Getting the most from a financial adviser

Good preparation is key to getting the most out of anything – sport, exams, job interviews, holidays. It makes good sense. So, before you head along to your first meeting with a financial adviser, it’s important to be prepared – with the tangible things like documents and details, but also the less tangible things like your life goals and expectations. 

1. Choosing your financial adviser 

First, you need to feel good about the adviser you’ve chosen. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) provides a free Financial Advisers Register where you can find out where a financial adviser has worked, their qualifications, training, and memberships of professional bodies (e.g. the Association of Financial Advisers).

Many advisers offer an initial free meeting to prospective clients. Why not meet with two or three specialists to compare their approach and your comfort level with each of them? Don’t be shy: ask them about their experience, qualifications, what types of advice they can provide, how they’re remunerated and what products they can advise on.

2. Form a snapshot of your current financial situation

The first meeting will likely be a high-level look at your financial and life situation. So before you go, have a clear view of all of your assets and liabilities. That way, your financial adviser can identify key wealth-building areas and attack other areas that are dragging down your finances.  

Prepare for your meeting by making a list of:

  • What you own – your home, super, savings, car, shares, other investments.
  • What you owe – debts, such as mortgages, loans and outstanding credit card balances.
  • Your weekly income and expenses – ASIC offers a free online budget planner to give you a snapshot of your spending.
  • What insurances you have – the cost of premiums.
  • Any available employer entitlements – such as additional super contributions and other fringe benefits.
  • Whether you have an up-to-date Will.

The more information you bring, the better the outcome of that first meeting.

3. Know your goals

Now you’ve chosen your financial adviser and have a clear picture of your financial situation, it’s time to think about what you want to get out of the meeting.

What’s the goal of working with your financial adviser? Do you want to pay off your mortgage sooner? Build wealth? Or make the most of your inheritance?

It’s important to know the areas of your financial situation you would like advice or clarification on. This could be questions related to understanding products and vehicles in which to invest your money, or about the rules around you accessing Centrelink benefits or tax minimisation.

Recap

Think of your first meeting as a “get to know you”, so don’t expect to have a whole new financial strategy by the end of it. This is just the beginning. As your adviser begins to understand your goals, lifestyle and needs, they’ll be able to make recommendations to help you get the most out of your finances.

 

On 20 March 2018, Energy Super was awarded a Canstar 5-star Superannuation Rating for Outstanding Value – one of only seven funds to do so. 

Any advice contained in this article is general in nature and not specific to your particular circumstances. You should consider your financial situation before acting on the advice. You should also obtain and consider the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) before making an investment decision. Financial advice is provided by ESI Financial Services Pty Ltd (ESIFS) ABN 93 101 428 782 (AFSL 224952). ESIFS is part of the ESI Group, which includes Electricity Supply Industry Superannuation (QLD) Ltd ABN 30 069 634 439; AFSL 336567) (the Trustee), as Trustee for Energy Super (ABN 33 761 363 685) (the Fund); ESIFS a wholly owned subsidiary of the Trustee.