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Could I benefit from using a Financial Planner?

Most people get to a stage in their lives when they think they may need some professional guidance, like a financial adviser, in helping them navigate their financial path and lay out what some people refer to as a financial journey map.

Like any successful journey in life, this is often preceded by a well thought-out plan of where you want to be at different stages of your journey, (goals and objectives), what means do you have to get there (income, assets and liabilities), what risks if any are you prepared to take in order to get there sooner (risk tolerance) and the strategy and vehicle required to help you get there, taking into consideration all that could go wrong (insurance, tax structure, investment and retirement product, estate plan and well documented advice document).

Unfortunately, our industry is riddled with jargon and terms people find difficult to understand, and this does nothing to allay fears of what to expect when seeing a financial planner or financial adviser for the first time.

So, what are the 4 simple questions you could ask yourself in order to help determine whether you could benefit from seeing a financial planner in the first place?

  1. Are you concerned that if things don’t go to plan due to sickness or injury you and your family will be adequately protected?

  2. Do you earn a relatively good salary but seem unable to save on a regular basis and concerned that any investment is structured in such a way as to minimise tax?

  3. Would you like to ensure that when you are no longer around, your assets pass onto those people or organisations you really care about?

  4. Are you planning to retire on an income above that of the current single or combined age pension (currently $23,597pa or $35,568pa respectively) and unsure whether you will have sufficient savings to achieve this?

Whilst this list does not cover many of the other complexities often looked at in comprehensive advice such as tax structures, Centrelink benefits, and aged care solutions, it does provide you with a starting point. Many people go through life without too much consideration for the future but one simple step that anyone can use to improve their current financial position is to take account of their existing financial position and then write down the things that you would like to achieve and timeframes to achieve these. This simple step can go a long way to helping you on your way toward financial success and would be essential to consider before a financial planner could assist you map out your future.

You decide to engage the services of a financial planner but unsure how the process works?

Typically, a financial planner will offer a complimentary first appointment to determine whether you could benefit from the services they offer. This gives you the opportunity of asking questions regarding their experience, qualifications, services and ownership interests. It also allows them to determine whether you are a right match for the planner and their organisation, as many planners now specialise in particular areas and may refer you to others who would be better suited to your circumstances.

Once both parties agree to proceed to the next stage then they would collect information from you relating to your goals and objectives, assets, liabilities, income and expenditure as well as your risk tolerance. This is an important step as the planner needs to ensure they know and understand your circumstances before providing any advice. This will also assist the planner with scoping their advice to suit your requirements as well as determine an appropriate fee for advice.

So how much will financial advice cost?

This is ultimately something agreed upon between the financial planner and yourself and will depend on the scope of work involved but as a rule of thumb, the initial advice fee is typically between $3000 and $6000 depending on the scale and complexity involved.

What about ongoing advice?

To ensure that you remain on track to meet your objectives, and provide additional advice on any new developments, the financial planner will generally offer a choice of ongoing advice packages to regularly review your circumstances and hold everyone accountable. These fees are typically paid in monthly instalments, and the cost depends upon the level of service you want.

How do I find the right financial planner near me?

Many clients rely on the advice of friends, family or other professionals to guide them. Finding the right planner is a bit like finding a good doctor. Sure, they need to be qualified, but qualifications alone are not good enough. They also need to be good communicators, listen to your concerns, have some experience in dealing with similar issues and have a specialist support team around them. This is especially important, particularly to busy people who like to have all their financial affairs catered for by one person (trusted advisor) with a team of specialist professionals supporting them. In the case of a financial planner acting in the role of trusted adviser the support team may consist of an accountant, bookkeeper, insurance specialist, mortgage broker, estate planning lawyer and even an SMSF specialist.

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