There are many traits that people tend to look for when searching for a financial planner. Amongst them are usually common requirements including an abundance of industry knowledge, as well as certifications and experience. But understandably, what tends to be the most important character trait for a financial planner to possess, is how trustworthy they prove to be.
For there to be a strong, high-functioning relationship around your money, it is essential that there is a sturdy element of trust. With trust comes confidence in knowing that your advisor genuinely wants the best for you, as well as your financial goals and future.
To help you on your journey of finding the right financial planner for you and your family, we are sharing our extensive industry knowledge and providing you with important questions you should ask your financial advisor.
How do you demonstrate you meet and exceed your fiduciary obligations?
Financial Planners in Australia are bound by the law to always act in the best interest of their clients, so asking the Financial Planner how they will meet their obligation for you can be revealing.
A fiduciary relationship between a client and their financial advisor requires the advisor to carry out the highest standard of care in-line with the law. Fiduciaries operate within the boundaries of the legal and ethical duty they abide by when proving to go beyond the required care when working clients.
Will you itemise the overall fees and expenses in writing?
Whilst this is something that should absolutely be asked of your potential financial planner, it is also the law. It remains a question of significance as receiving an answer to this question allows for comprehension of the fees charged in which you can then compare to other advisors to get the right price.
This should be an easy question for advisors to answer and if you are left unclear this may be a red flag.
Will you explain to me if you have any conflicts of interest and if so what they are?
Financial advisors in Australia are only allowed to call themselves independent, if they receive no commission from a product. Investment commissions were abolished in 2013, and are therefore no longer a consideration, however many financial planners still receive commission on insurance products or may receive a commission or payment on referral.
Commission is not in and of itself a reason not to work with a Financial Planner, however all respectable financial planners should be able to answer this question easily and provide an explanation you are comfortable with.
Any potential conflict should also be disclosed to you in writing, as part of an FSG and in any Statement of Advice.
What is your investment philosophy?
This question warrants a potentially longwinded response, to which no two answers are the same. The answer may be integral to your decision, especially if the main reason to acquiring a financial planner is for money management, as you want to be comfortable with the methods your financial advisor utilises.
A good indication that you are in safe hands may be that your financial planner has a well-defined strategy that is backed up by evidence and can also be communicated clearly.
Here at Yield we have four portfolio approaches we may use for clients, including our best ideas; low cost; ethical overlay; and bespoke. As evidence of our performance, we have some of our portfolios independently audited.
What content do you engage with to keep up to date with the happenings of the markets?
This is important because markets are constantly evolving, and your advisor and their firm should be experts. As a minimum you should expect that they are keeping up to date through reputable financial journalism sources, which allow them to demonstrate they are aware of financial happenings that could potentially concern your financial plan. You should also expect that they have an investment committee that regularly engage on portfolio decisions for the firm.
How long have you been providing financial advice to those in a similar situation to my own and what are your credentials?
In most circumstances, the more experienced the financial planner is, the better. An advisor with upwards of 2 years of experience is generally a good indication that they have the experience to be of assistance to you.
With over a decade of industry experience behind us at Yield, we are confident that the knowledge and skills we’ve honed over this time frame continue to allow us to provide our clients with an outstanding service each and every time.
In what areas do you provide advice?
If you are seeking advice for a certain matter, it may be wise to ensure that the advisor you are seeking out has specialist skills within certain areas in which you are interested in.
We cater to many clients as we have an array of services in which we provide at Yield, including but not limited to property investment, retirement planning, mortgage broking, and SMSF. To learn more about the services we offer, click here.
What initial and ongoing services do you provide for your clients?
It is of importance and convenience that you are aware what kind of service you will be receiving, as it is common for some clients to require comprehensive service, whilst others may favour a varied service which involves a limited amount of contact.
Upon comprehension of the different services and which you are best suited to, it allows you piece of mind by knowing you are being provided with the service you expected, whilst also knowing you are getting your money’s worth.
A few examples of some additional questions within this realm may include:
- How will we work together?
- How often will I be hearing from you?
- How often will we be meeting?
- What will be covered in our meetings?
Asking the right questions upon meeting with a financial planner is a crucial foundation to building a trusting relationship. The aim of this informational blog is to guide you in the right direction of finding a financial planner that is best suited to you, one that will treat you with the utmost respect and integrity whilst taking care of your finances.
A good financial planner will utilise these questions to get to know you, as well as to keep you informed and aid you in achieving your financial goals.
Yield Financial Planning is Here to Help
If you’re searching for a financial advisor that will tailor a plan to you and your personal financial goals, contact us today for a free strategy consultation with one of our financial planners.