Getting the most out of your advisor relationship
Building a relationship with a financial advisor can literally change your life. And as with every relationship, the more you put in to it, the more you'll get out of it.
These days, more and more Australians are seeking professional advice so they can get on the path to financial success. In fact, around two and half million Aussies now have a financial advisor.1
While it's up to your advisor to earn your trust and confidence, don't think of the relationship as a one-way street. In fact, the way you approach the relationship can make a real difference to how rewarding the financial advice process will be.
Here are five simple ways you can get the most value out of your financial advice experience and build a successful, long-lasting relationship with your advisor.
1. Plan ahead
Whenever you meet with your advisor, time is limited. So before each meeting, think carefully about what you want to achieve in the time available. Start by looking at your current financial situation to see how it's changed since the last time you saw your advisor. Then, consider if any of your priorities have changed as well.
Make sure your advisor knows the value of all your assets and debts, particularly if things have changed since your last meeting. It's also a good idea to bring any documents along to the meeting that will give your advisor a clearer picture of your cash flow. These might include pay slips, bank statements and tax returns.
Remember, your advisor needs to understand your complete financial picture before they can give you the best advice for your circumstances.
2. Set lifestyle goals, not just financial ones
Contrary to popular belief, financial advice isn't only about money – it's about creating the lifestyle you want. That's why you should think of your financial strategy as a vehicle for getting to where you want to be in life, not just for reaching a particular financial position.
It's worth making a list of goals for different stages of your life. Consider including goals for the short, medium and long term.
Depending on your situation, these might include:
• buying a new car
• starting a family
• buying your first home
• investing in your children's education
• renovating or upgrading your home
• taking a dream holiday
• reducing your work hours
• making a sea change at retirement.
Before each meeting with your advisor, review your list of goals and update them if needed. Let your adviser know if anything's changed since you last spoke.
3. Ask questions
Nobody expects you to have the answers – that's your advisor's job. But your financial strategy may be quite complex, so your advisor needs to take you through it in detail to make sure you understand every aspect.
If your advisor explains something that you don't understand the first time, it's perfectly ok to let them know. Ask them to clarify what they mean or explain it in a different way. You might even want to jot down some questions before the meeting so you know exactly what to ask when you get there.
Communication is key, so don't be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to. There's really no such thing as a foolish question – remember your advisor is there to help you realise your goals and the life you want to live.
4. Speak up
Your financial advisor may be the experienced professional, but remember, it's your money; how you use it is entirely up to you. You're in the driver's seat, so it's important to be clear to your financial advisor about what you want your financial strategy to achieve.
Even though it's your advisor who develops your strategy, you need to be 100% comfortable with all the recommendations before you agree to them. If you're not sure about any aspect of the strategy or the level of risk involved, be honest and let them know.
5. Trust the advice
Government rules and regulations can change frequently, making it a challenge to keep up. In the 2016 Federal Budget, for example, the Coalition government proposed significant reforms to tax and super rules, but the specific details are still being consulted on and have not yet been legislated.
If you don't know what the proposed changes would mean for you, don't panic. That's why you have a advisor to stay on top of any changes and explain how they might affect you. In fact, this is one of your advisor's main responsibilities.
And while you should always ask questions about your financial strategy and make sure you understand your options, remember that your advisor has your best interests at heart.
Plus, any advice you receive is backed by your advisor's professional knowledge, expertise and experience.
Trust is the foundation of every successful advisor – client relationship. Once you've built that trust through open and honest communication, your advisor will be in the best position to help you get closer to your financial goals.
To start a professional relationship with our advisors please contact us on phone 03 8850 3333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Investment Trends, 2014, Advice & Limited Advice Report.