Updated: Mar 26, 2021
It's a question that we can't blame you for asking. A few bad apples have succeeded in giving financial advisers a pretty bad name recently.
The truth is, financial planners in Australia are now governed by one of the most arduous compliance codes of any industry, designed to safeguard consumers.
That said, I am fully aware that recent events have been enough to make even the most relaxed investors nervous. And rightly so. You all want to know if your money is safe and if you can really trust your Financial Adviser.
If you have any concerns or questions about the security of your funds or investments I urge you to let me know and we will provide any help or documentation you request or require. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to help put your mind at ease.
Melissa Caddick was able to mislead her clients by providing them with fraudulent statements that they took at face value. Make sure you have direct access, as in your own login, to all of the financial institutions and accounts where your money is held or invested. This may include a broking account, fund manager, investment admin platforms (ie Colonial First State and BT) any bank accounts, super accounts or term deposits they have access to.
Check to see if your adviser is registered with ASIC. This is a register of people who provide personal advice on investments, superannuation and life insurance. Use this register to find out where a financial adviser has worked, their qualifications, training, memberships of professional bodies and what products they can advise on. You'll find me, Dean and Stella listed there. The new professional standard framework was introduced for new advisers in January, but by 2024 all existing advisers will need:
A relevant bachelor's degree
To pass an exam
Meet continuing professional development requirements
Comply with a code of ethics An accountant, unless they are licenced as a financial planner with ASIC, can't give you financial advice (and a financial planner also can't do your tax returns unless they're registered to do so).
3. What to ask your adviser to ensure they're compliant
Full disclosure about which financial institutions the adviser has a financial relationship with, if any.
An explanation of why the adviser is recommending products through which they receive a commission, if applicable. They may still be valid recommendations, but the adviser should be able to clearly explain why the advice suits your circumstances – which he or she legally has to do under FoFA's best interest duty.
An annual statement outlining the advice you have received, why it was given, and how much it cost if the adviser charges on an ongoing instead of a fee-for-service basis.
For more information you can go to The Australian Government's MoneySmart website