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

Take charge of your finances this FP Week

This week is Financial Planning Week! If you have any burning questions about your finances, head to the Ask an FPA Expert forum and ask a qualified expert for free.

Who doesn’t want to feel in charge of their finances?  Confident that their money is working for them, and is working for you as much as possible?  I know I do.

Having control over your finances allows you to plan and make decisions on how you want to live your life; it’s about you controlling your money and its flow rather than letting it control you.

So you want to live overseas for six months of the year?  Send the kids to private school?  Pay off your mortgage in record time?  Boost your super as much as you can to ensure a comfortable retirement?

Having your finances in order will allow you to sit down and plan for these things, rather than ‘wing it’.

We all know what we need to do: brush off that budget and get a clear picture of your assets and liabilities.  Figure out where you can cut back, what debt you can pay down.  Spend time reviewing your superannuation – is it in the best fund for you, are you happy with the fees, the service?  Do I have sufficient insurance?  Am I paying too much insurance?

Do I have the knowledge, the time and the access to resources to learn how to better manage my money?  For some people, the answer to this is no, and that’s where getting good advice comes in.

Not everyone needs a financial planner, if you’re footloose and fancy free and just starting out in your career, there’s a lot of things you can do and set up yourself – 10thousand girls runs workshops and an online money makeover program.  However as your situation gets a bit more complex, you take on debt, grow your family, have some big goals or start to consider retirement, financial advice can be invaluable.

Financial planners can be a fresh pair of eyes on your money; they look at your financial situation holistically and objectively.  A good planner will want to get the full picture of your financial situation, and work with you to help you get where you want to be.  They will also have a long term view, and that’s something that many of us might not take the time to work on.  And long term isn’t just superannuation; between now to retirement is still a long way off for many of us – there are still many financial milestones and wonderful experiences to be had over the next few decades.  How can you fund that?

But where to start?  How do you find the right planner? Here are my top 3 tips:

  1. Interview at least 2-3 financial advisors before making your decision who to engage. All good financial planners will offer you an initial consultation, obligation free, free of charge.
  2. Financial planners cost money (they should make you far more money than they cost you but of course there’s fees all the same), so do what you can to prepare. If you have tracked your spending over the last three months, a list of your assets and liabilities, a copy of your insurance policies and super fund paperwork – you’re a long way ahead and instead of your first couple of meetings being a fact find, you can get into the meaty stuff earlier – and show the planner you’re serious about your future.
  3. Find a planner through recommendations through your network. If you don’t have direct introductions from people you know and trust, ask the planner if you can speak to a client or two of theirs. This is a great way to see if their client base has similar needs to you – and to make sure they rave about their advisor!!

Trust your intuition, you will know who’s the right planner for you.

Contributed by Zoe Lamont, Founder of not-for-profit financial educator 10thousandgirl