A good financial adviser works with you to understand your needs, set your financial goals, and create a plan to help you achieve them.
Anyone who gives personal financial advice and most general advice providers must have an Australian financial services (AFS) licence.
1. Decide what you want from financial advice
Before you get financial advice, decide what you want to get out of it. This depends on your stage of life, how much money you have, and what you're trying to achieve.
A financial adviser can help you make financial decisions and plan for the future. This might include advice about budgeting, investing, super, retirement planning, estate planning, insurance and taxation.
2. Choose the right financial advice for you
You can choose to get either general or personal financial advice from an adviser, depending on what you need.
General financial advice doesn't take into account your personal situation or goals, or how it might affect you personally.
Personal financial advice is tailored to your financial situation and goals, and is in your best interests. It can include:
- Simple, single-issue advice — Help with one financial issue, for example, how much to contribute to your super, or what to do if you inherit shares.
- Comprehensive financial advice — Help to develop a financial plan to reach your financial goals. This covers things like savings, investments, insurance and super and retirement planning.
- Ongoing advice — Regular monitoring and review of your financial plan and affairs.
To find out more about what financial advisers can do for you, see working with a financial adviser.
3. Find a financial adviser
Once you know what you want, find an adviser who offers the right services for you.
You can find a licensed financial adviser through:
- a financial advice professional association
- your super fund
- your lender or financial institution
- recommendations from people you know
Search by postcode on the Financial advisers register to find a licensed adviser near you.
Check the Financial Services Guide
The best way to see what a financial adviser offers is to read their Financial Services Guide (FSG). It should be on their website, or you can ask them for a copy.
The Financial Services Guide shows:
- the services they offer
- how they charge (see financial advice costs)
- who owns the company
- any links to product providers
- their AFS licence number
Robo-advice is automated financial advice you can get online. You enter your information, for example, your personal details, investment goals and risk tolerance. Then the advice is generated using algorithms and digital technology.
Robo-advice might be cheaper and more convenient than a financial adviser, but it has limitations. Most robo-advice only offers a narrow range of services. A computer program can't help you set goals or objectives. It can't answer your questions, and it can't give you advice about complex financial situations.
4. Meet and compare financial advisers
Financial advisers don't usually charge you for the first meeting. This makes it easy to meet with a few different advisers to compare what they offer.
When you meet an adviser, ask them about:
- their qualifications, main client base, and specialty areas
- what fees you will pay, how often and what you'll get in return
- how they'll manage your money
- how often you'll meet
- what information you'll receive and how often
- how they'll consult you on decisions
- how they'll monitor and manage your investments
- what commissions or incentives they receive from financial products, and how they'll choose products to recommend to you
- who'll look after your account when they're away
- how they'll deal with complaints (see problems with a financial adviser to learn about the complaints process)
- how to end your agreement with them (including any penalties or notice periods)
A good adviser will get to know you, keep you informed, and help you achieve your goals. They'll also discuss how much risk you're comfortable with.