Comment by Brad Peters BA, MBA, FCPA (FPS)
Senior Adviser and Director – Affinitas Financial Planning
The recent Haynes Royal Commission is to be commended for highlighting some concerning things that have been occurring in the banking, financial planning and insurance industries.
But in the midst of all the negative reports, try not to lose sight of the fact that that there are many extremely ethical people working in these industries who do strive every day to work in the best interests of their clients.
When acting in the Best Interests of Clients was enshrined in legislation via the FOFA reforms, my reaction was to shake my head in wonder.
In my opinion, working in the best interests of clients should be the first concern you have with each and every client. Just like a doctor’s first concern is to Do No Harm.
Unfortunately, history has proven that not all doctors adhere to the Hippocratic Oath. But that does not mean the entire medical industry is corrupt.
Similarly, a vast majority of financial planners build their reputations and businesses by putting financial plans in place that are tailored to suit the needs of each client. These plans help protect their families and achieve their financial goals.
Successful financial planners make money. But so do successful doctors, lawyers, accountants, plumbers and carpenters.
Making money is nothing to be ashamed of in a western society. But making money via deceptive means or for services not provided was what the Royal Commission highlighted.
The evidence given before the commission and the subsequent media reports on the issues have been a wake up call for many to check their own policies and the associated costs.
However, probably the most worrying trend is that some people are deciding to cancel superannuation and insurance policies based on nothing more than these negative news reports.
For example, there have been quite a few media stories about insurance companies not paying claims. However, there are thousands of successful claims made every week.
In our practice, we look after about 400 clients with insurance policies. In the past 18 months, there has been more than $3 million in death benefits, $2 million in trauma/crisis insurance and many hundreds of thousands of dollars of income protection payments made to individuals.
These payments have helped these people support themselves and their families at a times when the injury (or worse) of a member of the family could have resulted in real financial stress.
No one enjoys paying insurance premiums. But there is no bigger advocate for the value of insurance then someone who has made a successful claim – or someone who has realised too late that they should have had insurance cover in place.
Before cancelling insurances, make sure you seek out someone for a professional conversation. Make sure you understand what you have in place, what you need and what you would be losing if you cancel your policies.
Similarly, if you believe your superannuation policy might need to change. Make sure you take the time to seek advice and make an informed decision about what might be the right policy for you.
The cost of running a superannuation fund is one major point to consider. But so is how it fits into your overall financial plan, the type of investor you are and the types of investments that interest you.
And if you feel you need the services of a financial planner, then take some time to find the type of person/practice that is right for you.
Recommendations from family/friends, Google reviews, Facebook and websites will provide you with a lot of information to help you make a decision.
Remember, a Royal Commission and journalists can highlight the problems in an industry, they just won’t be there to help you make an insurance claim. Nor will they help you reach your retirement goals and put your pension in place.
The right financial planner will help you do all this and more.
To get in touch with the Affinitas team to discuss your financial situation, simply book an appointment.