HOW TO CHOOSE AN INDEPENDENT PLANNER
Industry associations usually have a 'find an adviser' tool that can help you locate a suitable Financial Planner in your area. Members of these associations are required to participate in ongoing training, and follow a code of conduct to follow and a method for handling complaints. The most reliable in Australia would be the Financial Planning Association.
Financial Advisers Register
You can check an adviser on ASIC's financial advisers register.
The register tells you:
- the adviser's qualifications, experience and employment history
- what product areas the adviser can provide advice about (check that these are the areas you're looking for)
- whether the adviser is a member of any professional bodies or industry associations that are relevant to providing financial services
- 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.
Financial Advisers Qualifications and Experience
It is important you check if your chosen adviser is qualified to give you financial advice.
A financial adviser can be qualified to give advice after meeting only minimum training requirements. To increase your chances of getting advice that is right for you, you should look for an adviser who also has a diploma, an advanced diploma or degree qualification in a relevant discipline such as finance, economics, accounting or financial planning. A degree is a higher level qualification than a diploma or an advanced diploma.
Ask the adviser about their typical clients. This will help you judge whether they have the experience to deal with people with similar issues and goals to you. For example, are the adviser's other clients planning for retirement or are they young families wanting to save for their children's education?
The amount of experience an adviser has is also relevant. For example, an adviser that has recently graduated may be highly qualified; however, they may not be as experienced as an older adviser with fewer qualifications.
Check the adviser can provide advice about the financial products you currently have. This is critical when it comes to super, as the adviser may not be able to give you advice about your current super fund if it's not on their 'approved product list'.
Be careful of advisers who only sell one investment product or solution as this may mean the advice doesn't meet your specific needs and objectives.
Use ASIC's financial advisers register to see what product areas an adviser can provide advice about.
See financial products and sales incentives for more information about things to look out for when considering a financial product recommended by an adviser.
Financial Services Guide
Once you have a list of a few possible advisers, get a copy of their financial services guide (FSG) by visiting their website or by phoning and asking them to send it to you.
The guide will tell you:
- what services they offer
- how they charge and whether they receive any additional payments or benefits
- who owns the company the adviser works for
- if they have links to product providers (many advisers are linked to banks, fund managers and life insurance companies and this can affect the services and products offered)
- their licence number.