Why bother with a financial planner?

Making the choice to see a financial planner is one people often approach with some trepidation as they can see

Making the choice to see a financial planner is one people often approach with some trepidation as they can see retirement on the horizon, or are grappling with how to structure their finances in the early years of retirement.  Many are not quite sure of what to expect when they sit down in front of a good adviser, nor do they understand how to get the best out of their advice.

Denis O’Keefe, a retirement planning specialist and financial adviser who works with AustralianSuper members says the first meeting with a financial adviser is an opportune time to put your concerns on the table, better understand your budget and find out what you can to do to live a more comfortable retirement.  But, he says, you should come prepared if you want to achieve the best result.

“It is surprising how many people get to 50 or 55 and have not properly considered their superannuation,” he says.  “Then at 55, when people can see their retirement in the future, they suddenly become interested, but are unsure how to act.  It is a time when many people see their core strategy change, and are unsure how to navigate it.”

When asked what most of his clients want from their financial planning, Denis said that almost all want to know if they have sufficient funds to live a comfortable retirement – and they want to hear it from an expert.

“There are plenty of websites where people can do calculations, but many people get a lot of comfort out of speaking to a person face-to-face, and having them go through their figures to either confirm that they are on the right track, or to offer them some insight that could improve their situation in relation to retirement and their retirement aspirations.”

One of the most difficult areas for people to understand, he says, is how to combine the pension with their superannuation to achieve the best results.  And for every person, the answer is different, because their budgets, goals and aspirations are different.

You can prepare for a visit to your financial planner with four simple steps, says Denis.

“Firstly, understand your budget.  The first question most people ask when they go to a financial planner is ‘Can I afford to retire?’ and if you don’t know what your budget will be, we won’t be able to tell you whether you can.”

Household costs are one of the major expenses in your budget, says Denis, and they are necessary for a good retirement, so it’s important to get a good grip on these.   “This is one of the areas that people tend to cut a bit short when they plan, especially on the entertainment side.  You really need to have a think about how important entertainment is to you and how you budget for it, and for the food, drink and lifestyle elements that are important. “

“Then, have a good think about discretionary spending on things like holidays, movies and leisure activities that might be outside your week-to-week budget.  Consider the big trips, the small trips and the ambitions you have, and how much these might cost.”

“If you go to your financial planner with a fair insight into these, they can give you a lot of answers,” says Denis.  “They will then be able to talk to you about things you might not yet have budgeted for, like rising healthcare needs, and the potential costs for aged care in your future.  They’ll help you explore how much money you may need to live your life to a ripe old age, and what you can adjust, to help make sure you are comfortable that your funds can last as long as you need them to.”

And that’s the whole point, isn’t it? – Making sure you get to enjoy a comfortable retirement.

Why bother, you ask?  Denis says the three big reasons to bother are important.

“With good financial advice, you’ll have a structured financial blueprint for the future around which you can manage your money.  You’ll enjoy peace of mind that your retirement can be affordable and achievable from where you are today if you follow the strategy you set with your adviser.  And you can put in place smart ways to help generate an income from your assets, with written advice to support it.”

About: Denis O’Keefe is a certified financial planner with AustralianSuper and specialises in retirement planning advice.  He has 25 years financial planning experience and is currently based in Melbourne where he provides holistic, face-to-face advice and guidance to clients. 

This post is sponsored by AustralianSuper Pty Ltd ABN 94 006 457 987, AFSL 233788. The views expressed in this article are those of the interviewee and not AustralianSuper.  The interviewee made their comments based on their experience and expertise. Members should assess their own situation and needs and consider obtaining professional advice before making any decision.

  1. I have only one word to say to anyone contemplating going to a FA. “dont”.

    • Because they all try to sell you managed funds, which are an absolute waste of time and money. Invest yourself, you will be way out in front eventually. Its not hard.

    • I’d say choose your FA wisely. Learnt a lot from mine. But that was and industry super fund so the FA is on a set wage and does not benefit from a hard sell.

    • We found our financial adviser fantastic…we wouldn’t be where we are now at retirement without her valued guidance over the last few years. We’ve all (well I assume the majority) of us have lost money over the years trying to do our best with what we knew. I know I feel more at peace understanding our finances better and having a plan in place to move into retirement.

      • Pam Hughes  

        I have a great respect for Financial Planners, I have peace of mind knowing I’m doing the best with what I have. Worth every penny spent on a good company.

    • Must say I’m not happy about having someone else manage my funds, but so far so good ! also I am not confident enough to work the stock market myself so feel I need the assistance, also I like to enjoy my days instead of sitting in front of a computer looking at shares…

    • You can go to six financial advisors and get six completely different advice. Who is correct. The advisors all sell products which will benefit themselves otherwise they would not be in the game.

    • Many of us up here in the north are still reeling from the Storm Financial disaster. While I was not effected I know many who were, losing homes, super funds and savings. Such things make you very suspicious of similar schemes.

    • I think that the financial advisors from the banks, all of them, are the worst of all. They will make sure that a huge proportion of your money is invested in the banks products, irrespective of whether its a good investment or not.

  2. I am a Management Accountant and my advice is that you need to teach yourself how to manage your income and not lean on or trust others to do it. People lose money and make mistakes no matter what profession (yes even banks). I have spent time helping my friends learn to manage their finances, shares, super etc and also give my services free to women’s groups to teach them to be independent. You are never too old to understand how to manage your finances as it is a time thing mostly and lets face it you have the time when you retire which is when you most need to learn to budget and manage.

    • Excellent advice. If you have an adviser, as a check, you must still do all the sums yourself.

  3. I used a financial advisor for a few years to begin with however I have recently cancelled her service, because I’m very good at budgeting and seeing as I put my super into a pension fund I draw the same each fortnight and I know exactly how long my pension fund will last, and seeing as it will out live me I no longer think it necessary to keep paying her fee when that could be put to better use for a holiday.

  4. I’m a DIY.

    I’m a planner/trainer by temperament and have all sorts of pieces of paper which indicate I can pass Management Accounting, Taxation, Business Admin and IT Software Engineering exams. So I confuse myself. 😉

  5. My husband’s take on financial planners is that if they were so good at their financial planning they’d be wealthy and not needing to work, let alone tout for business. By this reasoning those who are still in business can’t be that good.

  6. My husband and I went to a financial planner to invest his redundancy pay-out. Worst thing we ever did.

  7. Looks like their are a lot of people out there that have had a NOT so good experience with financial planner. We used our local gov department,had good advice and it was FREE

  8. I’ve managed my own finances all of my working life so don ‘t feel the need for a financial planner in retirement. Centrelink provide a free Financial Information Service which I’ve found very useful as you have a face-to-face appointment with a FIS officer who is very happy to provide all the information about receiving a pension or part pension.

  9. Be very aware of taking advice from people who have a beneficial interest in the advice they are offering.

  10. A financial planner is the last person you should rely on. the whole industry is now unregulated and unsafe. If they loose you money (and many do) there is no re dress of grievance as many are not insured. Educate yourself, buy a book, read about investing, its not hard at all and your money will be safe and you’ll save thousands on the ridiculous fees they charge.

  11. If one is looking for confidence or direction with their super most funds will provide a planner free of charge, this doesn’t mean you are obliged to take the advice but it can be a good place to start.

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