Opinion | How to spot a top adviser | Brad Ferguson

Right now I’m sure there are many people wondering how they should invest their money. It is a natural question in an environment where property prices seem to be sky high, term deposit rates are at record lows and the share market seems like a scary proposition for a lot of people.

Fortunately there are some excellent financial advisers out there who can help. Our profession has copped a battering over the past decade and rightly so, but despite all the bad press generated by a few downright criminals there are planners around who have a genuine desire to help people achieve their goals.

Advisers can make a huge difference to someone’s life if they are able to align their advice with the goals of their client rather than their own agenda or that of their employer. The best advisers are also passionate about helping and have moved on from using slow moving, high cost managed funds as the backbone of their clients’ portfolios and are utilising low-cost methods of investing such as Exchange Traded Funds.

New methods of investing have allowed greater diversification and more efficient access to all investment markets around the world. We won’t hear it reported too often but portfolios using these investments are providing market beating returns without the extra layer of fees associated with traditional managed funds. They also provide a higher level of liquidity and the ability to make changes in an instant. 

There are hundreds of stories of advisers changing people’s lives. Like mum and dad visiting an adviser five years out from retirement with $200,000 in superannuation, an investment property with a loan attached and a home mortgage. By using the platform they had created and the advice of their adviser they were able to clear all debt by retirement and set themselves up with an annual income of $60,000 net for the rest of their lives.

Or another couple who had 10 years to retirement and needed $80,000 per annum to live on once they stopped work. They were able to use their $500,000 in superannuation and their good incomes to navigate a global financial crisis and still accumulate a capital base sufficient to pay them more than they need.

There are good advisers out there but it is important to find someone who can give you the advice you need and not what their employer tells them to give you. 

Brad Ferguson is managing director at the Newcastle office of Bell Partners Wealth Creation & Financial Advisory