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How are financial planners regulated?

The financial planning industry in Australia is subject to a high degree of regulation which has been rigorously evolved over recent years. The primary objective of these regulations is to protect the public when seeking advice from Practitioners who may influence a client’s decision to purchase a financial product.

Financial planning services may only be provided upon the granting of an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) issued under very strict criteria by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). The licence permits the licence holder to deal in securities or advise on investments, which may be achieved through representatives or authorised representatives who have been approved by the licence holder to provide advice to clients. Representatives of licence holders must meet minimum training requirements and also be licenced by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC). The licence holder is ultimately responsible for the advice given by their representatives and must ensure they meet all training and compliance prerequisites.

In addition to this, the Financial Planning Association (FPA), recognised as the peak professional body representing financial planners in Australia, has established a Code of Ethics and Rules of Professional Conduct by which financial planners are required to operate. The FPA provides leadership and a professional framework that enable members to deliver quality financial advice to their clients.

What is Financial Advice?

Financial planning is about knowing what your financial goals are being able to put strategies in place that will help you achieve them. Financial advisers are qualified experts who can help you build, manage and protect your wealth.

A financial adviser can help you with:

  • growing your super
  • tax effective strategies
  • transition to retirement
  • retirement income stream options
  • retirement planning including investments – inside and outside of superannuation
  • life and income protection insurance

What does a Financial Adviser do?

A Financial Adviser sets out to understand each client’s different needs and financial goals and to recommend an appropriate financial strategy.

A Financial Adviser will:

  • Gather financial information about the client
  • Identify financial and lifestyle goals
  • Identify any financial issues
  • Prepare a financial plan
  • Implement the plan
  • Review and revise the plan at regular intervals, or when circumstances change.

What will my financial plan contain?

If your Financial Adviser gives you advice, they must give you a written Statement of Advice (SOA) which sets out:

  • The advice they've given you.
  • The information on which it's based.
  • How they get paid (including any commissions).
  • Any interests, associations or relationships that could influence them.

The financial advice takes into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs with enough detail for you to make an informed decision about whether to act on the advice.

Why should I pay for financial advice?

While many people can manage their day to day money issues, reaching your financial goals requires you to make a number of important decisions such as:

  • Will you invest in shares, fixed interest or cash?
  • Where should you invest – buy shares directly or through a managed fund?
  • How can you manage your debt?
  • Do you need to develop an estate plan?

There is also the matter of your superannuation, tax, and how to protect yourself against financial misfortune as well as getting the most out of government benefits.

These are all complex issues, which is why many people use the services of a qualified Financial Adviser, using their experience and expertise to assist in making the tough decisions and to integrate the different aspects of their finances into one plan. Many also appreciate the peace of mind that comes from having a plan in place – the feeling that their finances are being taken care of, and that they’re heading in the desired direction.