How does the financial advice process work?

Nearly half of all Aussies plan on seeking financial advice in the future. If you’re one of them, you might be wondering how it all works. Here’s our comprehensive guide to the financial planning process.

The good news is, it’s a relatively simple and easy process. There are lots of resources available to help you, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities along the way to evaluate both the planner and the advice you’re receiving, so you can make sure you are comfortable with both at every stage of the process.

Why do I need a financial planner?

There are many reasons why people seek advice from a financial planner (also known as a financial adviser). In general, the main triggers are marriage, having kids and planning for your family’s future or other life events such as changing jobs. Perhaps you’re concerned about your retirement and need to understand what the next stage of life could look like.

Whatever the reason, if you’ve been thinking about getting financial advice, now is a great time. It’s never too early to start planning for your financial future.

Preparing to see a financial planner – consider your needs

Before you meet with any planners, it’s a good idea to think about what you want help with. Do you want help investing money? Budgeting? Or planning for retirement? Knowing what you need help with will help you find the right financial planner for your circumstances, as planners can have different areas of expertise.

What should I look for in a financial planner?

When choosing a financial planner, you want to make sure that they have the right qualifications and experience. Licensed financial advisers who are members of the FAAA also adhere to higher standards, including a strict Professional Code. They also need to be licensed with ASIC to provide financial advice.

How do I find a financial planner?

A great place to start is the FAAA’s Find a Planner tool – find it in the toolbar of this website! It’s an interactive tool that matches you with a number of potential planners, based on your search criteria.

Once you’ve shortlisted some planners, check their website and review their Financial Services Guide, a document that explains their fees, services and how they deal with complaints. It’s usually available on the company’s website, or you can request a copy.

Meet and compare financial advisers

Once you’ve shortlisted your top two or three planners, it’s time to meet with them! Most financial planners won’t charge you for an initial meeting, so this is a good opportunity to meet with a few different advisers to find the right match. Ask plenty of questions and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you are unsure of anything the financial planner says. A good planner will listen carefully, answer your questions clearly and explain how they can help you.

They’ll also ask about your current circumstances and what you’re hoping to achieve financially (your financial goals). This is also your chance to ask about their fees.

Getting financial advice

Once you’ve agreed to go ahead, your financial planner will request more detailed information from you, so they can prepare your Statement of Advice. This usually includes information about your income, assets, debts, expenses, insurance, wills, superannuation etc. It also sets out their advice, including payments to be made to the adviser and licensee, the basis for that advice and the details of any financial products that might be recommended.

Once your Statement of Advice has been finalised, it will be presented to you in a follow-up meeting. Take the time to go through your plan carefully and make sure you understand it all. Check that it addresses the areas or financial goals you agreed upfront with your planner, and that you are comfortable with the level of risk.

There is no pressure for you to accept the recommendations in your Statement of Advice. If you’re not comfortable with the plan, discuss your concerns with your planner.

Once you’re happy to go ahead with the Statement of Advice, the financial planner will usually ask you to sign a service agreement, or authority to proceed document.

Implementing the recommendations

Once you’re ready to go ahead, your financial planner will help put your plan into action. That could mean setting up investments, applying for insurances or working with your accountant and/or lawyer.

Reviewing the plan

It’s important to review your financial plan regularly, to make sure it still meets your needs. If you’re paying for ongoing financial advice, your planner should meet with you each year to review your financial situation, discuss the progress of your plan and advise you of any legal or regulatory changes that could affect you.

Ending financial advice

If for any reason you’re not happy with your financial planner, or the advice you’re receiving, you do have options. Speak to your planner or check your Statement of Advice for details on ending the relationship with your adviser, or contact the FAAA for advice.

There you have it! Now that you understand how the financial planning process works, there’s never been a better time to get started.

If you are ready to start the process, now is a great time to check out Find A Planner

The Money & Life website is operated by the Financial Advice Association (FAAA). The information in this article is not intended to influence the viewer to make a decision in relation to any particular financial product, class of financial product, or interest in either of these.  The FAAA is not licensed to provide financial product advice.  Nor is it able to provide legal or taxation advice. The FAAA does not assume responsibility for the information accessible via any links provided may relate to you.


The FAAA is the leading professional association for financial advice professionals in Australia. The FAAA advocates for the interests of financial advisers and their clients across the country. Find out more here.
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