How to check if financial planner is genuine not to risk losing your money


How to check if financial planner is genuine not to risk losing your money

Today’s article has been triggered by an email I received just few days ago that say:

“Hi Katherine………….., I need to do my due diligence:

  1. Are you a certified financial planner?
  2. Do you have a reference number I can cross check?
  3. What is the authorising body for financial planners?

I’m sorry to ask for this, but since the Melissa Caddick scandal and all other public issues about financial planning, I need to do the right thing. I have no doubt you will encourage that”.

Not only I encourage this cross-checking, but I will also go a step further to actually tell you exactly how to stay safe and not to ever fall the victim of investment scams, people pretending to be who they are not and how to invest your money safely, while still being able to receive the advice you need in a safe and enjoyable fashion.

In the situation when you are looking for a genuine financial advice, it is better to be safe than sorry, and you do need to carry out your due diligence.

1.      ASIC & MoneySmart websites

The best place to start your search for finance professionals is website of ASIC – Australian Securities and Investment Commission.

This list is then published on Moneysmart website that is managed by ASIC.

As you can see, if you take my name as an example, you will immediately receive confirmation of my name as a financial adviser as well as my adviser number that was set up by ASIC when I originally started working in this profession over 20 years ago. Therefore, this number is associated with my name for as long as I remain in financial planning profession, and I comply with all legal requirements.

If you click on my name or the number, you will get to the next page: that shows my history as a financial planner.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, I have been around longer than ASIC’s website, hence it shows my appointment from 2007, while I actually started my financial planning career with employment at Westpac in 1998. It is hard to believe how many years it’s been, but obviously you can tell, that I still love what I do. And the most beautiful thing is that working as a financial planner is like wine, only gets better with time and experience.

When you get to the page of my adviser register, you can see some very important details:

  • My current principal place of business
  • Name of the licensee holder and its number – when you click on that number, immediately the page will refresh to all the details about the licensee, therefore the body that provides me as an adviser a license that has been issued and approved by ASIC. For a disclosure, my business is self-licenced, and I do not have any affiliation or financial relationships with any financial institution. What that means is that, unlike employed financial planners, my responsibility is towards my client and not my employer.
  • Areas of product advice that I am authorised to help you with
  • My previous appointments,
  • List of disciplinary actions – which thankfully I had none
  • Qualifications and training – which shows that I have become a CFP in 2010
  • failure to meet CPD requirements (Continuing Professional Development), no failure on my part
  • Memberships – I am a member of FPA

This is your first step in your due diligence process for any adviser you wish to check. If the adviser’s name is not listed, run and don’t look back. Obviously, it is not an adviser that has been approved and licensed therefore you are running a big risk of being conned and losing your money.

2.      Professional associations

The second step is to check professional associations members list to find out if your chosen financial planner is listed in any of such associations. I am a member of Financial Planning Association – only a licensed financial planner can be a member of this association, therefore you can feel very safe searching for a genuine financial planner via the FPA’s website: Find a planner Here.

3.      Adviser’s website

The third step is the adviser’s website or the company he/she is working for.

As an example, let’s check my website

In the footer of each page or blog of my webiste, you can find all legally required disclosures:

  • Adviser Profile – information about me as a planner, my history in this profession and within what area of planning I can provide advice, which in my case is with no limitations.
  • Financial Services Guide (FSG) – you should expect to receive FSG from every company providing you with financial advice or with a financial product.
  • Public Complain Policy – this is to explain system to follow in case a complaint is to be made against the product or advice provider
  • Privacy Policy – informing you of measures taken by the provider to keep your data safe and private
  • Disclaimer of a legal setup of the business and adviser registration

4.      Adviser’s office

Depending how you organise your appointment with the financial planner. These days the distance is no longer a limit, and lots of people are happy to have an online meeting with the preferred adviser. Therefore, if you book an appointment with me, you can see in the confirmation links to all the documents I mentioned before listed on my website. Therefore, you can read all about me, you can do your due diligence, long before we chat.

If you have a face-to-face meeting in an adviser’s office and you are happy with information you have found online, have a look around the adviser’s office. All previously mentioned documents should be available to you for pick up or handed to you during your first appointment. As you can see, I have them all on display available to every person that walks into our office.

Then in my office, you will also immediately see the display of all legally required disclosure of business registration, licensee registration as well as adviser registrations and memberships.

If you follow all those steps, you will not only find the financial planner professional you can trust, but most likely one that really has your best future at heart. As I keep saying, most financial planners care deeply about their clients and want to create long-standing relationships with clients to guide them through the years, for the best possible financial outcome with the most effective professional advice.

You can visit us in our Boronia office anytime by appointment, or alternatively an online meeting is always a great option. As mentioned before, visit our website

By: Katherine Isbrandt CFP®
Money Strategist & Retirement Planner
Principal of About Retirement

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