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Working with a financial adviser

Making a plan that helps you reach your financial goals

Page reading time: 4 minutes

Financial advisers are professionals who can help you plan and manage bigger financial decisions. Know what to expect when you get advice and how to stay on top of your financial plan.

Helping you set and achieve your goals

A financial adviser can help you set financial goals so you feel confident that your future plans are achievable. If you’re not on track to achieving your goals, an adviser can help you put the right strategies in place, or set more realistic goals.

Financial advice can be useful at turning points in your life, like when you're starting a family, being retrenched, planning for retirement or managing an inheritance.

When you meet with an adviser for the first time, it's important to work out what you want to get from the advice. An adviser should take the time to discuss what's important to you and ask about your short and long term goals before they make any recommendations.

Prepare to see an adviser

Giving an adviser accurate information about your situation allows them to tailor the advice to best meet your needs.

An adviser will need information about your:

Know what your adviser is offering

At the first meeting make sure you discuss:

An adviser will also ask you to complete a questionnaire to work out how much risk you're prepared to accept to reach your goals. This will help them recommend suitable investments for you.

Check your financial plan

Once you've agreed to go ahead, your financial adviser will prepare a financial plan for you. This is given to you at another meeting in a document called a Statement of Advice (SOA).

Ask the adviser to explain anything you don't understand. You should always feel comfortable with your adviser and their advice.

Check that your Statement of Advice:

Don't feel pressured to accept an adviser's recommendations. Don't sign anything unless you understand and agree with what you're signing.

Know what's happening with your money

Cash management account

If you set up a cash management account to manage your investments, decide how much access to give your adviser. The access you give your adviser could be:

Giving your adviser access to your account places a lot of trust in them. Insist that you are notified of all transactions, and that you receive all correspondence related to the account.

Managed discretionary account

Your adviser may suggest a managed discretionary account (MDA) as a way of managing your investments. This involves signing an agreement (MDA contract) so they can buy or sell investments without having to check with you. Together, you agree on an investment program and your adviser must make investment decisions in line with this.

Before you invest in an MDA, compare the benefits to the costs and risks.

Protect your money

To protect your money:

Giving a financial adviser complete access to your account increases risk. If you see anything that doesn't look right, there are steps you can take. See problems with a financial adviser.

Review the advice

If you're paying an ongoing advice fee, your adviser should review your financial situation and meet with you at least once a year.

At this meeting, make sure you discuss:

Ending an agreement with an adviser

If you decide that you no longer want ongoing financial advice, find out if there are selling and buying costs or any tax or government assistance implications.

Details about how to end your relationship with your adviser should be in your SOA. If you're moving to a new adviser, you'll need to arrange to transfer your financial records to them.