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Get the best from your adviser

Finding a financial adviser who’s on your wavelength can make all the difference, writes Sally Patten.

For women who have gone to the effort of seeking professional advice to help them organise their finances and realise their financial dreams, getting the most out of an adviser is critical.

Given what is at stake:

  • your ability to be financially independent at any age
  • to give your children the opportunity to reach their full potential
  • to retire at a time of your own choosing and lead a retirement of dignity and comfort

... then extracting the most out of an adviser relationship is critical.

The first step is to select an adviser you can trust and you feel will listen to, and value, your needs and interact with you in a non-judgmental way. This is critical because a relationship with a financial adviser is a two-way affair. The more prepared you are to share information with your adviser – not just financial data, but also your dreams – the better positioned an adviser will be to help.

Finding the right person means choosing someone who is on your wavelength – and, of course – who has the appropriate qualifications and experience, coupled with a transparent charging structure that you understand.

During initial discussions with a prospective adviser you should be gauging if the adviser will listen to your situation and respond to your needs, and not push you towards a predetermined product or course of action.

You also need to be confident they’ll explain financial concepts until you understand them because simply outsourcing all the work to someone else and taking no responsibility for your financial wellbeing is far from ideal. You have to understand what you are doing and why.

Finding your perfect match

It might sound like a daunting process, but finding the right person is just a matter of doing some research, investing time in meeting a few advisers and asking the right questions.

You need to feel this is someone with your best interests at heart, who will tell you the good news as well as the hard truth when necessary.

Friends and family members will no doubt have recommendations of financial advisers based on their experience, so use those to come up with a list of potential “suitors”.

The next step is to think about what you are trying to achieve by seeing a financial planner. Start by defining your goals.

  • Are you there because you have just received an inheritance and want to make the most of it?
  • Do you want to retire on $50,000 or $60,000 a year?
  • Do you want to pay off your mortgage early?
  • Do you want to fund further study?

Entrust Private Wealth Management chief executive officer Graeme Yukich also recommends having some aspirational goals in mind. You might want to earn $50,000 a year in retirement, but you might also want to help pay for your grandchildren’s school fees.

You should prepare a financial picture of yourself:

  • You will need to be honest about things such as how much you earn
  • How much you spend and what debts you have
  • How much is really on that credit card?
  • Find out how much you have in savings, super and if you have insurances.

The more you are prepared to lay on the table, the more help your adviser should be able to provide.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions of your adviser. As I said earlier, you need to understand this stuff. A greater understanding of investments and markets might also give you the confidence to take on more risk, which could help your overall financial position in the long run.

“No questions are silly questions. If you don’t know, you don’t know,” says Uylangco and Payne Financial Planners partner Kellie Payne.

   

April 2017