Free financial advice
Most people start with free online resources such as their super fund web site. Plus perhaps the financial pages of the newspapers.
A good next step is your super fund. Many super funds, including all of the Industry SuperFunds, offer some free general advice on super to their members. They can help with maximising your retirement income by recommending different investment mixes within your super portfolio and your voluntary contribution options. They can also advise on the different insurance and income protection covers that may be available to you.
Paying for financial advice
For more substantial advice and planning, you’ll usually need to pay for professional advice. And like any service, you should know what you’re paying for and always make sure the advice you’re getting is in your best interest.
Super funds often have a fee-for-service financial advice facility. A number of Industry SuperFunds have financial advisors licenced by Industry Fund Services, who deliver professional, low-cost, commission-free advice to members. They can provide financial planning in person, over the phone and even online via webcam.
Friends and colleagues may also recommend good financial advisors, or alternatively search online. Before you choose however, make sure they can answer the questions below, openly and to your satisfaction – and beware of advisors who earn their income primarily from commissions on financial products that they sell. On-going commissions can have a serious effect on your retirement savings.
For more details on financial planning in general, head to our page on Financial Planning.
Choosing a financial advisor
Like any professional service, it can initially seem tricky to find a financial advisor whom you trust and will give sound advice.
The first thing to know is that a good financial advisor will only provide advice that is in your best interest. They will also have an excellent understanding of Australian tax, investment and superannuation law as well as the different investment markets available to you.
Secondly, they must also be able to appreciate your personal needs and lifestyle.
Before engaging an advisor, you should ask them the following questions:
- Are you licenced to give financial advice?
- If so, with whom?
- What other qualifications do you have?
- How long have you been a financial planner/advisor?
- Do you get paid commissions or receive other benefits from selling financial products to clients?
- Are you independent or are you tied to a particular firm or bank?
- What are your fees-for-service?
- How do you research the latest finance news and legislation?
- Do you have professional indemnity insurance?