Finding someone you can trust is arguably the biggest challenge when looking for financial advice. Not only that, it’s vitally important.

Think about what you’re actually needing when you engage the services of a financial planner. You’re needing someone to give you advice about one of the most personal, sensitive and emotional aspects in your life – your money.

Excepting heath and family, there is nothing more important than your money. Because of this, you need to be absolutely certain you choose the right person to assist you with decisions that, ultimately, could make or break you.

But where do you start?

There is certainly no shortage of financial planners around, but all are not equal.

Because of this, consider using the following criteria to narrow down your search:

1) Make sure your financial planner places enormous importance on understanding you and your needs. The very best advice solutions are not only based on your needs and objectives, but many other aspects such as your concerns, what’s important to you (and what isn’t), your values and beliefs and your emotions. Therefore, a good planner should spend a considerable amount of time asking questions and facilitating discussion around these aspects until they have a complete understanding of your situation.

2) Make sure your financial planner is experienced and committed to maintaining their professional skills at a high level. For instance, membership of a professional organisation will often mean a planner needs to complete a minimum number of continued professional development (CPD) hours each year. A high level of education is also important, particularly if the planner has less than five years’ experience. The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® (CFP®) designation, for instance, is the highest rank attainable for a financial planner anywhere in the world. CFP® certification therefore goes a long way towards ensuring you are choosing an experienced professional.

3) Make sure your financial planner has a high level of emotional intelligence. This is often not considered when selecting a planner. Money can give rise to a huge range of emotions so it’s crucial your planner is able to identify with your emotions and understand the reasons behind them. Emotional aspects can play a significant part in determining the most appropriate advice for you, so your financial planner should be both in touch with and sympathetic to your emotions.

4) Make sure your financial planner is positioned to put your interests before their own. This is arguably the most important box to tick when choosing a planner. Someone who has connections with a large institution or product manufacturer, receives commissions and other incentives as payment for services, or charges fees based on how much money you have, is not positioned to act in your best interests. This is because these factors all create conflicts of interest. This means any advice you receive will have been influenced in some way. As a result, the advice given will be biased and may not be in your best interests.

A successful relationship between a financial planner and client is built on trust. Choose an adviser who meets the criteria above, and you will maximise your chances of a successful relationship with the right person – someone you can trust.


This advice may not be suitable to you because it contains general advice that has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal financial and tax advice prior to acting on this information.Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue and are subject to change. Financial Planning Expert Pty Ltd does not give any warranty of accuracy, nor accept any responsibility for errors or omissions in this document.
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    Financial Planning Expert is an independent financial planning business based in Melbourne. We provide genuinely independent and conflict free financial advice. We’re experts in self-managed superannuation fund (SMSFs) advice and strategy, retirement planning, property and share investment advice, life and income protection insurance, tax planning, asset protection, estate planning and advice for Australian expatriates.