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Selecting a Financial Planner

There are 6 key steps that you should follow when selecting a financial planner. These are:

Understand Your Financial Concerns

Before you meet with an adviser, you and your partner need to be clear in the specific objectives that you would like to reach financially. An example, which of the following are more relevant at your current stage in life?

  • Debt Reduction
  • Wealth Creation
  • Wealth Accumulation
  • Tax Minimisation
  • Risk Management
  • Financial Administration Efficiency

It is important to take these general concerns and to rephrase them into goals and objectives. These goals should be SMART. This is an acronym for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time Determined

For example, your Wealth Accumulation concern may be to grow your asset base to provide an income stream of $30,000 a year in 10 years time for retirement. Or alternatively, your Debt Reduction concern could really be to pay off the outstanding debt on your Principal Place of Residence over the next 5 years to allow 5 years to fund your child’s education in private schooling.

Your Beresfords adviser works with you to help you understand what it is you are trying to specifically achieve and to what concerns it is linked.

Imagine Your Ideal Financial Planner

The best way to help understand the best adviser for you is often to begin with a pen and a piece of paper. Now list approximately 10 attributes that you value in a financial planner. We call these attributes your “Conditions of Satisfaction”. These attributes must be important enough to you, that if the financial planner who you met did not have them, then you would not do business with them. For example, some of your Conditions of Satisfaction may include:

  • Must respect you
  • Must trust you
  • Must have your best interests at heart
  • Must have been a financial planner for a minimum of 5 years
  • Must hold at minimum a degree in financial planning
  • Must not be paid commissions by a third party
  • Must listen to you

As you can see the list can be endless!

The list that you create will become non-negotiable and the more financial planners you meet, the more you will be able to clearly identify those who match your profile and those who do not.

On top of this, ensure that your financial planner is qualified and educated in the industry to the highest level.

  • Member of the Financial Planning Association of Australia. Who are the FPA?
  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP) qualification. What is a CFP?
  • Licensed to provide financial advice through ASIC registration. Who is ASIC?

Set Initial Appointments to Meet

There are many financial planning firms that are in the marketplace today, and they all vary slightly in the services and quality of planning that they produce. Although it may appear that they are all the same, it only takes a First Meeting with them to realise their different styles and areas of expertise. Having more than one First Meeting is highly recommended. It allows you to have benchmarks for comparison and peace of mind in knowing that the financial planner that you have chosen has been the best available.

Prepare Yourself Prior

Once you set up a First Meeting, then you should make every effort to take it seriously and to prepare yourself beforehand. Some firms will ask you to complete a questionnaire form that outlines your concerns and financial situation while other firms will ask you to bring in various statements from home. In either case it is in your best interests to help the advisers have a very clear picture of who you are and where you desire to head. This allows the adviser to prepare for the meeting for you and to tailor the structure of the meeting around your concerns and goals.

Be open and Honest

The financial services industry is constantly evolving. Many firms are focusing their services back on the best interests of the clients rather than on their bottom line. As such, if you are seeking a financial planner do not be discouraged by your experiences in the past. There are many firms that are offering quality advice and assistance from qualified experienced CFP’s who are able to make a positive difference in a client’s life with value for money. Always search with optimism for a mutually beneficial partnership. Seek and you shall find!

Make a Decision

Once you have had an opportunity to meet with Beresfords or another financial planning firm face-to-face, ask yourself, “Was there a fit on 4 levels”?