Some people hear about the services of professional financial planners and think planning for the future isn't something they need to worry about yet. However, professional financial advice isn't just for the future - it can help you save money, pay less tax, grow your assets, protect your income, and build your investment portfolio today. As you near retirement, you'll find that your home is paid off sooner, your super balance is bursting, you've paid less tax, and you've given your kids the head-start you wish you'd had.

In a nutshell, it's all a win if you jump onto the financial planner train. But how do you know that your financial planner is worth their weight in gold? Here are the traits and features to watch out for when browsing your options:

1. They have a great reputation

Anyone can big themselves up - the key here is word-of-mouth referrals.

Getting recommendations from trusted friends or family members who have had positive experiences with a financial planner can be priceless. They can provide insights into the planner's professionalism, trustworthiness, and how they help them meet their financial goals. If the claims sound too good to be true and there's not much to back them up, skip to your next option.

You can also read through Google reviews, they never lie. Look through those Google reviews like you're a detective on a mission, paying attention to both positive and negative feedback. Keep in mind that a single negative review may not be representative of the planner's overall performance.

2. They are pro-active & inspire trust

If you're waiting for a reply from your prospective financial planner, why would those wait times be any different when you engage them? But great communication is not everything; once you do get in touch, a great planner will turn complex concepts into a simple language you can easily understand. If your planner seems frustrated by your questions, or you're hassling them just to get back to you, move on.

Remember, you should be able to ask anything from your financial planner. No question is too big or too small. If you're not sure about something, ask for clarification. Your financial planner is there to help you make informed decisions about your finances.

3. They won't panic

There's something about planning in general: it's a calm process. Often, a financial issue may be ripe ground for some serious panic stations - but when things go wrong, a great financial planner will simply lay out your options for getting out of the pickle. And if they're really worth their salt, the strategic plan will be so well thought out that panicking is something that is never even a possibility.

A great financial planner should be the one person you can count on to keep their cool when things get crazy. That's why it's so important to choose a financial planner who you trust and who you feel comfortable working with.

4. They understand you

Some financial planners are all "me, me, me". Professional financial advice is exclusively about YOU. What that means is that your planner needs to take the time required to understand you: Your income, your assets, your situation, your spending, your debt - your goals. Only by really getting to know you will the best financial planners be able to develop the most meaningful and fulfilling strategy. They'll craft a financial plan that's as unique as you are, not just off the rack.

But that's not all! Great financial advisers also have equally great support teams, contacts and colleagues, and ensure that the only way they really get ahead in the game is by delivering amazing results for you.

Do you have great financial advice? Why not get in touch today to talk about how it could transform your life today - and unfurl your wildest dreams for the future.

When you first meet a financial planner you need to know if you can build a long-term relationship with them. The planner should listen to your situation and ask questions about your personal financial details. This will allow the adviser to give you the best possible advice and an understanding if they are able to assist you.

Common questions consumers should ask their prospective financial adviser include

1. What areas can you provide advice?

Different advisers and firms may specialise in different areas of advice (e.g., self-managed superannuation, direct shares, insurance etc). If you are seeking advice you want to make sure the adviser has specialist skills in the area you require.

2. What is your main type of client?

You want to know the financial planner and firm has a track record in dealing with clients such as yourself. For example, if you are arranging complex insurance or your business you would want to see a financial planner that regularly deals with other business owners insurance needs.

3. What are your qualifications?

The base level qualification is RG146 or a Diploma of Financial Planning. A more experienced adviser should be a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) with over 5 years’ experience.

More information on qualifications can be found on our financial planning courses and qualifications page. Please note as in any industry qualifications and experience does not always guarantee a good service. From 1 January 2019 minimum level qualifications for new financial planners will be an approved degree in line with FASEA requirements.

4. What initial and ongoing service do you provide?

It is important you understand what initial and ongoing service you will receive as some people require comprehensive service and others may prefer more limited contact. There is no point in paying for something you will not use or becoming surprised if the service is not what you expected.

Services and costs will differ between firms and will also depend on the level of service/advice you require. Most financial planning dealer groups charge an upfront fee for advice and a flat dollar fee or % of assets under management for ongoing service. Make sure you understand the initial and ongoing cost of the service and how it will be delivered to you.

5. Conclusion

The questions above are general in nature and should be used as a guide only. It is also a good idea to ask personal questions of your prospective financial adviser to get an idea of their personality, hobbies, and interest to make sure you are comfortable.

The Myth Of The Rich Doctor – Why Doctors Fail Financially

By Yves Schoof- Affluence Private Wealth

Many people believe that all medical professionals GPs, Doctors, Dentists and Surgeons must be incredibly wealthy and financially successful. Unfortunately, this is often not the case.

As a Medical Professional, you dedicate your entire life to helping people stay or become healthy, but in the process, you often ignore your own financial health.

You start to work and accumulate wealth later in life and maybe repay big student loans, which means you miss out on the benefits of compounding.

You will also find it quite challenging to manage your own finances, because for many years you focus on becoming an expert in a particular field, and have very little time for anything else.

At no time during your studies do you learn about how to manage your money, or how to run a successful medical practice. This often leads to costly financial mistakes, many of which could have been avoided with the right knowledge or advice.

We specialise in working with medical professionals and have first-hand experience with the most common financial mistakes medical professionals make:

1. Having too much bad debt

Many medical professionals carry a substantial amount of debt, most of which is usually related to the family home. I believe that if you cannot repay your home mortgage in approximately 10 years, you have borrowed too much and are putting your financial future at risk. Are you in this position?

