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The finance experts who can help you sleep better at night

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For many years, financial advice has been closely linked with product selection and its various tangible benefits, such as better investment returns, retiring early, and with greater net worth.

Following this year's five disasters of the Australian bushfires, COVID-19, drought, floods and recession, the intangibles of financial advice have come out strongly as Australians are offered reassurance to navigate one of the most uncertain periods in their lives.

Today's financial planner navigates between the skill sets of being a coach, adviser, mentor, and project manager - to bring their clients' money and lifestyle together.

financial planner sleep at night

Money magazine founder Paul Clitheroe and CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland discussed this at the FPA Virtual Congress Keynote event in September. Financial planners and academics as well as clients themselves believe in the benefits of advice, such as peace of mind and the ability to sleep at night.

The consensus was that the intangible benefits of working with a financial planner are more powerful than product selection, and the role of a financial planner is now more comprehensive than ever before. It is these intangible benefits that translate to the client's overall wellbeing - including good mental health.

A snapshot of Australia's money and life issues

One in five Australians have engaged a financial planner - either in the past or still continue to do so, according to our Money and Life Tracker: COVID edition, a snapshot of Australia's money and life issues being faced by consumers six months after the pandemic hit.

Of those, the majority are in their wealth accumulation phase (i.e. between 35-55 years old). They have not been affected as badly financially as those without a financial planner, and 87% of this group did not dip into their super fund at all during the early super release scheme. Half also believe they wouldn't have done anything different financially during COVID-19.

It also found that nearly half (49%) of financial planner clients claimed to have increased engagement with their financial planner during COVID-19, either during the stockmarket crash in March or to seek reassurance on their finances.

But there are a number of Australians who feel overwhelmed due to the unprecedented nature of this year and who avoidably had to dip into their savings to get by.

The research has shown that Australians who've planned for tomorrow experience greater wellbeing today. They are clearer on what they can spend and save and are more likely to sleep peacefully at night knowing that they have someone there to help them understand their financial situation.

Financial Planning Week 2020

The dialogue in Australia has shifted from financial literacy to financial capability. One of the most valuable benefits of engaging a financial planner is building your own financial capability - where you are not only aware of basic financial concepts but also confident enough to practice good money habits, make the right decisions and informed choices about your financial future.

We encourage Australians to take advantage of Financial Planning Week and think about what they want to achieve in their life, financially and otherwise.

Simple steps for those who want to make 2020 the start of a long-term commitment to financial success:

1. Start a COVID-proof plan. Use the pandemic as an opportunity to harness the positive financial habits picked up during COVID. In other words, keep the COVID mindset even after COVID is over. Prepare two lists: 1) expenses you don't need any more and 2) where you can better utilise this money e.g. save, invest, pay down debts or spend somewhere more appropriate

2. Think ahead. Work out where you want to be financially in the future (think 5 years, 10 years or retirement) and work backwards for how to get there, along with a timeline of achieving certain key milestones along the way

3. Make an appointment with an FPA qualified financial planner. To find the right financial planner for you go to moneyandlife.com.au and use the Match My Planner tool. It's a free web-based service that creates matches based on your financial goals, age and other optional information as well as by location.

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Dante de Gori is the CEO of the Financial Planning Association.
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