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You may have a vague idea of what financial planners do. Do you think they help people who have extra income to manage their money and plan for the future? If so, you are correct. However, they serve a much broader population. Even people without a lot of extra income who are just beginning their careers will benefit from meeting with a financial planner. People make important decisions in their 20s and 30s that have significant consequences for the future. Financial planners make sure that you are as informed as possible to make the best decisions throughout your life.  This could be simply saving a deposit for a home loan or planning for retirement.


Believe it or not, many different professionals can claim to be a financial planner. If you invest your time and money with meeting a financial planner, it is important to know that you have selected an individual with the right set of education, experience, and expertise. Examples of who can be a financial planner are sales representatives or real estate agents.

One way to know if the person you want to work with is reliable is to use a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™. A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™ has completed a certification program, the highest professional standing in the industry.  This program provides additional coursework to prepare a financial planner with the best practices and research skills to be the best financial planner they can be. This certification is recognized in 26 countries.

What are the job responsibilities of a financial planner?

Financial planners educate individuals and businesses on wise budgetary decisions all the way from balancing a budget to diversifying portfolios with stocks and investments. This is a holistic approach to finance and considers the whole person when recommending financial planning and decision-making.

There is a six step process that a good financial planner should complete. This process involves:

  • Gathering financial data.
  • Asking the client for all their financial goals.
  • Identifying any financial issues that may impede completion of those goals.
  • Devises a plan that resolves issues and builds toward meeting goals.
  • Implementing that plan.
  • Conducting continuous reviews of the plan and adjusting goals based on client feedback.

Is there a professional association for financial planners in Australia?

There is a professional association and it is the Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA). This organization allows financial planners to become members. Being a member implies a certain level of excellence in continuing professional development and ethics. There are over 8,000 financial planners who belong to the FPA.

What are valuable skills of financial planners?

Financial planners who are effective will have a set of essential skills. These skills revolve around communication and interpersonal skills and analytic skills. Financial planners must be able to relate and advise people on financial decisions with constructive honesty. This means that they must be honest with people’s financial decisions. Interpersonal skills are very important as these can set build a rapport and level of trust between the financial planner and the client.

Analytic skills are very important due to the nature of the job. Financial planners will work with numbers and analysing future scenarios on a daily basis. The ability to plan well, including preparing individuals or companies for withstanding a financial hardship, is critically important for these professionals.

Why do you need a financial planner?

We all know the basics of saving money and living within your means. However, if you are simply putting money in the bank and making sure your bills are paid, you are not maximizing your income. This is particularly important if you are an entrepreneur or make additional income beyond a primary job. There are rules and regulations that are constantly changing and the financial planner stays informed to help you abide by regulations and maximize the best use of your assets.

The younger you are when you start financial planning, the better off your short, medium, and long term goals for financial health will be.

How much does a financial planner cost?

A good financial planner will always be very transparent with fees and associated costs. The cost will vary depending on financial planner and how they have structured their charges. There is generally an initial fee and then ongoing fees for managing and updating the plan.

What should you ask in your first meeting?

Just as you would never buy a car without test driving it and making sure it fits with you, both in style and function, you should not settle on the first financial planner you meet. In the first meeting or phone call, a financial planner should show the ability to listen to you and advise you based on your specific situation. Some questions that you could ask are:

  • How do you make sure that I am considering all of my financial goals, from immediate to long-term?
  • How do you monitor the plan that we have made?
  • Do you identify new opportunities and approach me with them?
  • When do we re evaluate my financial plan?

How can you ensure you get the most out of your relationship with your financial planner?

Everyone will have slightly different goals and outcomes for a relationship with their financial planner. What works for one person might not work for everyone in making sure that the relationship is fruitful and worth your time. You should conduct periodic checks and self-reflections on if the relationship and the work of the financial planner has been helpful to you. This reflection should include asking if you have a clearer picture of your financial goals now and if you feel you are making progress toward these goals.

Open and consistent communication with your financial planner is very important to both parties and will lead to a more productive plan than one that was created but not maintained