How to Choose a Financial Advisor

This blogpost is PART FOUR, of our series on Financial Advice. In this final post of the series you will learn all about how to choose a financial advisor.<

If you have decided that it’s time for you to find a financial advisor, but don’t know where to start to choose the right advisor, this blogpost will give you some pointers. If you are interested in understanding if you need a financial advisor or want to better understand the value advice can provide, we encourage you to read The Value in Financial Advice  .

While ultimately the goal when finding a financial advisor is to find someone you are comfortable with and confident in, there are a number of factors that will help you decide if a specific advisor is right for you.

 

Qualities to look for

Unconflicted – One of the most important things you can do is ensure that you are engaging an advisor, rather than a salesperson. A true advisor always puts your interests first. An advisor is not someone who should make decisions for you; rather they are a knowledgeable professional who can provide checks and balances to your decisions, while keeping your best interests at heart. You should ask questions to find out about any conflicts of interest the advisor may have, and make sure they are free to recommend the best investment products for you (regardless of the product provider).

Connection – You need to be able to connect with the advisor and have a good open conversation, in order to build trust with them. This needs to flow both ways, as you will be discussing highly personal matters. As a Christian, you may wish to seek out an advisor who shares your values, or at least understands that your life as a Christian is going to lead the way on how you manage your money.

Inquisitive – For an advisor to be successful they need to understand you and your unique needs, therefore the best advisers ask great questions. These should be tough and thought-provoking questions, possibly even questions that may make you uncomfortable! This enhances their ability to understand what you care about and provide the most relevant solutions. They should then provide accountability later as you reflect together on decisions that you have made.

Do you have friends or family members who have a financial advisor they rave about? While this should not be the only reason to engage an advisor, talk to them about what has worked well and what areas the advisor has helped them with. You can use this information as a factor in deciding whether the advisor seems well suited to serve your needs.

Is the advisor licensed for your advice needs?

Like medical specialists, advisors have areas of specialisation too and therefore you need to find an advisor qualified to meet your needs. Some advice areas (such as self-managed superannuation funds) are not offered by all advisors. Additionally, if you are looking for financial advice relating to international finances, you may need to seek out a specialist in that field. If you are considering a potential advisor, you can visit MoneySmart and ‘check advisor’ to see what areas they are licensed to advise on. Most advisors will be licenced to advise on managed funds, securities, life insurance, and superannuation.

The advisor will give you a copy of their Financial Services Guide (FSG) prior to meeting with you, or this may be available on their website. This is a good way to gather some basic facts about them and their business, as well as telling you who they are licensed through. Advisors are licenced as an Authorised Representative of an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) holder – more commonly referred to as their Licensee. The FSG will also inform you how the Advisor is paid for their services.

 

What is most important to you?

Consider what you believe would most contribute to the success of your financial advice relationship. Is it vital to you to have an advisor who shares your values? Do you need an advisor who is located near to you, or are you happy to meet remotely via phone or teleconference? Would you prefer a financial advisor who is the only advisor in their practice (so you deal directly with the owner) or would you prefer an advisor who works in a larger team? Is it important to you that the initial consultation is free of charge, and/or the advisor can charge their fees from your superannuation account? While you may not find the perfect combination, it is important to consider which qualities are most important to you.

 

Can someone make this process easier?

The great news for you, our members, is that Christian Super has done part of this work for you. For some time now Christian Super has been able to offer ‘scaled advice’ relating to superannuation directly, and this will continue. However, on many occasions, members contact us seeking direction on getting connected with a full-service financial advisor; and we have listened.

We have recently commenced our Referred Advisor Panel. You can now contact our Member Care Team, answer a few questions about your situation and the type of advice you are seeking, and be put in contact with a Christian financial advisor suited to your needs.

To be appointed to our Advisor Panel, advisors have to go through a robust screening process.

  • We have interviewed them to understand their views and values, personally and professionally.
  • The advisors have attested to a Code of Ethics and confirmed their alignment with our Biblical perspectives of money.
  • We have obtained positive feedback from current clients of each advisor.
  • We have interviewed each advisor’s Minister (or other pastoral contact) from the local church they attend.
  • And, of course, we have reviewed details of their credentials filed with ASIC and communicated with their Licensee.

Importantly, however, we have not attempted to rate or review the knowledge and skill of each advisor beyond ensuring that they are registered as a financial advisor with ASIC, thereby confirming they hold the appropriate qualifications and experience required to register. While these are important factors, we believe the licensee is best placed to ensure each of their advisors continues to be competent and remains legally compliant.

As of May 2020, we have referred advisors in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Launceston, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Central Coast. We continue to build this panel and aim to have the ability to refer our members for face-to-face advice in all capital cities and major regional areas. Panel advisors can also serve clients around the country via teleconference if there is not (yet) a panel advisor in your area.

Our goal is to make it easier for all members who would benefit from receiving financial advice to connect with a Christian advisor. While our list of referred advisors is not exhaustive and there are many highly skilled and professional Christian advisors in Australia, we are pleased to make this useful service available for members who don’t know where to start when selecting an advisor.

It’s important to note that the advisors on the panel have no commercial arrangement with Christian Super; they do not pay us a referral fee, and we neither charge nor remunerate them for being part of our referral network. Advisors are under no obligation to recommend Christian Super products to their clients. We connect members with an advisor on request as part of our commitment to serving members well. It is always up to the member whether they wish to contact the advisor and proceed with receiving advice.

At the heart of everything we do at Christian Super is our desire to see members live life with financial health and understanding. We believe that receiving quality financial advice can significantly improve retirement outcomes for many of our members, so we encourage you to consider if the time is right for you to take this step.

 

Questions?

Our Member Care Team is here to help you with questions you may have around how to choose a financial planner.

Phone: 1300 360 907
9:00am – 6:00pm (AEDT) Monday to Friday

Email: members@christiansuper.com.au

 

Please note that the information contained in this post is a summary and general in nature. It does not take into account the personal objectives, financial situation or specific needs of individual members. We strongly recommend that you refer to our Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Investment Guide for the full terms and conditions and obtain professional financial advice to determine the appropriateness of the information, taking into account your own personal circumstances.