If you’re under 35, chances are that sitting down with a financial planner for some top-notch financial advice might not be on the agenda right now. Compared with say, moving out of home, finishing your studies, getting ahead in your career, planning overseas travel, or even saving for a house deposit.
When you do want some advice, you might go to your parents, or a clued-up family member first anyway.
Like 30-year-old business manager Craig. “I’m lucky enough that I’ve got an uncle who’s pretty switched on who I work with a fair bit. Whenever I have questions I get advice off him,” Craig says.
23-year-old Sam is also blessed with family members who know their way around financial topics. “My stepmum actually works in insurance so I get a lot of advice from her,” he says.
It’s certainly nice to have a free source of information at your fingertips but there are benefits to seeing a professional, according to Westpac senior financial planner Diana Saad. “A planner can offer a different opinion first of all,” says Diana. “They’re not biased by a family relationship and how your financial decision is going to impact them.”
That’s something 30-year-old industrial relations adviser Matt understands. His dad is an accountant and financial planner, but he’d happily pay another planner. “It’s good to separate that stuff. A family member might be a bit more personal with how I was spending my money than someone else.”
So at what stage of our lives do we start thinking about seeking professional financial advice?
Promotions manager Natalie is 26 and says she probably will see a financial planner – but further down the track. “I think when it comes to buying a house... maybe when I move in with my partner and we consolidate some of our funds, have a shared bank account… we as a couple would speak to a financial adviser – just about what our options are and the best way to manage our money.”
Diana Saad believes that seeking financial advice only becomes front of mind when something major happens that triggers them to go and see a planner.
“It could be that they’ve got a really good job and tax is becoming an issue, or they have lots of surplus cash and they really want to harness that,” Diana says. “They may have had a life event like having a child. It could be that they’ve seen a friend go through a major illness and they want to have a conversation about insurance. Or their parents may have been on their back about seeing a financial planner if their parents have a planner themselves.”
How to find a good one
Though 32-year-old sommelier Jodie hasn’t sought financial advice yet, a few of her friends have. And she’s up for it. But how, exactly, would she go about it? “I would probably get a recommendation from a friend, someone who’s had personal experience,” she says.
Diana Saad says that’s a common scenario. “What happens a lot of the time is a friend or relative recommends a planner and then they go on Google and look them up.”
But sometimes that’s not enough. Deepa is a 32-year-old marketing manager. She’s just had a promotion at work, which has triggered her desire to see a planner, to help her think through options for using the extra cash strategically. Yet, she feels like she’s stuck.
Says Deepa, “The issue that I have is, who is a good financial planner/adviser? Where do I go?”
Diana Saad is a Westpac financial planner which means she is licensed under Westpac and there is a requirement that she meets strict education, training and skills standards. “We have a duty to avoid a conflict of interest, and act in the customers’ best interest” says Diana. “The bank is not going to give us tools or products to potentially use towards giving advice if it’s not going to be good quality and competitive, because then you will have issues down the track. We’ve got a fiduciary duty at the end of the day, we get audited and we have all kinds of checks and balances in place.”
Where a financial planner really pays off
Having two kids and being the principal breadwinner in her family, marketing manager Deepa is typically time-poor, with little room for mulling over her insurance, super and other financial priorities. As she says, “it’s very challenging to make time when there are so many calls on you.”
At the age of 30, primary school teacher Joe is all for finding an easy solution too. “I think about going to a financial adviser all the time. I just want someone I can go in and dump everything and say, fix it all up for me, tell me what to do.”
“A planner can really take a lot of that load off people’s shoulders,” says Diana. “If you’re about to embark on something you’ve never done before, and you don’t have the know-how, it just feels so daunting.
“Take the easy option: get a professional involved because what takes them a relatively small time to do, will take you a lot longer and you could fall into a pitfall somewhere along the way. A planner has their finger on the pulse and can personalise it to you and just break it down - take all the confusion out. And avoid you making costly mistakes,” she says.
Are you looking for some general advice? Or some personal advice on specific needs? Or do you want to look at your whole financial situation? Start your journey by meeting with a financial planner. The first meeting is complimentary.
This information is current as at 13/10/2015.
This information has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs.
Diana Saad is a representative of Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL & ACL 233714.
For illustrative purposes only. Based on a real life examples.