If you need help find an adviser

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There are some things in life I simply won’t do. There is an equal amount Mrs DebtMan also refuses to lift a finger on.

Sometimes, this is simply demarcation. Lines have developed over the years. She won’t do some things because she knows I will, or she insists that it’s my job. And, equally, in reverse.

There are other things that we both really don’t want to do, or refuse to do.

If we had to do them, they wouldn’t get done. Some elements of housework, cooking and gardening are a little pesky, so we pay others to do some of that for us.

And there’s little more pesky than the DebtKids. So, whenever we can, we outsource the caring of them.

Kidding. On the last one. At least a little.

I am both a financial adviser and mortgage broker. As a result, I have come to know quite a bit about the related field of tax.

But my personal taxes are complex and if you think I want to waste 20 hours doing my own taxes badly when I can pay my long-term accountant Dale to do it in a few hours properly, you’re an idiot.

Think about the jobs you hate/avoid/deny exist, for a few seconds. Name some crap you won’t do.

Everyone has that stuff in their lives. There are some things they know are important, but “I can put that off for another week/month/year”.

Far too many put “personal finances” on their list of “won’t do’s”. They know they should do something about it. But, year after year, they don’t.

Managing your money is important. On the ladder of life, it’s somewhere below breathing, but above your team winning a premiership.

If you hate thinking about money, are you relying on your partner giving a toss?

And if they don’t … do you accept you’re headed for catastrophic financial failure?

Or will you accept that you need to hire someone to give you a hand?

Okay. How do you find that someone?

What you’re generally going to be after is a financial adviser (though some might first need a Michelle Bridges-style hardarse budgeting fitness instructor).

What sort of things should you look for when you’re on the lookout to take on a financial adviser?

There is plenty of advice here today. None of it is a surety. Neither is mine. But, after nearly two decades of being a financial adviser and/or writing about advisers, here are my suggestions.

Find someone who is about your age, maybe a little bit older. It helps if they understand your stage of life. But this is a rough rule. There are some excellent younger and older advisers – it’s just hard for a novice searching for this kind of a relationship for the first time to tell.

If you’re seeing a financial adviser for the first time, try to find someone who knows, equally, the major tools of financial advice – insurance, superannuation and investment.

Financial advisers are often specialists in one area. Some won’t tell you this – they will just say that the most important area you need help with happens to be the area they deal in. If you’re 65, you probably don’t need to see someone who specialises in insurance. If you’re 25, then seeing a superannuation specialist will also be a waste of time.

Some people need, or only want, specialists. But I think it’s generally important, if you’re seeking advice for the first time, to find someone who can put the pieces of the jigsaw together for you. Unless you know you need specific advice.

This should include a financial adviser who knows property as well as shares. You don’t want to be forcefully pushed down one path. Some people are not suited to the volatility of shares. Others are terrified of the huge, unavoidable, debt that comes with investment property.

Run a mile from financial advisers who deal with property developers. (My dislike of development property for investors is well published, so please spare your time on shooting me angry, pro-developer emails.) Advisers are often paid phenomenal kickbacks by developers – I know because they’re regularly offered to me. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.

Aside from that … if you know you need help, go and find yourself an adviser. Ask around for recommendations. Ask about their qualifications. The rest of the advice on this page should stand true.

Bruce Brammall is the author of Mortgages Made Easy and managing director of Bruce Brammall Financial. E: bruce@brucebrammallfinancial.com.au.

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