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March 07 newsletter

Choosing your financial adviser

How do you tell a good financial adviser from a bad financial adviser? Good and bad have different meanings for different people but in personal finance terms, we can assume that they mean at least two things: ethics and technical ability.

The Government is currently in the process of regulating the financial advisory industry. Currently, any person can set themselves up to be a financial adviser. The following are some of the factors that you might consider when evaluating a “financial adviser”.

Education, professional body and remuneration

Have they completed the industry recognised tertiary qualifications through Massey or Waikato Univeristies? Do they have a demonstrable record of on-going learning?

Are they a member of a recognised professional body such as the Institute of Financial Advisers?

If the adviser does not charge a fee, do they disclose the level of commission that they will receive? This is the actual dollar amount and not just some “we receive the standard industry rates”. Do they disclose other remuneration, for example their holiday to the South of France paid by an insurance or managed funds company?

Certified Financial Planner

One industry designation which is recognised around the world is that of a Certified Financial Planner. I qualified as a Certified Financial Planner in February and the following are some of the hoops that I have had to jump through over the past 5 years:

  • Specific industry courses ranging from financial planning to business practice
  • Completed the Massey Graduate Diploma in Business Studies (endorsed in Financial Planning)
  • Maintaining set levels of on-going training
  • Two years of mentoring under the guidance of industry stalwart Bernard Gresham (for which I am extremely grateful), and
  • Finally the completion of a financial planning case study which met the requirements set by the Board of Certified Financial Planners.


No matter which financial adviser you use, ask some basic questions of their education and remuneration. It won’t guarantee the best financial advice, but it will provide an indication of their commitment to the industry, their technical skills and their integrity.

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Why not start planning early for those Christmas costs?