Independent Financial Advisers in Australia

Looking for help with your finances? Some people who want to receive impartial advice choose to use an independent financial adviser. This article features a list of ‘independent’ financial advisers around Australia as well as some factors you might like to consider before engaging one.

According to the 2018 Financial Advice Report by Investment Trends, trust in financial advisers has hit an all-time low. The report says that this may be due in part to the dishonest behaviour uncovered by the banking royal commission. According to the report, more than 40% of Australians do not believe the financial services and banking industry has met its obligations to them. Similarly, many submissions made by the general public to the royal commission voiced the concern that financial advisers are only recommending particular in-house or commissioned products. This concern is longstanding – back in 2009, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) stated that many financial advisers act as a “sales force” and “a product pipeline” for financial product manufacturers.

Despite this, there is still significant demand for financial advice. According to the report, in the next two years it’s estimated that over two million Australians will engage the help of a financial adviser. If you’re looking for an adviser who is not affiliated with any product provider and who doesn’t receive commissions for selling particular products, it might be worth considering an independent financial adviser.

What is an independent financial adviser?

A financial adviser is a person or authorised representative of an organisation licensed by ASIC to provide financial advice on areas such as investing, superannuation, retirement planning, estate planning, risk management and insurance. They can also be called financial planners.

Legislation came into effect on 1 January 2019 imposing restrictions on who can be called a ‘financial planner’ and ‘financial adviser’. Financial advisers or planners are now required to hold a relevant bachelor or higher degree, pass an exam, complete a year of work and training, and meet continuing professional development requirements. From 1 January 2020 providers will also have to comply with a code of ethics.

In order for a financial adviser to be classified as ‘independent’, they must meet certain additional criteria set out by the Corporations Act. Specifically, they – and anyone on whose behalf they provide advice – cannot receive any commissions (unless they rebate them in full to their clients), volume-based payments (i.e. payments based on how much business they send to a financial product issuer) or other gifts or benefits for recommending particular financial products. They must also operate without any conflicts of interest in most circumstances. Due to these requirements, only a very small number of financial advisers in Australia are considered ‘independent’.

What does a financial adviser do?

The job of a financial adviser is to help you identify and reach your financial goals. A financial adviser will typically take into account your personal circumstances to make sure these goals are realistic and achievable and provide recommendations to help you achieve them.

Advice can range from one-off advice, such as how to consolidate your super, to more comprehensive advice like setting up an investment plan or ongoing advice which may involve regular reviews with your financial adviser.

How much does a financial adviser cost?

Before you engage a financial adviser, it could be helpful to understand how they will be paid as it varies depending on the provider. Payment schemes can include commissions, asset-based fees, fee-for-service and performance percentage fees. Due to restrictions under the Corporations Act, independent financial advisers are likely to charge on a fee-for-service or fixed-fee basis.

These fees mean you pay for an agreed service or for a certain amount of the adviser’s time. Additionally, if an adviser is a member of the Independent Financial Advisers Association of Australia (‘IFAAA’) they won’t be able to receive asset-based fees, or in other words, they won’t be able to charge fees that are based on the size of your investment portfolio.

The exact cost of financial advice may vary depending on the services provided and the complexity of the advice. In some instances, your first meeting with a financial adviser may be free. During this meeting you will discuss your needs and it is likely your adviser will explain how they charge and give you an estimate of the cost of advice. If you choose to proceed, your adviser should prepare a Statement of Advice formally outlining their advice. You will typically be billed for the cost of preparing this statement and may also be charged an execution fee. If you choose to receive ongoing advice, this will involve ongoing fees. Find out more about some of the different types of fees and costs that may be involved here.    

Financial Adviser cost
Source: pada smith (Shutterstock)

What are the potential benefits of using an independent financial adviser?

There are a number of potential benefits to using a financial adviser. For example, they could help you:

  • Identify short, medium and long-term goals
  • Create practical strategies to achieve these goals
  • Feel more in control of your finances
  • Develop an investment plan
  • Protect your assets
  • Plan for retirement

A financial adviser may be particularly useful during big life events, such as if you are buying a home, starting a family, being made redundant, inheriting money or approaching retirement.

For some people, a benefit of choosing an independent financial adviser specifically may be the reassurance that the advice given should be impartial and not based on sales incentives.

What are the potential disadvantages of using an independent financial adviser?

A potential disadvantage of engaging a financial adviser is the cost. In some instances, an independent financial adviser can also be a more expensive option than receiving advice from an adviser who isn’t classified as independent. As previously noted, it is important to understand their costs and what you are paying for upfront. Not every situation will necessarily call for a financial adviser. You might want to think about what kind of financial help you need before committing to an adviser. For example, if you’re after financial information rather than advice, it might be useful to talk to your bank or super fund, or to look online at ASIC’s MoneySmart website. The Canstar website is also a source of financial information that could help you in some situations.

One potential disadvantage for those who seek out advice from an independent financial adviser is their scarcity – for example, at the time of writing there were only six in the greater Perth area. This could mean some people would have to travel long distances for a consultation depending on their location.

List of independent financial advisers in Australia

The following list, at the time of writing, comprises IFAAA Practising Members located in Australia by city and state. 

According to IFAAA, to be a practising member, financial advisers must comply with the Corporations Act (including its definition of independence) and must meet the following three criteria:

  1. No ownership links or affiliations with product manufacturers
  2. No commissions or incentive payments from product manufacturers
  3. No asset-based fees
Ben Liddicoat

BBK Financial Planning

Dulwich Hill

BBK states that its advice includes: insurance, debt management, superannuation, SMSF, tax, retirement income, and investment properties.
Bill Raffle

Bennelong Private Wealth

Sydney City 

Bennelong Private Wealth states that its advice includes: taxation, superannuation, retirement planning, succession, estate and wealth transfer planning advice, asset allocation and risk assessment, investment, wealth protection, and ongoing review.  
Daniel McGregor

Wealth Train

Orange

McGregor says he provides advice which includes: cash flow management, debt elimination, superannuation and investment.
David Harper

Naked Wealth

Newport

Naked Wealth states its advice includes: superannuation, mortgage, life insurance, cash flow management, investment, estate planning, and retirement planning.
Deborah Lin

Liquidity Financial Advisers Oatley

Liquidity Financial Advisers states its advice includes: SMSF, retirement planning and property investment.
Fergus Hardingham

FM Financial Solutions

Pyrmont

FM Financial Solutions states its advice includes:budgeting and cash flow management, contingency planning, family wealth succession, investment and superannuation. Does not advise on SMSF or direct shares.
Howard Pitts

Arc Financial Solutions

Spit Junction

Pitts says he provides advice which includes: deposit and payment products, government debentures, stocks or bonds, life products, managed investment schemes, retirement savings accounts, margin lending, securities, superannuation, SMSF, and tax.
Jo-Anne Nelson

Arc Financial Solutions

Neutral Bay

Nelson says she provides advice which includes: superannuation, insurance and wealth management.
Katie Whiffen

The Retirement Blueprint Northbridge

Company provides financial education via online course programs, podcasts and videos. Also provides one-on-one financial advice.
The Retirement Blueprint states that its advice includes: superannuation, insurance, investment, and retirement planning.
Kyle Frost

Millennial Independent Advice 

Newcastle City and Sydney City

Frost says he is the only independent financial adviser in Australia who specialises in working with young people. Frost states that his advice includes plans for: spending, property, investment, debt, tax, retirement, lifestyle protection and estate.  
Michael Morrison

M Financial Planning

Sydney City

M Financial Planning states that its advice includes: retirement planning, superannuation, estate planning, investing, and wealth creation.
Michael Radalj

Your Private Advisers

Sydney, Brookvale, North Sydney

Your Private Advisers states its advice includes: investing, superannuation and SMSF, retirement planning, ancillary tax, and insurance
Peter Surtenich

Suetonius Wealth Management Sydney City

Suetonius Wealth Management states its advice includes: superannuation and SMSF, corporate advice, wealth creation and investments, and retirement planning.
Phil Davies

Liquidity Financial Advisers Sutherland

Liquidity Financial Advisers states its advice includes: SMSF, retirement planning and property investment.
Philip Harvey

Construct Wealth

Bungendore

Construct Wealth states its advice includes: risk insurances, debt management, cash flow and income management, career planning, superannuation, retirement, aged care, and estate planning.
Richard Barber

Liquidity Financial Advisers Shellharbour

Liquidity Financial Advisers states its advice includes: SMSF, retirement planning and property investment.
Stephanie O’Connor

Custom Accounting

Sydney, Cootamundra

Custom Accounting states its advice includes: superannuation and SMSF, insurance, investment, retirement and succession planning.
Vince Lam

Plutus Financial Guidance Eastwood

Plutus Financial Guidance states its advice includes: budgeting and saving, debt management, investment, superannuation, wealth protection, retirement planning, aged care, and estate planning.

