The Financial Planning Association of Australia The Financial Planning Association of Australia

It’s back to school time, but not just for kids


The Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA) is calling on Australians to become schooled in their finances in 2015 by finding an educated financial planner who can help them score an A+ in achieving financial goals.

Many Australians suffer from the ‘not yets’ when it comes to their finances, believing that retirement is too far away to worry about or that they can reach their financial goals without the help of a financial planner. However the reality is that it is extremely difficult – and time consuming – to effectively absorb the intricacies of investment, taxation and superannuation and the ever-changing rules and regulations that surround them.

CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER®, Catherine Robson CEO and Principal Adviser at Affinity Private, says it is never too early to start, even if your goal is small.

“Financial planners are not just there to help achieve retirement goals, although of course this is a vital part of what they can do. They can also help you on the path to shorter term goals such as creating financial strength to take an extended break from paid work or start your own business as well as longer term ones like buying a house.

“A person under say, age 50, is likely to require advice geared towards paying off the mortgage and other debt and meeting major family expenses such as school fees. Those over 50 are more likely to be looking at how to make the most of their super and assets.”

When looking for a financial planner, there is a clear place to start.

“There is a bit of a misconception around financial planners, that they all share the same level of education or all work to the same ethical and conduct standards,” said Mark Rantall, CEO of the FPA. “But that is not the case. So it’s very important for consumers to be aware of what to look out for so they get the quality they deserve. It is the planners who have gone the extra mile, voluntarily advancing their education and signing up to stricter codes of conduct that are the ones who can deliver this.”

Consumers should choose a planner who holds, or who works at a firm holding, an Australian Financial Services License (AFSL) issued by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Other tips for choosing the right planner include:

1. Look for a planner who is a member of a professional association such as the Financial Planning Association (FPA). The FPA represents the interests of the public and Australia’s professional community of financial planners. Members of the FPA voluntarily commit to stricter criteria and higher standards than required by law.

2.The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® designation is the highest level of certification that a financial planner can achieve so try and find a financial planner with this qualification. There are 5,500 CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professionals in Australia and most of them will have CFP® after their name.

3. Your financial planner is going to know more about you than your accountant or doctor, as they need to become familiar with your finances, medical history and family situation. If you cannot establish trust and rapport early on, keep looking.

4. Good advice is concise and easy to understand. Make sure your financial planner doesn’t give advice that’s complicated or difficult to grasp. They should be willing to answer plenty of questions and be forthcoming with details about their qualifications, professional memberships and experience.

If in doubt, start your quest at a dedicated website such as fpa.com.au, moneysmart.gov.au or myagedcare.gov.au.