I’m a huge advocate of good quality financial advice.

If you’ve been fortunate enough to have received good quality financial advice, you’re probably in a much better financial position than you would otherwise have been.

This begs the question, however. What is financial advice? 

If we get technical, we can look at the Financial Advisers Act 2008, and how it defines “financial advice”, “financial adviser service”, and “investment planning service”.  

But more colloquially, I’d say that someone is giving financial advice if they are providing you with advice about how to improve your financial situation.

There are lots of different types of advice that fit this definition. Many people provide you with advice that would fit the bill, including accountants, lawyers, mortgage brokers, and others. However, for the purpose of this article I’ll stick with what “financial advisers” can do.

Financial advice can be “holistic” in the sense that, to the extent possible, it considers your entire financial situation and includes advice about your entire situation.

Or it might be narrowly scoped, so that it  relates to only one part of your situation. For example, advice relation to your insurance needs, or how to invest a lump sum that you’ve received as a windfall.

Advice can relate to a financial product, but it might not. A property, for example, isn’t a financial product. However, I would consider advice on making a property investment to be financial advice.

Advice can be about investments. An adviser might look at your investments and suggest changes to your investments so that they better reflect your needs and objectives and reflect your personal risk profile.

But advice doesn’t need to be about investments. As I’ve mentioned, it can be about your insurance needs. It can also be about developing strategies for saving more. Or it can be about working out the best strategy for dealing with your debt.

A financial adviser can help you get a grasp or overview of your financial situation, which might have otherwise been foggy. A financial adviser can help you to clarify your financial and lifestyle objectives, and help you work on your priorities to ensure that your financial decisions are driven by the outcomes you want to achieve and your values. 

A financial adviser can act as a sounding board when you’re about to make important decisions. There are times when they can counsel you against making dumb decisions. Stopping you from taking action might be the most important thing an adviser ever does.

Financial advisers can be the financial equivalent of a personal trainer. They can educate you. They can make you accountable and honest. They can keep you on track towards your financial and lifestyle goals.

The list above isn’t exhaustive. But it gives you an idea of the broad nature of services an adviser can provide to you. And it leads to an important question you might want to consider before you engage with an adviser:

What do YOU want a financial adviser to do for you?

 

Sonnie Bailey

Sonnie is an Authorised Financial Adviser (AFA) and former lawyer with experience in the financial services and trustee industries. Sonnie operates Fairhaven Wealth (www.fairhavenwealth.co.nz).