What is the best way to find a good financial planner?

Last updated on 28 September 2023

Older couple talking to financial advisor
Word of mouth is a good way to find a financial advisor, it can be helpful to have a positive testimony from someone you trust. [Source: Shutterstock]

Key points:

  • The Aged Care Guide website can help you find a financial planner in your area
  • Some financial planners can have varying degrees of experience in different areas, so it can be a good idea to find a person that specialises in what you need
  • Fees and charges may vary so do your research when searching for a financial planner

Whether it’s accessing the Age Pension, developing your retirement plan, or figuring out how much aged care will cost for you, a certified financial planner is the best person for the job.

So how do you go about finding a good financial planner to help you with your needs?

What you should look for in a financial planner

When you are searching for a financial advisor, there are a number of things you can look for that will help you find the right fit for you.

Word of mouth is a good way to find a financial advisor, it can be helpful to have a positive, or negative, testimony from someone you trust about a potential expert.

However, just because someone else had a good experience with a financial planner doesn’t necessarily mean they have the right expertise to deal with your financial situation. When it comes to finances, it is not a one-size fits all situation.

You should check out a financial advisor’s credentials as well as if they are a registered financial planner. You want an expert to be managing your money, so your financial advisor should be authorised to provide financial services and advice. You can use the MoneySmart Government website to check a financial planner for their registration.

Financial planners also need to have completed a Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) approved bachelor degree or equivalent qualification and passed the FASEA national exam.

Some financial advisors provide advice on specific products or services, so it can be a good idea to understand what they are offering. For instance, if you are wanting to prepare for retirement, you may want to go to a retirement planning expert over a general or aged care focussed financial planner.

Services that most financial advisors can assist with, or specialise in, include:

  • Advocacy
  • Aged care consulting
  • Aged care costs and fees
  • Centrelink and Department of Veterans’ Affairs assistance
  • Financial counselling and planning
  • Retirement planning
  • Pension assistance
  • Information and industry services
  • Legal and mediation
  • Real estate and moving
  • Some advisors provide independent living support help and placement consultant services

You want to have a good connection with a financial planner, enough so that you trust them with your finances.

When talking to an advisor, in person or over the phone, do they seem interested in the conversation and what your goals are or do they feel aloof and uninterested in your situation?

Usually, people like to keep their finances secret, but a financial advisor is not the person to hide that from. They need to know the ins and outs of your finances to help you reach your goals.

So be honest and upfront about your finances, and if you don’t feel like you trust them or want them to deal with your finances – they may not be the financial advisor for you.

Does the financial planner provide general advice or personalised advice? This can make all the difference when deciding on a financial planner. General advice doesn’t take into account your personal situation, whereas personalised advice is much more comprehensive and focused on your needs.

You want someone to take time to analyse your finances and be able to give you the best options to choose from that will put you in the best place possible financially.

Another consideration is how these options or suggestions are provided to you. Will your financial advisor provide their advice in writing, will they take you through each option and explain it to you in an easy to understand way?

You want to have a financial advisor who can explain the method behind each financial product and option they provide, so you can make an informed financial decision for your future.

Understanding financial planning costs

When you contact a financial planner, enquire about their fees and charges for their services. They will differ from provider to provider, so it can be a good idea to do your research and get several quotes from financial advisors in your area.

In most instances, a financial advisor will charge a fee upfront that will cover the advice they give in the first meeting, including any implementation of strategies. Are you looking for a once-off service or if it will be on an ongoing basis? If you are looking for ongoing advice, your financial planner may charge a more regular fee for their assistance.

How much you end up paying will likely change depending on what you are looking for from the advisor.

There are generally two pay structures you can choose from, which is a fee-for-service payment where you only pay for the meetings you have or an ongoing service agreement that will cover your services for a specific period of time. Some financial providers may only provide one of these options of payment to you.

Additionally, if you have a complex financial situation, it may cost more for the services you receive. Generally, it is likely that you won’t have only one financial meeting with an advisor but may see them a few times to ensure you have the right strategies in place.

A financial advisor should be upfront with you about the fees and charges included in their services, so make sure to hold onto the quotes from each provider you approach.

Finding financial planners

When searching for a financial advisor, you can use the AgedCareGuide.com.au website to search for financial planners near you.

Click on the financial or financial planning tab on the AgedCareGuide.com.au search bar, and then type in your State/Territory, suburb or postcode into the search bar.

You can toggle between a list of providers in your location or a map of your area to see what financial services are available to you.

You can also use the Aged Care Guide compare tool to see different financial providers side by side and what services they provide. Look for the tick boxes on the side of the listed profiles, select several different providers and compare!

If you are still unsure what you are after or prefer to speak to someone over the phone, you can call 1300 863 216 and be directed to independent financial services assistance for an obligation-free chat with an expert.

Disclaimer: The information on this site is general in nature and does not constitute legal or financial advice. Readers should seek their own personal legal and financial advice from a suitably qualified practitioner.

How did you decide on the financial planner you ended up with? Tell us in the comments below.

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