Choosing a financial adviser
Finding an adviser that suits you
A good financial adviser is someone who will help you set your
financial goals and create a plan to achieve them. Here are some
tips on how to find the right financial adviser for you.
Find local advisers
Industry associations usually have 'find an adviser' services
that will help you find an adviser in your area. Most associations
require their members to participate in ongoing training, have a
code of conduct for members to follow and a mechanism for handling
Here are some links to a few professional associations to get
- The Financial Planning Association - They provide a Find
a planner service.
- The Association of Financial Advisers - They have a Find an adviser
Important: Adviser recommendations and advice
ASIC is Australia's corporate, markets and financial services
regulator and has developed MoneySmart to provide general
information and tools to help people manage their money and make
financial decisions like choosing an adviser. ASIC cannot give
personal financial advice or endorse or recommend a financial
Check the financial advisers
When you have a short list of advisers, it's important to check
their history, qualifications and current employment status before
you approach them about getting advice.
You can check an adviser on ASIC's financial advisers
Financial advisers register
The register tells you:
- the adviser's qualifications, experience and employment
- what product areas the adviser can provide advice about (check
that these are the areas you're looking for)
- whether the adviser is a member of any professional bodies or
industry associations that are relevant to providing financial
- whether the adviser has been the subject of disciplinary action
- the name and number of the Australian Financial Services (AFS)
licence holder who employs or authorises the financial adviser to
- details about who owns or controls the licence holder.
If the adviser is not operating under a licence, do not deal
with them - they are breaking the law and you will have little
protection if things go wrong.
Most industry associations also have information on their
website about their members.
You can also search the internet to find out more about the
adviser or the business they work for.
Get a financial services
Read the financial services guide (FSG) of any financial
advisers you are seriously considering. You can find the guide on
their website or ask them for a copy.
The guide will tell you:
- what services they offer
- how they charge and whether they receive any additional
payments or benefits
- who owns the company the adviser works for
- if they have links to product providers (many advisers are
linked to banks, fund managers and life insurance companies and
this can affect the services and products offered)
- their licence number.
adviser's qualifications and experience
You should check if the adviser has the
right qualifications and experience to help you achieve your
A financial adviser can be qualified to give advice after
meeting only minimum training requirements. To increase your
chances of getting advice that is right for you, you should look
for an adviser who also has a diploma, an advanced diploma or
degree qualification in a relevant discipline such as finance,
economics, accounting or financial planning. A degree is a higher
level qualification than a diploma or an advanced diploma.
Ask the adviser about their typical clients. This will help you
judge whether they have the experience to deal with people with
similar issues and goals to you. For example, are the adviser's
other clients planning for retirement or are they young families
wanting to save for their children's education?
The amount of experience an adviser has is also relevant. For
example, an adviser that has recently graduated may be highly
qualified; however, they may not be as experienced as an older
adviser with fewer qualifications.
Check the adviser can provide advice about the financial
products you currently have. This is critical when it comes to
super, as the adviser may not be able to give you advice about your
current super fund if it's not on their 'approved product
Be careful of advisers who only sell one investment product or
solution as this may mean the advice doesn't meet your specific
needs and objectives.
Use ASIC's financial advisers register
to see what product areas an adviser can provide advice about.
See financial products
and sales incentives for more information about things to look
out for when considering a financial product recommended by an
See our superannuation section
for more information about getting the most out of your super.
When you speak with an adviser, make sure they focus on the
services and strategies they can offer you, rather than the
products they can sell you.
Ongoing professional development
Like other professionals, it's important for an adviser to keep
up with industry or regulatory changes that might affect their
clients. An adviser should participate in regular training
activites such as courses or seminars run by universities, industry
associations, professional bodies or registered training
Industry association membership
Also check to see if the adviser is a member of an industry
association and/or a professional body. Most associations require
members to participate in ongoing training, have a code of conduct
for members to follow and a mechanism for handling complaints.
See questions to ask a
financial adviser for talking points you can use to check an
adviser's qualifications and experience.
Check the financial adviser's
Ask the adviser for an estimate of the cost of the advice. Even
a rough estimate will give you an idea of what you'll be
See financial advice costs for more
information about paying for financial advice.
See questions to ask a
financial adviser for talking points you can use to check the
cost of financial advice.
Case study: Mike and Anne choose the wrong adviser
Mike and Anne want to get some financial advice
before they start investing.
At the first meeting, the adviser gives them a Financial
Services Guide (FSG) which outlines the areas in which he is
qualified and authorised to provide financial advice. Mike and Anne
are encouraged to take the FSG away and read it in their own time;
however, they never review it because they think the adviser seemed
to understand what they wanted.
The adviser meets with Mike and Anne 3 weeks later and
recommends they roll over their super into a new fund and change to
a life insurance policy through the new super fund.
Mike and Anne are disappointed that the adviser doesn't speak to
them about starting a share portfolio or suggesting other ways to
invest their surplus cash.
The adviser reminds Mike and Anne that the FSG he gave them
outlines his qualifications, and that his authorisations are
limited to providing advice on super products and insurance. The
adviser also explains that he's not able to provide advice on
investing in shares. Mike and Anne walk away disappointed that
their main objectives are not covered in the advice.
Mike and Anne could have identified the limitations of the
adviser's qualifications and authority to provide advice by:
- checking ASIC's financial advisers
- reviewing the FSG in detail
- asking the adviser to explain the areas in which he can provide
financial advice and the products he specialises in
- asking the adviser about their typical clients.
Financial services from a
Some lawyers, in addition to professional legal services, may
offer financial or investment services.
If a lawyer is giving you personal financial advice
they must have an AFSL or work for someone that holds an AFSL.
Always check ASIC's financial advisers register
before you choose an adviser.
If you are concerned that a lawyer or law firm might be
providing financial advice without a licence, you can report it to ASIC.
Don't be afraid to ask an adviser about their
qualification and experience. You need to be confident they have
the expertise to provide the service you are paying for. If they
don't have enough experience or knowledge in a particular area,
find another adviser.
Last updated: 09 Sep 2016