Managing money can be challenging – not all of us have the skills to sort out the more complicated stuff. That’s when it’s time to call in the experts and get some money advice. A professional adviser can be a great help, whether it’s with day-to-day budgeting or investment advice.
Good financial advice should focus on your individual goals and current financial situations, and balance your short, medium and long-term needs. There are various kinds of advisers who specialise in different areas.
A good starting point is the Family Services Directory. Search their directory for financial capability providers near you.
For advice on reducing debt, it can help to talk to a budget adviser, bank, a mortgage broker or financial planner. For many of us, talking to our bank is a good place to start, to make sure our bank accounts and services are right for us. Some banks have budgeting tools to help us put money aside for bills, debt repayment or saving.
Budget advisers can sometimes deal with lenders on your behalf.
Mortgage brokers help to arrange home loans and independent brokers offer products from a number of lenders. Many are willing to look at your overall financial position and may be able to help with budgeting.
Not sure what types of insurance, or how much, to buy? An insurance broker or financial adviser can help, or try talking directly to an insurance company.
An independent insurance broker will be able to offer the widest variety of products. They may also be able to help with making insurance claims.
Bank staff and mortgage brokers can often provide quotes for health and life insurance.
Financial advisers and sharebrokers give advice about investing in shares, bonds and sometimes property. They can help with finding us the right mix of investments. Some people also use financial coaches and mentors to help them get ahead.
Dealing with a complicated tax situation? Need legal advice? It might be time to talk to an accountant or lawyer. Community Law Centres provide free legal advice.
Lawyers are available on the New Zealand Law Society website.
Advice from budgeting services is at no charge. Advice from a bank is typically at no charge as well; however, it will relate to their own set of products and services.
Mortgage brokers, insurance brokers and financial advisers usually take commission from lenders and other financial institutions instead of charging directly.
Some advisers charge by the hour. The advantage of charging by the hour is that they will consider a wider pool of financial products, not just those that pay them a commission.
Accountants, lawyers and wealth coaches usually charge by the hour, but their advice may be very general, as there are rules around providing financial advice on specific products.
There are many good advisers out there but it's a case of buyer beware when it comes to getting money advice. We need to have a good understanding of the type of advice we’re after and, if thinking about investing, our investor type.
For paid advisers, we can ask friends, family and colleagues for recommendations and interview several candidates. We need to ask the tough questions – there’s real money at stake. Checking references and talking to former or existing clients helps too.
Checking an adviser’s credentials is a must. Are they an authorised financial adviser or chartered accountant, for example? They should be found on the official Financial Service Providers register. A complete list of authorised financial advisers is also available on the Financial Markets Authority website.
Advisers may also belong to an industry group, such as the Institute of Financial Advisers, Professional Advisers Association or the New Zealand Law Society.
All financial advisers must have a complaints process and they (or the financial services provider they work for) must also belong to an approved dispute resolution scheme.
There are four:
When you contact the dispute scheme that the adviser belongs to, they will investigate the complaint.
Concerned about the behaviour of a financial adviser? You can also complain to the Financial Markets Authority.
There’s one thing we can say with some surety: we don’t always make the best decisions for our situations, especially with money. It’s part of being human.
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