2. Not having a plan

You cannot afford to waste any time when it comes to creating wealth, as you are already starting from a disadvantaged financial position. Without a plan, you mostly end up making ad hoc decisions, which may be predominantly tax-driven or based on promised investment returns. However, this often leads to costly mistakes and/or investment losses, which puts you even further behind.

If you are trying to manage your own financial affairs, it’s worthwhile considering whether you have the required time and money management skills to do this properly. Have you thought about engaging a specialist adviser?

3. Not having control over your cash flow

I believe that your high income gives you a false sense of security. It is natural to increase your lifestyle as your income goes up (we call this ‘lifestyle creep’), but the danger is that you never fully have control of your cash flow.

If you run a private practice, you may never really get a sense of what you own/owe in terms of money in the bank, as your tax and other obligations will be a moving target. Then there are private school fees, holidays, and a generous lifestyle. Saving and investing for retirement often becomes an afterthought, which is why many doctors need to keep working well into their sixties.

As a result of these mistakes, many medical professionals are under a significant amount of financial stress and suffer in silence, which is compounded by the frustration of paying high amounts of tax.

So what can you do about it?

1.  Educate yourself

First of all, you need to acquire a minimum amount of financial knowledge to be able to make smarter money decisions. A good financial adviser will educate you throughout their advice process.

2.  Seek advice and plan

As a doctor, your time is so valuable that you should be outsourcing the management of your finances to a trusted adviser. There are too many risks in trying to do it yourself, and you will most certainly miss out on strategies and opportunities that you are not familiar with. Above all, it is the accountability that an adviser will demand of you, which will lead to positive action and outcomes.

Do you want to make sure you don’t become another medical financial casualty?

For further information, case studies, free eBooks and weekly financial tips, please go to www.affluenceprivate.com.au.

Or if you would like to discuss your personal circumstances in private, we would love to offer you a complimentary 60-90 minute Strategy Session.

Please contact us on 08 6160 5918 or online via our website www.affluenceprivate.com.au.

We work with medical professionals across Australia, in public and private practice, between the ages of 25 and 75 and are the leading medical financial specialists in Australia.

Australian Financial Planner Courses

There are many Financial Planning Courses and Qualifications in the Financial Planning Industry. An overview of the most common Financial Planning Courses and Qualifications is below in ascending from entry level to highly specialised. All Financial Planners on Top 10 Financial Planner hold at minimum the Certified Financial Planner Designation ® along with 5 years’ experience.

Diploma of Financial Planning

The Diploma of Financial Planning is an entry level qualification for individuals starting a career in financial planning. The course structure enables you to undertake core and elective subjects that deliver technical knowledge and adviser skills leading to ASIC RG146 compliance across a range of knowledge areas.

Source: https://www.kaplanprofessional.edu.au/courses/vocational-financial-planning-courses/diploma-of-financial-planning/

Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning

The Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning builds upon the competencies gained in the Diploma and/or Tier 1 product training to develop the technical knowledge relevant to more complex advice scenarios. This qualification focuses on the development of the skills you need to build client centric relationships and create customer value.

Source: https://www.kaplanprofessional.edu.au/courses/vocational-financial-planning-courses/advanced-diploma-in-financial-planning/

Bachelor of Financial Planning

Many universities are now running financial planning courses or specialisations. Most of the Bachelor level courses are equivalent to the Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning and also meet requirements of RG146/PS146. If you intend to enrol in a University Financial Planning Course, make sure it is

recognised. Most University Bachelor level Financial Planning Courses satisfy the tertiary requirements to enrol in the Certified Financial Planner® Program.

Certified Financial Planner®

CFP® certification is the highest level of certification that a financial planner can achieve, and it is internationally recognised. CFP professionals demonstrate their commitment to excellence in financial planning by meeting initial and ongoing competency, ethics and practice standards and agreeing to abide by the standards laid out in the FPA’s Code of Professional Practice.

Globally, over 140,000 professional financial planners now hold the CFP designation. This includes the 5,500 strong community of CFP professionals in Australia who proudly fly the flag for the gold standard in financial planning.

In order to enrol in the Certified Financial Planner® Program all candidates must hold an approved Bachelor’s Degree (i.e. Tertiary Education) on top of practical on the job experience.

SPAA – SMSF Professionals’ Association of Australia Limited

SPAA is recognised as the peak body for professional advisors and the leading association within the SMSF industry in Australia. SPAA members deliver integrated financial services and include professionals from the following industry groups: accountants, auditors, financial planners, lawyers, risk providers, actuaries, administrators, and educators. SPAA represents professionals that provide advice in the highly complex area of self-managed superannuation funds.

SPAA’s focus is to raise the standard of advice provided by professionals within the SMSF Industry. SPAA is committed to enhancing education among SMSF professionals to assist them in their advisory capacity and to ensure that they work within the regulatory framework. SPAA’s membership and specialist accreditation makes the job of managing and advising to SMSF’s a lot simpler.

SPAA is committed to raising industry standards, promoting best practice, and looking after the needs of SMSF professionals who practice within all professional affiliations or memberships. Becoming a SMSF Specialist Advisor™ (SSA™) or SMSF Specialist Auditor™ (SSAud®) means our members are recognised as practitioners of choice by SMSF consumers.”

Source: https://www.smsfassociation.com/about-the-smsf-association