Value of advice

We all want a comfortable retirement. But comfort means different things to different people, and it’s important that your retirement income strategy reflects your personal goals.

Seeking advice from a financial planning professional can ensure you’re following a strategy to achieve your goals – but first you need a clear picture of what your goals are.

Before you seek out a financial adviser, take time to think about what matters most to you. Do you want to travel, in Australia or abroad? Where do you see yourself living? What will you be spending most on? What are your priorities and plans if you should need extra care and support?

With answers to these questions in mind, you can find a financial adviser to help you develop an income strategy tailored to you. This plan should make the most of your assets and investments so you can pay for the things that matter to you, cover your essential needs and enjoy your retirement with peace of mind about your finances.

Top 5 questions to consider when looking for a financial adviser

1. What are their qualifications?

To ensure you’re receiving quality advice, ask about the qualifications your adviser holds. You can ask whether they are currently members of professional bodies, such as the Financial Planning Association (FPA) or the Association of Financial Advisers (AFA). Membership ensures they’re committed to ongoing education and professional development. Members also adopt higher professional and ethical standards than those required by law.

2. What is their advice specialty or focus?

Different advisers focus on different areas of financial planning, and it’s important to work with someone whose expertise aligns with your needs. This is also why it is important to be clear about your goals upfront. This will help a financial adviser understand the kind of advice you’re looking for.

3. Is their approach to risk right for your circumstances?

Make sure any prospective financial adviser understands, and respects, the level of risk you feel comfortable with as you approach retirement and after you’ve left full-time work.

If a prospective adviser suggests strategies, investments or products that are outside of your risk comfort zone, you should let them know and even consider seeking advice elsewhere if you don’t see eye to eye.

4. Are they asking the right questions?

A financial adviser can only give you the best advice for your circumstances if you have been clear and honest about your current situation, expectations and goals. Financial advisers work with people from many backgrounds and financial circumstances, so they are not going to judge you. Giving them a complete understanding of your finances will enable them to create the best strategy for you.

It’s also important to be honest about your ability to follow the plan they propose. A good adviser will work with you to find the right mix of products and investments, income and expenses that you can stick with. They should also be proactive about changing your plan in the future if your circumstances change or if something isn’t working for you.

5. Does it ‘feel right’?

Planning for your financial future is rarely a ‘set and forget’ type exercise, so your relationship with your financial adviser should be working for you on a long-term basis.

As in other areas of our life, sometimes relationships work and sometimes they don’t. If you’re going to have a productive and positive long-term relationship with a professional who is working on something as crucial as your finances, it’s important that it feels right to you.

How to find an adviser

Working with a financial adviser who understands your needs and concerns is important to ensure peace of mind about your finances throughout your retirement.

Use the Financial Planning Association website to find a financial planner in your area.