DO YOU NEED A FINANCIAL PLANNER?

Some of us were lucky enough to be raised by people who knew how to save, budget and plan for the future, but statistics show that many of us missed those lessons, to our financial detriment. The most recent figures show that home ownership in Australia has dropped from 85% of the working population to around 62%, and our young people don’t consider saving as important as past generations.

Now is the time to look at our personal financial situation to see if we could do more to build wealth. For those running businesses it is absolutely essential, in these difficult times, to be open to all possibilities, and one of those is to consider whether to engage a financial planner to assist.

Like most things, there are pros and cons to be considered before making this decision. The role of a financial planner is to help you set and achieve personal goals. This is quite different from the role of your accountant, which is to help you manage your personal and business tax affairs.

Pros to having a financial planner are that they use a structured process to encourage their clients to take setting personal goals seriously. While we might say that we could do this, ourselves, very few of us actually do. A financial planner does this in a way that is discussed and documented. Once goals are established, a financial planner then creates an investment plan to help clients realise these goals.

How good are most of us at investing their money? We are not very good, according to the statistics. A financial planner has current knowledge and understanding of financial markets and assists clients with their investments. For clients who already have an investment portfolio, the financial planner reviews and optimises its performance. They also provide budgeting and debt consolidation advice.

Naturally, all this professional expertise comes at a cost, so this is one of the major cons to be considered. The other concern is that financial planners identify and recommend financial products, opening the possibility of a conflict of interest between the needs of the client and financial rewards for the planner.

For those who are trustees of their own SMSFs (self-managed superannuation fund), having the services of a financial planner is essential. An SMSF is a financial planner product. In Australia, only a licensed person can offer advice about the different financial products on offer, and there are consequences if the financial planner does not act in the best interests of clients.

SMSF trustees also use the services of companies such as SMSF Assure to perform the administration, year-end and regulatory work required by the ATO (Australian Taxation Office). This allows them to spend more time working with their financial planners in order to build the wealth needed to provide retirement incomes for their members.

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