You might like trading in shares, comparing returns on managed funds, looking at interest rates on term deposits and researching property deals yourself. You love to manage stuff your own way but are you aware of all the tax implications of the transactions and strategies available to you? Are you on top of the latest changes in government rules and regulations? Are you sure that your investment strategy is appropriate for the goals you are trying to achieve? Have you put together a balanced, diversified portfolio of investments or are you over-exposed to risky products or volatile sectors?

No investor knows everything. All investors need access to advice when they are faced with a complex or important financial decision. But how can you choose the right financial adviser for your own circumstances and goals?

How to find a financial adviser

Firstly, and most importantly, your financial adviser needs to be licensed, qualified and registered. Do not take financial advice from a real estate agent, bank employee, TV advertisement, friend, self-appointed expert or anyone else.

If you are unsure whether someone is a registered, licensed financial advisor, you can look them up on ASIC's Financial Advisers register. The register lists where an adviser has worked, their qualifications, memberships and what investment products they can advise on. To find a licensed and registered adviser, you can go to the Financial Planning Association's 'Find a Planner' service which is here or the Association of Financial Advisers' 'Find an Adviser' service here.

You can use these services to find a planner near you. When you make a choice, ask your new financial planner for a copy of their Financial Services Guide or look for it on their website. The FSG will tell you what services the adviser offers, who owns the business and they charge for their advice.

From 1 January 2019, new financial advisers must have a relevant university degree and have completed much higher professional training requirements. ASIC recommends asking your adviser about their training and qualifications.

Tips for protecting your investments

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission recommends that investors do not give their adviser control over your money or accounts. ASIC also advises:

  • Don't give your adviser power of attorney
  • Don't sign blank documents
  • Don't transfer money to your adviser for investing, transfer to the product provider.

How to complain about a financial adviser

If you have a problem with a financial adviser, don't ignore it. If you suspect fraud or serious wrongdoing, contact the police or ASIC. If you have another complaint, ASIC advises that consumers should write a letter to the adviser's business first.

If you don't receive a satisfactory response, you have the right to take your complaint to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, phone 1800 931 678.