What to look for when choosing a financial planner

Based on an ABC report, almost 50% of Australian adults have unmet financial advice needs. More Australians need financial planning assistance but they are unsure how to select a prudent financial planner, particularly after the finding of the recent Bank Royal Commission.

A good financial planner should be able to help you achieve your financial goals. They should not be promoting product. They should formulate an investment strategy to help you to achieve your goal, then and only after you have agreed to the strategy should product be discussed.

The main attributes that we want when choosing a financial planner are:

  1. Trust
  2. Knowledge


The Bank Royal Commission uncovered that the big four banks and AMP were charging “fee for no service” and they were using their team of advisers to sell their own products. That is, they were found guilty of putting the banks’ profits ahead of their clients best interest.


The second part of the selection criteria is knowledge. That is, after we find an adviser that we feel we can trust we need the adviser to be knowledgeable. Knowledge generally comes from studying to gain qualifications and practical experience.

Financial Planner Checklist

Below we have created a checklist of issues that you should consider before selecting a financial adviser.

  1. Does the adviser have their own financial planning licence through ASIC or are they an ‘authorised representative’ of a bank, an insurance company, or a company owned by a bank?
  2. You need to meet with a potential financial adviser to see how you relate with him/her, much like choosing your doctor. You need to be able to clearly communicate with your adviser.
  3. Will that potential adviser be doing your work or will he/she delegate the work to others in the organisation? That is, will the potential adviser you are talking to be your long term adviser.
  4. Is the financial planning practice that the adviser works in affiliated with any other company? You need to be careful of some affiliations, as this is where there can be a conflict of interest. That is, will the adviser look after your best interest or their employer’s/affiliate’s interest.
  5. It is important to check the ASIC Register to see that the adviser has a current licence. The ASIC website will tell you how long they have been licenced which will give you an indication of their level of experience. It will also tell you their qualification which should give you an indication of their knowledge. The website advises if they have been ‘banned’. This is an obvious warning sign.
  6. Membership and Associations. Are they a member of the Financial Planning Association or the Association of Financial Advisers? Most associations require the adviser to undertake ongoing courses to keep up to date with investment changes.
  7. What are the qualifications of the financial planner? The number and level of the various stages of qualification are important as they reflect that the financial adviser has invested in himself and likely to be more professional and knowledgeable in his advice.

    Does the financial planner have qualifications in financial planning and taxation? Taxation implications are a massive part of financial planning as we are interested in our after tax return not just our gross return. How investments are structured is critical in order for us to legally minimising our tax liabilities.
  8. How often will you meet with the adviser? The Bank Royal Commission report highlighted that some of the major bank advisers have been charging commission for no service. How do you insure that this does not happen to you?  How often will you meet? Also how contactable is the adviser, will you be charged for phone calls?
  9. What does the financial planner charge? Do they charge on an hourly rate basis? Do they prepare quotations before doing the work? Do they charge a percentage of the portfolio balance?

If you are looking for a financial planner in sydney to help build your wealth, get in touch with Peter Quinn by filling out our contact form, or give us a call on +61 2 9580 9166 to book an obligation free appointment

The information in this document does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and so you should consider its appropriateness having regard to these factors before acting on it.  It is important that your personal circumstances are taken into account before making any financial decision and it is recommended that you seek assistance from your financial adviser.