Financial advice

Financial advice

Do you need help making important decisions about your financial future? Talking to an adviser and receiving expert advice can make it easier for you to reach your financial goals. Find out all you need to know about getting financial advice.

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Why see an adviser

Financial goal setting

The financial planning process helps you assess your financial position and identify your personal and financial goals. Clearly setting out your goals puts you in a position to make better choices about how to achieve them.

Your adviser can help you set and reach your financial goals. Whether you are planning for retirement, a trip to Europe, your children’s education or for a deposit on your future home, your adviser can help you plan to reach these goals.

What does financial advice cover?

Financial advice can cover a range of areas including:

  • budgeting
  • tax planning
  • investments
  • aged care planning
  • estate planning
  • superannuation
  • life and risk insurance
  • government benefits that may be available.

Financial advice can help you identify and plan to achieve your financial goals so you can enjoy the lifestyle you want. An adviser will help you assess your current circumstances, identify your goals and priorities, and recommend financial strategies and products that will help you reach your goals.

Build your wealth

Whether you need money to fund your children’s education, take a career break, or achieve something that gives you a better lifestyle, your adviser can build a wealth-creation strategy that enables you to meet your day-to-day living expenses, manage your debt and is tax effective, so you can achieve your goals.

An adviser can help you borrow to invest, accelerate your savings and make the most of your superannuation.

Protecting your wealth

Your world can dramatically change through unexpected illness or injury. An adviser can help you establish measures to protect your wealth and design a tailored solution to suit your needs. With a financial safety net in place you can be better prepared to support yourself and those depending on you, should something unexpected happen.

Why advice is important

Quality financial advice can help you create a secure and comfortable future for you and your family. Because it is based on your goals and priorities it is tailored to suit your needs and puts you in control of your financial future.

For more information on money and getting advice visit the Financial Literacy Foundation's website - www.understandingmoney.gov.au.

Address your changing family circumstances

As your family circumstances change your adviser can recommend appropriate adjustments to your financial plan. Events that may require a reassessment of your finances can include:

  • the arrival of a new family member
  • education expenses
  • children leaving the family home
  • provision of aged care for elderly parents
  • illness or injury.

Make debt work for you

Your adviser can help you deal with debt so you get the greatest return. Strategies that may be recommended can include debt consolidation, increased frequency for your mortgage payments or even borrowing to fund additional investments. Your adviser will assess these options in conjunction with your goals and the level of risk you are comfortable with.

Have the money you need for retirement

Your adviser can help you determine the level of savings you need for retirement and provide guidance on those strategies that will deliver the income you need. Your adviser can give you advice on super strategies, government pensions, options around employment and how these choices can affect benefits.

Facing redundancy

If you are faced with redundancy your adviser can help you make critical decisions so you maintain your financial security during this change. Your adviser can help you invest your payout to ensure it delivers long term benefits in a tax effective manner. They will also be able to identify whether you are eligible for government benefits and advise you on how to manage your superannuation.

Knowing your finances are taken care of will leave you free to concentrate on planning your next career move.

Tax strategies & benefits

In developing your financial plan, your adviser will also look at tax strategies to help you get the most from your investments. As a result your adviser may recommend strategies such as income splitting, salary sacrificing to superannuation or tax effective investments.

Are your finances in shape?

Being financially fit is about making sure all aspects of your financial situation are in order. But where do you start? Complete this questionnaire (913kb PDF) to identify areas of your finances that are healthy and strong and others that may need some improvement. It’s a good starting point before visiting a financial adviser who can help get your finances in great shape.

OnePath believes quality financial advice is key in helping you reach your future goals so we work with advisers to make it easier for you.

How OnePath works with advisers

OnePath actively supports advisers to help them service their clients by providing:

  • a full range of simple, easy to use wealth management and wealth protection solutions that are designed to meet their clients' needs educational tools they can use with clients information
  • updates and newsletters to keep advisers informed of product and service enhancements that may benefit their clients
  • access to online reporting and administration tools to help them service their clients needs
  • educational and technical seminars to help them with changes to government legislation which may impact their clients.

Choosing an adviser

Choosing an adviser

The first step in finding the right adviser is to broadly identify your lifestyle and financial goals. Once you've done this you will know what sort of financial advice you are looking for and whether you may need specialist advice.

Check to ensure the adviser is qualified and authorised. Only employees or representatives of organisations that hold an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) are able to offer financial advice. You can check whether an adviser is licensed by logging onto the Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC) website. Click here to visit ASIC’s site to use this service.

Some advisers offer the initial consultation free of charge. This provides a great opportunity for you to get to know the adviser and see if they are the right fit for you in terms of their personality and expertise. A free consultation is a good chance to ask the adviser questions about their:

  • service
  • organisation
  • customers
  • experience
  • training and qualifications.

Shop around

Like buying any other service it is worthwhile shopping around to see what options are available before establishing a relationship with an adviser. Here are some tips on finding a suitable adviser.

What to expect

Preparing for your first visit with an adviser is important. Find out what to expect and how to prepare. When you visit an adviser you can expect them to:

  • ask questions so that they have an understanding of your personal and financial goals
  • understand what you expect and want to achieve through their advice
  • tell you about the services they will be providing
  • explain the fees and charges that apply to their services
  • inform you of their relationship with other entities (eg: company ownership details or product sales arrangements).

The process of gaining financial advice varies depending on your situation and the adviser you are using. Generally the process will include the following:

  • Setting goals: Identifying your lifestyle and financial goals.
  • Agreeing on the scope of advice: This involves you and your adviser agreeing on the areas you wish to receive advice on.
  • Gathering information: This will involve information on your finances and research the adviser will gather on appropriate strategies.
  • Strategy development: Based on your goals and the information gathered the adviser will develop your individual financial plan.
  • Statement of Advice: The Statement of Advice is a document your adviser will give you that details your situation, their recommendations and the specific products to support this. It will also include details on fees and charges that will apply to your financial plan.
  • Implementation: Your adviser will help you implement the plan, purchase recommended products, assist with ongoing administration and provide you with regular updates and reports as agreed.
  • Review: The frequency of review will depend on what level of service you have negotiated with your adviser. Reviews may be undertaken annually, every six months or quarterly.

Documentation

Your adviser is likely to provide you with a number of documents to ensure you understand the service being offered, any ownership arrangements, the recommendations made to you, the financial products recommended and analysis undertaken.

Documentation that your adviser may give you includes:

Statement of Advice

A Statement of Advice (SoA) is a document that sets out your situation, goals and your adviser’s financial recommendations. The SoA will vary from individual to individual because it has been written with your specific circumstances in mind. However, some of the common elements SoA’s should include:

  • your personal details
  • the adviser’s details
  • the advice they've given you
  • the information on which the advice is based
  • fees and charges (including any commissions), and
  • any interests, associations or relationships that could influence the adviser’s recommendations.

Financial Services Guide (FSG)

The Financial Services Guide (FSG) provides you with all the information about the entity providing the products the adviser is recommending. FSGs include information on the identity of the provider, contact details, how the provider and any other relevant parties are paid, the complaint process and privacy policy.

Product Disclosure Statement

Whenever a financial product is recommended to you, a Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) will be given to you. It contains detailed information about a specific product including features and benefits, fees and conditions or commissions that may affect your return.

Your needs and what you want to achieve

An adviser will ask you questions to understand your current situation and what you would like your future to look like. When you see your adviser you should be prepared to discuss:

  • your financial situation, commitments and dependants
  • what you expect and want to achieve through the advice
  • your priorities
  • your risk tolerance (e.g. aggressive or conservative)
  • existing savings and any other factors affecting your finances.

The information you provide will become the basis from which the adviser will develop your financial plan known as a Statement of Advice. The more detail you provide the better equipped they will be to understand and assess your needs and develop appropriate recommendations.

Preparing for your first visit

The format of your first visit will depend on how you set this up initially. You may have even been able to gain a free initial consultation.You may need more information about who the adviser is and how they operate to feel confident in following their advice. Prepare a list of questions for the adviser. Before seeing an adviser make sure you understand the reasons you have for seeing one, your financial position and priorities.

Gather together your financial documents and have them on hand in case you need to refer to them. Your adviser will ask you questions about your financial position so it is helpful to have a good understanding of these details.Before going to the meeting you might like to review your existing budget, your level of super and savings, your income, your family situation and any lifestyle changes you foresee that may affect any of these.

Fees and arrangements

What fees are involved with financial advice?

Fees and charges attached to financial advice can vary, so it is important you understand what your upfront fees and ongoing costs will be for the advice you are receiving.

Fees and charges are generally paid by either one or a combination of the following methods:

  • percentage of the total funds you invest
  • an initial and/or ongoing commission
  • an hourly rate
  • a flat fee

The method of remuneration for advisers can vary, make sure your adviser clearly explains your options and ensures you understand how this will affect you now and into the future.

Your adviser should clearly communicate and you should agree on the services to be provided and fees to be paid, before moving ahead with your plan.

Arrangements with other organisations

An adviser must disclose ownership arrangements and any affiliations they have with other organisations. Knowing this information will assist you in making informed decisions regarding the type of adviser you prefer to work with and in assessing their recommendations.

Find an adviser

What should you look for?

Your relationship with your adviser is key to establishing a successful financial plan. It is important that you look for an adviser who:

  • is qualified and authorised to advise you on all the money matters you may be interested in
  • communicates effectively with you, including listening to and answering your questions and explaining terms
  • is able to understand your ongoing needs and to accommodate them within your financial strategy
  • is experienced in dealing with people in a similar situation to you
  • clearly outlines their expertise and the service you can expect.

As the relationship with your adviser has the potential to become a long term one, you need to feel comfortable with your adviser on a personal and business level.

How do you find an adviser?

There are many ways to find an adviser. These include personal recommendations from friends and family, through your bank, the internet or the phone book.

To help you find an adviser in your area the Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA) has set up a financial planning company directory and referral service. To view the directory or find out more about how the FPA can help you, visit the FPA website.

Find an adviser close to you

OnePath can also help you find an adviser in your local area. Contact a member of our advisory networks: