Why I use a financial planner

On 12 December 2017, I will have been working in the financial services sector for 50 years.

With all that experience you would think I had all the answers and didn’t need to use a financial planner. Some years ago I bit the bullet and decided I needed a financial planner.

I needed discipline. I needed someone who could guide me and make me accountable for the decisions I wanted to make. Like a sounding board – a counsellor.

Selecting a financial planner is not necessarily an easy process. I had specific needs.

I needed someone who could keep me on the straight and narrow, someone who would challenge me when it became necessary, and someone who experienced financial success in their own life. Not ‘in your face’ wealthy, but someone who was financially comfortable and had mastered their own work/life balance. Someone who practised what they preached.

They had to be younger than me, or someone who at least had a robust business succession plan in place – as I didn’t want a planner who would be retiring when my wife and I needed them most.

On top of all that, I needed to find someone my wife was comfortable to deal with, and someone who could guide her if there came a time when I was no longer around.

When looking for a financial planner, I didn’t need someone who could tell me about salary sacrificing into super, making spouse contributions, claiming the government low-income co-contribution, or even the benefits of commencing a transition to retirement pension.

What I needed was someone who could guide me on investment selection. What managed funds should I be using, what shares should I be buying, and the fixed interest and hybrid securities to consider?

A couple of weeks ago I met with my financial planner for our review.

Now, we didn’t need to discuss the investment returns as I keep on top of that through my online access to my account. We did discuss the state of the market and general concerns about the investment decisions that might need to be made in the coming weeks and months.

Most of the conversation revolved around what my wife and I wanted to do with our lives, rather than with our finances. Given my circumstances, the conversation naturally turned to our retirement plans.

When this question comes up, I either brush the question off or say something vague like ‘in a couple of years’. It is quite confronting and frankly, it is something I don’t really want to think about at this stage.

If I enjoy my work and my life, and if I am able to continue to deliver a quality service to my clients, then why should I have a fixed retirement date in mind? After our conversation, I felt liberated.

Having a financial planner who is willing to have some of the more awkward conversations is, to me, where the value lies in the relationship. They are a counsellor or coach first, and a financial planner second. To me, my financial planner is worth their weight in gold!


Source:  Peter Kelly | Centrepoint Alliance