How to take control of your finances

where to get financial help

Are you mystified by money management? Does the thought of financial planning make your eyes glaze over? Perhaps you simply don’t know how to start or where to go for trustworthy advice.

Jason Andriessen, a Certified Financial Planner from State Super Financial Services, says no matter how much (or how little) money you have, everyone has options and choices.

“Money is a great servant but a terrible master,” he told Starts at 60. “If you can get your head around financial issues, it will change your life”.

Mr Andriessen says a great starting point is the Australian Securities & Investment Commission website, MoneySmart.gov.au. Here you will find all the basic information you need to know to start managing your money, plus easy-to-use calculators and other tools.

The next step is talking to your network about financial issues and strategies. “People don’t like talking about money but it’s a conversation you should be having,” says Mr Andreissen. “Find out how your friends and family access trustworthy sources of information and what they’re doing to manage their money”.

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Once you’ve educated yourself and know exactly what it is you don’t know, it’s time to engage the services of a financial planner.

Mark Rantall, CEO of the Financial Planning Association has these five tips for choosing a trustworthy person to help manage your money:

  1. Look for a planner who works for a firm that holds an Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence issued by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). Ask for a copy of their Financial Services Guide.
  2. Choose someone who is a member of the Financial Planning Association. Members of the FPA must meet stricter criteria and higher standards (including holding a university degree) than required by law.
  3. Ensure the person is a Certified Financial Planner.
  4. Remember, your financial planner will know more about you than your accountant or doctor. If you can’t establish trust and rapport in your first meeting, keep looking.
  5. Make sure your planner doesn’t make advice seem 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.

Managing money in or approaching retirement is a specialised area, adds Mr Andriessen. “Retirees are both short-term and long-term investors. There is a need to live off money made from investments now, and also to provide for another 30 to 40 years after retirement,” he says.

With this in mind, be sure to ask prospective financial planners for evidence they have experience managing post-retirement money.

One final piece of advice: “Never ever invest in something you don’t understand,” says Mr Andriessen.

Are you confident managing your money? What’s holding you back?

Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and for information purposes only. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It is not financial product advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any financial decision you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from an independent licensed financial services professional.