Never Seek Advice Where the Palm Trees Grow (And Other Myths)

Palm trees + white shoes = big trouble?

Look, you'd think there's some evidence for this because the warmer climes get a bad rap when it comes to money.

For a start, you should be wary of advice that suggests you should hide your loot in the Cayman Islands (sorry Malcolm).

Closer to home, Queensland's Gold Coast is a well-known shark sanctuary - home for bottom feeders like Aboriginal Community Funeral Plans.

But here's the problem - north of the palm tree line (which I'm guessing is about Byron) it's not all shonks, sharks and charlatans. There are many capable, honest financial advisors who prefer wearing shorts to puffer jackets.

Also, I live a stone's throw from Chris Skase's old digs, plus I've got palm trees in my back yard.

So let's bust that myth, particularly the idea that you need to head away from the sunshine to get decent financial advice.

Because further south in Sydney is where you'll find fringe dwellers like Squirrel Superannuation and hapless Sam Henderson of $500K fame.

Sam Henderson. Suggested LinkedIn profile - seeking new career opportunities

Trust me. I'm a Certified Financial Planner

According to the Financial Planning Association (FPA), Certified Financial Planner status is the 'gold standard in financial planning'.

I've got one of those certificates somewhere. I've also got a 'Best Behaved Certificate' awarded by Mrs Beresford, my Grade 1 teacher. I got that one for not being disruptive for nearly an hour. I value that one more (and it was harder to get than my CFP).

If you read the 'pick an advisor' tips published by the FPA you should stick with one of their members. A CFP like Sam Henderson.

Truth is, the FPA exists to look after members, not consumers. Oh, and to put on fancy conferences in exotic locations (with palm trees).

My point? If you follow the FPA's guidelines for choosing an advisor, you'll end up talking to an FPA member. Which guarantees you zilch.

You're safer with a big company

Three letters: AMP. Let's move on.

Where do you turn then?

There's no easy way of finding a good advisor. What you can do is try to filter out the bad ones.

To help you I've put together a handy list of questions you can ask a potential advisor (or if you're game, your current advisor):

What's the point of all these questions?  It's certainly not going to tell you whether the person's any good at their job or not.

What it does is this - it flags problem areas. If your potential advisor last worked selling time share apartments in Queensland, there's something to think about right there.

If you're told you'll need a 120-page Statement of Advice for compliance reasons, then I'd suggest your being sized up as an easy target.

The Naked Takeaway

Next week I'll explain what answers you're looking for, and tell you how to cut through the sales jargon.

After that, it's on to how to read a Statement of Advice.

Until then, happy and safe investing!

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