Financial advice toolkit

Navigate the financial advice process

introduction banner

This tool helps you navigate the financial advice process with confidence by showing you:

  • how to prepare to meet an adviser
  • what to expect in the first meeting
  • what to do after you receive advice.

You can use this tool at any stage of the financial advice process, and you can return to it at any time.

As you work your way through each section, items will be added to your customised 'to-do' list below.

Before you meet an adviser

1 Identify your goals and advice needs

Setting your goals

Set goals banner

The type of advice you need depends on your circumstances and what you're trying to achieve.

The first step is to think about your financial goals. A good way to do this is by timeframe:

  • Short-term, e.g. saving for a holiday or paying off a credit card
  • Medium-term, e.g. buying a home or building an investment portfolio
  • Long-term, e.g. achieving a certain level of income in retirement.
Do you need advice?

Whether you need to seek financial advice will depend on the complexity of your situation, your goals and whether you want a tailored financial plan.

If you don't need tailored financial advice, some other useful sources of financial information include:

  • ASIC's MoneySmart website - information and tools to assist you with budgeting, determining your current financial position, and planning for retirement.
  • Your bank, credit union or building society - information about savings and loan products.
  • Your super fund - may be able to assist with information about investment options, consolidating multiple accounts, making additional contributions, and insurance options.
Activity: Think about your financial goals

Set your goals below and they will be added to your 'to-do' list.


Further reading

Select items below you want to add to your 'to-do' list to read later or click the link to view the webpage now.

2 Tips on choosing an adviser

Finding an adviser

Choose a financial adviser banner

It's important to get the right advice for your life stage and circumstances. If you don't already have an adviser, you can find one by contacting:

Check the adviserOnce you have the name of an adviser, check ASIC's financial advisers register for details about their licence, authorisations, experience and qualifications. The register will also identify whether they have ever been banned or disqualified from providing financial services.

Costs of advice

Fees and commissions for advice vary depending on the complexity of the advice and the types of financial products recommended.

The cost of advice may include:

  • Upfront fees - this covers the initial meeting and the preparation of a Statement of Advice (SOA).
  • Implementation fees - fees for implementing the advice if you accept the adviser's recommendations. The amount charged should reflect the complexity of the recommendations and the amount of work required to implement the advice.
  • Ongoing advice fees - this should cover a regular review of your financial plan, reports on the performance of your investments, access to your adviser or an associate, and may include other benefits such as newsletters or seminar invitations. Fees will vary depending on the complexity of your affairs and may be based on a flat dollar amount or a percentage of your investments.
  • Product commissions - advisers may be paid ongoing commissions for insurance products or for investments you bought before 1 July 2013. These are usually based on a percentage of the insurance premium or investment balance.
Further reading

Select items below you want to add to your 'to-do' list to read later or click the link to view the webpage now.

3 Prepare to meet a financial adviser

Prepare to meet adviser bannerTo make the most of your meeting with the adviser - it's important to be prepared.

As well as thinking about your financial goals (step 1), you can prepare by collecting some relevant documents and information for your meeting, including:

  • your assets and liabilities (what you own and what you owe). The activity below will help you with this)
  • your income and expenses (our budget planner can help you work out where your money is going)
  • details about the insurance you have, and whether you have a current will.
Activity: Create your financial summary

List your financial assets and liabilities below. The items will be added to your 'to-do' list along with relevant documentation you should take to your first meeting.


Further reading

Select items below you want to add to your 'to-do' list to read later or click the link to view the webpage now.

Meeting with your adviser

4 Meet a financial adviser

Meet adviser bannerAt the first meeting, the adviser should take the time to understand your needs, goals and preferences before they make any recommendations.

It might take more than one meeting to discuss your advice needs in detail. Note: the first meeting is often free, with charges for further meetings.

At the meeting the adviser should discuss the following with you.

Risk and return

If you are likely to receive superannuation or investment advice, you should discuss your attitude to investment risk and your capacity to bear risk with your adviser. One part of the process of defining your appetite for investment risk will be completing a 'risk profiling' questionnaire. This will assist your adviser in recommending the most suitable superannuation or investments for you.

Cost of the advice

Ask the adviser for a breakdown of all the costs and your options for paying. For example, you may be billed directly or the cost may be deducted from your investments. Make sure you get the cost as a dollar figure, not just a percentage of the amount you have to invest. Costs may include advice fees, product fees and commissions.

Factors influencing the advice

Check that the adviser can provide advice about the financial products you currently own, or if they're limited to selling particular products. It also pays to check the relationships the adviser has with any product providers or any people or businesses they refer you to. These checks are important because all of these factors may influence the advice you receive.

warning sign Before you commit to paying for a financial plan, make sure you agree on the goals and areas of advice that will and will not be covered. Also, discuss the fees you'll pay for the initial advice, as well as potential ongoing product and advice fees.

Activity: Topics to discuss at your first meeting

Select items below you want to add to your 'to-do' list.


Further reading

Select items below you want to add to your 'to-do' list to read later or click the link to view the webpage now.

Evaluating and implementing financial advice

5 Understand your Statement of Advice (SOA)

Understand SoA bannerAfter you have met with your adviser, you will receive a formal SOA, which will:

  • document their recommended strategy and why it's appropriate for you
  • outline any recommended products, and
  • list all the costs associated with the advice.

Use the following checklist to make sure you understand the advice and how it will benefit you.

If you are unsure about anything in your SOA, you should follow up with your adviser before proceeding with the advice.

warning signThe results produced in this section of the tool are for general information only and should not be taken as professional financial advice.

Activity: Review your SOA

Use the following questionnaire to make sure you understand the advice received and how it will benefit you. Items requiring follow up will be added to your 'to-do' list.


Further reading

Select items below you want to add to your 'to-do' list to read later or click the link to view the webpage now.

6 Regular review of your financial situation

Review situation bannerReview your advice and situation at least once a year to ensure you are on track.

Depending on your life stage and the complexity of your investment portfolio, you may decide to do this more frequently. If there have been any significant changes in your life that might affect your current strategy or your attitude to risk, this should also prompt an earlier review.

A review is also a good time to assess the performance of your investments and whether they are meeting your expectations.

Contact your adviser if you have any concerns about your strategy or investments.

Activity: Review your plan

Select items below you want to add to your 'to-do' list to read later or click the link to view the webpage now.


Further reading

Select items below you want to add to your 'to-do' list to read later or click the link to view the webpage now.


Your 'to-do' list

This is your customised to-do list of actions from the steps in this tool. You can save, print or email your to-do list to yourself for future reference.


Related links

Last updated: 05 Dec 2018