Meeting with a financial adviser

Starting with a financial adviser

You've chosen an adviser. Now it's time to make an appointment and begin the process of getting advice.

This page gives you some tips on what to do before your first meeting and how to judge whether the adviser is the best choice for you.

How to prepare for your first meeting

Before you meet the adviser for the first time, do some preparation. Good advice depends on a clear picture of your financial situation.

For example, you could start by listing:

  • What you own - your home, savings, super, car, shares and other investments
  • What you owe - debts including mortgages, loans and outstanding credit card balances
  • Income and expenses
  • What insurance you have and for how much
  • Whether you have an up-to-date will

Copies of your pay slip, savings account and super statements will also help the adviser get a snap shot of your finances.

Use the budget planner and money health check to get an overview of your financial situation.

Our financial advice toolkit helps you navigate the steps involved in the financial advice process. You can use this tool to create a summary of your financial situation which you can take to your first meeting with a financial adviser.

Financial advice toolkit

Think about your goals

It's also helpful to do some advance thinking about your priorities and goals so you can go to the first meeting with a 'brief' for the adviser.

For example do you want to:

  • Pay off your mortgage sooner?
  • Build wealth and save for retirement?
  • Save for your children's education?
  • Make the most of an inheritance?

Also think about the type of advice you'd like. Are you expecting the adviser to prepare a broad financial plan or do you want advice on a particular area of your finances?

See types of financial advice for more information about your advice options.

Case study: Sam and Diane get ready

""'We wanted to get our relationship with the adviser off to a constructive start. We spent several evenings preparing before our first meeting. We arrived for the meeting with a rough budget and paperwork on our investments, insurance and loans. Most importantly, we had discussed what we wanted to achieve in the 3 years before we retired and then, in the years after finishing work. Our adviser was pretty impressed and it helped to focus the whole process.

At your first meeting

Make sure you give your adviser accurate information at the first meeting. If you are not honest with your adviser or if you leave something out, you could get advice that's wrong for your situation. Tell the adviser if you can only give limited or incomplete information.

You also need to be clear about which issues will be covered and which ones won't be. Once you've established the scope of the advice, the adviser will be able to give you an idea of the cost. See financial advice costs, for more information.

Discuss risk

A good adviser will work with you to help identify the most suitable strategy to achieve your financial goals.

Part of this strategy should be to protect your capital and get reasonable returns from your investments, without exposing you to too much risk. Higher potential returns usually come with higher risks. Never agree to an investment product or strategy that you're not comfortable with or don't understand.

Your attitude to risk can change with time and circumstances. If you've agreed to ongoing advice, you need to tell your adviser if your ability or willingness to take on more or less investment risk changes.

For more information see risk and return.

Learn more about the principles of investing from our Investing between the flags booklet.

Judging your financial adviser

It's easy to be swayed by an adviser's confidence, approachability and friendliness. Don't let this affect how you judge the first meeting. Here are some things to consider before you go any further with the relationship.

Generally, the meeting will have gone well if: You should reconsider your choice of adviser if:

The adviser:

  • Asks you about your circumstances and helps you identify your goals
  • Has explained the scope of the advice they can provide based on the amount you're willing to pay
  • Is happy to explain complicated financial concepts until you understand them
The adviser:
  • Pressures you to sign documents that you haven't read or don't understand
  • Doesn't ask about or listen to what you want
  • Seems to be pushing one solution, regardless of your needs (such as a self-managed super fund or borrowing to invest)

You:

  • Are confident that the adviser understands your situation, needs and goals
  • Are clear about the service you're receiving, what the advice will and won't cover, and how much it will cost
 You:
  • Don't understand why a particular strategy is appropriate for you
  • Don't feel comfortable asking for explanations or feel intimidated by your adviser

Getting the advice

After your first meeting, your adviser will do some further research and put together some recommendations. You will receive the recommendations in writing, usually at a face-to-face meeting, where the adviser will explain the recommendations and discuss the reasons for choosing one path or product over another.

See what to look for in financial advice for more information about judging whether the advice is suitable for you.

Think about your financial goals and priorities before you meet with a financial adviser for the first time. This will help the adviser come up with a financial plan tailored to your needs and tolerance for risk.


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Last updated: 14 Nov 2016