Adriano Donato

Roskow Independent Advisory

Hawthorn

Donato states he specialises in providing advice to high complexity clients who are either: high income families with a $200,000+ salary, business owners with salary/profits greater than $200,000 or high net worth clients with at least $2 million accumulated assets (home not included).
Amir Salehi

Planning Wealth Independent Advisory

Kew

Planning Wealth Independent Advisory states it specialises in helping high complexity clients with family income greater than $200,000 or those with at least $1.5 million accumulated assets (home not included).
Ashley Arandez

Diverse Advisers

Melbourne City

Qualified financial adviser, mortgage and finance advisers, estate agent and property adviser, SMSF specialist and business adviser.
Berivan Dubier

Curve

Moorabbin

Curve states that it specialises in providing financial planning services to medical professionals. Advice includes: superannuation and SMSFs, commencement of pension and retirement planning, cash flow planning, intergenerational financial planning, investment advice, and personal risk insurance advice.
Brook Logan

Logan Financial Advisers

Southbank

Logan Financial Advisers states its advice includes: your home, superannuation, debt, wealth creation strategies, retirement and retirement planning, insurance/risk reduction, estate planning and intergenerational wealth, cash flow, and tax efficiency.
Chris Thoms

Super-Focus

Geelong

Thoms says he specialises in SMSFs, superannuation, investment, direct shares, property investment and estate planning.
Dominic Alafaci

Collins House

Melbourne City

Collins House states its advice includes: tax, insurance, investment, superannuation and SMSFs.
Dr Dennis J. Maddern

Maddern Financial Advisers

Malvern

Maddern Financial Advisers states it specialises in providing financial planning advice to professional people who have achieved career success or aspire to it. Advice includes: investment, tax-effective strategies, superannuation, insurance, and succession planning.
James Stephan

Stephan Independent Advisory

Kew

Stephan Independent Advisory states it typically works with successful family business owners and self-funded retirees.
Jason Smith

Think Independent

Melbourne City

Certified Financial Planner, Bachelor of Business (Accounting), Graduate Diplomas in Financial Planning and Applied Finance and Investment (Investment Management).
Joe Stephan

Stephan Independent Advisory

Kew

Stephen Independent Advisory states it typically works with successful family business owners and self-funded retirees.
Mathew Horvat

Horvat Financial Advisors

Essendon

Horvat Financial Advisors states it works with individuals and families who are financially independent and want to maximise their wealth.
Matthew Ross

Roskow Independent Advisory

Hawthorn

Roskow Independent Advisory says it focuses on providing advice to high achievers.
Natasha Hall

Planning Hall

Melbourne City

Planning Hall states its core services are financial product advice, personal financial advice and general financial advice.
Rick Horvat

Horvat Financial Advisors

Essendon

Horvat Financial Advisors states it works with individuals and families who are financially independent and want to maximise their wealth.
Sean Dwyer

Curve

Moorabbin

Curve states that it specialises in providing financial planning services to medical professionals. Advice includes: superannuation and SMSFs, commencement of pension and retirement planning, cash flow planning, intergenerational financial planning, investment advice, and personal risk insurance advice.
Trent Alexander

Financial Planning Expert

Caulfield North

Financial Planning Expert states it specialises in SMSF advice for retirees and pre-retirees. Advice includes: superannuation, tax strategies for retirement, retirement planning, investment strategy and advice, Australian direct share investment, estate planning, SMSFs, life and income protection insurance, asset allocation, and financial structures.

Aaron Crosthwaite

Curve

Fortitude Valley

Curve states that it specialises in providing financial planning services to medical professionals. Advice includes: superannuation and SMSFs, commencement of pension and retirement planning, cash flow planning, intergenerational financial planning, investment advice, and personal risk insurance advice.
Guy Rasmussen

Whole Wealth

West End

Whole Wealth states that its advice includes: cash flow and budgeting, debt management, investment advice, retirement planning, superannuation and SMS, and risk and insurance.
Justin Brand

Brand Financial

Newstead

Brand states that he provides advice which includes: mortgages, retirement planning, superannuation, and insurance.
Keith Henderson

