Ed’s note: This post was written by guest editor Jessica Brady of Fox & Hare Financial Advice.
There is a common misconception when it comes to financial advice: that it’s for old, rich people. Most assume you arrive at a point in your life where your pockets are bulging and only then decide that you finally need help managing it all. You might seek out a nice, probably middle-aged, man who will tell you how to invest all your money and – boom! You’re on your way to never needing to worry about money again! #madeit
There are just a few things wrong with this equation… Firstly, unless you have created good spending habits (the majority of people don’t regularly put any money towards saving), bulging pockets is unlikely. Secondly, waiting until you have a certain amount of money behind you means you haven’t capitalised on one of the biggest game changers when it comes to investing and financial success: time. Warren Buffett aptly named compounding interest “the eighth wonder of the world.” It is, effectively, the interest or earnings on your money being reinvested and snowballing continuously. Which means the earlier you start, the better.
Not having a financial game plan is like driving a car towards your intended destination with no GPS.
Most women I speak to tell me they aren’t confident in making money decisions. They aren’t sure how to invest or exactly where their money goes… and instead of reaching for help and guidance, they don’t do anything, in the hopes that somehow, someway, things will change.
Alexandra was one such person. She is a 31-year-old graphic designer from Sydney. She earned good money, but at the end of every month, there was nothing left. She had a few credit cards from holidays and a personal loan for a car. Frustrated that she was going around in circles, she reached out to me for help. Six months later, she has paid off all of her debt (except her fixed car loan) and now has a healthy amount in savings. She plans to buy her first investment property in 18 months. Her biggest realisation? She needed a plan.
Not having a financial game plan is like driving a car towards your intended destination with no GPS. Could you reach your destination? Maybe. Would it be difficult and stressful not really knowing which way to turn, or if you’re even heading in the right direction? Most probably. Sitting down with someone and mapping out your financial goals means you have a clear road map of what you want to achieve and, most importantly, how you’re going to get there! A good financial adviser will help you create a cash-flow plan, so you know exactly where your money is going each month and make sure you are putting money towards those things you said were really important (like buying property, paying down credit cards, having regular holidays or saving for getting married and starting a family). They will also help you ensure you are looking at all those things that are probably in the back of your mind that you need to do “one day”, such as consolidate all your super, make sure it is invested correctly and that you don’t pay high fees, get your insurance sorted (so if shit didn’t go quite to plan you’d be covered), look at things like tax minimisation, asset protection and estate planning. These aren’t just for rich people looking to make extra money.
So, if you haven’t quite got your financial world sorted, don’t wait. Future you will be very impressed with your adulting skills.
How to pick a financial adviser for you
1. They speak your language
The financial world can be complex and confusing. You need to find someone who speaks your language and can explain complex issues simply.
2. No judgement
You need to feel that you can ask tonnes of questions without feeling intimidated or stupid. A good adviser will make sure you feel comfortable and will encourage you to ask questions. After all, it’s your money!
Find someone who is open and transparent about how they charge. If there are no fees or it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
4. The advice they provide
Ask questions about exactly what services they offer to make sure they can actually help you. Seeing an adviser who specialises in aged care or retirement when you’re in your thirties isn’t a good idea.
5. Who are they licensed with?
Make sure your adviser has access to a wide range of strategy products on their approved product list (APL). If a licence is ultimately owned by a bank or big institution, they may only be able to recommend their products.