Facing major financial decisions can be complex and confusing. However, only about one in five Australians obtain financial advice. ASIC’s MoneySmart has developed the Financial advice toolkit to help you navigate the financial advice process with confidence.
The new toolkit will step you through the financial advice process, providing tips on choosing an adviser and explaining:
You can also create a customised ‘to do’ list which can be modified to suit your personal financial needs.
Choosing an adviser
When choosing an adviser, you should do your own research and speak with a few advisers before you make a decision. This presents an opportunity to ask questions about their financial qualifications and experience, advice fees, financial products and sales incentives.
The toolkit includes a link to ASIC’s Financial Advisers Register to check an adviser’s credentials. The register provides details about their licence, authorisations, experience and qualifications.
Prepare to meet an adviser
Before meeting with an adviser, you should consider your financial goals and advice needs. This will help to determine the type of financial advice best suited to your life stage and circumstances. Depending on the complexity of the advice needed and the type of financial products recommended, fees and commissions may vary.
Before you commit to paying for a financial plan, you should agree on the goals and areas of advice that will and will not be covered by the plan and discuss the associated fees.
Evaluating and implementing financial advice
After meeting with an adviser, you will receive a statement of advice. This will document the recommended strategy, outline any recommended products and list the fees and costs. Your adviser should discuss the risk and return of recommended products and any factors influencing the advice you receive. If you are unsure about anything, you should follow up with your adviser before proceeding.
Regular review of your financial situation
You should review your financial situation and financial advice at least once a year to assess the performance of your investments. This will allow you to check they are meeting your expectations and continue to be appropriate to your circumstances. Depending on the complexity of your investment portfolio and your life stage, it may be necessary to do this more frequently.
The Financial advice toolkit is available on ASIC’s MoneySmart website.
Greg Medraft is Chairman of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission
The ADF Financial Advice Referral Program is set up to help you find a financial adviser who provides advice which is free from remuneration-based conflicts of interest. The financial advisers in the Program have agreed to provide advice on a genuine fees for service basis, which means that you can be more confident that you are getting advice that is in your best interests.