As a small business owner, you are unfortunately accustomed to doing things yourself. Probably online marketing is a DIY. Bookkeeping may be done by your spouse. Logistics is on you. These arrangements, although burdensome, do produce results. In fact, many small businesses in Australia are quite sustainable and financially profitable applying the DIY Strategy. These financial gains, however, can easily evaporate if the finances are also fully managed by you.
Certainly, there are many business owners who are well educated financially. They have enough time to investigate the various financial spheres (I do not mean just Googling it). They know intimately the full scope of financial, tax and compliance legislation. And they have the time to follow all the legal changes which keep popping up (especially these days with the pandemic support). … come to think of it, maybe there are not so many of these. If you are not one of the just-described business owners and realize that you may need some support on a financial issue, then finding a good financial adviser becomes your priority. Here is a blueprint of how to go about that:
What Do You Need?
As easy as this questions sounds, it still may require some effort in order to answer it. Having understood that you need some financial advice is a good starting point. Now try to pinpoint exactly what you need. Here are a few ideas:
- Do you need some support with tax optimization and tax-saving provided by a tax accountant?
- Do you need some advice on debt management?
- Do you need advice on mortgage broking and estate management?
- Do you need support with figuring out what insurance coverage you need?
- Do you need support with your self-managed super fund?
- Do you need advice on budgeting and accounting which is often provided by small business accountants?
- Do you need support in defining your goals and financial planning?
- Do you plan to buy property in Melbourne and are in need of a Melbourne finance broking?
The list is far from exhaustive but is a start. Just like doctors, financial advisers also tend to specialize in various fields of their trade. By defining clearly what you need, you will be able to find a financial adviser who is strong in exactly this field.
A word of caution here – be weary of financial advice which you need, but have not even considered such a necessity. This is tricky. Doing some research on what financial advice are other businesses using may help you define even such hidden needs.
Having defined your specific need for financial advice you are ready to move to the next step of finding the appropriate adviser.
Types Of Advice
Knowing what it is you want advice on, now you will have to decide what type of financial advice you will need. Chose one of the following:
- General financial advice
This type of advice does not take into consideration your particular circumstances, but is rather “off the shelf” consultation;
- Simple single financial advice
This is advice for a single topic, which takes into consideration your specific circumstances. An example may be drafting your small business annual budget.
- Comprehensive financial advice
Financial planners usually render such services. Here you will receive advice on many topics which all build up your sound financial plan.
- On-going financial advice
A retirement plan advice will fall here, where after the initial draft of your specific retirement strategy, the financial adviser will continue monitoring your progress and make adjustments when needed. Accounting firms also tend to build ongoing long-lasting relationships.
Find Your Adviser
Now that you know your question and the type of advice you need, you are ready to personalize your financial adviser. Here are several ways to do just that:
- Get a recommendation from a trusted friend
As trust will be necessary between you and your financial adviser, starting with a recommendation from a trusted friend is a good beginning.
- Chose one from any of the financial adviser associations
This may be any of the following: The Financial Planning Association (FPA), The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA), The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), The Society of Financial Service Professionals. Financial advisers worth their salt will definitely participate in at least one of these, depending on their specialization.
- Have one recommended by your servicing financial institution
Your bank will always have your best financial interest in mind and will readily suggest a competent financial adviser address your needs.
Check For License And Registration
Certainly, you will often hear financial advice from your relatives, friends, clients and vendors. However, are they qualified to render such advice? Are they properly educated? Has someone tested their competence? Usually, the answer to all such questions is “No”. Fortunately, the Australian Government has considered this and introduced a licensing procedure for all financial advisers. This is the so-called AFS (Australian Financial Service) license.
Having selected a possible financial adviser now you need to check their credibility.
The license of a financial adviser means that she has the appropriate education and has passed the respective exam. Further, the license certifies that the financial adviser adheres to the Financial Advisers and Planners Code of Ethics and the Professional Standards for financial advisers. All this means is that the financial adviser of your choice is competent and certified to render a service compliant with the Standards and Code of Ethics. This is not a guarantee for outstanding service but is a good stepping stone for finding a professional adviser.
When meeting for the first time the financial adviser of your choice you may require to see their license. Prior to the meeting, you may also check your financial adviser in the Register of Financial Advisers. This Register is maintained on MoneySmart by the Australian Government.
For more sophisticated financial advice (such as financial planning) your adviser may have additional licenses to the AFS. Such is the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) license granted by the Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA). This signifies competence in providing financial planning services.
OK, now you have the steps for finding your financial adviser. As a last word on the topic, do focus on your gut feeling on your first meeting. Irrespective of the formal approach, intuition is always a good consultant. You will need to have the chemistry between you flowing so that you may benefit the most from the financial advice.