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Five questions to ask a financial adviser in your first meeting

Kon Mavrikios | November 2020

Article |  4-minute read

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Financially savvy families are increasingly turning to financial advisers to help work towards their life goals.

It’s a common misconception that the time to seek financial advice is when you are approaching retirement - it’s never too early. Financially savvy families are increasingly turning to financial advisers to empower and educate them as they work towards their life goals.

I’ve been working as a Financial Adviser at ANZ for more than ten years and I know from experience that the key to a great first appointment is preparation. When you walk out of your first meeting you should feel confident that you’ve taken the first steps towards your financial goals - whether that’s achieving financial freedom, the lifestyle or retirement you want or growing your nest egg.

So, here are my top five questions to ask in your first appointment:

1. Research your adviser’s professional background

Even before you walk in the door, take some time to do some digging – whether that’s looking on your adviser’s website or LinkedIn profile. This is key because you want to work with an adviser who will prioritise you and your unique needs.

Try to assess their depth of experience, expertise and skillset, to ensure that their background aligns with your financial goals and circumstances. Have they completed any relevant training that complies with FASEA (The Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority)? Do they primarily work with a particular group of clients, such as retirees or business owners? Ensure that they are the right fit for you and your unique situation. Once you’ve done your research and you’re satisfied with their background, qualifications and experience you should go ahead and make that first appointment – otherwise keep looking!

2. What's your investment approach? 

Take the time to listen to this answer – it’s important! Let your adviser explain their approach, their in-house investment philosophy, and their risk and asset allocation approach. After you leave, review their answers to ensure they align with your core values. For example, do you like to have some risk in your portfolio? Are you passionate about ethical investing? To avoid disappointment or frustration later on it’s important that your financial adviser’s approach to investment lines up with your core values, while still working towards your goals.

3. How do you measure success for clients?

This question will help you understand whether your adviser is committed to helping you achieve your life goals and improve your financial wellbeing. You can also ask whether they are assessed on customer satisfaction or sales figures. Do they receive a commission for recommending their own products or do they listen to your needs? These questions will help you understand whether the adviser will develop a plan as unique as you are to build your wealth.

4. How will you navigate volatile markets? 

To say that 2020 has been a stressful year would be an understatement; however, market downturns are a normal part of investing. In times like this, it’s very easy to make costly mistakes and snap decisions. Your financial adviser should bring an objective view and be capable of helping you steer through volatile markets to help you meet your financial goals.

5. What's your fee structure? 

Financial advisers are there for the long haul, so it should be clear from the get-go how they structure their fees. For example, do they charge hourly, fixed fees, or on the complexity of the advice strategies? There are many options to choose from and there could also be tax benefits. So, make sure you ask this question upfront to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding down the line. It’s also important for the adviser to understand your financial situation so they can work towards your goals.  

By asking these five questions, when you walk out of your initial meeting, you should have a good sense of whether the financial adviser is the right fit for you. It’s important to find the right partner and be confident in your decision, so don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion. At ANZ, our financial advisers take time to get to know you, and we’re assessed on customer satisfaction, not sales.

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Kon Mavrikios is a Senior ANZ Financial Adviser. ANZ Financial Advisers are representatives of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited ABN 11 005 357 522, holder of an Australian Financial Services licence.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author only and do not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ. The information provided is general in nature only and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Please consider its appropriateness to you before making any investment decisions. Past performance is not an indication of future performance. Any case studies are shown for illustrative purposes only, and are not a prediction of the actual outcomes you will achieve. ANZ recommends that you read the applicable Product Disclosure Statement or offer documentation and consider its appropriateness to you prior to making a decision to acquire or hold a financial product. Any investment is subject to investment risk, including possible repayment delays and loss of income and principal invested. Returns can go up and down. Information is current as at the date articles are written as specified within but is subject to change. ANZ and its related entities make no representation as to the accuracy or completeness of the information.

© Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) ABN 11 005 357 522.