Seeking financial advice can seem like a daunting task. There are many different providers on the market, each eager to grab your attention. This alone can cause many individuals to be hesitant to seek financial advice and often leads to a number of questions that often go unanswered; “do I really need this advice”, “how much is it going to cost”, “is this the right kind of service for me?” Finding a financial planner can be easy, though finding a financial planner that works for you and your circumstances can be difficult.
One of the questions we often hear from prospective clients is “How do I get good financial advice for myself?” To help you answer this question, we’ve compiled some useful considerations.
Opting to do it yourself may be cheaper, but it isn’t for everyone. Those who have more complex financial affairs, don’t have the time or aren’t particularly confident when it comes to financial matters will be better off seeking an adviser.
Most people want a combination of information and advice. The former may cover questions like “how much should I be saving for retirement”, or “what is more tax efficient; a pension or an investment outside of the superannuation environment?” The latter may involve recommending an appropriate strategy or product to help meet your financial goals.
As we are a word of mouth referral business, most of our clients are indeed sourced through this method. Asking friends, family and colleagues for their recommendation can be a great starting point, but don’t rely solely on this. Always check that an adviser is authorised appropriately via Moneysmart’s Financial Adviser Register. All of The Hopkins Group’s financial advisers can be found on this register.
Even if you don’t feel confident making your own decisions, do some research first. Think about your financial goals, your attitude to risk and what you are hoping to achieve from the meeting. Is it specific product recommendations or a complete overhaul of your finances that you are after? The more research you do, the less likely you are to buy into an unsuitable product. The adviser may come up with quite a different plan of action, but should be able to discuss the pros and cons of either course.
Completing a standard fact find in advance and sending it to your adviser can give a reasonable knowledge of your circumstances before the first meeting. This saves time and in some instances reduces your fee if you are being billed by the hour. Usually the fact find is given and completed during the first meeting, but requesting and completing this beforehand can be very beneficial to you and your adviser. At The Hopkins Group we understand that your time is valuable. In your first meeting we spend time getting to know you and building a rapport, rather than filling in forms.
To make good recommendations, an adviser will need to ask you lots of questions — some of which may be quite personal. Be honest, don’t just say what you think they want to hear. Be wary of advisers that seem too keen to recommend specific products before getting a full account of your circumstances. Our first meeting with a client is designed to pinpoint what your financial goals and objectives will be going forward and the specific product recommendations will be provided at subsequent meetings.
Make sure you ask about the costs of the advice provided. Ask about commissions paid to the adviser, both upfront and on an ongoing basis (known as trail commission). Be suspicious of advisers who appear not to be charging for their services at all – chances are you will end up paying more than you think or receive inferior advice. As the old adage goes, “you only get what you pay for”.
The initial advice might be great, but a financial plan should not be a ‘set and forget’. What if economic conditions or your personal circumstances change? Do you get regular reviews for the costs paid? Are these reviews one-on-one meetings, or an annual statement through the post? Often people lose more money by failing to monitor investments, and adjust accordingly, rather than being sold poor investments to start with.
Here at The Hopkins Group we pride ourselves on preparing our clients for their financial future and by following the aforementioned points they will be a step ahead of the game when they sit down to speak with us.
If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this article, or would like to speak with someone with regard to any financial matter, please feel free to call our office on 1300 726 082 and ask to speak with a financial planner who will be able to assist.
Financial advice and services are provided to you by John Hopkins Financial Services Pty Ltd as an Authorised Representative of Wealthsure Financial Services Pty Ltd AFSL 326450. John Hopkins Financial Services Pty Ltd is the financial services division of The Hopkins Group.
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