Malibu Wealth Advisory Noosa

Specialises in people over 45, time-poor business owners and executives, medical and other professionals, expatriates moving to or living in South-East Asia, and ADF personnel.
Malibu Wealth Advisory states that its advice includes: retirement planning, cash flow management, debt reduction, superannuation, pension, SMSF, insurance, investment, Centrelink, and estate planning.
Michael McNee

Darling Downs Independent

Toowoomba

Darling Downs Independent states that its advice includes: investment, retirement planning, superannuation, pension, SMSF, insurance, and moving into aged care.
Neil Salkow

Roskow Independent Advisory

Stones Corner

Roskow says it works with business owners, leaders in their field and those who have achieved financial independence.
Phil Layton

Independent Wealth Management

Gold Coast

Independent Wealth Management states that its advice includes: investment and retirement planning.
Samuel Turrisi 

Roskow Independent Advisory

Stones Corner

Roskow Independent Advisory says it focuses on providing advice to high achievers.
Todd Meynink  

Asset Science

Ashgrove

Asset Science says it takes a scientific evidence-based approach to investing. Asset Science states that its advice includes: growing and securing assets and income, retirement planning, business succession planning, and estate planning.

Cameron Foster

Horizon Advisory

Port Lincoln

Horizon Advisory states it specialises in personal money management, investment, retirement planning and superannuation.
Jacie Taylor

Periapt Advisory

Eastwood

Periapt Advisory states its advice includes: investments, insurance, cash flow, government benefits, salary sacrifice and salary packaging, retirement planning, superannuation and SMSFs, aged care and estate planning.

Daniel Brammall

Brocktons Independent Advisory

Phillip

Brocktons states it offers a “no strings attached” advice consultation and a comprehensive planning service.
Naomi Horobin

Clover Financial Group

Kingston

Horobin says her advice includes: cashflow management and budgeting, wealth creation, superannuation, retirement planning and income streams, Centrelink and DVA, estate planning, asset and lifestyle protection.
Phil Thompson

Rise Financial Pty Ltd

Monash

Thompson states his areas of expertise include: includes: superannuation, investment, borrowed funds, personal insurance, salary packaging, budgeting and cashflow management, estate planning.  
Susannah Kulincevic

Brocktons Independent Advisory

Phillip

Brocktons states it offers a “no strings attached” advice consultation and a comprehensive planning service.

Anton Diedericks

WellAdvised Financial Advisors

North Hobart

WellAdvised states its advice includes: risk insurances, debt and debt management, cashflow and income management, career planning, superannuation, retirement, aged care and estate planning.
Jane Clark

Jane Clark Financial Management

Howden

Clark says her advice includes: aged care, estate planning, risk insurance, property, retirement, business advice, investments, tax planning, SMSF advice and administration, superannuation, finance and debt management.
Simon Duigan

Core Independent Financial Advice

Kingston

Core states its advice includes: financial coaching, superannuation and pension, insurance, retirement funding, legal/estate planning, Centrelink and aged care, investments, and finance and debt management.

Christopher Young

CY Financial Advice

South Perth

CY Financial Advice says its typical clients are retirees or those close to retirement who are over 50 with investment assets exceeding $1 million.
Peter Humble

Rise Wealth Group

Eaton

Rise Wealth Group states its advice includes: retirement and estate planning, mortgage and debt management advice, risk assessment and management, and life insurance.  

How to find a financial adviser based on your needs

The list above may help you find a financial adviser who the IFAAA says has reached its ‘Gold Standard of Independence’ at the time of writing. But there are other potential avenues for finding financial advisers across Australia. For example, the Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA) operates a ‘Find a planner’ service, while the Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) has a similar tool available which allows consumers to find advisers in their area. The AFA’s tool allows consumers to narrow down a search to advisers it says are ‘non institutionally aligned.’ Bear in mind that the advisers available via these tools may not be classified as ‘independent’ by the IFAAA.

Before using any adviser’s services, ASIC’s MoneySmart recommends that consumers check their qualifications, employment status, affiliations, disciplinary history and other relevant details using the ‘Financial adviser register’.

MoneySmart recommends asking your adviser plenty of questions upfront about their qualifications, experience, the types of products they can offer advice on and how they get paid. They also offer guidance on what to do if you have an issue with your chosen adviser down the road.

Find out more about some factors to consider when choosing a financial adviser here.

Main image Source: crazystocker (Shutterstock)

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