2nd May 2012
Five questions to ask a future financial planner
One of the most important factors to securing your financial future will be your relationship with your financial planner. So choosing the right one for you is key: Like all successful partnerships it needs to be based on excellent communication.
Before you meet, write down the areas you are interested in finding out more about; it could be financial planning, investment advice, superannuation or, it may be you don’t know what you want to know! The point is, to take some time to think about what’s important to you.
Outline your goals
Be able to give some background of where you are currently at with your finances and think about what you’re trying to achieve. This can involve strategies for the long-term, such as investment and retirement planning, remember good financial advice is about helping you get to where you want to.
It will also really help you if you have thought through what’s important to you in your financial world and list them in order of priority. For example, it could be knowledge, empowerment, partnership, security, or financial freedom.
What to take to the first meeting
For the first appointment, it will be useful for you to take copies of:
• Tax returns, bank, investment and superannuation statements
• Your insurance policies – personal insurances and general insurances
• Recent pay slips
• Information on credit card bills – be honest!
• Mortgage and other loan information
• Incoming and outgoing expenses
Now that you’re ready to meet your potential financial planner, here are 5 questions to ask that will help you assess if they are the right one for you:
1. Are they qualified?
Learn about your planner, their background, qualifications and career – as you will be working closely with this person on your financial future, it will be important that you share a rapport that will create trust. You should expect excellence and professionalism from your planner, so ask if they hold an Australian Financial Services License (AFSL), or if they are an Authorised Representative of an AFSL holder. You should also ask if they have completed their Certified Financial Planner qualifications through the Financial Planning Association (FPA).
2. Are they informed?
How do they stay up to date with market and regulatory developments? Good planners are constantly developing their skills and knowledge through attending seminars, updates and industry related events. Get a feel for how important this part of their professional development is to them, then ask how they will keep you up to date with developments, information and opportunities.
3. Do they specialise?
Ask what areas they specialise in and some examples of the kinds of clients they serve. If their answer doesn’t ‘tick the boxes’ you are looking for, then you know they’re not right for you.
4. How much will their services cost?
What are the services they provide and what are the costs to you? A planner should be very clear about the cost of the services they provide. They are required by law to provide you with their Financial Services Guide which makes all the information available.
5. Who owns the business where they work and do they own any associated businesses?
If you are considering an independent planner, rather than a planner who works for a bank, find out about the background and history of the company. You will want a planner from a company who will be there for the long term, so understanding their history will give you a sense of security and trust. And of course, make sure they are licensed by ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission).
These questions will give you the foundation for making a decision as to whether this planner is the right one for you. You may do well to meet another planner to compare and contrast before making your final decision.
If you leave the meeting feeling confident that the planner understands you, your current situation and your goals, then you have found a partner who will help you prepare a strategy to achieve your financial goals.
To book a free first appointment with a Commonwealth Financial Planner, ask in-branch or visit startwithus.com.au
Commonwealth Financial Planners are Representatives or Authorised Representatives of Commonwealth Financial Planning Limited ABN 65 003 900 169 AFSL 231139, a wholly owned but non-guaranteed subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124.