How to Choose a Financial Adviser

Choosing a financial adviser is an important decision. Many Australians who have an adviser, say they are an important part of their support network and someone they have an ongoing relationship with – like a doctor, dentist or accountant. Most would say that they get a sense of wellbeing and confidence, knowing that they have a financial plan in place, understand how to achieve their goals, and regularly meet with their adviser to review the plan to ensure they stay on track.

Here’s 7 tips to help you find a financial adviser who is right for you:

1. Find a Financial Adviser You Connect With

One of the most important factors is to find a financial adviser you connect with and feel comfortable speaking openly with. To create a personal financial plan you will need to share your hopes, dreams, plans for the future, as well as the facts about your income, assets and lifestyle. It’s likely you will share more information with your financial adviser than most other people you know, so personal connection is important. It’s a relationship built on trust. 

Many more women are entering the profession than in days gone by, so if working with a financial adviser of a particular gender is important, you should be able to find someone to fit.  Similarly, it’s a profession that attracts younger professionals – so you should be able to find a financial adviser who is at a similar stage of life if that’s important. Importantly, choose an adviser you connect with and who you feel understands you.

2. Specialist Financial Advice

Many financial advisers have an area of particular expertise, for example, they may be Self Managed Super Fund (SMSF) experts, or specialise in life insurance, retirement income planning or aged care. Some work with younger people who are saving for a home, a specific goal or saving for children’s education. There are also financial advisers who specialise in working with particular occupation groups such as police, teachers or engineers as well as those who are experts in the intricacies of public sector superannuation schemes. Other financial advisers are generalists and are skilled to provide financial advice across all life stages and areas of advice. 

Ask a financial adviser what their areas of expertise are and whether they have particular specialisations. You could also ask them to describe their usual client to learn about whether they focus on a particular life stage or approach.

3. Referral From a Friend

Referrals from friends can be very valuable and give you a sense of comfort knowing that someone else in your circle has had a positive experience with a particular adviser. But given people rarely speak openly with friends about money, you could find that a friend’s adviser doesn’t feel right for you.

4. Try before you buy – free first meeting

Many financial advisers offer a free first meeting that gives potential clients an opportunity to meet the adviser face-to-face. The introductory meeting is a good time to ask questions about what to expect, how many meetings you’ll need to develop the financial plan, what information you will need, how they charge for their services as well as any specific concerns or interests you may have such as investing in shares, SMSF, retirement planning, insurance etc.

Some advisers will post or email a questionnaire prior to the first meeting so you can come prepared and you will receive an Financial Services Guide (FSG) to take away. The FSG generally looks like a dry document however it outlines the adviser’s qualifications and the products and services they are authorised to provide advice on.

5. Do Your Research

A good way to learn more about a financial adviser is to look at their company website, have a look at their LinkedIn profile and search for them on Facebook and Twitter. Many financial advisers are very active on social media so this may add another dimension to you research. Also visit to the Federal Government’s Money Smart website for tools and resources.

6. Choose an AFA Member Adviser You Can Trust Do Your Research

As with any professional, you need to know your that adviser is qualified and licensed to do the job. ASIC, the Government’s regulatory body governing the licensing of financial advisers and advice businesses keeps a register of all advisers who are licensed to give financial advice. You can refer to the Adviser Register on the ASIC websiteClick here to find a financial adviser.

7. Choose an AFA Member Adviser

Ensure the financial adviser you choose is a member of a professional body whose members commit to a Code of Conduct that governs their professional practice.  To find an adviser who is a member of the Association of Financial Advisers, Australia’s oldest membership organisation of financial advice professionals. Click here to find a financial adviser.