take back control of their financial affairs. You can help the member find a financial counsellor in their area at www.financialcounsellingaustralia.org.au.
Financial advisers can help members set and achieve financial goals, choose investments and manage their money. They charge fees for their services.
Advisers often charge fees based on a percentage of assets under management, which can lead to conflicted advice. ADF Consumer administers the ADF financial advice referral program, which is a list of financial advisers that have made an undertaking to Defence that they operate on a genuine fee-for-service basis, free from commissions and conflicts.
This list is not in any way 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 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 the member 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.
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 on the MoneySmart website. 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.
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 using a will kit, 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 update it if necessary when personal circumstances change.
A Power of Attorney (POA) gives someone the power to act on your behalf. That means they can make financial decisions, buy or dispose of assets, operate bank accounts, etc., as if they were you.
A POA can be limited, for example, it may operate for a specific period of time, or only allow transactions up to a certain dollar amount. This could be useful if a member wanted to grant a trusted friend or family member the ability to manage their affairs while they are on deployment only. Limiting the amount can allow day-to-day finances to be managed but not allow the disposal of assets.
A general POA is only valid while you still have mental capacity, an enduring POA continues to operate if you lose mental capacity and a medical POA allows your appointee to make decisions about your medical treatment if you become mentally or physically incapable of deciding for yourself. This may differ from state to state.
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.
There are a number of places you can go to access free, impartial, financial education and information. Start by accessing the information available on this website, and for: