Recently we have seen quite a few major changes announced by some of the biggest operators in the financial planning profession. It started last year during the Royal Commission with Dover, one of the largest independent operators (with over 400 advisers nationally) dramatically closing their doors, and it seems the trend is accelerating in 2019.

Under pressure from ASIC the Commonwealth Bank has turned off all ongoing advice fees and are now only offering ongoing review advice upon request – and for a new fee. ANZ have already sold their advice businesses to IOOF, and in the biggest announcement yet just last week Westpac have announced they will no longer be involved in the financial advice business at all. Almost 400 Westpac employed advisers (plus another 500-support staff) will be out of a job by June 30, and another 400 plus financial advice businesses licensed through Westpac are desperately searching for a new licensee.

Amongst all this industry chaos I must wonder how much thought the board room types making these momentous decisions are giving to the plight of their clients? Aside from a politely worded letter essentially telling you you’re on your own – have they given any thought for the uncertainty and anxiety changes like these can create?

Done well a relationship with a financial planner is a heck of a lot deeper and more meaningful than the relationship with a bank branch manager. Your financial planner knows a lot more about you than just your money – a good planner also understands your worries, future hopes and dreams. In many respects we bare our soul to our financial planner with the hope that they will mentor us into a life of security and abundance.

Hardly something to be blithely cast aside when it no longer suits the corporate plan.

Before you despair, know that across Australia there are thousands of diligent, professional, and caring financial planners ready to help when the corporate types decide it is all a little too hard. You will usually find these professionals working in a small to medium family owned business that has been part of your local community for many years. Financial planning is something they care deeply about, and they take their responsibility to you the client very seriously indeed. Their commitment to you runs a little deeper than the boardroom types.

To help if you ever find yourself losing your financial planner and needing to choose a new one – I decided to come up with my top 3 tips for choosing a financial planner;

  1. Referral – Ask a professional you trust (accountant / solicitor) or trusted family or friends if they can recommend anyone with confidence?
  2. Financial Advisers Register – ASIC maintain a register of all advisers licensed to provide personal financial advice in Australia – as well as important information about how long they have been practicing and their qualifications. Go to moneysmart.gov.au to search.
  3. Adviser Ratings Website – Although not the only ratings website around I believe adviserratings.com.au is the most comprehensive and well worth a look. It is even possible to read reviews from other clients who have used an adviser, and you can search in your local community or by specialist advice topics if your needs are more specialised.

I would always recommend talking to at least two advisers before deciding on who to trust your family’s financial future with. Be sure to ask the prospective adviser for their Financial Services Guide or FSG (often on their website), and if you want a list of smart questions to ask – the ASIC MoneySmart website mentioned above has a great list to get you started.

Losing your adviser and choosing a new one doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience. Know that there are thousands of caring professionals ready to help you and your family should the time come – use my top three tips and you never know you may wind up in a happier more secure advice relationship than you started in?

If you’d like help to discover the right way forward, give us a call.

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