Think about the person in your life who you consider to be seriously financially savvy. Maybe they own a house, have casually mentioned an investment or two, or just seem switched on. What’s their secret? This person isn’t doing it alone: good financial management is a team effort.
These are the people you could consider engaging:
Your bank: A good way to start is by chatting with the team at your bank branch. They should be able to make an appointment for you with a personal banker who will be able to talk to you about your goals and options that the bank can provide. Remember to do your research and understand the options and costs that you’re presented with—they are there to sell you banking products after all. But when you’re just starting to build a financial plan, this can be a great, often overlooked, source of free advice.
A tax accountant: Your accountant isn’t just the person that you call when you need to complete your tax return. Building a relationship with your accountant is important. They are the person who you can check-in with throughout the year, including for guidance before you set up a side business, or have any other change in your tax situation. A good tax accountant will also be able to give you basic financial advice; for example, if you’re thinking about setting up a salary sacrifice or making voluntary superannuation contributions, they should be the person you talk to.
A financial planner: This is a person who will help you to develop and implement a financial plan. While you might initially seek a financial planner to help you with areas like tax, investment and cash flow; later in life, you might look for retirement or estate planning. Financial planners will be able to work with you on goal setting, analyse your current situation, and suggest practical steps to help you get to where you want to be. Ideally, this will be a long term relationship, as your financial plan will evolve as your financial situation changes.
A mortgage or finance broker: When you use a broker, they will act as the go-between, helping you to make your bigger financial transactions, such as a mortgage or a large personal loan. They will negotiate with the credit providers, usually a bank, on your behalf. If they’re a mortgage specialist, they will generally be called a mortgage broker.
It’s important to know that a broker will usually only work with certain providers and products, so the options they present to you may not represent the entire marketplace. Plus, a broker’s fee will generally be covered by the credit provider. While you’re not paying them directly, don’t forget that you will be covering this cost (and more!) in the long run.
A wealth manager: You probably don’t need the services of a wealth manager just yet, but it’s a good thing to aspire to needing. A wealth manager provides a very high level service and can help you with all the elements of your financial life, from accounting to investments, to ensure that you are structuring your money in a beneficial way.
When you’re thinking about engaging someone, it’s a good idea to ask about their qualifications, or check that they have a current licence from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, if they need one to practice. An established professional should have no trouble providing you with customer testimonials, so don’t be afraid to ask. It’s also important to work with someone who you are comfortable discussing your financial situation with, so pay attention to how comfortable you feel, because if all goes well, you should have some frank conversations ahead.
When you’re doing your research, don’t just rely on recommendations. Your situation will be different to that of friends and family and it’s important to find the right match for you. Reputable sites like Canstar are a great avenue to check professional profile and credentials.
Paul Chapman is the founder and CEO of Moneytree