Your first meeting
A good planner will expect you to ask questions and will be more than happy to answer them. Communication and feedback are critical in ensuring any professional relationship is successful.
A reputable financial planner will provide a copy of the Financial Services Guide at the beginning of the meeting, if not previously provided.
Your first meeting is a chance for you and the adviser to establish the framework of your ongoing relationship. The purpose is to determine your needs, wants and investment objectives. Your comfort with risk should also be analysed. You will need to provide ample details regarding your financial position, including a list of assets and their value, details of any liabilities and details regarding your income and expenditure.
A good planner will expect you to ask questions and will be more than happy to answer them. Communication and feedback are critical in ensuring any professional relationship is successful. A common understanding of what is required is also vital.
Questions to Ask
As such, the adviser must be prepared to answer the following questions:
- Are you licensed, or through whom are you an Authorised Representative?
- Are you a member of a professional body? If so, is it the Financial Planning Association? What does this provide you?
- What experience in financial planning do you have?
- What qualifications do you have?
- What constitutes a standard client for you? Older or younger clients? Accumulators or retirees? People on social security or self-funded? Business owners or employees?
- What products do you know most about? What is your area of speciality?
- What type of insurance products are you able to recommend? Are you tied to one company or can you advise across the board?
- What is the process you undertake when you are advising new clients?
- How do you deal with clients who may have financial objectives that conflict with one another or are unrealistic?
- How do you keep track of changes to your clients’ circumstances and finances?
- How do you keep up to date with the financial planning products available, market movements, industry changes, etc.?
- Do you have professional indemnity insurance? If so, who is the insurer?
- How is the research for your recommendations performed? How often is this updated?
- What review structure do you have in place for changes that would be necessary to my portfolio?
- How do you charge for your services? If “fees for services performed”, how is the fee determined?
- What will it cost me to have a comprehensive financial plan prepared by you?
The answers to the above questions will provide you with a sense of the adviser’s professionalism. Only proceed if you are satisfied that the adviser can provide the services you require and you feel you are getting quality service and value for your money. The cheapest financial planner is often not the most appropriate due to the services that are missing and a “below standard” level of care.
The Century Private Wealth Commitment
Century Private Wealth is committed to providing quality service, ongoing care and attention to detail. As such, we are able to answer the above questions and are more than happy to answer any others that you may have.
It is imperative that your financial planner provides you with a written financial plan (also referred to as a “Statement of Advice”). This document is often lengthy, as it needs to address all aspects of your financial planning, including your personal circumstances, asset position and cashflow, all investments, insurances and estate planning.
A well structured financial plan will outline your current situation, objectives and goals, as well as provide the basis for the recommended strategies and all investments and policies recommended. Projections regarding investment income and growth, tax position and cashflow should also be incorporated to provide a snapshot of your anticipated position. All fees, charges, commissions and other payments need to be disclosed, along with the services these payments provide you. The financial planning document is your blueprint for your financial future, therefore detail and accuracy are necessary.
It is imperative that you bear in mind your financial plan is based on what you tell your adviser. Embarrassment, pride or holding back information can stand in the way of receiving suitable financial advice. The financial planner is there to assist you to meet your goals and this requires openness and honesty. If you omit some details or give an incomplete or incorrect picture, you may end up with a financial plan that is not right for you.
It is also vital that you contact your financial planner when your circumstances change. This may require adjustments to your financial plan.
Your financial planner needs to regularly review your portfolio, which is recommended at least once a year. It is preferable that your portfolio be monitored on a regular basis and that you be contacted should any amendments be necessary.
It is also vital that you contact your financial planner when your circumstances change. For example, changes in employment or your family circumstances, wage increases or changes to your outgoings, or when you move residence. This may require adjustments to your financial plan, which is important to do as soon as possible.