To get the most out of your financial adviser, be prepared. Gather all the current information you have about your financial circumstances (and your partner’s), including:
- Income: wages, salary, interest, rental income, government benefits and dividends
- Expenses: household budget and expenses (such as food, clothing, telephone, internet and council rates) and lifestyle expenses (such as gym memberships and annual holidays)
- Assets: your home, car or other assets of value
- Debts: mortgage, credit card and loan repayments
- Investments: statements from shareholdings, other investments and bank accounts like term deposits
- Insurance: life, total & permanent disability (TPD), trauma and income protection policies
- Superannuation: annual statements from your fund
- Estate plan: Will and power of attorney
- Professional advisers: your accountant and solicitor
As you gather your financial paperwork, consider what you hope to gain from the advice process.
Make a list of:
- Future lifestyle plans you want to achieve – paying off your mortgage early, retiring in a few years or upgrading your home.
- Specific financial issues you want help with – consolidating your super accounts, building wealth or saving for retirement.
- Major life events – private schooling for your children, an upcoming family wedding or overseas holidays.
- Issues you want advice on – superannuation, wealth protection, estate planning, increasing or decreasing your insurance protection or starting a salary-sacrifice arrangement.
- Risk Tolerance – A key part of the advice process is identifying your attitude or tolerance towards financial risk. This helps your adviser select the most appropriate investment products and strategies for you. Your adviser will ask lots of questions to ascertain how you (and your partner) feel about financial risk to ensure their recommendations are suitable. Ensure you give your adviser accurate and complete information about your personal circumstances. As the information you supply is used to manage or create your personalised strategy and product recommendations, so if it’s wrong – or you hold back details – the advice may not be right for you.
Once your adviser has gathered all the necessary information about you and your financial situation, they will develop your personal advice and provide it to you, for you to decide whether or how to follow it.
It is important you, read it thoroughly. Make notes about anything you don’t understand and ask the adviser to explain everything fully before agreeing to sign any documents.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions – If the adviser cannot clearly explain the recommendations to you in language you can understand, don’t accept the advice. Make sure you are persistent with this as it is critical to your financial plan’s success.
Lastly – ensure you keep your adviser updated about any changes to your financial situation (such as changes to your income or assets) or willingness to accept financial risk.