Financial planning involves developing personalised strategies to help you best manage your finances and achieve your financial goals. To assist in your financial planning needs, you may wish to seek the advice of a financial adviser. A financial adviser is a licensed professional who is able to provide personalised financial advice, suited to your individual financial needs and circumstances.
While financial advisers are legally required to act in the best interests of their clients, this may not always occur in practice, and victims of negligent financial advice can often suffer devastating financial losses. To ensure that investors can be confident and informed in their decisions, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) has introduced the Financial Adviser Register. Read on to find out more about how to use the Financial Advisers Register to protect yourself against any misleading or negligent advisers.
What is the Financial Advisers Register?
The Financial Advisers Register is a public record of all persons who are employed or authorised to provide personal financial advice to their clients. Its purpose is to help investors in verifying that their Financial Adviser is authorised to provide advice, and to find out more information about their financial adviser before receiving or acting upon their financial advice.
Where do I start?
Unfortunately, the Financial Advisers Register itself is unable to endorse or make recommendations on which Financial Adviser to choose. However professional associations can often can help you find an adviser in your area. You should first compile a list of potential Financial Advisers based within your area, or based on recommendations from family and friends. You can then use the Financial Advisers Register to narrow the list down to the Financial Adviser who has the best chance of meeting your needs.
Who is on the Financial Advisers Register?
The register contains all Financial Advisers who are authorised to provide personal advice on:
- Life Insurance
- Personal advice recommends strategies that are specific to your individual circumstances, financial situation, financial objectives and financial needs.
What information does the Financial Advisers Register contain?
The Register contains information on:
- The Financial Adviser’s name, registration number and status
- The Financial Adviser’s qualifications and training
- The Financial Adviser’s current and previous licensee.
A legitimate Financial adviser is one who holds an Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence, or is authorised to act on behalf of a business which holds an AFS licence.
- Which product areas the Financial Adviser can provide advice on
- Where the Financial Adviser has previously worked
- Any memberships of professional associations
- Any bans, disqualifications or further restrictions from providing advice
What does it mean if I cannot find my Financial Adviser on the Register?
Often, there may be too many results shown when searching for your Financial Adviser’s name. Therefore to find them on the Register, you may need to get more details from your them, such as their:
- Australian Business Number (ABN)
- Registration number
If, after using the additional details, you cannot still find your adviser, this may be because:
- A licensee has failed to upload all their required information on their representatives, or
- The Financial Adviser is not on the Register, meaning that they are not licenced, or are acting outside the scope of the Register
In both events, you should refrain from engaging that particular Financial Adviser’s services. You can also report your concerns to ASIC, who will investigate the matter further.
Why should I use the Financial Advisers Registers?
Unfortunately, there are many instances where an investor has been given bad or negligent financial advice, and as a result have suffered devastating financial losses.
By using the Financial Advisers Register, you are taking a preventative and precautionary stance against acting upon any bad or negligent financial advice. You may want to steer clear or Financial Advisers who have been subject to previous disciplinary action or use the Register to ensure that the products of which the Financial Adviser can provide advice on also coincides with the products that you are seeking to invest in.
An example of negligent actions from a Financial Adviser who offers advice on a product of which they are not authorised to offer products, which may result in:
- Recommending financial products that, after consideration of your personal circumstances, are risky or unsuitable
- Recommending financial products for which they receive commission for, despite it being too risky or unsuitable for your circumstances
- Recommending a substantial investment in one product, rather than a balanced and diversified strategy
- Failure to advise you on all the risks associated with a strategy