5 things to consider when choosing a financial adviser

25 September 2023

From home projects and hobbies to travel plans, each person’s retirement bucket list is different. Achieving the post-work lifestyle you want starts with understanding your options and getting the right advice.

Getting expert financial advice can help you live the lifestyle you want now and in the future1. By defining what’s important to you and making practical plans to achieve your goals, it can provide some peace of mind for what’s ahead.


Your future is personal – your plan should be too

Everyone’s financial situation is unique. Advice that may be right for one person may not work for someone else. Whether you have some basic questions, or you need a detailed, tailored plan, it’s important to get advice that’s based on your circumstances.


Simple personal advice

Johanna is a project manager and wants to add a little extra to her super before retirement. She has some questions about how she can do this and wants to find out more about contributing to super.

For simple super-related help and advice like this, Johanna can use AustralianSuper’s online superannuation calculators. She can also call 1300 300 273 and arrange to speak with someone from the phone-based advice team. AustralianSuper members generally don’t need to pay extra for simple, over-the-phone advice because its covered by your administration fees2.

Comprehensive personal advice

Gerry works in risk management and plans to retire in 12 months. However, he isn’t sure how his investment property and his wife’s disability pension will affect their Centrelink entitlements.

As Gerry’s needs are more complex, he’ll likely benefit from comprehensive advice. He can engage a financial adviser to develop a detailed and personalised financial plan to help him achieve his best possible financial future.

If you’re starting to make some big decisions about retirement or want to be sure you’re taking steps in the right direction, tailored financial advice may help. It can provide much-needed clarity about your future and what position you’ll be in financially. Depending on the type of support you need, you might be able to pay for super advice out of your super balance, so you won’t be out of pocket. Discover what to consider when choosing a financial adviser.


1. Know when to ask for financial help and advice

There are many reasons to seek financial advice. You could consider speaking with someone when you:

  • Experience a major life event such as having children, buying or selling a home, changes to your health or the death of a loved one
  • Face financial challenges like debt or unexpected expenses
  • Inherit wealth or have a financial windfall
  • Want to set specific financial goals or create a budget
  • Need help with investment decisions or retirement planning
  • Want to optimise your tax strategy.

It can also be helpful to regularly check in to review and adjust your financial strategy for peace of mind or as your circumstances change.


2. Understand a financial adviser’s qualifications, reputation and fees

A professional financial adviser should be up to date with the latest changes in financial products and legislation. To make sure you find a knowledgeable financial adviser, you should:

  • Ask the financial adviser about their qualifications and experience.
  • Find out the areas of advice they specialise in and what sort of advice they’re able to offer you. For example, only certain financial advisers can give advice about self-managed super funds (SMSFs) or share trading.
  • Consider your own personal preferences, such as if you’d rather speak with an adviser of a specific gender or age.
  • Ask how their service works. For instance, whether they offer once-off or ongoing advice.
  • Request an outline of their fees and if they’ll provide a quote for the advice before completing any work. It’s also a good idea to ask how they’re paid – whether they’re salary-based, fee-for-service, or incentivised by bonuses.

Anyone who gives personal financial advice and most general advice providers must have an Australian financial services (AFS) licence. You can check a financial adviser’s qualifications, training, and experience on the Australian Government’s Moneysmart Financial Advisers Register


3. Find the right financial adviser for your needs

Connecting with a financial adviser works like any relationship – trust is key. You want to be comfortable with the person you’re meeting with and be confident in the future they’re helping you plan for.

Asking friends or colleagues for a referral can be a good starting point. Some of our education session are hosted by a financial adviser. This can be a great way to see how someone presents themselves before you make an appointment.


4. Prepare before your first meeting

First, make sure you have an overall idea of what you want to get out of the meeting and what’s important to you. This will depend on your stage of life, financial situation and what you want to achieve.

Next, think about some specific topics or issues you need a hand with. Maybe you want to invest your super in a certain way but aren’t sure where to start. Or you might want to make sure your super goes to the right person when you die. Perhaps you're considering retirement income options, managing debt or looking to downsize your family home. Whatever it is you want to learn more about, it can be helpful to prepare your questions before the meeting.

If you’re married or in a de facto relationship, it’s important to seek financial advice as a couple and plan together.


Your pre-appointment checklist

When you go to your first meeting with an adviser, make sure you take a few important personal financial details with you. This includes your:

  • Budget – an estimate of your monthly spend on mortgage or rent, bills, expenses and debt.
  • Income – including any wages you earn and money from investments, Centrelink payments or overseas pensions.
  • Assets – including property, super, savings and investments.
  • Insurance – details of any life, disability or income protection insurance.


5. Work with your financial adviser to make sure you’re getting the right advice

Once you’ve found a financial adviser you trust and want to work with, it can take a few sessions to prepare your plan and put it into action.

Your first meeting with an adviser is a chance for you to both get to know each other. You’ll find out more about how they’ll work with you and provide advice. It’s also an opportunity for you to share your personal circumstances, financial concerns, and plans for retirement. In most cases, the adviser will use this meeting as an opportunity to understand your needs and provide a quote for any advice fees moving forward.

From that first meeting, your adviser will generally prepare your personal financial plan, present their recommendations to you and work through any questions or changes you have.

Once you’re happy with the plan, your adviser will work with you to put the advice into action. Remember, your financial plan isn’t ‘set and forget’. It’s a good idea to regularly review your plan with your adviser and let them know if your circumstances change.


Getting started 

AustralianSuper makes it easy to find and work with a professional financial adviser. You can meet with an adviser over the phone, face to face, or via secure video link from the comfort of your home1.

If you’re ready to start working on your financial goals with a registered adviser, we’re ready to help you find one.


Find a financial adviser now



  1. Personal financial product advice is provided under the Australian Financial Services Licence held by a third party and not by AustralianSuper Pty Ltd. Some personal advice may attract a fee, which would be outlined before any work is completed and is subject to your agreement. With your approval, the fee for advice relating to your AustralianSuper account may be deducted from your AustralianSuper account subject to eligibility criteria.
  2. There’s no charge for general advice about your super account. The financial advice you receive will be provided by Link Advice Pty Limited ABN 36 105 811 836, AFSL 238145 and will be their responsibility. Personal product advice provided may attract a fee, which will be outlined before any work is completed and is subject to your agreement.

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