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Isn't it time you got some financial advice from a pro?

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.

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Then, of course, is the option of actually meeting with a financial adviser and getting their advice on how to meet your financial goals. Some super funds offer at least one free financial planning session for their members. Superannuation may seem relatively straight-forward (when you work, money gets paid in; when you retire, money comes out), but there are other retirement things to consider, including taking an income stream instead of a lump sum so your fund balance has a chance to keep growing, government age pension entitlements (you want to get the support you’re entitled too), taxation (you don’t want to pay more than you have to), insurance (there are benefits to holding insurance through your super, but you need to know the right approach), and, obviously, investment options for your super so it grows to the levels that you think you will need. It is worth giving your super fund a call to check whether they provide financial advice (and whether there are any free sessions available).

You can get advice from a financial planner about your entire finances or advice on a particular issue (eg paying some of your before tax income into your super – known as salary sacrificing). Financial planners must by law set out their fees and charges up front. The cost of the advice will depend on the complexity of your financial situation (plus the fee scale that your financial planner uses). Financial advice about your super might be cheaper through your super fund, so it is worth checking out whether your fund offers this service.

Getting financial advice is easier than you think, especially when you can get it from your super fund. You’ll get the benefits of professional advice, plus the peace of mind that comes from having sought an expert opinion.

So, isn’t it about time you got some advice on your finances? (Oh, and you should probably get that rash checked out by your doctor…)

The views expressed in this article are those of Mamma Mia and do not necessarily reflect those of AustralianSuper (AustralianSuper Pty Ltd ABN 94 006 457 987 AFSL 233788 the Trustee of AustralianSuper ABN 65 714 394 898). AustralianSuper does not accept responsibility or any liability arising from the content of this article, which is of a general nature and does not take into account your personal objectives, situation or needs. Before making a decision about your super consider your financial requirements and read any relevant Product Disclosure Statements. Investment returns are not guaranteed as all investments carry some risk. Past performance gives no indication of future returns.

AustralianSuper can make all the difference to your super savings.

One of Australia’s largest industry funds with more than 2 million members. AustralianSuper offers good long-term performance that can help you save more over the long term. 

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