What to look for in a financial adviser

Cara Brett 10 May 2014

Like any profession, it’s good to know the important attributes you should seek out when trying to find the best financial adviser for you.

To help you along your way, here are some things that you should look out for.

Check the AR and AFSL- Every authorised adviser must be an AR (Authorised Representative) which is a licensing number registered with ASIC. As well, every AR, must be registered to an Australian Financial Services Licensee (AFSL). This information should be displayed on their website or company information, and you should be able to cross check this on the ASIC website.

What qualifications do they have? – At a minimum, a financial adviser must have a Diploma of Financial Planning, also known as a RG146 or DFP. Check to see if they have any further training and/or qualifications.

If they profess to specialise in a certain area, see if they have done extra training or have extra qualifications relating to that area, preferably look for a university degree.

What are they authorised to give advice on? – Not every adviser can give advice on every area of your finances. Check what your adviser is registered to give advice on. They could specialise only in stockbroking or SMSF’s or they could offer a full financial planning suite. The adviser that you need will depend on your personal financial requirements. If you are concerned, ask to get a copy of their Authorised Representative certificate which outlines what they are authorised to give advice on.

Get a referral – Ask any friends, colleagues or family members if they have used a financial adviser and if they are happy with them. Getting a feel for financial advisers from other people is another good way to judge. If you don’t know anyone who can give you a referral then have a look at online reviews.

Ask for a no obligation meeting – Most financial advisers should be happy to meet with you for free to get to know you. Ask them as many questions as you like and find out how much you would be paying if you wish to go forward. Remember, it has to be a good fit for you so don’t feel pressured into anything that you are not comfortable with.

Go local – If you have a referral from a friend or family member then this may not be as important, but going to an adviser in your local or surrounding area can be a pretty good idea. When it comes to products, the bigger the company, the cheaper the prices, but when it comes to services that isn’t always the case. Smaller, local firms usually mean more personalised services for the client, and the prices will not necessarily be any more expensive, in fact in many circumstances they will be cheaper than the larger organisations.

– This post is from our resident senior financial planner, Cara Brett. Check out her details in our about us page.

Posted in: Finance 101 and Cara Brett

About the author: Cara Brett

Cara Brett proudly heads up Bounce Financial - founded in 2014 after a successful, decade-long career in the financial services industry. Cara’s experience encompasses both the financial product and financial advice sides. This gives her a comprehensive and holistic knowledge of all facets of financial planning.