By AMY STOCKWELL.
Let’s say you get a rash. You could show it to your mate and ask whether she has ever had one like it. You could phone your Grandma and get a home remedy. You could hop on-line and ask Dr Google for a diagnosis. But in the end, the best advice you are likely to get is this: you should probably get a professional opinion.
This is certainly the case with financial advice. You could get your advice from your friends, your family or the TV. But, ultimately, you are better off getting your financial advice from a professional.
Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Australian Super. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic ad written in their own words.
There is a perception that financial advice is only for wealthy people with complex tax arrangements (that may or may not involve stashing money in the Cayman Islands). The good news is that getting financial advice is easier than you think. And it’s also possible that you can access some quality financial advice for less than you would expect (sometimes even free!) from your superannuation fund. It all depends on the kind of advice that you need and how you would like to receive your advice (online, over the phone or in person).
Financial advice is guidance that helps you to grow, manage and protect your wealth. Research from the Financial Planning Association of Australia has shown that 61% of Australians do not receive financial advice, despite the fact that the benefits of financial advice substantially outweigh the costs over time.
While I made fun of Dr Google earlier, the internet is a good place to start for financial advice, as long as you limit yourself to credible websites and follow up with professional advice. Even if you plan to use a phone advice service or a face-to-face session with a financial planner, it’s a good idea to research the issues first so that you can get the most out of your advice session. The Australian Taxation Office website is a good resource for information on superannuation and your taxation obligations. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has a MoneySmart website which sets out financial issues in a user-friendly way, including a great brochure about the ins and outs of getting financial advice. The Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA) website allows you to ask a general financial planning question to a financial planner for free. You can also find a list of financial planners on the FPA website, and check whether your planner is affiliated with the FPA.
As helpful as general information is, it pays to get more personalised financial advice. Some super funds have calculators on their website that allow their clients to log in and get answers on issues such as the benefits of additional contributions (including how paying into your super could impact on how much tax you pay), how much income you can expect from your super in retirement (will it be enough? What do you need to do to get the superannuation you need?), and how you could restructure your income and save tax in your transition to retirement. It’s self-service advice that you tailor to your own circumstances. And it’s often free for super fund members, which is handy.
Another service that some superannuation funds provide is a phone advice service for questions about super. Again, it’s often free for members. Centrelink also has a Financial Information Service that provides financial information over the phone or in person, including information about investing, salary sacrificing, superannuation and planning for retirement. The details are here.