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We acknowledge the difficulty many people have in obtaining reliable and independent investment advice about superannuation. This problem is systemic to the superannuation and managed funds industry arising from commission-based sales of financial products.
In our opinion the best form of information about superannuation (if not advice tailored to your circumstances) is your existing superannuation fund and if you don't have one then either independent websites such as ours, newspapers, magazines or a fee-for-service financial adviser.
How do I know when I need advice?
Most of the time you will probably get by without needing formal advice. But we think for example you should try to get independent advice before you set up a Self Managed Super Fund. Other major events such as winding up a fund or significant changes in investment strategy may be good triggers for getting advice. And perhaps also a good opportunity to re-evaluate your tolerance to risk and ensure you have the right investments.
Where do I find an adviser?
Here are two professional associations to get you started.
The Financial Planning Association provides a Find a planner service
CPA Australia provides a service to find a financial adviser
Try to find a fee-for-service-adviser and check they are qualified and experienced to give advice on the subject of superannuation.
What can I expect of my adviser?
Firstly you should see if your prospective adviser can demonstrate long-term relationships with other clients. You should feel comfortable with an adviser and have a sense that they are with you.
You should confirm with them that they derive no benefit whatsoever from recommendations they make. If you cannot find such an adviser you should insist they disclose any benefits of any nature, that they may be entitled to. This should include amounts or benefits receivable by the adviser or related parties at any time. And you should have this disclosed up-front and certainly prior to receiving any advice.
At all times your adviser should act professionally and efficiently and talk to you in plain language. You should ensure you have a clear understanding of any funds they propose, including any alternatives they may canvas. You should be satisfied you understand the fees, risks and potential rewards.
Agree in writing a plan of action. Then do your own research, get second opinions before committing and don't in any circumstances put all your eggs in one basket.
Remember that your accountant, lawyer or stockbroker may also be able to assist, even with a second opinion.
Is there a better way?
Probably not if you a novice investor. But if you have some experience and knowledge of superannuation, there is a lot to be said in favour of doing as much of your own research as possible. Even if it is only to confirm adviser recommendations or have them confirm yours.
One popular SMSF investment at the time of writing is Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) because they provide diversification, relatively low costs of entry, liquidity, lower risk and access if needed to various offshore markets. Worth investigating.
InvestoGain aims to point you in the right direction and equip you with the skills and understanding so that ultimately you are confident in making super decisions for yourself. So take the time to read and understand our webpages on superannuation.
Getting advice by ASIC
What can a Financial Planner do for me by the FPA