Put off procrastinating until after you've been to see a financial adviser

FINANCIAL advice is one of those things that most people kind of sort of mean to get around to one day but don't.

FINANCIAL advice is one of those things that most people kind of sort of mean to get around to one day but don't.

Ask anyone why they don't see a planner and the justifications come thick and fast: - It will cost a bomb.

- They'll be horrified that a 43-year-old professional could have no savings.

- They'll make me dig up my bank statements from 20 years ago.

- They'll tell me to disconnect my Foxtel.

None of these concerns reflects the reality of the modern profession, which is customer focused, highly regulated, has strict disclosure requirements, and delivers real value to the 2 million Australians who use advisers.Most advisers rely on repeat business and recommendations for business, so they can't afford to disappoint their clients.

Earlier this year, the Australian Financial Planning Association commissioned actuarial firmRiceWarner to review some financial planning case studies in an attempt to quantify the benefits of getting financial advice. The research found that although advice didn't come cheap-mainly as a result of the regulatory environment and compliance obligations on advisers- it delivered real value for money. The report found that nine out of 10 people who sought advice benefited from it.

It's a shame that fears about the cost of advice stop many people getting help that could save them tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime. While comprehensive, strategic advice can cost upwards of $5000, you can also get more affordable advice on a specific issue, which could deliver huge benefits.

Examples of this include advice on retirement planning, investment profiling, insurance levels, budgeting and estate planning.

Many financial advisers will charge you nothing-or a nominal fee-for an initial meeting at which they will determine whether they can help you save money or generate wealth. At this meeting they will disclose their fee structure, including any commissions, and describe what you would get for your money if you decided to proceed.

If you do decide to see an adviser it's worth asking friends and family for a referral. You can also contact the Financial Planning Association for a list of financial advisers in your area.

Call 1800 626 393 or visit www.fpa.asn.au.

Your adviser, or the firmhe or she works for, should have an Australian Securities and Investments Commission licence to deal or give investment advice.

Many advisers are accredited by the Financial Planning Association as certified financial planners (CFPs). This accreditation requires a minimum of three years' experience and a formal qualification.

Before your first visit, you may be asked to complete a brief audit of your financial situation. This will help the adviser get up to speed on your situation before you meet. You should also have a good think about what you want from your money-and your lifestyle- before the first meeting.

To a large extent, the success of your relationship with your adviser will come down to chemistry. Do they really "get" what you're trying to achieve?

Do they explain things in a way that makes sense to you? Do you feel you could build a long-term relationship with them?

When you find an adviser you "click" with, keep in touch with them. Tax and super laws are constantly evolving, and your own personal situation will change over time too. So, it's worth revisiting your financial strategy every nowand then to make sure it's up to date.

Oh, and if your adviser tells you Foxtel is an extravagance, tell them you're addicted to the Bloomberg Channel! Raegan Durch is a senior financial adviser with Mercer Wealth Solutions.


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