• Use a licensed financial adviser
  • Help protect yourself if something goes wrong
  • Check the Financial Advisers Register

Speaking with Raf Epstein on ABC Melbourne, ASIC Chief Operating Officer Warren Day recalled the first piece of ‘financial advice’ he ever received was from his Mum – to open a bank account.

When he progressed to shares, he sought the advice of a licensed sharebroker.

‘Using a licensed financial adviser is important because it controls the kinds of financial products a licensee or their authorised representative can offer and whether they can operate legally in Australia. It also guarantees you minimum standards, including training and ongoing compliance requirements,’ Warren says.

‘When providing personal advice, licensed advisers are legally required to act in your best interests and provide advice that takes into account your circumstances, based on their professional knowledge and expertise.

‘While using a licensed adviser doesn’t guarantee against financial loss, dealing with licensed professionals provides important safeguards if things go wrong. This may include remediation of investors who have suffered loss or detriment as a result of misconduct or other compliance failure by an advice licensee (or its representatives) in giving personal advice. Importantly, it also includes recourse to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA), a free external dispute resolution body.


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‘A recommendation from a friend may seem like a good idea, but Warren says you should always independently check that person is licensed or authorised to provide advice through a licensee. Many scams are known to operate through social networks and referrals.

‘It pays to do your homework and check that your adviser is both qualified and licensed, or authorised, to do the job. You can easily check on the Financial Advisers Register.

‘The FAR is a register of people who provide personal advice on various financial products, such as securities, superannuation and life insurance. It allows consumers to check that a financial adviser is authorised to provide personal advice and find information about an adviser before getting financial advice from them.

‘You can search this register to find out where a financial adviser is licensed or authorised, their qualifications, training and what products they can advise on.

‘The FAR also shows any action taken against an adviser, such as anyone banned from financial services’, Warren said.

Warren urged people to ask questions about anything they don’t understand and while it may seem boring, to read the paperwork you – don’t just go on trust.

‘Its your money and your financial decision – advice is just that. The decision rests you with you, so you need to understand what’s being recommended and advised to you’, Warren says.

ASIC’s Moneysmart website has some really helpful information on how to approach getting financial advice, for example, the process involved, clarification on what you’re trying to achieve before getting advice, how to find a financial adviser, what fees you will pay. We encourage you to go there as a first step.

Originally published by ASIC, Australia’s corporate, markets and financial services regulator.