There are many, often free, resources that usually include factual information about financial products. This can be through the financial section of newspapers, magazines, podcasts, industry associations, bookshops, libraries; or online resources, such as superannuation funds and investment managers' websites. These often contain frequently asked questions and factsheets about their products and services.
Some online sources are listed below that you can use to:
|Australian Financial Complaints Authority
|Australian Prudential Regulation Authority
|Australian Securities and Investments Commission
|Australian Taxation Office
|Financial Advice Association Australia
|The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australasia
|The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees
Many superannuation funds offer free general advice on superannuation to their members and can help provide information about:
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Most superannuation funds provide clear readily accessible online information, often in the form of comparison graphs and charts, on how their investment options are performing. This makes it relatively easy to switch between or mix and match investment choices, depending on your risk appetite, age and goals.
Many funds have a fee-for-service financial advice facility with financial advisers who can provide cost-effective advice to members on areas of financial planning apart from superannuation.
This structure enables any advisory fees to be deducted from your superannuation balance, which can be beneficial if you don't have the money at hand to pay for financial advice.
After checking out the various sources of financial planning information and thinking about your goals, needs and concerns, you may decide to seek the services of a financial adviser.
A financial adviser will educate you about the types of products, strategies, benefits, investments and risks to best achieve the returns you need to meet your financial goals. They should be candid about if you'll meet your financial goals and if you need to reassess your situation.
While stockbrokers primarily buy and sell shares (units of ownership in a company) for clients, they can make purchasing recommendations, which is a form of personal financial advice. They can also provide general advice, such as giving clients factual information on trading.
See General versus personal financial advice section of this guide for more information on the differences between personal and general advice.
In most circumstances, financial advisers are not qualified to provide tax or legal advice, just as most accountants or solicitors are not qualified to provide financial advice. Therefore (depending on the advice required), you may need to see a lawyer or accountant to ensure your financial plan is secure from a legal and/or tax perspective.
Note: Some accountants are qualified to provide financial advice. In this case, advisers who provide financial advice that includes tax-related advice need to have an Australian financial services (AFS) licence, or work for an AFS licensee, and also hold a licence as a tax (financial) adviser with the Tax Practitioners Board. This requirement also applies to accountants who set up self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) for their clients.
|Developing a financial plan
|Taking financial planning further