Personally I think a good financial planner is worth their weight in gold, which don't kid yourself, you'll be paying them in fees. The tricky part though is finding one. Australia has had a massive upheaval in our financial planning industry over the past few years specifically because of this, with sharks and charlatans all over the place in the industry. Here's two examples that I've seen first hand:
1. I was out on the waves with my mate when somehow it came up that he had a self managed super fund. Not to be a douchebag (don't google that Claudia) but I knew enough about his situation to know that he shouldn't have one. So I asked him some questions about it and got very concerned. He'd had a doorknocker at his house asking if he wanted to invest and make lots of money, so of course he said yes. The company then paid for him to come down to Brisbane, showed him their fancy offices, fake teeth, surgically enhanced receptionist and expensive suits and conned him into signing his superannuation over to them. They then proceeded to gouge the hell out of him with fees, and invest his small super amount into unfinished, crappy apartments in Brisbane that they could gouge further fees from. Instead of benefitting from a great bull market in shares like he should have they bled him dry. He told me he was able to get out of it, but got slugged with massive fees to do that, but I'm still not sure just how badly he was impacted or whether he managed to get any money back at all. This is not a high income earner nor a young man, and there's a good chance those scumbags have ruined his retirement years. To cap it all off when I was googling the owners of the company they are a family of shi+heads who are in the news for fighting with their neighbours because of their partying and breaching building rules. Great people....
2. My neighbour went to a "financial information session" for older women at a local pub - if the alarm bells are not going off in your head now than you need to be very careful as you are going to be easy pickings - and met a "lovely, well-spoken single mum of young kids" who was just trying to help people as a financial planner. Again - this doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this could be dangerous for her. So I asked if I could see what the planner had done, and my neighbour showed me. It was ridiculous and a direct breach of fiduciary duty (i.e. putting the clients interest first). There were small things which made no sense, and then a lot of garbage which were blatant lies and misinformation. I then met the financial planner with my neighbour and told her as such. The thing that really made me shake my head was that my neighbour ran into the women at a fancy and very expensive restaurant in a different state to where they both live - how random was that! - where the financial planner was holidaying with her friends. No kids though and the planner acted weird when my neighbour asked about them. I'd love to know if they actually exist.....I thought about reporting her to the regulatory body but my neighbour didn't want the commotion. To me preying on the elderly like that is true scumminess.
The other issue is that a good financial planner can turn bad without you knowing. As a current example there is Dixon Advisory in Australia, which for years was one of our most trusted financial planning companies for retirees. Daryl Dixon was considered one of the most knowledgeable superannuation experts in Australia and a regular financial columnist in our major newspapers. People trusted him. In 2022 they have gone bankrupt due to the looming class actions for fee gouging, breach of care and providing conflicted advice. This means that the retirees who have invested their money with them may lose everything.....
This is not to say that you shouldn't get a financial planner, but you need to educate yourself regardless of whether you get one or not. This is not the sort of thing you can be hands off with as you need to know what's happening. Never sign your money or investments over to anyone else. Anyone that tells you they can pick individual shares that will do better than the average of the market (i.e. index funds) are full of shi+. Be wary of anyone who wants you to setup difficult to understand structures for your money or investments, they'll likely be taking an upfront fee to set it up and then ongoing fees each year to run it for you. That's quite the incentive for them to talk you into it!
A good financial planner will make sure that you are doing things tax efficiently, simply and most important of all will make sure you don't f$%^ it all up buy doing stupid things like selling because you're scared the market is going to fall further or "investing" in speculative garbage. They will have a boring plan that gets results which match the boring old market average. Your investments will go down very quickly and very far some times and it will hurt. The hard part is that someone like this won't seem exciting to you because you'll be comparing them to the one who is full of shi+ and telling you that they can do much better than the average and that they will protect you during downturns. You're smarter than average aren't you so why should you accept the average? This person is a charlatan to be avoided at all costs.
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For Maria, Claudia and eventually Lily